Critical thinking is, without a doubt, one of the most important skills that children must learn from a young age in order to become more well-rounded adults.
What do we mean by critical thinking? It refers to a child’s ability to conceptualize, analyze, synthesize, and evaluate the information they receive. This means developing the ability to draw conclusions based on existing knowledge as well as figuring out a way to solve certain problems, formulate opinions, and come up with new ideas on their own.
There are many different ways to encourage children to become critical thinkers and I’m here to share three of my favorites!
But, before we get started, let’s learn more about what we – as adults, parents, and guardians – can do to set our children up for success when it comes to developing their critical thinking skills.
From passive listener to active participant
The first thing you need to keep in mind is that in order for young children to develop critical thinking skills they need to become more active participants in conversations. Whether that’s a game, a learning exercise, or a chat with someone they know, children need to engage more and begin to grasp certain concepts before moving on.
So, instead of allowing them to absorb information and move on, you can support your children by asking them questions about what they learned and getting them to be an active part of a conversation.
Once children begin to do so on their own, and once they do it more often, it’ll become a healthy habit that will become useful in school, life, and beyond.
Now that we understand how we can provide the foundation, let’s dive into three of my favorite ways to encourage critical thinking in children!
- Motivate them to become better readers
Reading comprehension is a great way for children to develop critical thinking skills. The more a child reads, the more they understand words and emotions, and the more their brain begins to capture and retain information.
Through reading, children become in-tune with the things they understand and the things they’d like to learn more about, separating them into two distinct categories and thinking of questions to help them understand more.
- Answer their questions with more questions
We all know that children love to ask questions. “Why does this ________?” and “How do I __________?” are part of a daily ritual that helps them understand the world and everything in it more closely.
Next time your child asks a question, guide them through the solution by asking more questions in return. This back and forth will encourage them to formulate hypotheses, find the answers to certain questions on their own, and also expand their view of why certain things happen or how they occur.
- Let your children play
Playtime is a fantastic opportunity for children to develop their critical thinking skills through creativity and imagination.
By encouraging children to think “outside the box” and use their imagination during playtime, you’re giving them the necessary space to analyze a situation and bring something new to the table – an element that is essential for critical thinking.
What other ways have you found helpful when teaching children to become critical thinkers? Let’s share some more in the comments! 🤓