To Raise Smart Kids, Developing This Skill Early On Is Essential

Photo: Saptak Ganguly

What is going to help your child get a leg up on the competition? How will you help make sure your kid does not have a skill set that gets phased out by technology? Nurturing critical thinking, curiosity, and creativity will be the way children succeed in the not too distant future.

At its core, critical thinking is the ability to experience, observe, and analyze information to ascertain its integrity. In our swiftly varying technological world, more news is available at the click of a keyboard, so critical thinking skills are required today.

In far too many schools, children are sometimes discouraged from questioning information and taking a critical mindset. The emphasis in today’s world is to have teachers instruct to a standardized test, and memorization is the key to success. This is coupled with the reality that there are a lot of students in the classroom and only one instructor with an extensive list of must do assignments.

Social media has become an increasingly more significant problem as kids have to figure out what is real and what is fake news. How do we encourage our children to become critical thinkers so they can inform themselves? Here are a few techniques parents can use to help your children develop and improve their critical thinking skills:

1. Read the news together.

Choose articles online, in the local paper, or a favorite magazine and spend time reading them together. You should have your child look for hints or clues to see if the article is trying to sell them a product or if it contains useful information.

2. Ask questions while you're reading.

Be inquisitive. Allowing your child to ask and answer questions relevant to what they have read is a tremendous way to help train them to actively think as they read. It also helps focus their concentration on what they are learning about a specific story. Asking questions shows that they have been taught the capacity to understand what they read and interpret it. It also gives parents the ability to spot particular areas of their reading comprehension that they have trouble comprehending.

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3. Practice metacognition.

Metacognition is thinking about thinking or having the knowledge and awareness of one’s thought processes. Allowing your child to think about the tactics they can make use of to help understand a given section or practice the multiple ways they figure out the meaning of what they read will ultimately improve their thinking process. Predicting outcomes while reading, engaging in discourse, and asking your kid to reflect on what they learned once they finished reading will help show them what it means to think critically. Giving them strategies like finding the main idea, teaching them to skim, and to ask the right questions afterward are examples of metacognition.

4. Connect the dots.

Once you start a regular practice of reading and analyzing with your child, you can begin to connect the dots—how does one article connect to another? Making associations based on context and previous knowledge is a huge component of critical thinking. This might not come right away, so you can prompt them with questions that allow them to figure out how one item can relate to another.

5. Solve riddles and do puzzles.

Instead of playing yet another smartphone game (looking at you, Candy Crush), you can engage in a challenging but fun puzzle together. Try reciting some riddles to your children and see if they can solve them. This teaches your children to think creatively while analyzing information.

Cultivating a critical mindset is becoming one of the crucial skills for success in our information- and technology-driven world. By instilling critical thinking skills early in childhood development, you are teaching your kids how to learn, think, and grow for life.

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