Sometimes I ask a child to tell me or the class how she figured out an
answer she just gave, but she canít find the words to explain how she did
it. My most successful students have been those whose parents have taken
the time to talk to them - especially in the process I call sharing your
thinking - verbalizing your thought process.
The idea is not to present your way as the right and only way. Explaining
it as one way to come up with the answer leaves the door open for your
child to come up with ways of his own.
For example, when measuring something, you might say, ďItís eighteen inches
long. Thatís a foot and a half. I know that a foot is twelve inches and
that half a foot is six inches. Twelve plus six is eighteen.Ē
Putting words with chores that you are doing adds an auditory component
to the visual. This can be especially powerful if it is a job that you
expect one of the children to be fulfilling soon.
As another example, it is reasonable to expect that a child in the early
elementary grades can properly sort the utensils when the dishwasher is
emptied. The job becomes more manageable if you have shared your thinking
with the child who will be doing it:
ďNow we put the silverware in this holder. We know that the soup spoons
go here because this spot is shaped like the biggest spoons. I have to
be careful with the forks because the space for the dinner forks is about
the same size as the space for the salad forks. And the dinner forks are
only a little bit bigger than the salad forks, so you have to look carefully
to make sure that they donít get mixed up together.Ē
In sharing your thinking, you are using the appropriate and necessary vocabulary,
adding the auditory to the visual and kinesthetic, and giving your child
the tool to be able to explain his own thinking process.
This column has been incorporated and expanded in Teach Your Children
Well: A Teacherís Advice for Parents.