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August 2019

Happy and Successful Kids Lifeskill 4: Making Connections

By Jan Pierce, M.Ed.

Have you ever wondered why some people are artists, writers or inventors? How is it that some people quickly understand the way a story works or the heart of a poem? At least part of the answer is that those persons are able to make connections between bits of information to build a broader understanding.

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School teachers understand the importance of making connections. Those students able to find the connections between various pieces of information arrive at correct conclusions faster and also come up with unique understandings. They’re good thinkers and often creative thinkers.

Very young children develop a sense of  object, that is they identify the things they see in their environment: toys, clothing, food items. They also develop a sense of space that is location and direction. And thirdly, they develop a number sense: the concept of the number of objects or how much of something. These basic skills later grow into understandings in physics, geometry and general mathematics. Combined with executive functions such as focus, communication, and perspective taking children make connections that lead to basic understandings and sometimes to unique, creative ways of thinking.

Making connections is at the heart of all learning. We determine what is the same and what is different. We sort things into categories and see the relationships between parts. Making connections goes beyond memorization to using the information to gain broader understandings. Real learning happens when we see connections between various facts, findings and concepts.

Learning to make connections involves remembering two or more “rules” at a time, such as sorting blue toys into one basket and red in another. Focus skills pave the way for seeing and making connections. Making connections help children understand their environment, how one thing relates to another. It helps them learn right and wrong and make good decisions.

Parents can support the development of making connections skills in many ways. Here are some of them.

How to Promote Making Connections

Making connections is an important skill in all of learning. It’s especially important in reading comprehension skills. Whenever your children can find a similar character, setting or story line or see differences between them, they’re making important connections that lead to broader understanding. Your efforts to encourage your child in this important skill will pay dividends all throughout life.

Jan Pierce, M.Ed., is a retired teacher, reading specialist and the author of Homegrown Readers and Homegrown Family Fun: Unplugged. Find Jan at

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