Note: This post was written by Carole Richards.
In today’s world, it is often difficult for teachers and parents to teach children critical thinking skills. Children are more distracted than ever as parents are juggling multiple roles resulting in less quality time together.
Children are stimulated by today’s technology. Video games, texting, the internet, and television are often used as baby-sitters to give mom and dad a break. Though these tools can all be educational, when over-used they create a “passive brain” and a child who expects immediate gratification. Nurturing a child to grow into an adult able to function as a responsible individual in the real world is a feat all its own. By focusing on helping a child to analyze and think critically about what they hear and read, children will be able to understand what the information actually means. As opposed to repeating memorized information, this method will help children to develop strong problem solving skills.
By nurturing a child’s own thinking and reasoning skills, they will feel confident in thinking on their own, allowing less room for following others’ actions without thinking. It is important for children to be able to reason and say “no” to negative peer pressure.
Below are some suggestions from NCES to help develop a child’s thinking skills.
Encourage children to play
Structured time is important for children, but so is free time. Make sure that your child has enough time in his or her “schedule” to daydream, think and create. Play time encourages imagination, creativity, and thinking. Building a fort encourages not only critical thinking but teamwork too; putting puzzles together and playing board games builds problem solving skills.
Urge children to do their own work
Giving children chores helps them to develop practical skills and their own accountability. They will learn cause and effect (The person who spilled the milk needs to clean it up).
Promote the importance of reading
It is important to listen to children read and also to read to them. Being able to read and digest material is an important component of being an adult as well as a key part of being able to process information when problem-solving.
Develop social skills
Ask your child what they are interested in, or maybe there is a skill or hobby they would like to learn. Use that interest as a springboard to join a group that focuses on that interest. A child who is hesitant or shy is more likely to come out of their shell when with peers who have a common interest.
Nurturing these qualities in your children will help them to understand the importance of being able to think for themselves. Thinking children ultimately become thinking adults.