How To Prep Your Child For 21st Century Colleges and Careers

Concerned about perceived learning loss during the COVID-19 school shutdown? Well, opportunities for learning are everywhere. Want to know how to support your child, the school and teachers, while preparing them for 21st century skills, colleges and careers?  At this stop on this backpack tour, I will give 6 tools from PreK through College to help your child practice flexible thinking.

Flexible thinking is looking at the same thing that someone else is looking at, and seeing it in a different way. It is the ability to think of alternatives to a solution. 

PreK Flexible thinking allows opportunities for unstructured play without adult interference. This type of play can turn into imaginative play. Encourages exploring possibilities, making decisions, doing and learning new things and “coloring outside of the lines.” 

Hint: Take nature walks. Take alternate nature walk routes. Allow them to break the rules or make up rules (of course as long as safe).

Grades K-2 Flexible thinking gives opportunities to brainstorm, think of multiple ideas, and problem-solve.

A hint: Think of different ways to cook a dish. And when things don’t go as planned. Think of multiple ways to solve the problem.

Grades 3-5 Flexible thinking allows and encourages deviation from standard problem-solving methods. Supports solutions not widely used or accepted. 

Understands that “taking short cuts” can come from seeing patterns and simplifying. And not just being lazy.

Hint: One way to practice this skill is by manipulating numbers. Round numbers to arrive at a faster answer when calculating.

Grades 6-8 Flexible thinking builds on standard deviation. Allows for exploration. 

Practices multiple solutions to a problem. 

Hint: Help your child think of different ways to study for a challenging class. Take notes, flash cards, recording, listening etc. At home, think of different ways to clean their room.

High school Flexible thinking considers perspective, different interpretations of ideas, concepts, and symbols. 

Hint: In storytelling, have your child retell a story from another’s character point of view (perspective). Think about how others’ feel or think about real world issues.

College Flexible thinking takes a position contrary to fact or common belief using skills of analysis, evaluation and synthesis. 

Hint: Become a champion for change. What is popular is not always right, and what is right is not always popular.

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Flexible thinking is one type of creative thinking. A 21st century skill for global competitiveness in both college and careers. Practicing flexible thinking encourages risk-taking, self awareness and confidence. All essential for success in any career. And this is why flexible thinking is a necessary stop as a backpack tool on this backpack tour.

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