Kids are inundated with information on a daily basis. So how do they learn to distinguish facts from opinion, fiction, and falsehoods?
Teaching kids to think critically is the solution. Good critical thinking skills are necessary to assess information and form logical conclusions. Here are a few ways to help your child develop problem-solving skills and foster critical thinking.
Ask your Child Questions
When your kid comments on or asks a question about a situation, turn it into an opportunity. Rather than immediately providing a definitive response, ask your child open-ended questions that require thought. For example, respond with, “What would you do to solve this problem?” or “I’d like to hear what you think.”
Once your child answers, ask them—in a non-judgemental tone—to defend their answer. “Can you tell me why you think that?” or “What led you to this conclusion?” This provides them the opportunity to consider how they arrived at their responses. The idea is for your child to discover faulty thinking and connect the dots to logical thinking.
Whether or not your child’s thinking is correct or logical, offer praise for their effort to think the answer through. Then, if the reasoning is faulty, gently explain what you believe and how to correct false assumptions or misconceptions.
Encourage Outside-the-Box Thinking
Kids have the innate ability to think outside the box. This is known as divergent thinking. However, as we grow, thought becomes more convergent. A certain degree of convergent thinking is necessary, so we don’t give the same weight to all possibilities. But divergent thinking is still crucial to solving problems.
When a problem arises, ask your child to think of all the possible ways to solve it. Also, have your child consider and weigh out the pros and cons of each solution to determine which is best.
Take Advantage of Everyday Tasks
Real-life opportunities to problem solve are an excellent way to hone kids’ critical thinking skills. When your child does chores, let them do it their way a few times to try to figure out an efficient way to conquer the task.
If your child hasn’t figured it out after multiple tries, ask them if they can think of a faster or better way to do it. You can also offer a tip and ask how that might help.
Use Play to Foster Critical Thinking
Play provides lots of learning opportunities! Encourage your kids to strategize when they play games. Have them think through their next move and also consider what their opponent might do. Building with blocks provides another opportunity. Have your child consider how placing one piece will affect the placement of others and, ultimately, the look or functionality of the structure. Play is a great way to sneak learning into their day!