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Developing critical thinking, systems thinking, problem solving, creativity and innovation is so important to our children today.

When your son or daughter demonstrates originality and inventiveness in his or her work and develops, implements and communicates new ideas to others you will know that he or she is on his or her way to being ready for the 21st century workplace.

Being open and responsive to new and diverse perspectives and acting on creative ideas to make useful contributions, exercising sound reasoning in understanding, and make complex choices and decisions are all important skills in the marketplace.

As they understanding the interconnections among systems and ask significant questions that clarify various points of view and that lead to better solutions, they will make themselves valuable in any profession.

Creativity and Innovation Skills

  • Demonstrating originality and inventiveness in work
  • Developing, implementing and communicating new ideas to others
  • Being open and responsive to new and diverse perspectives
  • Acting on creative ideas to make a tangible and useful contribution to the domain in which the innovation occurs

Some creative ways kids are learning in school are through podcasts. What's a podcast you say? Watch this video to find out:

Critical Thinking and Problem Solving

  • Exercising sound reasoning in understanding
  • Making complex choices and decisions
  • Understanding the interconnections among systems
  • Identifying and asking significant questions that clarify various points of view and lead to better solutions
  • Framing, analyzing and synthesizing information to solve problems and answer questions

Take a look at what an eighth grade math exercise involving critical thinking and problem solving looks like: Three Dimensional Measurement in the 21st Century.

Communication and Collaboration Skills

  • Articulating thoughts and ideas clearly and effectively through speaking and writing
  • Demonstrating ability to work effectively with diverse teams
  • Exercising flexibility and willingness to be helpful in making necessary compromises to accomplish a common goal Collaborative Wiki
  • Assuming shared responsibility for collaborative work

Wikis are a 21st century way that students are learning to communicate and collaborate. Click on the picture on the right and visit the Harper-Allen Team Wiki! PS: A wiki is a webpage that allows those who have access to it to work together, contribute or modify the pages.

What You Can Do

Parent's Guide to Creativity at PBS Parents

  • Create an atmosphere that encourages creativity
  • Have a variety of artistic and creative materials accessible to your child
  • Incorporate role playing and storytelling in everyday activities
  • Offer children the ability to help provide the rules and regulations of the household
  • Give children an opportunity for free self-expression, without negative or demeaning judgment
  • Encourage children to evaluate their problems, review a variety of options to solve the problem, and figure out which option is the best to execute.
  • Encourage your children to be a part of extra curricular activities in and out of school; join the choir in school, and sign up for a local play out of school.
  • Allow your child the freedom of expression; allow them to wear the clothes they want without the fear of rejection or judgment from you.
  • Don't push children into anything they don't want to do, but encourage them to join diverse groups to learn other skills.

Thinking Skills: How Parents Can Help

Choose a topic that interests your child and explore it thoroughly. Discuss it over dinner asking "thinking questions" that begin with

  • Why do you believe...
  • What effect do you think this has...
  • How can we get more involved, make a change, etc...
  • How can we learn more...

Showing interest and encouraging your child to express his or her opinion will cause he or she to think more critically about his or her own beliefs.

Developing Skills and Abilities

When your children come to you with a problem or you see that they are struggling, rather than fixing it right away, teach your children this five-step problem solving strategy:

  1. Ask yourself, "What is the problem?"
  2. Think up three possible solutions (options) to the problem.
  3. Look at each option for a minute. Ask yourself, "Is this a good move or a bad move?"
  4. Pick the best option/solution.
  5. Try it out and see if it works.