Sunday, August 15, 2010

Fast Thinking Creative Kids

I'm not a big fan of putting kids in one of those Bee contests - Spelling Bee, Geography Bee etc. unless ofcourse they themselevs enjoy doing so. Don't get me wrong - preparing for all these contests does help but does it guarantee future success? I think not. One thing that we know DOES get close to being a sure shot way to success is having a sharp and creative mind. I've talked a lot about this topic in my previous posts and we focussed on three skills - Memory, Strategic thinking and fast information processing. Since I have already talked about Memory and Strategic thinking lets look at fast information processing as a skill.

Well, as a grown up I'm sure you have been in meetings at work where we come up with new issues and problems to solve and  there's always someone (let's call her Jane) who is able to come up with some interesting and pratical options almost instantly. And there you are, like me, still trying to digest the problem statement. So what happened? Well, here's how Jane does it:
Step 1: She pays attention to the discussion and understands the problem statement very quickly
Step 2: She analyzes all the numbers and details in her mind  and comes up with rough sketch of the attack plan
Step 3: She digs deep into her memory and uses past experiences, any readings or discussions with people to come up with possible solutions to the problem.

By the way, all of this happens in seconds. I on the other hand would take a few minutes to simply understand the problem statement and then I'd either need my notes or old emails to get access to the information I need. Bottomline - access to information. Unfortunately we can't do a Google search inside our brains. So how do we develop this skill in our kids. As always, I'd propose some very easy and common sense ways:

- Memory is one thing but being able to recall the facts fast is another. Play a daily game with the kids to recall the events from thier day in school but they only get seconds to think.

- Get them to learn to focus. When you ask them to do something (join for dinner, for example), say it clearly but say it only once. If the response back is "What?", tell them to go back and think what you just said.

- Play games such as saying a pattern of letters or words, followed by some funny gibrish to get them to loose thier focus and then ask them to repeat the pattern you said earlier.

- Although I'm not a big fan of Wii, DS or computer games, it's ok to look for games that need focus and attention to detail in order to win.

- Play games like Pictionary where you have to come up with creative ways to describe a picture in a limited time.

- Give your kids some down time atleast on the weekends when you let them do whatever they like, except TV ofcourse. This "whatever" time is key to developing creativity.

- Last but not least, encourage kids to join after-school programs, such as, Destination Imagination, where kids learn to work as a team on interesting projects and solve unexpected problems that come up on the way.

The key is to keep the brain "exercised" and be able to recall events fast. It's no different than training a muscle. Folks I'm no doctor or scientist but I know from experience that it makes sense and works. Great thing is that it's all in fun and when kids are having fun they learn the most. Besides, you get to have a nice family time with the kids. And there are no side effects whatsoever.

1 comment:

  1. We have five kids, and I'd like to say we're encouraging them to be creative by weening them off TV. We let them listen to audiobooks instead. It's way more engaging. There's lots of sites where you can download them, but we use this one a lot because their stories are free and original. And the kids really like them. Here's the link if anyone is interested.