5 Ways Design Thinking can Rewire your Child’s Thought Process

Humans often feel stuck in a rut and accept the status quo even if they are unhappy with it. However, people who utilise “design thinking” improve their lives by envisaging innovative solutions to such quandaries.

Design thinking solves problems by iterating through the following: empathising, defining, ideating, prototyping, and testing. When children learn through such a process, they develop into adults with higher empathy, better cognitive capabilities, and critical thinking. A particular study found that when children received reward prize tokens for being original, they generated novel outcomes.   

Design Thinking and Children:

Advances in access to information have necessitated a paradigm change in the education system. There is a palpable movement away from memory-based learning to a process-oriented one. Real-life problem solving does not require children to memorise information but to know what to do with their information. They need to identify the right questions before figuring out a feasible path towards the answer.

Benefits of Design Thinking:

Children become adept at the following when encouraged to follow the design process.

  1. Identifying the right stakeholders: The empathising stage of the process helps children recognise the people who are most affected by a situation – for instance, littering in the neighbourhood. They learn to perceive a problem from multiple perspectives, increasing their cultural tolerance and making them more open-minded.   
  2. Identifying Problems: While learning to solve pre-determined problems is an important skill, problems are rarely pre-determined in real life. Due to the iterativeness of the design thinking concept, children learn to accept problems as a vital part of the process and know not to be discouraged by them. They learn to identify patterns, issues and even to predict a problem before it gets out of hand.
  3. Unconstrained Brainstorming: A rigid curriculum never fully exploits children’s creativity. If, on the other hand, children are encouraged to be radical thinkers, they may come up with unheard of but most suited solutions to the problem at hand. At the core of the design thinking concept is the philosophy that change comes from out-of-the-box thinking.
  4. Taking Quick, Feasible Actions: A major advantage of design thinking over other processes is the emphasis on creating small prototypes within a timeframe. It helps children move away from a perfectionist’s curse of sitting on a problem for too long. Since they realise that they can come back to the prototype in the next iteration to make changes to it, they are less susceptible to the fear of failure and rejection.
  5. Finding Resilient Solutions: The testing phase ensures that children learn to evaluate their solutions from time to time. It builds their accountability to the methodology and helps them systematically organize their thoughts.

Using reward prize tokens to reinforce good behaviour:

Mementos of appreciation – like collectible tokens, badges, and coins are excellent means to strengthen a child’s belief in the methodology. Children can be presented with tokens to acknowledge each completed stage or iteration of the project. Once children imbibe the thought process, they can learn to apply it to their daily lives – such as setting and achieving academic goals, without feeling frustrated or burnt out by failure. It is the essence of a growth-oriented mindset.

Design thinking puts a child in charge of her circumstances and develops her into a happier, self-sufficient adult. The use of praises, encouragement, and rewards to hone the thought process can ensure she imbibes the process in all walks of her life.

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