As Cordova Bay staff prepare first term reports, I have been reflecting again on the importance of the core competencies in our new curriculum. The competencies are key elements to supporting students in the development of decision-making and problem-solving skills. They help students make sense of the ongoing flood of new information in our digital and complex world. Throughout the school year, in all British Columbia schools, teachers provide learning opportunities for students to develop the following core competencies:
- Creative and Critical Thinking to make sense of information, experiences and ideas.
- Personal and Social Skills to help students thrive as individuals, find their purpose and grow in their understanding of themselves and others.
- Communication Skills to support positive connections and interactions with others, the exciting transformation of ideas and the sharing of satisfaction and joy in learning.
As I am also a parent, I thought that I would offer some suggestions on how these competencies could also be supported at home. With the holidays around the corner, perhaps there will be some opportunities to explore creative and critical thinking, while enjoying a cup of cocoa and some holiday treats!
Creative and Critical Thinking Competencies at Home
- When it comes to creative thinking, make it playful. Games of all types – make believe, imaginary friends, “would you rather and why?” (Would you rather live in a house in the forest or by a lake and why?), “What if….?” (What if you had a superpower? What would it be?), etc. Games are joyful ways to spark some creative ideas. One of the best ways to really incite creativity is to explore different ways to use recycling as part of a Playmobil, Lego or dolly set-up. I am always amazed at what children will make, if you give them access to random supplies.
- Label the kinds of thinking you see when you are engaging with your child e.g. “That was really great critical thinking you used when we were all deciding on where to have dinner out tonight? Or “I loved the ideas you had for decorating the holiday cookies. You showed a lot of creative thinking!”
- Highlight the importance of thinking for day-to-day planning. E.g. “Thank goodness we thought ahead and planned to buy movie tickets in advance. The theatre is really busy!” “Wow, we sure had to think a lot about whether we should go skating today or swimming. Your brother had some good reasons why we should go skating, but I am glad we are swimming, as we all decided that we haven’t done it in a very long time and we all had sooooo much fun!”
- Show how thinking is important for making sense of everything they do at home: thinking ahead (picking up toys and putting them away, so they can be found easily for playdates), planning for playdates (chatting about activities, games and sports that are enjoyable for both your child and their guest, in order to avoid disappointments or problematic playdates), reviewing bedtime routines when there is a time change or when a holiday is coming to an end (what do we need to do to make sure that you are getting enough sleep?)
- Use the word wonder, as often as you can, to promote both creative and critical thinking. When I started teaching in 1995, I sometimes felt that I had to have an answer for every question I was asked. It wasn’t really until I had my own children that I realized the vital importance of “not knowing” and how that creates a safe place for children to see that everyone is a learner. For my two daughters, I have found that showing them my critical and creative thinking skills in action, in order to find an answer to our “wonderings,” has been a huge gift to them. We wonder out loud about everything from environmental issues (how to reduce food waste at home and become a zero waste family) to family routines (what would happen if we all went to bed a half hour earlier When you wonder, you don’t have to have “right answers” but you are invited to have ideas that can be checked out online, at the library or with specialists in your community, like your family Doctor or friends and family who have knowledge in a particular area.
I will follow-up in the New Year with some more ideas for promoting the Core Competencies at home. I encourage you to send ideas my way for sharing out! My 2020 focus will be on the Personal and Social Skills competencies, as well as the Communication Skills.
Happy Holidays everyone and best wishes for a 2020 filled with rich opportunities for creative and critical thinking.
With gratitude for your partnership in education,
Mrs. ML Heron