Critical thinking skills are vital to have because they encourage us to question the world around us, thus make smarter choices and grow our understanding. While your child won’t need to make any big decisions now, they will need to think critically to some degree in their day to day like in social situations at school for example. In this post we share guidance from a private prep school in London on how to help children improve on their critical thinking.
Grown-ups need to make decisions all the time, so as an activity to help your child practise their problem-solving skills you might role play and act out scenarios that adults typically encounter.
Let Them Make their Own Decisions
Another way that you can help them with their critical thinking is letting them make real-life decisions of their own. There are lots of things they can decide on, like what to eat for lunch, clothes to wear and what they want to play. They will need to think carefully about each option and weigh up the pros and cons. This will communicate that their ideas are valued, valid and good. Of course, what you get them involved in will depend on where they are in their development.
Puzzles test the brain in a fun and exciting way. Children must apply their thinking skills, such as their problem-solving ability, creativity and weigh up their choices which can help them think strategically and develop their critical thinking skills. Snakes and ladders and jigsaw puzzles are just a few examples but there are far more they can play to strengthen these skills.
Open-Ended Play Resources
On the flip side you have open-ended play resources that give children flexibility and the freedom to make their own choices. For younger children open-ended toys like building blocks work well. There are a range of possibilities that they can explore. In play you may also present alternative ideas to show your child that there are actually lots of different ways of doing things and introduce them to new perspectives.
Arts and Crafts
Similarly, your child can create art as it involves making careful decisions and gives children complete freedom of choice.
Ask Your Child Questions
One of the easiest ways that you can push your child to think critically is by asking them questions yourself. By questions we mean those that get them to think deeper, consider alternative points of view and their reasoning.
Nurture Their Curiosity
Children should also be encouraged to ask questions as they are how we learn and grow our understanding. It’s important that you’re receptive and help them in their problem solving to nurture their curiosity and critical thinking.
Ask “What Might Happen” Questions
“What might happen” questions are exactly that, questions about what might happen if they were to do something. This encourages children to think about the consequences of their actions and weigh up whether or not they should follow through with the choices in front of them. It’s a key part of critical thinking as our actions not only affect the present, but our future too. In play they can quite simply be asked and put to the test. You may remove building blocks for example and explore the possibilities of what might happen. Buoc Chan Lang Tham Nguyen Si Kha • Rainy Day Memories • 2023
Critical thinking is a higher-level skill as it requires creativity, problem solving and evaluation. To carry out such thinking children need time so you will need to exercise patience and allow your child time to think and explore the options in front of them. Actually stopping to wait also allows them the opportunity to think of high quality answers as opposed to putting forward their initial few thoughts.