Have you encountered the term “critical thinking skills” in relation to a child’s development? These words are often used but most of us might have a vague understanding of what they really mean. To help us get a better understanding of this topic, let us first define “critical thinking”.
What Is Critical Thinking?
- The Oxford dictionary defines critical thinking as an objective analysis and evaluation of an issue to form a judgment.
- “Critical” was derived from the Greek word “kritikos”, referring to “critic” or “critique”. This refers to the intellectual capability to discern or to judge.
- Richard W. Paul first described this term in 1994 and defined it as “an analysis involving clear and rational thinking”.
- There are three core skills involved in critical thinking: curiosity (to know more), skepticism (to question the validity of facts), and humility (to accept wrong ideas when presented with factual evidence).
To sum up, critical thinking skills refers to the ability of searching, analyzing, comparing, evaluating, conceptualizing and judging based on facts and evidence.
Ways To Build Critical Thinking Skills In Children
We use a lot of our critical thinking skills in our day to day lives, be it in school, at work, or even within our homes. Developing our critical thinking ability is a continuous task, but the key to using it more productively is to start building it when we are still young. A good foundation will make it easier to hone these skills as we grow up.
Did you know that babies are already able to use their critical thinking skills?
Beginning six months of age, infants may start to conceptualize and practice their constructive skills through toys and play time.
Here are some ways to help you introduce critical thinking to your little one:
- Offer your baby some safe, educational baby toys like plastic blocks or colorful stackers.
- Let your baby put up several blocks or place the rings on the stackers. It doesn’t need to be perfect for the first time.
- Don’t intervene immediately if the blocks suddenly fall down or the rings aren’t in their right places. Offer your baby the chance to discern it all by himself.
- Allow ample time for your baby to think about where to place each toy, or which one goes together. You might be surprised at how he or she can sort out toys depending on their shapes, sizes and colors.
Upon reaching toddlerhood (one to three years of age), your child may begin to become an inquisitive, natural explorer. You may notice that your little one will turn out to be more hyperactive and will ask a lot of questions. Though it can be overwhelming at times, parents need to be aware that these are the ways that toddlers practice their critical thinking skills. We can help boost their critical thinking abilities with the following tips:
- Let your child play at his/her own pace and time.
- Encourage your child to role play. Role playing would offer him/her some open-ended opportunities to think and try something new.
- Consider investing in brain development toys.
- Allow your child to explore the environment. Offer a safe place in your backyard or bring him/her to a nearby child-friendly park.
- Communicate with your child and do your best not to ignore his/her queries.
- Ask your child some open-ended questions like “What do you think will happen?” or “What ideas do you have regarding this topic?”
- Allow your little one to tell his/her own story.
- Read to your child and encourage him/her to ask questions.
For older children, critical thinking skills are most likely to be practiced at school. They’ll need it in their problem-solving and decision-making process. However, you can still help your kid enhance his/her critical thinking ability at home to achieve their highest potential. Here are some of the best ways to start:
- Have some creative ways to get your child become interested in Math, Engineering or Science.
- Let your child make choices, be it in what clothes to wear, how much of their money to spend or what sports to engage in.
- Allow your child to plan his/her daily activities.
- Give him/her the privilege to have some hands-on experiences like letting him learn how to ride a bike, or allowing her to cook a simple meal under your supervision.
- Be a role model in terms of decision-making. Verbalize your thoughts about certain issues that need your judgment while your child listens. This will help him/her make sound and critical decisions in the future.
Overall, these are just tips to help you build your child’s critical thinking skills. Of course, this list is not complete, and making attempts to stimulate your child’s brain will undoubtedly prove very beneficial for their neural development.