Critical thinking skills are one of the most important skills to teach young children. Yes, logical thinking can be taught! In fact, learners who practice critical thinking are able to solve problems and work out equations quicker than those who do not. Learning to think critically is one of the seven essential life skills that every child needs, according to Mind in the Making author, Ellen Galinksy. Gone are the days of remembering facts and studying “parrot style” in order to ace that test. With technology changing the face of the world, and how we do things, there has become a greater need for young children to be able to think beyond a list of facts. Critical thinking skills enable them to take information and compare, analyze and dissect it, in order to reach an outcome. As we begin to foster critical thinking in our young people, they will discover principles of logic more spontaneously and will find their curiosity heightened.
Some of the perks of boosting your child’s thinking skills are:
- They become better learners, since critical thinking enables them to explain how they reached an answer, instead of simply using memory.
- They are more likely to understand a concept if they are able to explain it.
- It encourages independence and inventiveness and may even raise the learner’s IQ.
- They are able to recognize common reasoning myths, which in turn will help them to achieve an outcome quicker and easier.
- They will have the ability to distinguish between evidence and interpretations of evidence.
- Critical thinking allows them to easily create categories and classify items accordingly.
- It also helps them to test hypotheses and identify relevant information.
- Instead of stifling creativity, critical thinking allows the learner to explore ways of creative problem solving, giving them the freedom and flexibility of thinking outside of the box.
Here are some excellent ways to encourage and grow your learner’s critical thinking skills:
In a report done by Concordia University’s Philip Abrami, it was resolved that explicit and detailed instruction was the best way to teach young learner’s how to think logically. The studies involved asking students to solve problems without giving them comprehensive instruction. The conclusive result showed that those students experienced little to no improvement. The report concluded that learner’s develop critical thinking skills when they are given details and urged to use logic and formal principles of reasoning to reach the answer.
Discourage irrational thinking
Encourage your child to think outside of the box by limiting the amount of time they spend watching TV or reading material that veers towards illogical thinking. Pop culture, misinformed authority figures and the unreasonable actions of pop celebrities can discourage critical thinking. Be aware of the type of information your child is consuming. It is also helpful to encourage learner’s to generate opinions and ideas by themselves. Help them to think for themselves by asking questions such as “Is there another way to do this?”
An article in Parenting Science mentions creating room for your young child to explore the art of critical thinking, by asking them to give reasons for their conclusions and decision making. A study done by Peter Facione and a panel of experts, of the American Philosophical Association, suggests that you could even ask your child to evaluate outcomes made by other people too, and gently nudge them to explore why they reached that end result. In fact, you as a parent can model your own way of analytical thinking too! Allow your child to witness the processes you go through, as you work your way through decision making. Learner’s soak up information through observation.
Encourage your child to ask questions, when faced with an objection or difficulty in understanding why a specific outcome was reached. This will not only help your child to understand and consider alternate solutions and ways of thinking but will also embolden them to become more flexible thinkers. Do not shy away from giving detailed answers, should the child ask for reasons. Another great way to foster analytical thinking skills is to answer questions with a question. Ask the learner open-ended questions such as “Why do you think this happened?” Show interest in their responses.
Talk it out
An article suggests allowing children to explain things in their own words, while not dissuading from the intention behind the original explanation. Encourage them to make meaningful distinctions and point out similarities. Help them to understand how things like bias, motive and emotions can influence judgement and decision making. Another tip is to help them to understand ethical, moral and public policy issues. Remember to give the child enough time to process information on their own, before expecting an answer from them. Pause and wait, while the learner attempts to form a response or do a certain task, before stepping in. This will give the learner ample time to reflect on the response rather than replying out of emotion.
Put pen to paper
Get your learner to write it out. The process of writing can help the learner to better explain their arguments and deductions. By penning their thoughts and opinions learner’s sharpen their analytical skills and enhance their critical thinking skills.
Learn through play
Children are able to pick up logical thinking skills through play. Exploring the practical facets of cause and effect can do just that. (i.e. What happens if I throw the ball) Lay a foundation for abstract thinking by providing space for your young child to experiment and pretend play. Help your child to form hypotheses during play, by posing different scenarios and having them determine the best solution. (“If we do this, what would happen next?”)
Acknowledge when your child practices good thinking and call attention to clever decision making. Make sure that assignments and activities give clear instruction and show exactly what the expectation is. That way, you are able to reward your child when they show exceptional thinking. Incentives and rewards are always a great way to keep young children motivated.
Criticial thinking skills can be established and introduced to children as young as 3 years old. The key is to make the child believe that thinking is fun. Talk about ways of thinking with your child and make it as interesting as possible. If you are not sure where to start, there are many wonderful resources (videos and reading material) available online that can serve as talking points and ice breakers.