Parents want the best for their children, and one of the things you can do to secure a bright future for your kids is to make critical thinkers out of them. A critical thinker is open-minded, curious, and can respect diverse perspectives.
However, raising critical thinkers does not happen naturally, it will require some effort. You’ll need to be intentional in your approach and even challenge your child to cultivate critical thinking capabilities. But the effort will help your child gain confidence and set them on a successful path no matter where life takes them.
We’ve gathered together some tips and advice to help you nurture critical thinking in your children.
The Foundation of Critical Thinking
Before we explore strategies for teaching critical thinking to your children, let’s establish what critical thinking means. In simple terms, critical thinking involves sorting through information to make informed decisions or form opinions. However, life is rarely as simple as this definition suggests; we are constantly inundated with a vast amount of information on a daily basis. In fact, statistics show that 328.77 million terabytes of data are produced each day.
When raising critical thinkers, you must review information with them to help make sense of all the voices speaking to them. Your guidance is vital to demonstrate to your kids how to sort through reliable and trustworthy information and discard data that is not relevant to them or may even be untrue.
Remember: knowing how to think critically differs from other types of skills, like memorization or repetition. Critical thinking requires more activity from kids’ brains. It involves problem-solving or figuring out how things work. In other words, critical thinking requires more effort than rote learning.
As you’re raising critical thinkers review some ways you can encourage them to keep going. Parent support is crucial in the development journey for kids, and for helping them think for themselves.
Now that we’ve defined what critical thinking is, here are some tips for raising critical thinkers:
TIP 1: ENCOURAGE CURIOSITY
Children are naturally curious about the world, how it works, and why things are the way they are. Encouraging this curiosity in kids is one way you can help them develop critical thinking skills. Invite them to ask questions about the world or topics they are interested in, and then let them find the right answer. Critical thinking can guide curious kids to find the truth by making a guess answer to the question and then testing it to see if they were correct.
TIP 2: PROMOTE OPEN-MINDEDNESS
Essentially, open-mindedness is the willingness to consider information that contradicts a person’s belief. Therefore, promoting open-mindedness for children encourages them to think about ideas that are different from their own. It does not imply acceptance of every and all ideas, but rather tolerance for views that conflict with the ones we hold.
Some ways that parents can do this is to expose children to different cultures and ideas and then discuss them. Look at some of the positives and some of the negatives of the idea. It’s also important to model open-mindedness to your children through your own actions and behaviors.
TIP 3: EXPOSURE TO DIVERSE PERSPECTIVES
Building empathy and understanding by exposing your children to diverse perspectives can also foster critical thinking. This may include traveling to different countries or even engaging in diverse cultural activities or celebrations in your city. Allowing children to interact with different viewpoints helps strengthen their critical thinking skills.
To do this, parents can watch cultural documentaries with kids or attend festivals that celebrate different cultures. You could even pick a country to study together and wrap up your work by enjoying some of that culture’s most popular cuisine.
TIP 4: EMBOLDEN QUESTIONS AND DISCUSSION
Allowing your children to ask questions and discuss ideas is a great way to build their critical thinking skills. Thinking deeper about issues and ideas requires some questioning and curiosity. In other words, asking questions and having discussions can prompt kids to think more about the topic and come to their own conclusions.
Parents can cultivate critical thinking in kids by asking for their input or opinions. It does not have to be a big issue, but could be as simple as what to have for dinner. You could also encourage discussion during mealtimes by picking a topic or looking at the headlines of the day. When kids understand that they can share their thoughts and ideas, it will encourage them to think more about their personal views.
TIP 5: CRITICAL THINKING ACTIVITIES
Several fun and engaging activities can help your child develop their critical thinking skills. Here are just a few exercises that will assist you in raising critical thinkers.
Build a Puzzle
No matter how old or how young your kids are, putting a puzzle together can help them develop problem-solving skills that are essential to critical thinking. Engaging in puzzle-solving activities encourages them to analyze, strategize, and think creatively, fostering skills that become the building blocks of critical thinking. These problem-solving abilities will serve them well as they navigate life’s complexities and challenges.
Play a Board Game
Board games are another great way to help your child boost their understanding of strategy. Players often face challenges and obstacles they need to overcome in the rush to the finish line and this can improve the speed at which your child can process information and find solutions. Board games provide a fun and interactive platform for children to enhance their strategic thinking, promoting adaptability and quick decision-making skills that are integral to critical thinking.
Read Great Books
Reading is a great way to engage with ideas, even in children’s books. Have your child do a novel study that prompts them to think about different characters in the books and their motivations. Encourage your child to explore a variety of literary genres, as each story offers a unique perspective and encourages critical thinking by delving into the characters’ motivations and the deeper themes within the narrative.
Ask Your Child Questions
Asking your child about their ideas on different issues builds their self-confidence and allows them to think more deeply about their views. However, it’s important to ask them open-ended questions. These are inquiries that cannot be answered with a simple yes or no. It forces them to carefully consider how to answer.
Cleaning and Sorting Their Space
Patterns and sorting items into categories also challenge young minds and can help parents raise critical thinkers, so cleaning and sorting personal space is an easy way to facilitate that idea (and it also makes their room clean and tidy!). Creating a neat and organized environment while teaching them how to sort and categorize their belongings can be a practical and hands-on way to boost their problem-solving skills, providing a valuable lesson in tidying up and critical thinking all in one.
Ask a Daily/Weekly Riddle
Teaching your kids riddles and brain twisters can be a fun way to engage their critical thinking skills. It requires them to think outside of the box and consider different answers to the riddle. Engaging in brain teasers and riddles with your children can also foster their creativity, encouraging them to explore various perspectives and unconventional solutions, making their critical thinking journey even more exciting and dynamic.
Fostering Critical Thinkers and Nurturing Future Success
Fostering critical thinking skills in children is essential to help them navigate through our digital and information-driven world. These skills are useful as they help build self-confidence in kids and encourage them to develop their own ideas about issues about the world around them. Parents can support their children’s journey to becoming critical thinkers by intentionally challenging them by asking questions, inviting curiosity, and exposing them to new experiences and different viewpoints.
At School Is Easy, we come alongside students and their families to help foster learning and development. We value critical thinking skills and offer a variety of supports that can help your child become a critical thinking ninja, such as our English tutoring. Language is a vital way that we express ourselves and think about the world. The stronger a child’s language skills are, the better they will be able to understand the ideas and information being presented to them.
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