9 Tips: philosophize with children

Together on a journey of discovery: 9 tips – philosophizing with children

"What is time?" "Why do we think?" Children want to understand the world, question things that are taken for granted by parents. Philosophizing with children starts with this thirst for knowledge, interests and desires – and strengthens their personality.

Philosophizing with children strengthens self-confidence and is fun! | © Gea Schenk

A guest contribution by children’s book author and philosopher Fabien van der Ham.

Of course, you talk to your child a lot. It’s good; Attention and interest are important. But at some point you may also come to a point where you ask yourself the following questions: Where can we always find new topics for discussion? What is more interesting than again: "How was school?"

Why philosophizing with children is good

Have you ever thought about philosophizing together? That may sound a little off-set at first, but it’s not at all. In principle, we constantly philosophize, especially our children. From an early age they are full of questions about life. Philosophizing is part of their everyday life and is a lot of fun for them. And that’s just as well!

By philosophizing together, you as parents not only learn what your child thinks, but also how your child thinks. Because you the Actively question your child’s ideas and thoughts, it feels valuable, it experiences your sincere interest. In addition, there are many answers to philosophical questions, but hardly any wrong ones, so that children can think freely. In this way, philosophizing helps the little ones to find one to form your own opinion and check them out. Your Language skills, empathy and an independent, critical and creative way of thinking are promoted.

Today I give you 9 tips on how to philosophize with your children:

Tip 1: focus on thinking questions

There are different types of questions: knowledge questions, research questions and thought questions (philosophical questions): The answer to knowledge questions can be sought. The answer to a research question can be found through an experiment.

On the other hand, thinking questions can only be answered by thinking. Philosophical questions are questions of thought. There are several answers and the questions cover topics that affect everyone.

Tip 2: Recognize the philosophical questions and take your chance

Children ask hundreds of questions. Sometimes it’s a question of knowledge. "What is a cockatoo?" "Brussels sprouts grow on the tree?"

They are relatively easy and clear to answer simply by looking in a book or on the Internet.

But often they also ask thought questions like: "All has an end?" and "If the sky is full, you will come back to earth?" The best answer and at the same time the easiest access to a philosophical conversation is: "What do you think yourself??"

Tip 3: Ask questions yourself and direct the conversation to a philosophical conversation

It is most beautiful when a philosophical conversation arises spontaneously because a child asks a question. But You can also direct a conversation in the desired direction, for example by reading a book or a poem.

There is a topic in almost every book that can be philosophized about, such as: B. friendship or freedom. You can also use the news for a philosophical conversation; "Should we help other people?" or "Is it bad if animals die out??" A visit to a museum can also be a starting point. Maybe your child doesn’t like a particular painting. Just ask it: "Art has to be beautiful?" Or in a museum about earlier times: "Old things are still valuable?" "What does history mean to us??" "What can we learn from Grandma’s time?"
You can collect chestnuts in the forest, but also questions: "How many blades of grass are there in the forest?" "Innumerable." "What is it, uncountable?"

Tip 4: question the first answer

If the child has given an answer to a philosophical question, the conversation has not yet ended. On the contrary; it starts with the answer. How did the child get his answer? Ask in-depth questions. These are questions like:

  • Is that correct?
  • Where are you so sure from?
  • Could it be otherwise?
  • It’s always like that?
  • why then?
  • How did it get this far??
  • Can you give an example??
  • The opposite can be true?
  • There is a rule for this?

Tip 5: Be genuinely interested in your children’s answers

It is important for the in-depth questions that one of you desired answer is not secretly hidden in the questions is. A good question doesn’t guide, but it is open, free, and shows that you are genuinely interested. She asks about the thoughts and ideas behind the first answer.

Tip 6: Find what the little ones know very well

Children sometimes make it easy for themselves and give an answer like "I do not know" or "That’s how it is." Now ask further and try a different question. Find out what the little ones know very well and ask further questions from there. You speak z. B. from "innumerable" and ask "What can not be counted?" The answer is "I do not know." You could ask now "What can you count very well?" And from there you search together for what cannot be counted.

Tip 7: Conceal your own opinion

In a philosophical conversation, only you ask questions and do not tell what you think it is. Because once you do that, the child will stop thinking. Children are used to adults knowing the answer. Let your child think about the puzzling questions that are asked.

Tip 8: be ignorant

A ignorant attitude is best. Think of Socrates, who said: "I know that I know nothing." Your child has the most of such a Socratic attitude, because children love to explain to adults how they think the world works.

Tip 9: Be your child’s think-friend

Again marvel at the world as if you were a child and be open to questions. Forget all your (supposed) knowledge and be You are just as curious as your child yourself. Then you are not an educator, but your child’s thinking friend.

So you will discover new sides to your child. Perhaps the most important tip is: Enjoy! Enjoy this deepening time together with your child and enjoy his surprising, clever, remarkable, inspiring answers.

Extra tip:

If you find it difficult to think up philosophical questions, then let the game "brainwaves" help. The game contains 50 philosophical questions for children. You can find more information at www.gedanken-blitze.de. On this website there are also 30 maps with in-depth questions, which you can download for free and which you can use to philosophize. Even the mini course "Philosophize with children" is free.

About the author:

Fabien van der Ham is a Dutch one Children’s author and philosophy with children. She has been giving guest classes at Dutch primary schools for years. She also gives workshops and lessons on poetry, creative writing and children’s philosophy.

She developed different ones Teaching materials for philosophizing with children, so that teachers and parents can have a philosophical conversation with the children themselves.

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