6 Ways to Develop Your Child’s Critical Thinking Skills
Being able to think critically is something that every child should learn, and from as early an age as possible. Not only does it help in your child’s personal development, it’s also a useful lifelong skill!
Through building this skill, children learn how to process information more effectively, make better decisions and even express themselves more clearly.
Studies have shown that developing critical thinking can further improve academic outcomes throughout schooling life. Students whose critical thinking skills were more advanced were found to do better in subject-based exams and standardised tests.
Read on as we discuss some strategies you can use to gradually develop your child’s critical thinking.
Ask Open-ended Questions
Ask your child open-ended questions that allow them to be creative with their answers.
For example, when they finish reading a book, ask them if there’s any part in the story they wish they could change, or ask them to imagine their own version of the book’s ending.
By creating such conversations, you allow your child to think of alternative solutions or answers, and build their ability to think on their feet.
Guide Them in Decision Making
Deciding things for your child all the time, especially when they’re faced with a challenge, is not a good practice for development in the long run.
Instead, allow your child to make certain decisions by themselves. (Of course, you still have to assess the situation here to determine if your child is able to make a sound decision by themselves!)
And once they have, don’t put them down even if it ends up being a less than ideal one. Instead, explain why the other solution or choice would’ve been a better one in the given situation.
It also helps if you ask them how they felt about their decision and what they would do differently next time. This way, you teach them that it’s okay to make mistakes because that’s how everyone learns, after all.
So the next time they encounter a problem, your child will know to weigh the pros and cons before making their decision, and over time, your child will learn how to decide what works best not just for themselves, but for everyone in the situation.
Encourage Working in Groups
When your child works in groups, they’re exposed to other opinions and thought processes. This will broaden their understanding of how others think, and help them realise that there are multiple ways to approaching and solving a problem.
Your child will learn to weigh various solutions to a challenge, and even pick up on how to negotiate or debate ideas in a group setting, which is a valuable life skill!
Additionally, it also builds your child’s ability to voice their own opinions while listening and learning from others.
Allow Creative Freedom
Developing your child’s imagination is just as important when developing critical thinking.
This means you give them the independence to be creative in their work, and explore various options before settling on a solution. This exercise is much preferred over giving them specific and standard instructions to follow, which could limit your child’s ability to problem solve on their own.
When giving them the freedom to propose their own solution, your child will also develop a sense of ownership to the problem, and will therefore be more motivated in thinking through viable options before settling on the best one.
Incorporate Real Life into Learning Activities
Project-based learning is an interactive teaching method where students learn by actively engaging in real-world situations. With this method, you’re essentially helping your child develop knowledge and skills that are set around problems they may face in the real world.
How can you do this?
You could build on a school event, like working on in Science projects. Let your child lead you in researching their preferred experiments or DIY projects and ask questions on how these would benefit real lives of people around them.
Or you can even tap on everyday activities for this. For example, if you’re driving in the car with your child, ask them to calculate the distance to your destination given your average speed and time needed to get there.
Even simple daily routines like these can be turned into learning opportunities for your child, and help them connect what they’re learning in school with what occurs in real life!
Develop Critical Thinking Through Enrichment Classes
You can help your child develop critical thinking skills by acquiring certain learning materials, apps, or even enrolling them to enrichment classes.
For example, in our weekly lessons at PAL Learning, teachers ask prompting questions that get students thinking more deeply about a topic or concept.
Science lessons, in particular, are designed to tap on children’s innate curiosity and get them interested in how specific concepts are relevant to their daily lives.
Find out more about how our programmes can help develop your child’s critical thinking abilities - enquire today.