Skip to content ↓

P4C (Philosophy for Children)


What is P4C?

P4C means Philosophy for Children. It is not a national curriculum subject but is an approach to teaching and learning that we use at Windmill Primary, it enhances children’s thinking and communication skills, boosts their self-esteem, and can help improve their academic attainment.It can be used across the curriculum, in every subject, and with all ages and abilities.

Philosophy is about thinking. Thinking about questions where there might not be a right or wrong answer. Where different people can have different opinions. P4C allows the children to discuss and share their ideas on a range of topics in a safe and structured way.

It can be as simple as looking at a picture and asking ‘What is it?’


It can develop into children having full discussions in a philosophical enquiry.

Key Skills for P4C

Through P4C the children develop skills in

  • Asking questions

  • Giving reasons

  • Making distinctions/connections

Asking Questions

Teachers and parents ask children questions all the time, however a philosophical question considers CONCEPTS that are:

  • Common (we all use concepts on a daily basis)

  • Central (at the heart of how human beings think of themselves, others and things)

  • Contestable (meaning is fuzzy at the edges and depend upon situation and context)

  • Connected to experience (they need to be connected to our experiences to be meaningful)

For example, if discussing the story of Cinderella we might ask things like

Why are the stepsisters mean?

How would it feel to wear a glass slipper?

What did the mice turn into?

What time did the clock strike?


To make it a philosophical question we need to think about the concepts we see in the story - things like

ugly/beauty    fair/unfair    hardworking/lazy        kind/mean

rich/poor    reality/fiction    power/powerless        real/magic

Then we can come up with questions like:

Is ugliness to do with how you appear or how you behave?

Can you be good all the time?

Are good people, people who are good all the time?

Can you do a bad thing and still be a good person?


Giving Reasons

We encourage the children to explain why they think something, or why they have made this choice.

We use ideas like:


Would you rather? (out of these 3 things which would you rather do)

Good idea? Bad Idea?

Put things in order from the most important to the least important.

Agree or disagree lines.

Making distinctions/connections

The children are given opportunities to explain the similarities and differences between objects and ideas.

For example through activities like ‘Odd One Out’



How is it taught?

P4C starts with a stimulus, this could be a story, video clip or image. The children are then encouraged to come up with the kind of big, engaging philosophical questions about the stimulus which are at the heart of P4C.


Through a vote, the children then choose the question they would most like to discuss. They are given time to think and reason individually about the question before exchanging ideas and opinions as a group -  this is usually done sitting in a circle. Over time, the children are encouraged to think more deeply and philosophically by using the 4Cs of P4C – critical, creative, collaborative and caring thinking.


The 4C’s of P4C

  • Caring –(understanding others and being respectful of different opinions)

  • Collaborative (finding solutions together)

  • Creative (making connections and thinking of new ideas)

  • Critical (understanding what we think and why)

Find out more