When we talk to some parents about doing philosophy with their children, they assume that their kid isn’t interested, or that they’re not capable of being “that kind of thinker.” While we can all agree that no two kids (or people for that matter!) think alike, we’re pretty confident that in some way, shape or form, all kids like to ask big questions.
What does tend to differ is their preferred style of communication, which may not have anything to do with speaking, or even writing. What we’ve found is that if parents or teachers start with what a child likes or what resonates with them, they’re far more likely to respond with critical and creative thinking.
So how do you find the right kind of communication?
- Well, philosophy can be foundin virtually every subject area, hobby, or interest that a kid has. There’s philosophy in video games, colouring books, and even in those noisy cartoons that drive you crazy! If these areas of interest don’t inspire some conversation, encourage your kid to draw, build models, cook, make a video, or move around. Philosophical ideas can be expressed in so many different ways. Chances are the verbal part will follow as a kid express themselves in the other ways.
- Once the conversation starts flowing, don’t worry about its length. These conversations don’t have to be formal and they don’t have to happen all at once. Big questions are usually on-going, and the conversations around them can be too. If they happen in 10-minute chunks or all at once, it’s all good.
- If you are looking to increase the number of chances to have these conversations, add them to your daily routine. Car rides, bedtime, and meals are great daily events that inspire conversation, and with the routine of thinking established, your child will be critically thinking more and more often!
Philosophy is something that all humans do, even if they don’t have a name for it. It’s been going on for as long as humans have been humans, and it crosses cultures, age groups, and genders. Don’t assume your child isn’t interested, just because they don’t have a framework to put around their thoughts, or the vocabulary to express themselves. When your child begins to take on big questions and promote critical thinking, you may find that they were bursting to talk about big ideas, and you didn’t even know it!