How to use mind mapping with children?

I’ve been writing several posts on mind mapping during the March-May period, and—after a bit of a break from blogging—I’d like to continue writing a few more on this topic over the coming weeks. As some of you will recall, these posts are the raw input for a book on mind mapping. I’m aiming to publish this early 2013.

Today’s question is “How to use mind mapping with children?”.

Well, it’s worth mentioning that I have never used mind mapping with children myself, so I’m in unfamiliar territory here.

However …

… I am confident to say that many children are curious, uninhibited, and expansive visual thinkers. I’ve seen various examples of kids whose drawing skills extended far beyond the canvas onto the carpet! (That is, until they learn—i.e. we teach them—to stick to the confines and constraints of their paper sheet.)

They also enjoy touching things as a way to connect with their surroundings. Again, this is an urge that we as adults tend to override quite early on in the child’s development with thousands of “Don’ts!” throughout their lives, but nevertheless the innate need is there.

So it seems to me that children are naturally prone to engaging in a multi-sensory activity such as mind mapping. After all, it’s core features are freedom, expansion, expression, cross-linkages, colour, touch, and fun.

For all I know, mind mapping techniques can be successfully used by “normal” children (if there are any, please stand up!), special needs children, as well as children with special talents.

But of course, teachers might also use mind maps to explain ideas to children. This could help make them feel familiar with the technique. The only downside I see is that it takes away their spontaneity to some extent as it’s influencing how they see the world; however, surely there would be ways to rekindle their natural imagination once they get creative themselves.

Here’s one mind map I really like, produced by a professional educator; I imagine this would work well for children from the age of 6-7 years onwards:

Questions (by Time Fulford:

And by the same author, probably for a slightly higher age-group:

Kings of the Middle Ages (by Tim Fulford:

When mind mapping is used as a group activity for children, it adds news layers of meaning.

Kids can practice their social skills, learn to reach consensus and collaborate, build confidence expressing themselves in small groups, practice leadership skills, and learn how to present in front of an audience (time-stamp: 2m30s). All in the form of visual play!

Just watch a few minutes of this video, from an event in Bahrain called SuperLearning for Kids, it illustrates these ideas clearly:

On a similar vein, here’s a great example from Michael Tipper, a teacher in the UK. He describes how he is using mind mapping to harness children’s creativity in a very interactive way.

So he isn’t “teaching” and the children aren’t “on their own doing stuff” either. Much rather he’s having a dynamic conversation with them.

As you’ll hopefully agree by now, mind mapping isn’t just for adults!

Next post

My next post will address the question: What can we learn from the literature on mind mapping?

Related posts (most recent first): 

4 thoughts on “How to use mind mapping with children?

  1. Hi Luc, ik heb de braintraining bij Oracle gevolgd en daar ook het boek “Leer als een speer” gekocht over mindmappen en snellezen voor kinderen. Mijn oudste zit op de middelbare school en heeft veel baat bij mindmappen als vorm van samenvatten, vooral voor vakken als geschiedenis, natuurkunde, biologie maar soms ook latijn of grieks – grammatica. Misschien ken je het boek al, anders even checken.
    Groetjes, Georgette

  2. Hoi Georgette, Leuk om te horen dat je oudste baat heeft bij mindmappen :) Ik ga het boek zeker opzoeken. En wat een grappige titel! Dank voor je reactie!!
    Groeten, Luc

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