Analytical Thinking – Starting Them Young

You Serious?

Primary School Children Learning To Think Analytically! The question might sound strange. We associate primary school with a lot of different things and analytical thinking isn’t usually one of them. That’s for later in life, some would say. We beg to differ.

So, What Is Analytical Thinking?

The Webster’s dictionary defines analysis as “a careful study of something to learn about its parts, what they do, and how they are related to each other”. Viewed from this lens, our primary-schoolers have many opportunities to think analytically, if only we encourage them to.

How Can It Be Part Of The Primary School Curriculum?

Carefully chosen activities can encourage children to think analytically, even in Primary school. Let’s take some examples that make this clear.

Young children often work with jigsaw puzzles. They look carefully at a given picture and try to place each piece in its correct position. It’s a great way to build analytical skills. Innovative teachers are quick to adapt such activities to the subjects that they may be teaching. In language class, assembling jumbled up sentences to create a meaningful conversation is a great example.

While learning about different modes of transport in the environment science class, a well-designed activity could engage children in planning a long multi-part journey and choosing different modes of transport for each part of the journey. Not only do the children have more fun, but also, (you guessed it) they learn to think analytically too.

Okay, I Get It. But, Is It Really Necessary?

One of the most important reasons for getting young children started on analytical thinking is because it teaches them how to deal with unfamiliar questions or situations. For instance, we regularly come across young children, who remember the formula for the circumference of a circle, are even able to calculate circumference given radius but are unable to solve the following problem.

“A horse is tied to a pole with a rope of length 5 metres. The horse walks fully around the pole one time. What is the distance walked by the horse?”

While the circumference analogy, implicit in the question, is apparent to most of us, to a young learner solving this represents a series of interlinked steps, To start with, the child needs to:
a. Interpret the problem and understand what is being asked
b. Identify the concept that can be applied in this situation, i.e. that the distance the horse has walked is the circumference of the circle
c. Recollect the formula to calculate the circumference
d. Correctly apply the formula and come up with the answer

As we move from primary to middle school to high school and beyond, increasingly what matters is the ability to apply our learning even in unfamiliar situations. Starting early, can be a huge advantage.

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