Six Learning Strategies to Develop Children Higher Order Thinking Skills

Higher order thinking skills, also called HOTS or critical thinking skills can be taught.

Some traditional schools taught children basic thinking skills such as acquisition of knowledge, comprehension and rote learning (memorization) from young. As parents and educators, we can start our kids off by steering them away from memorization and regurgitation of information. Instead, assist them in organization and guide their paths to more complex reasoning with learning strategies.

Firstly, let’s understand what are HOTS…

Bloom’s Taxonomy Cognitive Learning Skills

Professor Benjamin Bloom, from University of Chicago, identified 6 levels of cognitive learning skills set which was later known as “Blooms Taxonomy”. He taught that these skills are actually a progressive complex mix from the lower order thinking skills. Blooms Taxonomy ranks knowledge at the bottom because it involves simple recall of information like memorizing facts of a butterfly’s life cycle while listing evaluation as the highest/most difficult as it requires judgment, comparison and problem solving skills.

Higher Order Thinking Skills
In summary,

Blooms Taxonomy:
  • Evaluation - Recommending or Judging Outcome
  • Synthesis - Creating and Inventing New Ideas based on Old Concept
  • Analysis - Identifying Patterns and Trends
  • Application - Using Knowledge for Problem Solving
  • Comprehension - Understanding, Discussing and Summarizing
  • Knowledge - Gathering and Recalling Information

Learning Strategies to Adopt

Key Concepts Identification
Concepts can be verbal/non verbal, concrete/abstract or process. Suppose you want to identify a process concept. You would explain how things work in sequential steps.  An explanation of how iron would rust under different conditions is a good science process concept.
Concepts Connection
New concepts can be connected to old ones learned and to expand knowledge base. Take water for example. Most of them know what is water but how do you turn them into ice for food preservation or steam as a form of energy?
Mind Mapping
It is essentially a visual aid to help our children grasp important concepts at a glance to understand the different relationships mapped out in the topic of interest. It is also an excellent way to record our thoughts. Short, sharp and to the point.
Inculcate Inference
Teach your children how to interpret or come to a conclusion, given certain circumstances. For example, in Japan, children of early childhood education get earthquakes drill regularly. “What does it mean when you have to hide under the table?”
Re-Write Your Own Story
This method helps your children to think about what they already know but at the same time be involved like they are the characters themselves. “If you are the wolf, where would you wait for Little Red Riding Hood and why?” Reward them for their creativity and novelty.
Family Support
Practice what you preach is a good way forward. Encourage discussions that do not have straight answers of right or wrong to it. Choose issues that may affect them that they read in the news. You could try questions like “Do you think banning gum in school is a good idea?”
Importance of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS)
Gone are the days when our forefathers earned their bread and butter in the traditional way before the invention of computers. HOTS prepare our children for a future that could potentially be far more complex than ours. HOTS sharpen our children’s independent/critical thinking skills and promote understanding which is useful in tackling unexpected scenarios and to solve multifarious issues.

Let’s teach our children how to think.


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