Tips and Tricks for Helping Kids Develop Critical Thinking Skills
Published on April 15th, 2013 | by Frances Kerfoot
Critical thinking isn’t really the most exciting topic to break down, but helping to develop it in kids can actually be really fun and fascinating. You can easily add a few simple techniques to your daily interactions with your kids that will produce some amazing conversations and insights into their brains and thought processes. You probably already do lots of things to develop your kid’s critical thinking skills without realizing it, but if you don’t why not try out some of the tips below? You will be glad that you did, promise.
In case you are a little foggy about what exactly critical thinking entails, it basically means knowing how to think, not what to think. Kids can develop critical thinking skills or the ability to evaluate and analyze ideas and concepts, but it is something that does not come naturally, it needs to be encouraged and guided by teachers and parents as the child develops.
Easy things you can do at home:
- Ask your kids open-ended questions that don’t have a right or wrong answer. Your goal is to try to stimulate their thought processes, so you should be talking about something that the child is interested in and something that really makes them think.
- Be a devil’s advocate and say something outrageous that your kids have to argue with you about and disagree. This can help them learn how to find flaws in someone else’s evidence or reasoning. Also make sure you are giving the child time to respond. There is no rush, just enjoy the silence while they think about what they might say.
- When reading books, have children make connections and look for clues that will help them to think more deeply about what they are reading. Making connections will help your child learn how to use what they already know to tackle new problems.
- Give your opinion and show your own thought processes by thinking out loud about how to solve little problems or complete tasks around the house.
- Let your kids make decisions themselves by weighing the pros and cons of a choice and don’t be afraid to let them make the wrong decision. Later you can discuss with your child about how they think the decision turned out.
- If you like watching TV with your kids, you can talk to them about commercials and how information can be manipulated to make claims that aren’t necessarily true or check out Get Media Smart. It is a great site for young people that encourages users to think critically about media and become smart consumers. Activities on the site are designed to provide users with some of the skills and knowledge needed to question, analyze, interpret and evaluate media messages.
Critical Thinking Videos for Kids
An easy way to get kids to start thinking about how they think is to watch these fun videos that were created by the Foundation for Critical Thinking based on their book Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking for Children.
Apps to Help with Critical thinking
Here are some of our favourite apps to help develop critical thinking in kids:
- Blokus HD is a fun app that is based on the super popular Blokus board game.
- Question Builder is designed to help elementary aged children learn to answer abstract questions and create responses based on inference.
- MathLands teaches kids ages 7 + math problem solving, math logic, critical thinking and pattern recognition skills.
- Rush Hour is a sliding block traffic jam puzzle where your goal is to get the red car out the exit gate by moving the blocking cars and trucks out of the way.
Critical Thinking Books for Kids
- Lollipop Logic: Critical Thinking Activities for ages 4-5 has exercises for sequencing, relationships, analogies, deduction, pattern decoding, inference and critical analysis.
- Visual Discrimination, Grades 2 – 8 is a fun workbook designed to teach the skill of visual discrimination, the ability to recognize similarities and differences between different things. The lessons in this book are pictorial analogies that are arranged in lessons of increasing difficulty.
Online Games to help Develop Critical Thinking
Another fun way to encourage critical thinking skills involves solving riddles, brain teasers and such games as Sudoku or crossword puzzles. They help engage the brain and encourage kids to think about different ways to solve problems. Here are some good sites to check out:
- Brain Boosters has a huge list of online educational activities that you can sort by Lateral Thinking, Logic, Reasoning, Spatial Awareness and more.
- Sudoku for Kids is a fun way to practice your math and logical skills.
- Cool Math have so many games on their site you will have no trouble finding some good logic and puzzle games to help with critical thinking building.
- Cyberchase Games Central has some very good logic, puzzle and pattern games.
- Puzzles have lots of fun and easy puzzles for kids.
- BrainBashers has more advanced games, puzzles, crosswords if you are looking for a bit of a challenge for your kids.
Critical Thinking Toys and Games
If you’ve been to a toy store in the last little while you probably will have seen these Perplexus maze games. They are fun and infuriating.
- Enhancing Critical-Thinking Skills in Children: Tips for Parents
- Bloom’s Taxonomy Revised
- Critical Thinking Skills in Children – How Parents Can Help