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What we forget is that somewhere along the way there was definitely an adult or two patiently and seriously answering our endless stream of questions growing up. More than that, they managed to get us on to our own two intellectual feet (proverbially speaking), through the way they did so. But how did they do it?!
You may never be able to pin down how you grew into your own mind, but there are ways to ensure you can pay the gift of critical thinking forward when you meet a curious child. Working with groups as an ECD teacher, you’ll find that using educational toys in these contexts helps you proactively develop these skills in ways that leave you with energy to spare at the end of each day and a classroom of mindful kids.
What can a critical thinker do?
A child who thinks critically is better able to direct their own learning. They’re able to identify and articulate vital questions, gather and assess information, and come to well-reasoned conclusions. They’re also used to engaging with alternative systems of thought in non-judgmental ways. All of these traits are complemented by an ability to communicate effectively when figuring out solutions to complex problems.
A class full of critical thinkers is a class full of mindful kids.
Critical thinking increases mental agility and listening ability. Activities that build one aspect ultimately also develops the others — it doesn’t matter which one you begin with or focus on. Teaching reasoning skills to children improves their intelligence, ability to listen and to respond objectively. More than that, you’ll be spending less time with disruptive classroom dynamics as your children grow into the inherent self-discipline that comes with regular practice.
Here’s how one educational toy, Miniland’s Mindful Kids, helps you reap these rewards in your classroom in 5 easy ways:
Provide opportunities for play
Playing is the unsung hero of deep learning. The 36 activities that Mindful Kids facilitates ensures you can easily offer a mix of group and individual play that boosts brain power. For instance, each of the activities relies on visualization as a way to contextualize actions. This develops imagination, which strengthens mental agility.
Build-in time for reflection and communication
This educational toy provides plenty of opportunities to grow self-reflection and communication skills. Some activities require partner work, and each session is best concluded with a reflection session where children share their experiences collectively. This process gives children the opportunity to engage with others’ experiences in a non-judgmental way, and to identify and articulate their own experiences — hallmarks of critical thinking.
When we’re focused on the present moment, we’re better able to make decisions even when under stress. Meditation develops this ability by enhancing mental clarity and emotional self-regulation. Mindful Kids comes packed with fun ways to share these benefits with children aged 2–7.
Promote active listening
To listen actively relates to an ability to pay attention. This particular type of focus directly increases your ability to communicate effectively. All of these skills are implicated in the development of critical thinking skills. Activities in the Mindful Kids suite such as ‘Beyond the Bell’, gives children an opportunity to practice this skill.
Grow digital literacy
Every Mindful Kids’ activity comes with a set of digital extension resources via Play Miniland. This allows you to grow digital literacy in ways that develop your students’ ability to engage discerningly with the digital realm. They might not be diving straight into the depths of the web with you at 7, but this educational toy provides a gentle way to begin sensitizing them to the many ways they engage with technology.
Mindful Kids is one of many learning aids that Miniland has developed to help you in the classroom. Visit our website to learn more about how educational toys ease the challenges of delivering fruitful ECD experiences in almost any circumstance.