May 01, 2017
The ability to think flexibly. Problem solving skills when faced with a new or difficult task. Do those sound like skills that would benefit your child? If you said yes, most parents and educators agree with you. It's a skill that can be applied to academic studies across the board, and opportunities to practice fluid reasoning can help students approach their studies from a different perspective and have a more dynamic experience. Why is fluid reasoning important? Here are some compelling reasons, and ways to help your child practice this skill.
During childhood, and into adulthood, fluid reasoning is the foundation of human cognition. As children move into adulthood, the ability to apply this skill to life, and areas of learning changes. This is a major reason why understanding what fluid reasoning is, and how to help our children strengthen their ability to use it is essential.
In children, fluid reasoning serves a framework for how, and how well they learn new things, develop new abilities, and master new skills. According to a study done in 1997 by Linda Gottfredson for the University of Delaware, "Fluid reasoning (FR), in childhood, accurately predicts performance in school, university, and cognitively demanding occupations". While many more studies have been done to measure fluid reasoning, and dissect the implications of it as a cognitive skill, the main focus of parents and educators should be how to encourage their children and students to apply it to school and life.
In the classroom, fluid reasoning contributes to how students will receive and process new information. In subject areas like math and science, new concepts require the ability to apply problem solving strategies learned in past assignments to new problems, while having to adjust those strategies to fit the new parameters. The trial and error aspect to science and math require students to approach problems without necessarily having the acquired knowledge to solve them. The ability to apply fluid reasoning empowers them to use their existing body of knowledge towards resolving unique situations.
In some students, fluid reasoning is not a skill that comes naturally. Once parents and educators identify areas of need in these students, there are things that can be done in the classroom and at home that will help them practice and use this skill.
Students that struggle with fluid reasoning often exhibit some of the following traits when engaged in learning activities: they struggle to identify patterns and relationships, have difficulty with drawing conclusions or inferences from information presented, may not be able to transfer skills or knowledge from one concept to a new one, may not understand the consequences of an action. This is just a short list, there are many more signs that a child may struggle with fluid reasoning, and collaboration between parents and teachers is essential in truly identifying an issue, but once you have, you can work with the child to strengthen their fluid reasoning abilities.
Show and tell: When presenting a new concept or task, provide a verbal explanation of the concept while showing it, or doing it yourself. This provides a visible image of what is being taught in addition to the words, providing a dynamic experience for the child, and making it easier to retain the information presented.
Demonstrate fluid reasoning: When you approach a situation that requires problem solving skills, verbalize your sequence of reasoning, and your approach and thoughts about the problem. By providing an example of fluid reasoning in action, you'll help the child internalize the process, and begin to apply it in their own lives.
Go step-by-step: Provide instructions for assignments or tasks in step-by-step fashion. This helps the child to see and understand sequential actions and patterns.
Fluid reasoning is an important skill for children to practice as they move through their educational journeys.
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