Strategies to develop critical thinking skills from an early age
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What is critical thinking and why is it important to develop it in kids? Critical thinking is the mental process of objectively analyzing a situation by gathering information from all possible sources, and then evaluating both the tangible and intangible aspects, as well as the implications of any course of action. As parents, when we teach children to think, we are imparting critical problem-solving skills that will help them excel not only in academics, but in every aspect of life. To awaken this spirit, we need to know about the activities that encourage thinking skills. When we understand and practice these critical thinking processes through activities we pass these skills to our children. Although children are naturally curious, they need to channel that quality to learn more effectively. Critical thinking is also one of the skills needed to develop leadership qualities in your child besides initiative, positive thinking and responsibility. Here are few of the strategies which are helpful in developing critical thinking in your kids.
1. Use every day activities to pose questions that encourage children to think. Questions are important to stimulate the thought process. Read story books with the child, pausing to ask questions such as, “What do we understand from this word?” “How does this make you feel?” “Why do we think the girl did that?” “Was that the right thing to do?” “What could she have done instead?” and “What do we think will happen next?” Open ended questions are better for enhancing critical thinking then a multiple choice question because we limit the thinking process of a child.
2. Help children learn reasoning skills in everyday activities. For example, if your child refuses to go to bed at a particular time, help him to reason out why it is important by asking, “What happens when…” types of questions. Encourage him to suggest alternatives and discuss whether or not they will work.
3. Have your child join activity classes to hone her skills in art, craft, music or sports. Creativity and critical thinking are closely associated with each other. Encourage her to try different ways of expressing her creativity. For example, if she is taking piano lessons, have her describe what she hears when she plays a particular song or what the music makes her think about.
4. Workshops and training programs that teach how to promote better thinking skills in children. One of them is Bloom’s taxonomy utilized at schools and educational institutions aimed towards building knowledge within various learning domains. It basically leads kids from one learning skill to next and is important tool in encouraging critical thinking as well. It helps in getting right resources and facts straight that are needed for critical thinking and problem solving. At SMARTS Club we have special program designed to train in critical thinking which has a broad spectrum of topics covering reading, writing, math, verbal reasoning, science and more.
5. Brain teasers, logic puzzles, sorting and classification activities, and creative thinking exercises are other good sources which encourage thinking abilities in the kids. Robotics and chess are few of the enrichment activities which teach critical thinking to kids.
There can be other strategies and activities which can be adopted and adapted according to the kids’ need and abilities. As parents we want to provide them with best tools and means so they can be successful in their academic and personal life. We have incorporated these ideas to develop classes in critical thinking at SMARTS Club and would love to hear from you about any other ideas and strategies which might help kids in our community develop critical thinking.
At SMARTS Club we are trying our best to provide an environment and activities which would develop critical thinking and leadership qualities among kids. We are providing art, origami, mental- math, science projects besides other activities like chess and robotics which are hands on and fun critical thinking activities. We provide a platform for kids to participate in our Friday contests ranging from talent show to math leagues and public speaking. We are also providing music, dance and yoga class for kids to relax and calm down after a busy day!