Children first begin thinking in very concrete ways but as they grow and develop they move on to more abstract ways of thinking. Children will develop abstract thinking earlier in the learning process if we give them the space, support and encouragement to think freely. All significant learning requires abstract thinking and it is a natural ‘next step” for small children. It is important to find ways to help a child with abstract concepts.

Here are 8 ways to help your child with abstract concepts:

  1. Find abstract ways to describe and explain tangible objects and simple concepts. For example, larger, smaller, spherical, cylindrical. 
  2. Play games such as “Simon says” to develop an understanding of abstract concepts and thought. For example, “find the heaviest object.“ ”Touch an object that has corners.”
  3. Teach directly the concept of “abstract” and how it applies in different contexts. For example, shape, depth, dimension.
  4. Provide physical demonstrations frequently that show abstract concepts and thinking. For example, identify an object something that is too large for a small space, something that is near, something that is far away.
  5. When explaining abstract concepts rely on physical or tangible objects that illustrate the idea. For example, use people when describing height, a playground for describing distance and food items for describing shapes. Delay using words such as triangle, cylinder and other titles when first introducing abstract concepts.
  6. Provide assignments that require the following of directions. For example, touch an object in the furthest corner of the room.
  7. Once abstract concepts have been introduced and explored in some detail, have the child match the names to concrete objects or ideas.For example, square tile, deep dish, shallow puddle.
  8. Draw attention to spatial concepts that occur naturally in the environment around them. For example, the dog jumped “over” the fence, a cat ran through the doorway.
Ways to Help a Child with Abstract Concepts
Ways to Help a Child with Abstract Concepts

Senior Managing Partner and Education Expert Shanna Parry

Shanna Parry
Shanna Parry – Senior Managing Partner

Combining her passions for teaching, training and travel, Shanna Parry has since worked throughout the USA, Middle East, India and China serving as a director (Higher Education), headmaster (Secondary School) and consultant (K-12). Shanna brings a wealth of experience in a variety of critical areas.

In 2018 and 2019 Shanna was identified as top 30 in the Education category for Global Gurus among some of the worlds leading Education experts. Shanna continues to travel extensively to meet the demands for her consulting expertise in administrative and teacher development.

In her role as Senior Managing Partner of GSE she plays a key role in the day-to-day operations as well as pioneering creative models for international schools and providing groundbreaking training methods for directors, administrators, teachers, and students.

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Global Services in Education set up and operate schools in all parts of the world. Governed by a philosophy of global citizenship, every member of the GSE team shares a passion to help shape international education and student achievement through inspiration and collaboration.
Our goal is to meet the highest objectives of every school, teacher, student and parent, with an unwavering dedication to quality education, shared ideals and intercultural perspectives.

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Help a child with abstract concepts