Thinking skills

As test season is around the corner, these are the skills that children should be honing in on. Critical thinking, problem solving, analytical skills. These skill are all part of what some might view as the most important parts of Executive Function; Higher Order Cognition. Being able to think deeply and skillfully. There are different types of deeper thinking skills that make up Higher Order Cognition. They are:


Concept Formation: the ability to think! Concept formation is the ability to come up with ideas. Critical Thinking: the ability to make decisions. When given new information a critical thinker can weight the positive and the negative and use these to make a decision.

Creativity and Brainstorming: the ability to create something new. To take information that exists and repurpose it or take from it to generate something original. Problem Solving: the ability to overcome challenges. Being able to look at an obstacle or an issue and to decide the best way to resolve it. Rule Use: the ability to apply rules to any given situation. Using rule use is being able to identify rules and apply them without explicit instruction, and to identify when the same rules do not apply. Reasoning and Logical Thinking: the ability to break a problem into parts. Using reasoning and logic one is able to see all sides of an situation and dissect it into pieces so it is more easily defined and understood. Mental Representation: the ability to see all sides of a problem. Being able to consider all angles and think abstractly about a problem before problem solving.


Very often these higher order thinking skills overlap and work together. This is ideal, as all of these facets are what lead to best thinking and best learning. These skills are quite important for test taking. Though children are assessed on topic specific information and the learning and retention of that information can ensure high marks, a child with strong higher order thinking skills is able to think about (and solve) problems that they have not been specifically prepared for. This opens them up to a higher likelihood of success and dissipates restrictions that are information or topic based.

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