Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Kuno Method: 10 thinking strategies for preschoolers

Life is a puzzle. They said it's always the small pieces that makes the big picture. I think it's more than finding and having the small pieces. What matters most is to be able to piece and match the pieces into a big picture.

That's why I value what @kunomethod has been guiding Emma in. In a fun and interactive approach, they aim to help children build a strong foundation for primary school, acquire logical and lateral thinking with a structured curriculum and in-house challenges & puzzles.

However, I think these basics are not just for her jump to Primary School education but for her golden growing up days as well!

Few months back, I attended a talk about 10 thinking strategies for preschoolers by Mr Kuno and thought they are useful to share. 

Try teaching the children the following 10 ways of thinking to work their brain and developing their thinking skill!

10 thinking strategies for preschoolers

1. Teach the children how to differentiate between object based on their attributes
Instead of telling them that 2 things are different, explain the differences. Ask them to identify the similarities and differences based on their shape, colours and sizes. Try doing activities like spot the differences and classification of items in group.

2. Teach the children to explore measurement by comparing sets of objects
Are there more X or Y? How many more? Who's the heaviest? Who's the lightest? Start of with 2 items, and slowly increase the number. Do counting using objects (eg. water bottles of different amount of water) or using see-saw balance.

3. Teach children to arrange things in sequence from a specific perspective
Start from smallest to biggest, which is the nth of the sequence? It is best taught through play by arranging toys or objects. Besides numeracy, teaching children to arrange scences of stories to help them to develop their thinking and creativity skills as well!

4. Teach children how to understand the connection between parts and whole
These days, children see things in parts more than whole. For eg, chicken wings vs the whole chicken. Through puzzles games, children can slowly understand the concept of parts and concepts.

When children can visualize the part-whole relationship, they can apply them to math (eg. 3 and 4 makes 7). Similarly, when children can see the things from wholes to parts, they learn how to analyse and problem-solve in manageable steps (eg. a square can be made up of 4 triangles).

5. Teach children how to understand things from different perspective
Understand that a pen can look like straight line from the front but circle from the top. Looking at things from the different perspectives - front, back, top and bottom opens up the eyes of the children. Moving on maps is also another way to help them.

6. Teach children how to understand relative relationship
I think this is similar to comparison, but on a deeper level. Besides comparing their quantity, it could be comparing on speed, weight and other qualitative relationships. 

7. Teach children how to think reversely
On a grid, if x moved 2 steps front and 3 steps right. What's the original position? Or, I ate 2 apples, now there are 3 apples. How many apples did i buy? We are used to forward thinking, it is harder for the children to think reverse. This isn't just mathematical skill, it's logical thinking skill.

8. Teach children how to group things together
Packing goodies bag is a good way! Ask them to pack specific number of items in each bag. Then, progress to asking them the number of items to needed to each x number of bags with the specific number of items.

9. Teach children to discover rules
This isn't those kind of rules that would first come to our mind. It's discovering pattern and sequence. It's not a natural way of thinking, but a trained thinking process. Going through different patterns on paper or through toys then ask the children to guess what's next.

10. Teach children to deduce relationship between A and C from the relationship between A and B & B and C
If one apple balance 5 cherries and 1 cherry balance 2 blueberries. How many blueberries to balance 1 apple? Using balancing on see-saw can help children visualize easily.

After the talk, I felt that what Mr Kuno shared was very mathematical. However, after spending much time to write this post, maths is actually all about thinking and logics. It sounds very dry, but actually teaching the above can be very fun and interactive! All these can be done through play, demonstration and hands on activities. Instead of working on a paper map, ask the children to move about floor grids. Use toys to teach perspectives and shapes. And now, I wish I could have more time to do these fun yet educational activities with Emma and help her build stronger foundation during her golden years.

When Kuno Method asked if we like to continue classes with them after a year, we said yes! Emma's still enjoying the class alot - having fun while learning all the concepts and skills. After a year, she has been progressing well, and I couldn't ask for more. I like to thank Kuno Method for opening up her mind. While we hope to better prepare her for Primary school, it's really for her own foundation for her life. Thinking skills is something that is hard to teach, but children learnt through experiences in and outside of class, and they will have it for life.

As Albert Einstein said: Education is not about learning of facts, but the training of brain to think.". 

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