Learning to think critically is probably one of the most important skills a child needs. Whether it’s applying reasoning to real-life situations or in academic and professional settings, strong critical thinking skills will make them stand out amongst their peers. They will be able to make sense of bulk information, analyze, compare, contrast, make inferences, and generate higher order thinking skills.
How to teach these skills might seem like a daunting task. There isn’t any one set strategy to teach your child, but here are some useful tips and ideas to help children build a foundation of critical thinking.
- Wait and don’t intervene immediately.
When your child is stuck at a problem, instead of helping them out immediately, give them ample time to think, to try, to fail first, and then succeed. You will be surprised how a little more thinking and trying can improve not only their success rate but also boost their curiosity and confidence. Try counting (silently) to 60 or even 120, and observe what your child is doing, before offering to help. As hard as it may be, avoid doing the task for your child. This teaches them patience, perseverance, and independence.
- Encourage educational play
What can be better than learning and having fun at the same time? While children play, they not only develop motor and sensory functions but also problem-solving skills. One of the essential aspects of critical thinking is testing how things work out. During play, children can explore cause and effect. For example, what happens if Mangobot encounters a river stream but its destination is across from it? How can Mangobot safely get to where it needs to be? What is the logical solution here? Provide open-ended opportunities that your child and explore and let their creative thinking take flight. Hands-on play especially provides an integral foundation for later abstract critical thinking.
- Ask open-ended questions.
There are bound to be times when your child asks you for help. Instead of outright giving them answers, help them think critically by asking open-ended questions in response. “What do you think is happening here?” “What are some ideas that you have?” “What might happen next?” These open-ended questions help children think outside the box and come up with new and different ideas. Sometimes there isn’t just one right answer. There are more ways to help Mangobot cross the river. When kids consider multiple solutions, they become more flexible thinkers.
- Encourage them to be relevant and clear.
Kids are infamous for their sidetracking abilities. What can we say? There are so many things going on at once that their developing brain can’t quite just focus yet. Learning to stay on track of relevant things at hand can be an overlooked skill. Discuss topics that are pertinent to the problem at hand. Help them stay focused by linking related and meaningful information to the question they’re trying to answer. Make sure you let them know that it’s ok to not understand something, to be confused, and definitely welcome any questions. Clarity is something children should always establish first before attempting a task.
- Summarize stories and what they’ve learned
Have your children summarize a story. Be it the adventure Mangobot story they just created, narrated, and built out, or a regular storybook you just read together. Being able to summarize what’s important in the story not only improves their memory but also helps them practice critical thinking and comprehension skills. Encourage them to follow the logic of the story and only summarize the main points for a more concise understanding.
What do you think? What are some of your ideas to help children develop critical thinking and logical reasoning skills? Mangobot is a great hands-on play toy that will teach your kids computational thinking, creative storytelling, and is a whole lot of fun! Order your child’s learning buddy today!