Critical thinking skills are used in everyday life to help us solve problems, make good decisions, and understand the consequences of our actions. These skills are necessary as it leads to the use of other important life skills such as communication, making connections and perspective-taking. We will share with you the 4 Questions you should ask your child to develop critical thinking skills.
The importance of critical thinking skills in children
Critical thinking is a fundamental skill for both language and literacy success. Children engage their language skills as their sentence structures develop to include more sophisticated phrases. To truly understand the meaning of a story, children must be able to read in between the lines to figure out things that are not mentioned explicitly.
If we take the time to observe our children, we will notice that every child is born with a natural sense of curiosity for the world around them. This curiosity lays the foundation for the development of critical thinking. There is a lot of active engagement that occurs when critical thinking is in play: absorbing information, analysing it and making judgements about the information we receive.
Such active engagement requires imagination and inquisitiveness which children are excellent at. As they engage in critical thinking, they build a library of sorts in their brain. This is where they store new information and consider how it fits into what they already know.
Research has shown that this skill is developed in children from a very young age. How then can we encourage the development of critical thinking in young children?
Here are some ways you can help your children to develop critical thinking at home.
Questions to ask to develop critical thinking skills in children
1. “What do you think…”
Testing out how things work is a crucial way to develop critical thinking. It is during the play session that children discover cause and effect. Use this opportunity to explore the questions you can ask your child, for example, “What do you think will happen if the egg falls onto the floor? Do you think it is possible to put the egg back together, just like in Humpty Dumpty?”
By doing so, you are providing open-ended opportunities for your child to explore the premise of your questions and come to a conclusion on his/her own.
2. “Perhaps you can try this again…”
Too often, parents are too quick to run to their children’s rescue and help them out of their problems. If we pause and wait, we offer them the chance to think, attempt a task, and to generate a response. Even if they fail in their attempt, they can reflect on their methods and try again.
For older children, ask them higher-order thinking questions to prompt them without giving away the answer. This will minimise the frustrations they may feel at their efforts and help to nudge them in the right direction.
3. “Tell me why you think that…”
Asking open-ended questions stimulate thinking compared to close-ended “yes/no” questions. By giving your child a chance to think for himself/herself, you also need to accept that his/her hypothesis could be incorrect. At this point, getting the right answer is not crucial. What is important is understanding your child’s thought process that leads to his/her hypothesis.
To guide your child, you can further develop his/her understanding by asking questions like, “If we do this, what do you think will happen next?” Further probing without revealing any answer could stimulate your child’s thinking process and he/she will find a conclusion to the problem.
4. “What other ideas can we try?”
When their hypothesis is incorrect, thinking of other ideas is another way to stimulate critical thinking. There are many ways to solve a problem. Exposing children to this notion is important, so they can think out of the box and utilise several methods to find their answer.
This also helps to build your child’s resilience and nudge him/her towards building inner strength and confidence to try again without throwing in the towel too early.
Critical Thinking Skills In Real Life
Other than academic purposes, critical thinking skills are extremely important in today’s day and age of modern technology. Children should be taught to analyse the information they see on the internet to determine if the news is from a trustworthy source. Given the prevalence of online scams, grooming and fake news, they will be less susceptible when their critical thinking skills are engaged.
Are there enrichment programmes for primary school students that encourage critical thinking?
At MindChamps, critical thinking skills are taught in programmes such as the MindChampion Junior and MindChampion Programmes to encourage and engage children in higher-order thinking skills. Through our carefully tailored curriculum, your child will develop a balance between knowledge acquisition and creative problem-solving. This will build your child’s confidence and help him/her control and express information in a structured and systematic way.
Find out more about our enrichment programmes now and register your child for the next term!
Written by Danielle Hee