Let's break it down a bit:
- SUSTAINED - it must carry on for a while but this could be varying lengths of time; this therefore requires flexible planning and contingencies for ensuring that other children are safe and provided for.
- SHARED - both child and adult must be contributing, there are various ways to encourage the dialogue and find out the child's ideas.
- THINKING - there are six critical thinking skills identified that are developed through sustained shared thinking.
The six critical thinking skills are:
- Enquiry skills - asking and answering appropriate questions, deciding on the next question.
- Information procesing skills - these help the child to 'do something' with the information they receive in answer to their questions; organising it and retaining the most important parts.
- Reasoning skills - forming an opinion based on the information gathered (cloesly linked to the development of language, social and emotional skills).
- Evaluation skills - children look at the information they have and decide whether they agree with it or not.
- Problem-solving skills - recognising that a problem is something to be solved rather than a failure and being able to recognise that changes can be made that will affect the end-result.
- Creative thinking - using the imagination to generate new ideas, looking beyond the obvious.
- I wonder if.....?
- What could we do......?
- can you find a way to......?
- What would happen if.....?
- Why do you think that happened.....?
- What did you notice about.....?
- tell me about.....?
The second essential is ADULT MODELLING; wonder aloud about things to demonstrate problem solving for events in your own life, or the day ahead with the children.
The third essential is that children are engaging in FREELY CHOSEN PLAY ACTIVITIES as these provide the best platform for extending children's thinking as they are motivated and absorbed.
Other strategies that you can use are:
- SUGGESTING - you might like to try this......
- INVITING CHILDREN TO ELABORATE - I'd really like to know more about this....
- RE-CAPPING - so you think that.......
- SHOWING GENUINE INTEREST - give whole attention, make eye-contact, smile, nod, affirm.
- SPECULATING - do you think that the wolf really wanted to be little red riding hoods friend?
- USE MAKING-SENSE WORDS - I agree, I wonder, I think, I imagine, I like......