Critical thinking. It’s talked about quite often in the education realm because it’s an essential skill that can set a student up for success in school and life in general. However, while so many parents and educators understand how vital it is, it’s not always at the top of the list when it comes to the curricula utilized in a traditional classroom. In many situations, teaching to standardized tests overshadows critical thinking lessons and exercises.
While this may certainly be out of your control as a parent, there still can be some kind of focus on critical thinking skills outside the conventional school setting. In fact, it can be argued that there must always be an effort to teach critical thinking!
While you might feel that this goes without saying, truly thinking about a problem or situation doesn’t just happen. Sadly, in some situations, students rely on memorization instead of analysis. If a child’s knowledge is continuously limited to specific sets of memorized facts, their overall intellectual growth can be negatively affected.
This is not to say that children who don’t master critical thinking are thoughtless zombies. Rather, it’s recognizing that life, even during childhood, comes with unpredictable circumstances and dilemmas. Critical thinking involves looking at a particular situation from different perspectives, drawing from an individual assessment, and coming up with multiple approaches to find the most effective solution. This is crucial in reasoning and decision-making. You can see why it’s fundamental to teach critical thinking.
In addition to general development, the ability to properly progress in school and higher education is highly reliant on thinking critically. Fortunately, there are some simple critical thinking exercises that will help stimulate your child:
If your child is questioning something, try to respond with open-ended questions that inspire analysis. Ask them what their thoughts are on what’s going on and tell them to give you ideas on how to find a solution. If their thought process is not entirely correct, don’t jump to, “You’re wrong.” Instead, discuss where you might be able to find additional information to get a more viable answer.
Yes, you can even teach critical thinking during play. As you’re engaging in activities with your child, talk about what you’re both doing and ask them to predict the results of your actions. You can ask for multiple hypotheses and go through predictions for each.
Whether you’re reading aloud or listening to audiobooks, pause the story at various points to discuss what’s happening. Some topics include how the setting applies to the story, what the characters are doing and why they’re doing it, and what it might say about their personalities. Basically, you’re getting your child to really think about the plot.
We’ve talked before about how cooking is an excellent way to teach critical thinking. While planning a specific meal, discuss what condiments or ingredients might go well with it. You can even make different versions of the dish and do taste tests. As you’re working through a recipe together, tell your child to explain the details of what they’re seeing, smelling, and tasting. For more of a challenge that incorporates some math, you can also have your child measure out the ingredients but switch up how it’s done (i.e. using a teaspoon to measure out tablespoon measurements).
Of course, we understand that you may not have as much time as you want to work on critical thinking exercises with your child. In this case, it may make sense for you to look into supplemental education services. These types of programs utilize customized curricula and can teach critical thinking in a nurturing and fun environment.
Best in Class Education Center provides exceptional enrichment, tutoring, and test preparation services to K-12 students. Our programs help kids build key critical thinking skills all year long. Passionate and knowledgeable instructors utilize highly effective Best in Class curricula that has helped thousands of students succeed in the classroom and beyond.
If you’re looking to give your child a well-rounded educational experience that will help them to think critically, contact Best in Class today!