Teaching Children to Think

Teaching Children to Think - The Classicak Unschooler

If you have read my book The Classical Unschooleror if you simply follow the classical system, you know about the logic stage.

The Logic Stage

The logic stage typically comes after the grammar stage. We spend much time in the grammar stage. We memorize facts and details, partially because my kids love to do so. They ask lots of questions and they love learning what I would call trivia.

In the grammar stage, they set about learning a little bit of this and a little bit of that, but there is no coherent whole. They are not putting their world together yet. For the unschoolers here, strewing as a strategy works extremely well in the grammar stage.

The logic stage is reached when the children are ready to put things together and their questions increasingly revolve around why or how instead of what. (I should note that this can happen at different times in different areas and reaching the logic stage in one area doesn’t necessarily mean they are ready for it in another as is usually done in grade schools.)

The Frustration with the Logic Stage

Sometimes, I get frustrated while I wait for the logic stage. Isn’t there a way I can speed things along, I ask myself. Well, no, unfortunately. However, there are things I can do to make my time waiting for them to get to it more productive.

Here are three easy to do, practical suggestions:

If-then thinking

If-then thinking is an excellent way to hone thinking skills in general. We use this technique quite a bit with my middle son. Of the three children, my middle one is the most distractable. He learns easily and is math-minded, if you will, but he is prone to dropping a lot of things and generally making bigger messes than the other children.

My daughter – just a year older than him is the tidy one. Because she is so eager to please, her mind seems naturally bent to if-then thinking, even if the ultimate aim of it might not be what we want to encourage.

However, we have started to ask the middle kid to think through his actions. They can be simple like, “What would happen if I place the glass of milk here near my elbow as opposed to over there?”

It can take a while, but if-then thinking is a good place to start.


Laughing at a joke that is not slapstick requires much brain activity and it does require the putting together of two disparate things, seeing what does not logically follow and then laughing at it. It is a higher order of thinking.

So while you might find those knock-knock jokes annoying, there is a good reason to let your kids read them and share them. Riddles do the same thing. We have many books of riddles in the car for reading and sharing during drives. The kids love them.

Reading aloud

It is quite well known that reading aloud is great for language development so we tend to fixate on books with good language. Many even exclude modern books and pick up classics. And while there’s clearly nothing wrong with this approach, we tend to miss out on one thing: logic.

If you pick a book with great plot lines, it is fascinating to sit back back and watch the children put them together. It’s like being able to get a glimpse of their neurons firing in their brains. We have been reading the Harry Potter series and J.K.Rowling is a master plotter. It has been a lot of fun following the various threads being pulled together in the books. And I love it when the children see something coming that I don’t.

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Author: Purva Brown

Writer / blogger at http://TheClassicalUnschooler.com - unapologetically blending two seeming opposites.

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