Critical thinking is a skill, which students and professionals representing many different occupations should possess. Moreover, it is a skill which we use every day to evaluate received information and to make good decisions. Ideally, everyone who graduates from school should be able to think in an analytical way, as it involves logic, math and reading with understanding, all of which are introduced in elementary school and practiced for several years. However, many teachers do not put enough emphasis on critical thinking and your kids could benefit from additional exercises, which will help them develop new skills. Here are a few ideas you can use:
Allow your kids to Question everything
Remember the times, when your kids asked questions about literally everything? That is because asking questions and investigating causal relations between facts are the best methods of gaining new knowledge and developing critical thinking. You can use the same technique with your older kids and encourage them to question everything they believe to be true. In this process, they will discover that many of their beliefs are mental constructs, not eternal truths, which, nevertheless, they can still choose to believe in. This is also a great exercise to teach your kids that not all authorities are trustworthy and they should know how to evaluate information received from such authorities.
It is time for a Brain Exercise!
We know that exercising is good for our bodies, but what about our brains? It turns out that even as little as 30 minutes a day spent on exercising your brain can lead to better development of mental functions, critical thinking included. If you want to do it well, try solving one problem a day. It can be something related to your life or one of the big, general problems. The aim of this task is not to find a solution as fast as possible, but quite contrary, to spend some time on analyzing possible implications and rebuffing critical arguments against your solution. Playing chess is also a good brain exercise, as it requires skills such as thinking a few steps ahead. After a few sessions of these exercises, you should be able to notice a significant improvement in your critical thinking skills.
Do some Math
Conclusions, correlations, implications – all those terms have their roots in logic or in a broader sense, in math. Therefore, if you want to improve your kids’ ability to think in a critical and logical manner, the easiest thing to do is to learn some math. Don’t worry, it does not have to be boring! Try solving a few math problems taken from a Singapore math workbook. Why Singapore math? It is a new, innovative method of teaching math, which is based not on memorization, but on understanding the principles of math. You will be surprised how many advanced math concepts can be explained in a simple way by using this method and how fun this process can be. Making your children fall in love with math, while honing their critical thinking skills – it is a double win!
Marta Gromadzka is a writer and editor with a wide variety of experience, including writing for websites internationally and editing books on many different subjects and in a variety of formats.