Encouraging critical thinking in young children

Critical thinking uses a combination of various mental skills and it allows us to make decisions based on the information we have available to us. It helps us to determine right from wrong and to look at situations with an open mind. Critical thinking will eventually enable your child to make their own judgements and think independently.

Learning to think in different ways, as with learning any other vital skill, can be made fun for your child with lots of simple ideas and activities. And as we know, children can learn so much more when they are enjoying themselves or learning through play.

Critical thinking skills will allow your child to adapt to situations and be flexible in how they interpret information by using comparisons, contrasts and analytics. However, there is no set method or lesson for teaching these skills, instead, we must guide our children to experiment and think for themselves. Using fun games, open-ended questions and problem-solving activities we can boost our little learner’s natural cognitive development and critical thinking skills.

Tips & Tricks to Encourage Critical Thinking:

Time to Think

Always allow your child time to contemplate, try something, or answer a question. It is so easy to intervene and to act or speak for your child, especially when you think they are stuck on something. But it’s really important to give them a chance to think and to respond in their own way, before offering guidance. Of course, it is necessary to step in sometimes but allow this healthy problem solving when you can

Open-ended Questions

When your child asks you something try not to answer the full question straight away. Instead, encourage your child to think independently, you can give some clues perhaps, but try to allow them to answer the question by themselves. You can ask: “Where do you think we could find out about that?” “Shall we look it up?” etc.

The Chance to Play & Explore

Ensure that your child has somewhere safe to play with suitable activities and they will be able to test cause and effect, and creative play. Experimentation with trial and error is another vital skill that can be learned through fun play-based activities. Open-ended play and pretend or ad-lib play will also help your child to create situations, where together you can test reactions and responses.

Test Outcomes

It is good to challenge your little learner’s brain and to help them to learn how to predict outcomes and hypothesise. Try asking, “Do you think this will sink or float?” or “What do you think will happen if we do this?” It does not matter if your child does not always predict the right results, experimentation and thinking through processes and possibilities is part of the learning fun.

Encourage Curiosity

Above all, the developing brain needs to be curious and interested in order to learn. Find a topic that your child is fascinated with (even if it is a fad) and play games and pose questions on that subject. It does not really matter what you are exploring or discussing… all thinking practice is good thinking practice! As long as your child is interested in the subject matter you will be able to integrate it into hours of learning fun and games.

At Cherry Bridge Station Early Learning & Childcare our pre-schoolers are provided with safe indoor and outdoor areas, perfect for practising critical thinking and making choices. Enrol here so your little learner can try our fun activity-based curriculum.