Sustained (strengthen/support) shared thinking where two or more individuals work together intellectully/thinking how to do something, explain something, talk about something they are/or going to do, solving problems or foreseeing problems.
Working/discussing in a team (whether two or more) is always going to bring differing views/opinions/answers/solutions etc.
So why do you think it is important to support children in sustained thinking?
If you said at circle time.
Today we are going to look at a sunflower - here is the seed, it needs soil, water and warmth to grow.
You have imparted the knowledge to the children - but what else? what about them using their brain and thinking for themselves?
You could say i.e.
we will water our sunflower seeds in pot of soil and keep in on the windowsill for light and to keep it warm but then asking...
If we plant the seed outside - what will the seed need to grow?
hopefully you have given them the knowledge and they (especially older or more able children) will know they still need soil, water and warmth., but you ask how is the sunflower going to get their water? what will happen to the plant if the weather is cold?
A child may reply '...rain..' or another may say with a 'watering can...' - whatever the answer they are thinking and putting their thoughts into practice and the topic/subject may go in another direction, but they are still thinking..with the support of a practitioner (or other children) who is chipping in and enriching their experience.
This is just a generalisation, but I'm trying to show you knowledge is not enough, but helping children improve their thinking skills by thinking further, to extend thinking is necessary to continued learning.
Supporting and encouraging children to think will help their thinking skills so when they are say playing and constructing a tower, they can then use these skills with another child or more and they can work together thinking how can we build this? shall we build a tall one? or a very wide one? and hopefully the children will think and chip in with their thoughts. They need help/support and encouragement to feel confident in thinking and putting their thoughts across. It's like anything else, we need to learn and put it into practice to get better.
We don't want children who cannot think for themselves. If you are interested have a look at the Effective Provision of Pre-school (EPPE) research where their analysed sustained shared thinking. In this report 'sustained shared thinking' was identified as one of the key features of high quality provision. The link to the site is: