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The Secrets to Raising a Smarter Child
- By Inderbir Sandhu, Ph.D


Teaching Critical Thinking Skills to Children

By Andrew Loh

One of the easiest ways to teach and develop critical thinking in your children is to use a series of action-based activities that focus on urging your children’s brain to take positive and productive actions. Teaching critical thinking techniques to your children will eventually result in stimulating their basic thought processes. Here are some basic tips and suggestions that can help you teach critical thinking skills to your children.

Recognizing and Recalling Activities: These are perhaps two of the most basic learning activities that you can teach your children. To learn and master critical thinking, your children must first learn to recognize and recall important bits of information. When you use these critical thinking techniques, you can help your children master such methods as classification, inferring and analyzing. Some of the important exercises that you can use are:

  1. Spreading common objects on the ground and asking your child to recognize them one by one. Later, cajoling him or her to recall each object name by name.

  2. Placing a number of colorful animal toys in a big box and asking your child to identify each one of them. Later ask him or her to arrange all animals on the floors by loudly recalling each animal by its name.

  3. Buying a number of recognize-recall activity books to engage your children in identifying pictures and images name by name.

End Result: The above mentioned techniques will help your child to master memory techniques and to apply those techniques to recall critical bits of information. With these techniques, it is also possible to critically analyze a given set of data to synthesize comprehensible set of information.

Comprehending nature of the knowledge: This activity involves comprehending, grasping and understanding available informational materials. These activities help your child to translate, interpret and extrapolate available information into highly comprehensible and meaningful chunks of data. Some of the useful exercises that you can use are:

  1. Buying “Tell Me Why” type of books that contain colorful images and pictures of animals and cartoon characters. Show how things or events happen through graphical representations of data and information.

  2. Explaining events that occur naturally in your backyard garden like how flowers bloom in a plant or fruits are formed on a tree. Or, you can use the example of an egg and how it becomes a small chick and the natural process involved during incubation.

End Result: With these simple exercises, your child will become proficient in analyzing raw data into a meaningful stream of comprehensible events. These exercises also assist your child to develop the basic techniques of evaluation and analysis.

Applying available knowledge to understand strange or unfamiliar situations: This critical thinking skill will help your child to apply knowledge-learned to understand, evaluate, comprehend and master strange or unfamiliar scenarios or situations. Some of the useful exercises that you can use are:

  1. Posing critical questions that help your children derive answers in response to complex situations. For example, can a ball become a live chick? Can an egg become a ball? Can apples grow on a flowering plant?

  2. Taking your child for a stroll in a maze and explaining how a maze is constructed and how one can find an escape route to the exit point.

End Result: Life is full of unexpected and surprising events. The above mentioned technique will help your child solve any type of complex problems by using previously acquired knowledge and skills.

Here are some more ideas and suggestions to help encourage thinking skills in your child:

  • Encourage your child to ask a series of questions, even if they sound very silly and strange. Try and answer them to best of your abilities without losing your patience.

  • Be enthusiastic while answering questions. Show your child, that you are caring towards their concerns and questions.

  • Your child should feel that he or she is being listened to by people. As a parent, your duty must start at satisfying your child’s curiosity and inquisitiveness.

  • Why, Where, What and How type of questions will make your child develop a number of critical thinking skills.

  • Your child must be able to think and analyze whether a given set of information is really true or not. Once your child learns to differentiate the right from the wrong, you can rest assured that he or she will start looking at things, events, and scenarios with a probing angle.

  • Never ever answer all questions on your own. Encourage your children to answer the question on their own.

Empowering your children with very critical thinking skills will not only make them intelligent and smart, they will also make your children successful in whatever the career they pursue and follow. Critical thinking skills provide that extra edge that is much needed to ensure both professional and personal success.


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