Improving Higher Order Thinking Skills for children with Chess

In contrast to the outdated educational models of the early 20th century, modern education has undergone a monumental transformation by shifting its focus from memorisation and recollection towards fostering critical thinking skills. Instead of solely reading, writing and calculating as primary objectives, academic institutions are now prioritising understanding while encouraging students to exercise their reasoning abilities to discover solutions.

In recent years, curriculums and academics have attempted to revolutionise learning by focusing on cultivating Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTs) concept as essential analytical skills for children.

By employing HOTs, children are able to understand and apply more complicated concepts than just memorization. They learn how to examine information, create original solutions, make decisions based on evidence, as well as identify and solve problems in a creative way. Playing chess is an excellent way to encourage children to develop critical thinking skills as it requires players to think critically and strategically.

Let’s find out what HOTs really is, what it means for your child’s development, and how chess can hone their critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

What is meant by Higher Order Thinking Skills?

Higher Order Thinking Skills is a term used to describe advanced cognitive skills that go beyond simple recall and comprehension. HOTS draws upon several learning taxonomies but primarily borrows from Benjamin Bloom’s “Taxonomy of Educational Objectives: The Classification of Educational Goals,” published in 1956.

Bloom’s taxonomy is a framework that includes six different levels of thinking, starting from basic factual recall and moving up to more intricate and abstract mental processes. The taxonomy is divided into a pyramid, where the bottom three items comprise the lower-order thinking skills (LOTS), which prioritise memorization and recalling capacities.

The top three skills in the pyramid constitute higher-order thinking skills, or HOTS, concerned with the ability to analyse, synthesise, and evaluate information and solve problems creatively.

HOTS is all about retaining what you have learned, understanding its significance, and applying it to real-world scenarios. For instance, with trigonometry, your child will not only learn the concepts but also understand how to apply them to solve actual maths problems.

Higher order thinking skills

So How does it Help my Child?

HOTS is a set of thinking skills that come into play when students face unusual problems, uncertainties, and inquiries during the learning process. Most scientific methods, like asking research questions, formulating hypotheses, designing experiments, and drawing conclusions, are part of higher-order thinking.

In other words, when we encounter new information and need to figure out how to use it meaningfully, we engage in higher-order thinking. It’s all about taking what we know and using it to find answers to complex and perplexing questions. It’s like using trigonometry formulas in solving problems outside of maths classes or doing research projects and writing theses.

The top three skills in Bloom’s Taxonomy that forms HOTS are:

1. Analysis

Analysis involves breaking down information into parts and understanding the relationships between them. It concerns using judgement to break down the knowledge your child has learned. They would begin to see how the different pieces fit together and can differentiate between verifiable facts and subjective opinions.

We can see analysis in action when your child can identify the themes and motifs in Shakespeare’s play Macbeth and explain how they contribute to the play’s overall message.


2. Synthesis

Synthesis is all about combining information from multiple sources to form a new and original idea or solution. Students learn to use what they already know from multiple sources to create something new.

If your child is working on a social media and mental health essay for example, they might use a research study, personal experiences, and a news article to build one solid narrative. The result could end up being a fresh perspective on the topic, one that explores the many complex aspects of a single topic rather than relying on merely one narrative.

Taking your knowledge and putting it together in a creative way is what this level is about. When a student is asked to come up with an alternative solution to a mathematical problem, they’re displaying their skill in synthesising.


3. Evaluation

Evaluation is concerned with assessing the strengths and weaknesses of arguments, ideas, and solutions. As the highest level in Bloom’s pyramid, it is through evaluation that students can judge the value of things, like ideas or materials. This is where they use everything they’ve learned to make informed and thoughtful decisions, like with their academics.

When asked to evaluate the arguments for and against a particular environmental policy and make a recommendation based on each perspective’s strengths and weaknesses, evaluation is apparent.

How Chess Helps Develop Higher Order Thinking Skills

Chess is an excellent tool for developing Higher Order Thinking skills in children. By playing chess, your child can develop 4 invaluable skills:

1. Strategic Planning

Chess requires players to think ahead and plan their moves. This helps children develop the ability to analyse situations, anticipate outcomes, and make informed decisions.

The child is compelled to analyse the board and their opponent’s moves, synthesise this collected information to come up with a clever move, anticipate their opponent’s moves and evaluate the effects their move will have on the whole game and their chances of winning.


2. Problem-Solving

The game is full of complex problems that require players to think creatively and develop solutions. By solving these problems, children can improve their problem-solving skills and learn to think critically. Chess requires players to think creatively and devise effective tactics to outmanoeuvre their opponents.


3. Decision Making

Chess requires players to make quick decisions based on limited information under the pressure of time and stress. Such situations help develop the ability to analyse data, make informed decisions, and evaluate the consequences of their actions under pressure.

Chess players must assess the strengths and weaknesses of different strategies and choose the best one while playing the game.


4. Critical Thinking

Chess requires players to think critically and objectively, which helps children develop the ability to examine information and arguments objectively and make informed decisions based on evidence and logic.

Players must also make quick decisions based on limited information and evaluate the consequences of their actions, forcing them to employ their higher-order thinking skills.

Unlock Your Child's Full Potential with Chess

Rote learning is no longer adequate in preparing your child for the rapidly changing academic and workplace environment. By learning HOTs, they will stand out from their competition and gain opportunities that can change their lives forever.

You can dramatically improve your child’s ability to solve problems, think critically, and make decisions by teaching them chess, and preparing them for success in academics and careers.

For parents and teachers looking to help their children develop HOT skills, incorporating chess into their education is a great place to start. Whether you enrol them in a chess club, sign them up for lessons, or play chess with them at home, chess is a fun and engaging way to help develop critical analytical skills for children that could make all the difference in their lives.

Take the first step towards improving your child’s Higher Order Thinking skills today with Saswath Academy!

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