Helping Your Child Develop Critical Thinking Skills
Critical thinking skills are essentially what allow us to make sensible decisions and form reasonable opinions, by observing and analysing information. Parents can help their children develop these skills, which will not only help them on a personal level, but it will also contribute to their education. I have teamed up with an independent school in Middlesex to offer some advice.
First of all, it’s important to let your child come to their own conclusions sometimes. As a parent, you’ll be inclined to jump in and help your child solve problems and prevent them from struggling, but this will not help them develop the skills they need to deal with adversity on their own. They need to be able to draw on their own knowledge and experiences in order to make wise judgements about things.
Try and provide them with a home environment in which they feel their thoughts and opinions are valued. Doing so will help them feel more comfortable and confident expressing themselves. However, make sure they know that if they are going to make a claim about something, they should always be able to back it up. Do so by asking them plenty of open-ended questions to encourage them to think deeply about things. It’s important that they go beyond facts and figures so that they can really connect with certain information and how it affects them.
You should also encourage your child to think about other people, not just themselves. For instance, if you’re chatting about climate change, ask your child how it affects people in foreign countries, not just locally. If they’re expressing an opinion about something, ask them if they know what someone of the opposite gender would think about it, or someone older/younger/black/white/gay/straight etc. This will help them think about different perspectives and empathise with others, which is often a crucial element of problem solving.
The idea is to help your child think for themselves, while considering the thoughts and opinions of others. It’s about teaching them that there’s often not a right or wrong answer, as our decisions are influenced by our personal experiences and upbringing. It’s a fantastic way to consolidate learning, because children must process information and relay it back to you in a way that’s easy to understand.