By Selma Wassermann

Hardcover, 98 pages, 2021.

Rowman & Littlefield

“Learning to think intelligently, like learning to derive meaning from the written word, requires experience and practice.”  That’s why parents who want their children to read pursue activities to establish a child’s reading habit—bedtime stories, library visits, reading programs, literary activities.

The same constancy is required for critical thinking. Straight A’s don’t translate to higher mental functions.

“It is a huge error to believe that the development of intelligent habits of mind is a by-product of learning to read, to do math sums, or to give the right answers to test questions. Like other skills, the development of our cognitive powers requires concentrated and extensive work…”

So that’s what this brief book does. Selma is an awarded educator who arms parents with great tips and hundreds of activities to hone high-level thinking beyond mere facts. It’s the basic mental skills needed to live well and succeed: observe, compare, classify, imagine, hypothesize, evaluate and judge, seek assumptions, collect and organize data, summarize, interpret, solve problems, and make decisions.

Selma’s activities are timely and realistic. She delves into current events and serious issues like bullying, race, dishonesty, fighting. For example, to develop problem-solving, she poses a question for children to solve:

“What would be a good way for kids to spend their time when they are locked down at home? How would you solve that problem?”

She also poses everyday scenarios that children normally encounter:

Differentiate cell phones from laptops; what groceries are people buying in the store?; classify the different kids of garbage in your house; why do you think kids spend so much time on their tablet?; Design an app that is fun and educational.

Why develop higher thinking? Because intelligent thought informs our decisions, which shape our lives. We all want good lives.

With COVID variants still raging, many parents opt to home study their unvaccinated or vulnerable kids. This guide is geared for elementary grades but can easily be used by teens.

Hundreds of activities will keep kids mentally sharp as a fine supplement to their regular schoolwork. Isn’t that what school should teach? How to think.

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