Developing Critical thinking in children
Developing Critical thinking in children
What is Critical Thinking?
The Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary defines Critical Thinking as “the process of analysing information in order to make a logical decision about the extent to which you believe something to be true or false”
So critical thinking is a clear and reasonable way of reflective thinking which focuses on determining what to believe and what not to. It means asking specific questions like “how do we know if something is true or not “or like “is something true for just this instance or in every case” this kind of thinking involves scepticism and is about challenging assumptions rather than simply accepting what one reads or hears.
Why is it important?
Critical thinking is a skill that is the foundation of effective education and of all life skill development.
In order to help our children thrive in this complicated world, we need to teach them how to think rather than what to think. Thinking critically will help your child succeed not only at school but throughout their life.
In our rapidly changing tech savvy world, the ability to observe, experience and analyse information in order to establish that information’s integrity is essential as more and more information is available at the touch of our fingers every day.
According to Peter Worley, co-CEO and co-founder of ‘The Philosophy Foundation,’ “It’s important that children develop critical thinking skills as early as primary school age.”
Though all parents want their children to think critically about any given problem, creative problem-solving is not something we teach our children as effectively as other educational topics or modules. At Sherwood high we make it a point to help kids learn problem-solving and critical thinking, we will talk about some ways that you can help them develop this ability.
How to help your child think critically?
To answer this question, you have to ask yourself a couple more questions. Children are generally inquisitive but not all children like to ask a lot of questions, some children go along with what you or their peers suggest. So what kind of thinking does your child do? Is he/she a thinker? Or do they easily believe in what others say? Does he or she believe things shown on the TV or elsewhere easily? Do they always figure out how and what they want? These are some questions you might like to answer for yourself to understand your Child’s thinking strategies better.
- Encourage both agreement and disagreement :
Being able to say whether they agree or disagree with the said thing is a sign that your child is thinking critically and you have to encourage your child to give reasons for their stand on the said thing, as in why they agree or disagree with something. This is to encourage them to even evaluate yours or anybody else’s idea.
- Going beyond ‘what?’ and asking ‘why?’ and ‘how?’
Let us take an example of your child learning about global warming. You may ask them a question like “what are the principal causes of global warming?” it can be answered simply based on their superficial knowledge according to textbook or web search, but this is not enough.
We need to prompt children to answer questions like “how does a certain factor cause global warming?” or “why should we worry about global warming?” to answer questions like these, Children will have to go beyond the bare facts and think critically about the effect this global warming will have on our lives or our part in changing the scenario.
- Follow up with more sequential questioning:
If they agree or disagree on a certain thing or about something or believe it to be true, ask them why and how they know this .
Though many times children might be able to provide reasons for their answers, sometimes they don’t. So when you ask questions like how do they know a specific thing it will prompt them to provide some sort of evidence to defend their answer against your questioning so answering specific questions will make kids to reflect on their said statements and assess how they are gathering this particular information.
For instance, if your child says that they saw somebody snatch a pencil from someone else and that they feel it was wrong, you should ask them to explain why they think it is wrong? Or how do they know it is wrong? This might prompt them to answer with statements like, one should not take what is not theirs, irrespective of whether that person really needed it or not.
- Teaching them about perspectives:
It is important to teach children to think about how their perspective about a certain thing may differ from that of other peoples’. By understanding this, children will be pushed into thinking about priorities and point of views of other people and will try to understand others’ perspectives, which are all a crucial part of critical thinking and problem-solving.
- Making the connection:
Children need to be able to connect the dots when they read or learn about something new. By teaching them or asking questions allows them to practise the skill of relating one thing to another.
For example, when they are reading a story, being able to connect one thing to another is important because by relating events they might be able to predict and size up a given situation and make a critical analysis of possible outcomes of that story.
- Helping children develop metacognitive skills:
Metacognition is thinking about thinking, or awareness and knowledge of planning, monitoring, and assessing one’s thought process.
The awareness that your child has difficulty remembering dates and reminding himself that he should remember dates more specifically, this self-assessment and self-correcting in response to the self-assessment will help in improved learning. Metacognitive thinking skills are important for your child because it includes the ability to plan, monitor, regulate, and evaluate their own learning process.
As parents you can help by allowing your child to think about the strategies, they can employ to understand the given paragraph or practice the various ways in which to figure out what they are reading or learning will ultimately improve their understanding. By simply sitting with them and asking them questions about why, where, who, when, and how of a specific subject will help instil critical thinking capacities in children.