Our partners at Role Models share five ways you can help teach your child to think critically.
Critical thinking is a skill that is fundamental in all areas of life. It is the ability to think clearly and rationally, understanding the logical connection between ideas. Simple acts such as good decision making are based on our ability to think critically. It is a skill that is important at all stages of life.
So, if being able to think critically is such a vital life skill, we need to be not only modelling it to our children but teaching them how to think critically; giving children the opportunity to practise it and develop and embed it from an early age. Critical thinking activities and tasks are a great place to start.
Metacognition is an awareness of one’s own thought processes and an understanding of the patterns behind them. It can take many forms, such as reflecting on one’s own ways of thinking, and knowing when and how to use particular strategies for problem-solving. Psychologist and philosopher, Edward De Bono identifies metacognition as one of his six modes of thinking.
Get your child to start thinking about their thinking. Ask them about their game/painting/creation. For example: “I would love to know how you chose that? How did you decide on this colour?” Becoming skilled at understanding our own thinking is an important step in becoming a critical thinker.
Not ‘what’ but ‘how’. Asking open questions provides an opportunity for children to understand their thought process. It encourages them to think laterally and consider the process, rather than focussing on a correct or incorrect answer.
Encourage children to think about other perspectives. This can be done during conflict resolution between friends and siblings, or when reading books and thinking about how characters feel and act. For example: “You might feel this way, how do you think the other person feels?”
As parents, we can be tempted to try and solve our children’s problems. It may be because we don’t want to see them suffer, or it may simply be quicker to help them work something out, than letting them struggle through it. Practicing problem solving, from an early age, is hugely beneficial to not only building children’s emotional resilience to challenge, but their ability to critically evaluate and resolve problems.
Reading is not only fantastic for the imagination, but it can also foster creativity and the ability to think critically. When reading with your child, ask them to create an alternative ending to the story. For example, Goldilocks decides to make the bears more porridge and they come home to find her cooking. Then what happens? Encourage children to think through their scenario. How do all the characters feel and respond? Support them in thinking of solutions to problems that arise and discuss ways in which the characters might respond in certain situations.
Role Models are dedicated to providing the next generation with all the skills they need to enable them to truly thrive. Our courses, such as Creative Problem Solving, Collaboration and Leadership provide children with the opportunity to learn and develop skills fundamental to understanding themselves and others. There are also fun and interactive face-to-face courses, enabling children to practice and embed these skills in a fun and supportive environment.
Visit the Role Models website for more information.