How To Teach Kids Critical Thinking Skills-An Essential Life Skill

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critical thinking

Every day children are flooded with images, messages and information. Irrespective of whether they are chatting with friends, at school or online, they need to know how to evaluate what they are hearing and seeing in order to form their own opinions and beliefs. Critical thinking skills are the foundation of education and all life skill development. Without the ability to think critically, children will struggle academically, especially as they get older.

Critical thinking, creativity, and curiosity are attributes kids need to possess today to succeed in the jobs of the near future. It’s not enough for an employee to just complete a task. Businesses of the future will need employees who can think and are creative. If you want your child to succeed, he or she will have to develop their critical thinking skills in order to prosper.

In fact, no matter what your child plans to do professionally someday, they will need to know how to think critically, solve problems, and make decisions. All parents, being primary educators, need to know how to teach kids critical thinking skills that ensure that children can think for themselves and develop a healthy critical mindset before they go out alone into the world.

Doing so will help them succeed both academically and professionally as well as benefit their future relationships. Here is what you need to know about critical thinking, including how to teach your kids to be critical thinkers.

What is Critical Thinking?

Critical thinking skills are the ability to imagine, analyze, and evaluate information in order to determine its integrity and validity, such as what is factual and what isn’t. These skills help people form opinions and ideas as well as help them know who is being a good friend and who isn’t.

Critical thinking also can involve taking a complex problem and developing clear solutions.

In our rapidly advancing and evolving technological world, more information is available at the click of a mouse, so critical thinking skills are a must today.

We are bombarded with information each day, some of it is accurate and some are not, and it can be very easy to get pulled into believing something that is really propaganda or fiction.

Social media is a great place to see how few people employ critical thinking skills.

How many times have you encountered statements made as fact when they are opinion or poorly researched information, or memes offering some far-fetched offer or stating you could win money for sharing. This happens all the time.

Teaching our children to question facts and research questionable statements presented as facts, is imperative today.

Unfortunately many schools do not encourage kids to take a critical mindset and question facts.

There are a lot of kids in a classroom and there is a set list of activities to get through in a day,teachers do not have the time to allow kids to question and challenge each fact. Even at home I sometimes struggle with my kids continually challenging and asking questions. However, critical thinking is an increasingly necessary skill.

This is where we as parents need to step in and encourage our kids. As much as it may be inconvenient when our children are continually challenging our authority and asking questions, we need to work through their questions and allow them to exercise their critical thinking skills.

As parents, we need to encourage our kids to ask questions, analyze information, and develop the necessary skills to recognize facts from lies and fabrication.

By asking the right questions, they can filter through all the propaganda and get to the truth.

The critical thinking skills required to know when not to believe emails or phone scams claiming to be something urgent or essential or fictional social media claims is critical to protecting yourself and requires critical thinking skills.

As parents, we need to teach our kids how to examine facts. Listen and look for claims that just don’t make sense. Teach your child to trust their instincts, to look for weaknesses and inconsistencies in statements.

Encourage Kids To Ask Questions

Parents and teachers should foster curiosity in children. If a rationale doesn’t make sense to a child, he should be encouraged to voice his concerns.

As exhausting as it can be at times to answer a constant barrage of questions, it’s important that you encourage your child to question things. Asking questions is the basis of critical thinking and the time you invest in answering your child’s questions, or finding the answers together, will pay off in the end.

Allowing your child to ask and answer questions about what they have read is a great way to help prepare them to think actively as they read. It also helps focus their attention on what they are learning. Asking questions shows that they understand what they have read and interpreted. It also gives them the ability to demonstrate their critical thinking skills.

Ask Your Child To Consider Alternate Solutions

It’s nice to get the right answer. But many problems can have more than one solution. When kids consider multiple solutions, they may become more flexible thinkers.

Encourage Open-Mindedness

Although teaching open-mindedness can be a challenging concept to teach at times, it is an important one. Part of becoming a critical thinker is the ability to be objective and evaluate ideas without bias.

Teach your kids that in order to look at things with an open mind, they need to ignore their own judgments and assumptions. Some concepts you should be talking about that encourage open-mindedness include diversity, inclusiveness, and fairness.

Be A Good Role Model

Sometimes the best way to teach your kids an important life skill is to model it on your own life. After all, kids tend to copy the behaviors they see in their parents. Be sure you are modeling critical thinking in your own life by researching things that sound untrue and challenging statements that seem unethical or unfair. We as parents should be verbalizing our thinking skills in the presence of our kids. It would be good for our kids to hear how we critically think things through. Our kids can observe our thought process and imitate what they observed.

As your kids get older, you can play board games together or simply spend time talking about something of interest to them. The key is that you are spending quality time together that allows you the opportunity to discuss things on a deeper level and to examine issues critically.

Practice Making Choices

Part of learning to be a critical thinker involves making decisions. One way that you can get your child thinking about and making choices is to let them suggest how they want to spend their time.

Allow them to say no to play dates or party invitations if they so choose while asking them the reason for their choices. You also can give them an allowance and allow them to make some choices about what to do with the money. These scenarios require your child to think critically about their choices and the potential consequences before they make a decision.

As they get older, talk to them about how to deal with issues like bullying and peer pressure. Advise them on how to make healthy choices regarding social media use. All of these situations require critical thinking on your child’s part.

Riddles

Read some riddles to your kids and practice solving them together. This teaches your children to analyze information.

Get Kids To Write

The process of writing helps students clarify their explanations and sharpen their arguments.

Read The Paper Together

Pick out a few articles in the local paper and read them together. Have your child look for hints or clues to see if the article is trying to sell them something. Double-check facts together to show them how to use analysis and critical thinking skills.

Connecting The Dots

Your child needs to have the ability to make connections when reading. By working with them, asking questions allows them to practice their critical thinking skills. It also lets them figure out how one paragraph can relate to another. The practice of these skills can help them predict how a story might end. This instills the ability to size up a situation and make a critical analysis of potential outcomes.

Developing a critical mindset is becoming one of the most essential skills for success in our technology and information-overloaded world.

By instilling critical thinking skills early in life, you are teaching your kids how to analyze the world around them better preparing them to think for themselves and make better choices.

 


6 thoughts on “How To Teach Kids Critical Thinking Skills-An Essential Life Skill”

  1. Hello Leslie,

    Thanks for this great article, as a teacher that I am, I believe that this is one of the keys to fully develop the children who are being formed, although unfortunately the educational systems made by governments seem to have no interest in the matter since if people have critical thought they would not buy the official version of the MSM on almost any area. I mean that there should be many different opinions instead of one widely accepted, and for that you have to develop critical thinking and open-mindedness.

    However, as a human being, I try that my students develop these attitudes so that they are as independent and self-sovereign as possible, and understand that the choices we make are the responsibility of each one of us, and  for that nature has endowed us with a heart and  an intellect that we need to use and develop, since they are intrinsically human qualities must be developed so that we form healthy and responsible humans.

    A pleasure to have found your website, good cheer and forward!

    1. Hi Antonio

      Thank you for your insightful comments. 

      Can we teach critical thinking in schools? We most certainly can. But, are schools currently equipped to teach critical thinking? Unfortunately not.

      The current education system is infatuated with research and metrics. Yes, this system is needed and I am not advocating scrapping the current system in it’s entirety. There are very few professions where metrics don’t exist.

      Critical thinking is inherently disruptive, it’s inquiry, trying to understand, it’s re-wording thoughts, and re-fining theories, asking questions, analyzing assumptions, getting to the truth. We need this component to be added to our education system.

  2. Hi Leslie, thank you so much for this very useful article with such practical strategies for teaching kids critical thinking skills! I do not have children but I work with children, and this article really made me think about how I can include some of these techniques in my daily interactions. I especially love the idea of teaching children the value of writing!

    1. HI Erica

      Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to read and comment on my article. We know that writing is an essential life skill and it also improves the thinking process and contributes to the development of critical thining skills.

  3. Thinking critically is a treat that will benefit our children in many aspects of their life. I was wondering what I could do to help mine with this. And you have answered my question with a lot of actionable solutions. I would like to start by having my children write. I would like them to develop their writing skills at the same time they develop their critical thinking.

    1. HI Ann

      I’m glad you find this article useful. Wrting is an exercise in critical thinking. Every writing task requires students to think ahead, consider their audience and rethink their sentence stucture and word choice to meet a certain goal.

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