“PUTTING ON YOUR THINKING HATS”  Simple Exercises to do at Home to Promote Your Child’s Thinking Skills. 

 “PUTTING ON YOUR THINKING HATS” Simple Exercises to do at Home to Promote Your Child’s Thinking Skills. Thinking skills like any other skill is something that is honed through everyday practice. It involves a complex range of mental processes such as problem‐solving, decision‐making, critical thinking, logical reasoning and creative thinking. The ability to think “outside the box” or creative/lateral thinking can be seen in the ingenious ways that inventions are developed. However, with information accessed at the press of a button through television and internet, children are limited in their opportunities to develop lateral thinking. It is important for us adults to help children be responsible for their own learning and to help them know more about how they think. The Thinking Hats strategy devised by Edward de Bono is one of the foremost techniques used in helping children and adults extend their way of thinking by wearing different “thinking hats”. His pioneering work revolutionized the notion that in different situations different types of thinking is required. What is more essential is that by using the “thinking hats” children are encouraged to reflect on their own thinking. Motivating them to think “outside the box”. The Six Thinking Hats proposed by de Bono are the following: 1. WHITE HAT ‐ symbolizes facts. It focuses on the information available and needed. Question like, “what colors are the flag?” are answered using the White Hat. 2. YELLOW HAT – symbolizes benefits or the goodness out of the information or event. It tells about the benefits gained, what are the values and potentials that are attached to it. Being the sunny and positive hat it tells the benefits of a suggestion and why it would work. 3. BLACK HAT – symbolizes negative effects. It examines the difficulties and problems associated with a topic. It highlights weaknesses, cautions on the imminent problems as well as the risks involved. A question to your child like “if you play in the house with your ball what might happen?, using the Black thinking hat, will result to an answer like “I might hit something and it would break”. This is the hat of judgment and caution. 4. RED HAT‐ symbolizes feelings and hunches. Its use is limited to 30 seconds and is meant to understand feelings. Too often we let our emotions make our decisions. Red hat gives us a separate context to state our true feelings and then explore their implications. What are my feelings now? What does my intuition tell me? Simply put Red Hat thinking looks at a topic from the point of view of emotions, feelings and hunches. 5. GREEN HAT‐ symbolizes imaginative thinking. It encourages the use of creative solutions to problems. It seeks to answer questions such as “Are there other ways we could do this? What else could we do?”. Green hat thinking offers solutions to Black hat thinking problems. “What should you do then with the ball? Play the ball outside the house!” 6 Thinking Hats, by Lana K. Jelenjev, Tutor Time International Preschool and Kindergarten Published in Parents Guide, March 2009 6. BLUE HAT‐ symbolizes understanding and reflection. It manages the thinking process by setting the agenda and deciding on the next step. It wraps up the process by making the decisions, summarizing and concluding on the actions taken. White hat ‐ Facts Yellow hat ‐ Good Red hat ‐ Feelings Green hat ‐ Create Black hat ‐ Caution Blue hat ‐ Understanding How can the Six Thinking hats be adapted at home? Six Hat Thinking can be applied to many situations in which brainstorming, problem solving, creative and lateral thinking are required. This strategy is not just useful for adults but can be used in everyday interactions with young children as well. With the use of this technique, children learn to understand and interpret tasks better, makes their feeling known and thus feel that their opinions matter, and find possible solutions and risks to their actions. Most importantly it promotes reflection on the actions taken. You don’t have to sit down as a family and wear the hats to make it a tangible experience for the children. There are a lot of ways in which the Thinking hats come into play with the daily interactions at home. Here are some activities/questions that you might like to try: Thinking Children 1‐3 Children 4‐6 Hats White hat This is mostly used through sharing of Children at this age can be asked to give specific information to information. Children at this age are questions asked. But instead of the in need of adults who can stimulate usual “what is that?” questions you them by identifying objects found in can use techniques like “I spy with the house, point to objects touched and manipulated. By constantly asking my two eyes (something that is round and bounces)…what is that?”
your child “what is that?” you encourage the use of white hat Another fun activity is asking your thinking. child to look at what he/she is Red hat wearing and then to describe in detail what he/she has on while closing his/her eyes. It is always best to start early in Make a “How do I feel today chart”. helping your child gain control and Paste pictures of different mastery of his/her emotions. At this expressions and paste them on age the most important task is to help pieces of cardboard. On a big board your child identify his/her feelings. By write “How do I feel today?” and naming the emotions attached to a using a clothespin, let your child particular action or event it makes a hang the picture that expresses connection to your child on how to how they feel on that period. “feel” in certain situations. For You can also promote Red hat example, by telling your child “I know thinking while reading storybooks you feel upset when Mommy leaves by pointing out how the characters you to go to work” helps them must have felt during that time i.e. identify what their emotion is. 6 Thinking Hats, by Lana K. Jelenjev, Tutor Time International Preschool and Kindergarten Published in Parents Guide, March 2009 Black Hat Yellow hat Green hat Showing them pictures and telling them how the person in the picture looks like also helps them develop an understanding of emotions (i.e. “Look the boy in the picture is smiling, he is happy. Can you show me a happy face?”) Children need to know their limitations and Black hat thinking is all about teaching children proper judgment and caution. It deals with the “what would happen if…” scenarios. For very young children teaching them about cause and effect is very important. Not only for their safety but also for their understanding of limits and rules. Before saying “no” all the time it is better to start telling them in short phrases why you wouldn’t want them to do certain things. What better way to start telling children about benefits than to start by using praise. At this age, children learn to repeat behaviors based on the response they get from significant adults. By telling them how you appreciate their efforts and actions it lays the foundation for positive affirmation and actions. Arts and crafts are not just for aesthetic purposes. By doing arts and crafts with your children you are developing creativity which is essential to Green hat thinking. Children at this stage needs to be exposed to open‐ended art activities where there is no right or wrong way of doing the activity. Try making sponge paintings, use playdoughs, collages and other interesting art activities that allow your child to “What do you think the first little pig felt when his house fell down?” Children at this stage needs rules to reinforce behaviors. By making House Rules children are reminded on what to do and what not to do. Sit down as a family and write down what you think should be part of the house rules. Rules can be as simple as “Use soft voice when talking” and should be written positively like “Walk” instead of “Don’t run”. At this stage, it is crucial for children to know that their voices are heard. By giving them simple choices like “would you like an apple or an orange?” children are made to feel that their contribution matter. Decision making is a part of daily life and children should be given opportunities to practice this skill. Set the stage for Yellow Hat thinking by practicing asking your child “What good will it do if we do this?” Imagination is best fostered when materials at hand offers limitless suggestions. Before buying your child a new toy, try to ask yourself, will this toy be used for one purpose alone? What else can it be used for? If the answer to these questions are yes and I don’t know then it’s best to look for other toys to buy your children. Construction toys like duplo or lego blocks are always a sure way to promote 6 Thinking Hats, by Lana K. Jelenjev, Tutor Time International Preschool and Kindergarten Published in Parents Guide, March 2009 make use of different materials in different ways. Blue hat The adults are the ones who wear the blue hats at this particular stage. They are primarily responsible in teaching very young children how to understand their behaviors. Children at this crucial age need the support of adults who are consistent and reliable in making rules and routines, carrying on with decisions and analyzing events and actions. creativity. Creativity is also fostered when reading to your child. Green hat thinking is promoted by asking  I wonder if…?  What would happen if…? Time outs as a form of discipline has been a debatable issue. For some time outs specially for young children is not suitable and should be done only as a last alternative. Instead redirection and distraction should be used as forms of behavior management technique. However, for children this age they can be taught to reflect on their actions by letting them “Stop and think” about what they have done. By placing them in a quiet place and calming them down to review what has just happened gives them opportunities to reflect. Although this can be difficult when dealing with tantrums but letting them assess their behaviors after calming down is very important. Pascal and Bertram (1997) identified key features of adult behavior that promote good‐
quality thinking, learning and development in young children: Sensitivity: The adult’s ability to be aware of the children’s feelings and emotional wellbeing, to empathize and to acknowledge children’s feelings of insecurity and to offer support and encouragement. Stimulation: The adult’s ability to offer or introduce an activity or resource in a positive, exciting and stimulating way. It is also the ability to offer extra information or join in with play in a way in which extends children’s thinking or communication. Autonomy: The adult’s ability to give the children the freedom to experiment, supporting children with their decisions and judgments, encouraging expression of ideas and involving children in rule making for everyone’s safety and well being. Thinking is the most fundamental of human skills. As primary caregiver, we parents have the task of teaching our children how to think specially since traditional education does very little about it. Haven’t you ever wondered where is 'thinking' in the curriculum? Don’t wait for your child to start going to school to teach him/her how to think. Like what Ronald Kotulak, author of Inside the Brain:Revolutionary Discoveries of How the Mind Works, wrote 6 Thinking Hats, by Lana K. Jelenjev, Tutor Time International Preschool and Kindergarten Published in Parents Guide, March 2009 ‘When it comes to building the human brain, nature supplies the construction materials and nurture serves as the architect that puts them together.’ Let us nurture our children to “think” it’s never too late to start now. 6 Thinking Hats, by Lana K. Jelenjev, Tutor Time International Preschool and Kindergarten Published in Parents Guide, March 2009