Have you ever experienced your child challenging something you have told them? It may seem frustrating, however I urge you to encourage your child’s natural instincts to inquire about the world around them. Critical thinking is beneficial for a number of reasons, it forms a vital role in their development and it helps them make sense of the world around them. It allows them to ask valuable questions and make valued judgements, and try to figure things out if they don’t make sense.
Critical thinking encompasses various skills your child would require in order to be effective individuals not only in their schooling but also in their daily lives. The current curriculum encourages learners to complete various tasks which requires them to be competent in various skills such as inventing, making analogies, formulating hypotheses, suggesting alternatives, problem solving and presenting factual data representing their research on various current events locally and globally by means of filtering their findings and selecting what’s most relevant to the task in hand.
There are various ways you can encourage your child’s critical inquiring mind:
- Allow your child to explore and investigate, don’t micro manage your child as they will not feel free to formulate their own opinions and ideas through investigation without feeling the need to consult with you and seek approval of their ideas.
- Encourage your child to provide you with a reason or expand on alternative examples when they do not agree with something or give you their opinion when having a discussion.
- Ask ‘WHY?’ when your child has given you a reason or an unsupported assertion as this will encourage him/her to think deeper or more critically about the reason or statement.
- Encourage your child to open up and explore the topic by:
Asking why they have made that statement or given that reason: get them to justify what they have stated, provide further explanation.
Asking for clarification on what has been said: ‘Can you say what you mean by…?’
Asking for more information: ‘Can you explain more about that?’
Asking for an example or counter-example: ‘Can you give me other examples of this situation?’
Asking for conditions: ‘Can you say what it would depend on?’
Asking about the implications of a thought or idea: ‘How will this impact or affect…?’
Asking to provide a solution to a problem they have identified: ‘What are the possible solutions to…?’
Asking about implications: This is a good habit to develop when your child is doing reading comprehension. Try stopping the story at the crisis moment or decision, and asking your child what they think will happen, and why, and what they think should happen, and why.
- Encourage your child to investigate fake news or when something does not seem realistic or reliable, this will take place over a period of time as a child will not be able to establish the difference between reliable news and fake news immediately.
- Encourage good listening as it is important for a child to listen to understand in order to be a good critical thinker it is of utmost importance that they give another person an opportunity to think and express their views.
- Initiate discussions or debates at home that would encourage them to think deeper about situations and if necessary allow them to research the topic being discussed and present their findings by paraphrasing what they have learnt about the topic through their research.
- Most importantly, be a good role model, evaluate your own critical thinking, and, if necessary, take steps to improve it.
Critical thinking will allow your child to become an effective problem solver as well as an independent and competent individual in the workplace and in their daily lives as critical thinking is not just a component in learning but a vital life skill in transforming oneself into a successful individual in society as a whole.
“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.”—Albert Einstein
Article written by: Pinnacle College Copperleaf Educator