How to Raise a Baby Einstein

Written by: Karen Quinn

“How big is infinity?”

If you’re a parent to a young child, you’ve heard this question – and countless similar ones – many times. It’s the kind of question that, as parents, we get tired of hearing – but one that shows your child’s constant efforts to understand the world around them. This process is essential to developing your child’s thinking or cognitive skills.

Conveniently enough, these are the same skills measured on the intelligence tests that are so common in Chicago schools. Tests like the CogAT®, OLSAT®, Torrance®, and SOI-LA™ measure your child’s higher-order thinking, which describes your child’s use of cognitive skills to evaluate what they see, hear, and read, and then reach conclusions or solve problems based on analysis of that information.

When we talk about higher order thinking skills, here is what we are talking about:

Observing and asking questions: Children watch, listen, and read to gather enough information to begin their quest to figure out “how the world works.”

Sorting, classifying, comparing for conceptual thinking: Once children have gathered the necessary information, they classify it and take note of any similarities and differences.

Reasoning: Once children have classified and compared the information they gathered, they begin to develop concepts or opinions about different issues and the world in general.

Hypothesizing: In addition to developing concepts or opinions, children use organized and classified information to make predictions about similar or future events.

Problem solving: Once children have practiced the above skills, they will begin to recognize that situations can be changed, and will use their creative thinking to look for alternatives or generate ideas to solve a problem.

Critical thinking: Children will look at issues from different angles, consider the pros and cons of different alternatives, and form an opinion.

Decision making: Once a child is able to look at the different sides of an issue, and consider the positives and negatives of each, they’ll be able to make an informed decision.

Of course, these skills are crucial for your child’s long-term academic progress, but they are also important for admission to a Regional Gifted Center or Classical School, the two options for Chicago-area parents looking for a “free” advanced program for their children. Applicants for Regional Gifted Centers and Classical Schools are admitted based on their admissions test score and a tier system. 

By fostering your child’s higher-order thinking – and reinforcing those skills in her everyday life – you will not only help your child succeed in school and on the test; you’ll also help her become a more creative, flexible, and persistent adult.

In addition to working with your child on her higher-order thinking skills, be sure to visit for more information on admission to Regional Gifted Centers and Classical Schools. has an entire section devoted solely to Chicago-area parents who are looking for advanced curriculum options for their child. This section also gives members free access to the renowned Chicago Testing Survival Guide, which walks parents through the admissions process for Chicago-area gifted schools.

Cognitive Abilities Test® (CogAT®), OLSAT® – Otis-Lennon School Ability Test®, Torrance Test of Creative Thinking®, and The Structure of Intellect Learning Abilities Test™ (SOI-LA™) are registered trademarks of their respective publisher(s), or their affiliate(s), or their licensors. is not affiliated with nor related to the aforementioned publishers or their affiliates (the “Publishers”). The Publishers do not sponsor or endorse any product, nor have products or services been reviewed, certified, or approved by the Publishers. Trademarks referring to specific test providers are used by for nominative purposes only and such trademarks are solely the property of their respective owners.

Posted on January 23, 2013 at 9:49 AM