What is freedom? What is a friend? What is fear? Why are we jealous? What’s the point of love ? Growing up, what does it mean? What does “succeed in life” mean? So many questions that our children ask themselves, or ask us, and to which we, the adults, try to answer more or less (hum!) Adroitly …
What if we did the opposite? What if we asked them questions, leaving them free to answer in their own way? In other words “what if we philosophized with our children?” But yes, we promise, it is possible, philosophy and children often get along well! It’s even easier than you think! 😉
For the past ten years or so, philosophy workshops for children have been developing in France, because giving children a voice, allowing them to express themselves and discuss together around a theme, has unsuspected virtues … It is a great tool, among other things, to give them self-confidence and develop their critical thinking while respecting others, but not only. So what if we got down to it at home too?
To tell you more, I leave the floor to my friend Caroline, mother of two budding little philosophers, Arthur 7 years old and Tristan 5.5 years old.
On the program of this article:
“What’s great about philosophy is that you can never go wrong! “
This is the first thing my son Arthur told me when he left his first “philo-drawing” workshop organized by La Carabane : “What’s great about philosophy is that you can never go wrong! “. In a small group of 5-6 children, guided by an animator, they had debated that day around the question “What is the point of thinking? “. And by reading the report of the exchanges, I was really impressed by their quality and their richness. « If we didn’t think, we couldn’t invent, nor create “Said a child, or” You don’t have to be smart to think. Those who wage war are not smart, but they think about doing it “ noticed another… Well seen, right? 😉
After the debate, the children were invited to “draw different ways of thinking”. “This drawing part is just as important as the debate, explains Estelle Roulin, founder of La Carabane, this allows the children to re-read what has been said and organize their ideas ».
Beyond the relevance of the children’s words, what convinced me was also the values transmitted in these workshops and the positive effects they can bring. First of all, they understand that they can express themselves freely, that their speech is legitimate. What could be more effective to give them confidence in them ? Most they also learn to respect the ideas of others. Because if everyone has the right to say what he thinks, we do not cut the floor, and we do not say “it’s wrong” but “I do not agree with you”! Rule that can come in handy in a lot of other circumstances… right? 🙂
Showing our child that his word is valuable is a great way to build confidence and self-esteem… There are also others! If this subject interests you, we have made PACK “CONFIDENCE IN YOU” with lots of tips for our little ones to believe in them! To receive it (it’s obviously free), nothing could be simpler, enter your email address below, and it will be sent directly to your mailbox.
Philosophy for children: how does it work?
With Arthur’s little brother, Tristan, we also experienced the workshops led by The Little Lights and there again it was a great success… First observation: there is no age to philosophize ! And yes, from kindergarten, our little ones are capable of expressing themselves on a subject, of exchanging, as long as it concerns them and that it is approached in a playful or creative way. Of course, it is not a question of transmitting them theoretical knowledge, of making them study Kant in the text (phew! :-)), but of allowing them to reflect and develop personal thinking around major issues that concern them, such as emotions, love, friendship, family, death, etc.
Félix, 6, sums it up with a lot of common sense: “ To say that the philosophy is that for grown-ups is like saying that dancing is only for girls… it’s rubbish! » 😉
So how do you go about it? In some workshops, like at La Carabane, we usually start by reading a story or a tale related to the subject, and we always end with a “drawing” section.
In the Small Lights, we use puppets-philosophers: “This makes it possible to embody situations, and to give rise to the debate in a playful way Says Chiara Pastorini, their founder.
As for the debate, the workshops are often held in the same way: the children express themselves freely, but are guided by a facilitator. «L’moderator is there to lead and refocus the debate, when necessary, by bouncing back with questions on the answers given“, Explains Chiara Pastorini.
Philosophy for children: incredible benefits for our children… for a better world!
“As the workshops progress, we quickly see the evolution of the children”, rejoices Estelle Roulin. In fact, little by little, they learn to wait their turn to speak, bounce off the ideas of others in a more relevant way, and better structure their ideas. Children who appear more reserved gain a lot in confidence. All are happy and proud to be able to give their opinion, develop their critical thinking, and learn to think for themselves.
And then, practicing philosophy with them also allows, in the long term, to develop their empathy, their cooperation, their tolerance, therefore to train more responsible adults.
No wonder that, in 2016, UNESCO created a UNESCO Chair “The practice of philosophy with children: a basis for intercultural dialogue and social transformation” 🙂
Philosophy workshop for children: where and how to initiate them?
You can choose to call on an organization and look for “turnkey” workshops. We now find them face-to-face, video, online… It’s up to us to choose what inspires us the most!
The Little Lights intervene in schools, but also in libraries, media libraries, theaters, museums, cinemas, cultural centers, etc.
To find all the dates and locations of their workshops, it’s here:
While waiting (we hope :-)) for a face-to-face return for individuals, la Carabane offers specific formulas for companies, but also workshops to be done online as a family: six workshops on tolerance, freedom, jealousy, fear, truth, justice, to be done at their own pace to grow together !
To find out more, it’s here:
There are others. But since it is not always easy to get around or get organized, especially when you have busy schedules … Good news: philosophy at home is also possible!
Philosophy for children: at home too, it’s possible!
So we reassure you, you don’t need to be a graduate and have a bac + 10 to lead a philosophy workshop at home! (phew :-)). Just choose a topic, and start the discussion!
To start, offer simple themes : love, friendship (what is a friend? do you have to look alike to love each other?), happiness (what is happiness for you?), fear (why fear? can fear be useful?), jealousy, joy…. (and more generally, all emotions, children love to talk about it…), nature, death, school… We can also ask more specific questions (Are we free to do whatever we want? to love? Is a gift always happy?) or even to confront two notions (girls and boys, life and death, play and work)… The possibilities are endless!
To lead the discussion, Estelle Roulin gave us some tips to live a truly special moment with her child: “You can start the discussion by saying to your child ‘what do you think about …? ” and let it express itself, without judgment. It is important to respect this: everyone has the right to say what they think, no one can be wrong! And above all, have no special expectations on what our child will say… Finally, let’s not hesitate to agree to say “I don’t know” or “it’s only my opinion”! “.
We promise, you’ll be amazed at everything your kids have to say!
So what are you going to philosophize about tonight at home? 🙂
Some ideas for inspiration
The Carabane Instagram account @ la.carabane which is full of ideas for questions to ask our children 😉
- The little philosophers, Sophie Furlaud and Dorothée de Monfreid, ed Bayard
- Alice and Simon have lots of questions, Chiara Pastorini, Véronique Grisseaux et Ohazar, ed Jungle, 2021)
- My philosophy workshop, 30 concepts to introduce your child to philosophy, Chiara Pastorini and Sandrine Monnier
- Philosophy and meditate with children, Frédéric Lenoir, ed Albin Michel
Good to know !
If the subject fascinates you and you want to go even further, there are training courses for adults, to become a workshop leader in philosophy for children! Do you like it? It’s this way :
We want to thank the writer of this post for this awesome material
Philosophy for children: a magical tool in the education of our children!