Podcast: Critical Thinking for Toddlers with Susie Allison of Busy Toddler
As we talk about critical thinking, the conversation tends to skew towards teenagers and high schoolers, but you’d be amazed at the powerful wheels turning in the minds of our little ones. We can prime the environment for them to be quality thinkers at as young as preschool or even toddlerhood.
Susie Allison has a lot of insight into this age group. She runs the popular Instagram account, Busy Toddler, and she’s created a wealth of experiences for her own children and other families. Busy Toddler has grown up to become a worldwide brand, with Susie authoring “The Busy Toddler’s Guide to Actual Parenting.” She has a degree in Elementary Education and is currently earning her master’s degree in Early Childhood Education.
Listen to the Podcast
Activities for Critical Thinking
Everything that toddlers do is designed to acquaint them with the world, so that they can discover, learn, and grow. That all requires critical thinking, which is something we can encourage through specially designed activities.
One of Susie’s favorites is “the pouring station.” You put out a large empty container and various cups of water – potentially in different colors – for kids to pour into. They learn pouring skills, they have the sensory experience of the water, and it requires barely any equipment to set up. They’re also learning hand-eye coordination, capacity, volume, and cause and effect.
Another great accessory for toddlers are pom-pom balls. Believe it or not, they actually survive being wet! Putting a kid in the bath with some wet pom-poms invites so much play and sensory exploration.
Kids Growing Up
When our kids are toddlers it can feel like we need to be there for everything, but as they get older, they start to take on lives of their own that are less central to you. We get to watch our kids grow up right before our eyes.
It’s important to give children a chance to figure things out for themselves. This means giving them plenty of wait time. We internally process things, so if we slow down and give our kids processing time, they will come out of situations stronger.
Exposures and Experiences
If there’s one thing Susie wants the parents of toddlers to understand, it’s the value of giving your kids a breadth of experiences and exposures. We tend to approach things as if the goal is mastery, but more important than that is building a foundation of diverse – often very basic – experiences. Giving kids a little bit of everything will build a foundation of background knowledge that they will continue to access for the rest of their lives. Anything you do can be an exposure or an experience for your child.
It’s never too early to start developing critical thinking. Whether you have a baby, toddler, child, or teen, there are things you can do to work on that critical thinking muscle and help raise independent, strong thinkers.
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