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


How to Improve Critical Thinking Skills in Children?

By Andrew Loh

Critical thinking is the foundation to life success. It is a person’s capability to think and act in a lucid and rational manner. When a person develops critical thinking, he or she will also exhibit an ability to excel in reflective and independent thinking. Critical thinking is needed in all areas of life that include personal, professional and scholastic domains. If you have critical thinking skills, you would be able to perform the following things in life:

  • Synthesize different ideas at the same time, understand their importance and later set up logical connection between these ideas.

  • Create several arguments at the same time and later identify, construct and scrutinize them to put forward effective arguments.

  • Become effective in reasoning skills by finding out most common mistakes and inconsistencies.

  • Find out problems if any and later solve them to your advantage.

  • Once you create a set of ideas, segregate them according to their priority and relevance.

  • Create your own beliefs and values and justify them with proper justifications.

Critical thinking is an abstract phenomenon. It is not about collecting details and information. If you feel that you have any excellent memory and retrieval ability, and think that you have great critical thinking skills, you are wrong in your perceptions. A person who knows lot of information about different subjects need not be good in critical thinking. Ideally, a person is classified as a critical thinker, when he or she is able to:

  • Believe in what you know and deduce or synthesize consequences from what you already know.

  • Solve problems in quick time by using the available information and details.

  • Self educate by seeking or finding out relevant and right type of information.

Note: You can learn An Introduction to Critical Thinking here.

Never ever, confuse critical thinking with developing an argumentative or cynical nature towards others. Instead, use critical thinking to develop a comparative reasoning and constructive mindset. In addition, creative thinking skills could be used to develop numerous skills like accumulating knowledge, improvise reasoning and evaluation power, and develop theories and an ability to argue by using those theories.

Like adults, even children could use critical thinking skills to enrich and empower their lives. Two of the most important uses of developing critical thinking are to compete with peers and to avoid pressure. With proper training, your children would be able to develop critical thinking skills those are so necessary to listen to teachers, evaluate available choices and options and later interpret the all-available information to self-advantage. Teaching critical thinking to your children is a lengthy process and highly complicated task. However, you need not despair that this goal is out of reach. You can easily deploy a series of critical thinking programs to train your child for optimum capabilities in this skill.

Earlier, traditional classrooms used to disseminate information and details of a particular lesson and nothing else. Information and content imparting were the sole criterion of a conventional classroom and this method never trained children to acquire critical thinking skills. However, with advanced techniques in primary and secondary education, one can see a significant shift toward training children for critical thinking. In fact, these methods rely on taking rote learning (based on memorization) into the useful domain of analysis and logic.

Simply speaking, children should give value to the mode in which they can think and act and on what things to think. Basic methods of training children for critical thinking start right when children are studying in their early school. You can use these simple techniques to train your children. Please note that these are the so-called rudimentary methods most teachers use in their classroom. However, many advanced critical thinking programs help you approach this training in a classical and productive manner. The second part of this article series provides more information on these techniques.

Some of the most commonly used methods are as follows:

Open-ended questions sharpen children brains: Don't ask any question that lead straight to a definite answer. Ask those questions that lead to further questions. Let your children be creative when they answer your questions.

Help children to categorize and classify information: Classification leads to proper identification and segregation of ideas and information according to pre-defined rules. When children learn this approach, they will discover new ideas, learn and understand them and later start applying in real-life scenarios.

Help children make decisions: Your children should be able to separate “good” from the “bad” and, “right” from “wrong”. When you children make a decision, ask them why they took that decision and seek explanation.

Help children create patterns: Critical thinking involves creating patterns from the available information. Every bit of information processed by brain leads to connection with another and there is a specific pattern to this approach. Children, who fine-tune, this approach will start developing critical thinking.

Read the second part of this article to learn more about techniques to train your children for critical thinking.


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