What do you want to think about today

On a journey of discovery together: 9 tips - philosophizing with children

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 come to a point where you ask yourself the following questions: Where do we always find new topics of conversation? What is more interesting than again: "How was it at school?"

Why philosophizing with children is good

Have you ever thought about philosophizing together? That might sound a bit aloof at first, but it isn't at all. In principle we philosophize all the time, especially our children. They are full of questions about life from an early age. 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 learn not only what your child thinks, but also how your child thinks. Because you are the Actively questioning your child's ideas and thoughts, it feels valuable, it shows your sincere interest. In addition, there are many answers to philosophical questions, but hardly a wrong one, so that children can think freely. Philosophizing helps the little ones to find a to form your own opinion and check them out. Your Language skills, empathy and an independent, critical and creative way of thinking are encouraged.

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

Tip 1: focus on thought questions

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

In contrast, questions of thought can only be answered by reflecting. Philosophical questions are questions of thought. There are several answers and the questions cover topics that concern all people.

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?" "Does Brussels sprouts grow on a tree?"

They can be answered relatively easily and clearly, simply by looking it up in a book or on the Internet.

But often they also ask questions like: "Does this all come to an end?" and "Should heaven be full, will you 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 steer the conversation towards a philosophical conversation

It is best when a philosophical conversation arises spontaneously because a child asks a question. But You can also steer a conversation in the direction you want, for example by reading a book or a poem.

In almost every book there is a topic 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 when animals go extinct?" A visit to a museum can also be a starting point. Your child may not like a particular painting. Just ask: "Does art have to be beautiful?" Or in a museum about earlier times: "Are old things still valuable?" "What does the story mean for us?" "What can we learn from grandma's time?"
You can collect chestnuts in the forest, but you can also ask: "How many blades of grass are there in the forest?" "Innumerable." "What is that, uncountable?"

Tip 4: Question the first answer

If the child has given an answer to a philosophical question, the conversation is not over yet. 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?
  • How are you so sure about that?
  • Could it be otherwise?
  • Is it always like that?
  • Why then?
  • How did it get this far?
  • Can you give an example
  • Can the opposite be true?
  • Is there a rule for that?

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

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

Tip 6: Look for what the little ones know very well

Children sometimes make it easy for themselves and give an answer like "don't know" or "that's the way it is." Now keep asking and try a slightly different question. Find what the little ones know very well and ask from there. You speak z. B. of "uncountable" and ask "What cannot be counted?" The answer is "don't know." You might now ask, "What can one very well count?" And from there you look together for what cannot be counted.

Tip 7: hide your own opinion

In a philosophical conversation, you are the only one asking questions, not telling how you think it is. Because as soon as you do that, the child will stop thinking for themselves. Children are used to adults knowing the answer. Let your child ponder the puzzling questions they are asked for themselves.

Tip 8: be ignorant

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

Tip 9: be your child's thinker

Marvel at the world again as if you were a child and be open to the questions. Forget all your (supposed) knowledge and be You are just as curious as your child. Then you are not an educator, but your child's thinker.

In this way you will discover new aspects of your child. The most important tip is therefore perhaps: Enjoy! Enjoy this time together in depth with your child and enjoy their surprising, clever, remarkable, inspiring answers.

Extra tip:

Should you find it difficult to come up with philosophical questions, then let the game "Brainstorms" help you. The game contains 50 philosophical questions for children. You can find more information at www.gedanken-blitze.de. There are also 30 cards with in-depth questions on this website which you can download for free and which you can use in philosophizing. The mini-course "Philosophizing with Children" is also free.


About the author:

© Sylvia Germes

Fabien van der Ham is a Dutch Children's author and Child philosopher. She has been giving guest lessons in Dutch elementary schools for many years. She also gives workshops and classes on poetry, creative writing and children's philosophy.

She developed several Teaching materials for philosophizing with childrenso that teachers and parents can also have a philosophical conversation with the children themselves.