Critical thinking is not just a skill for the college lecture hall. It dates back to the time of ancient Greek philosophers, and has been developed over the last 2500 years. This type of thinking requires someone to problem solve and think outside the box.
It’s not just for complex problems either. Critical thinking is even used to determine whether a person is telling you correct information or not. It’s used for socializing with others. In short, it’s a lifelong skill that will prepare children for the future, and a reason why it’s reinforced in the STEAM curriculum.
But, honing those skills doesn’t have to be boring. Toys like Clixo’s flexible magnetic pieces can kick start problem-solving. Let’s look at some tips for stimulating critical thinking in your kids.
What is Critical Thinking?
To start, we need to know what critical thinking is all about. Surely you’ve heard the term used as a part of college and other types of learning. According to The Foundation for Critical Thinking, there are a couple different definitions.
Critical thinking is defined as the intellectually disciplined process of actively conceptualizing, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered as a guide to belief and action. That’s a pretty wordy definition. Simply put, critical thinking is the ability to think clearly and rationally to understand the logical connection between ideas.
So, this type of thinking is when you’re thinking about a subject or problem and are able to improve the solution by thinking skillfully. When your child is developing critical thinking skills, they should be able to:
- Formulate and raise questions
- Gather information
- Apply that information to the question
- Think open-mindedly about the question
- Communication with others effectively about it and come to a solution
Critical thinking is not a cut and dry sort of subject. It’s an umbrella of different ways to think about a problem and solve it. There are several ways you can encourage critical thinking in your child in and out of the classroom.
How to Encourage Critical Thinking for Your Child
Children already have incredible imaginations, which makes them prime candidates to perfect critical thinking skills. They are already wired to think outside the box and see things other than the reality in front of them.
Developing critical thinking skills can happen in daily life without realizing it. Make sure to be in tune with your interaction with your child to help them work on critical thinking as early in life as possible.
Ask Open-Ended Questions
Children tend to ask a lot of questions. In fact, some research shows that they can ask around 73 questions a day! As a parent, you probably won’t have the answer to every single one. This is a great time to exercise critical thinking with your little ones!
When they ask you a question, don’t turn to your smart phone and give them the answer immediately. Take some time and ask them one back to make them think. For example, ask them WHY they are thinking about this question. This will make them think about it and potentially come to a resolution on their own.
Take Your Time
While children ask a lot of questions, you’re going to have questions for them too. When you ask them a question, or give them a task, don’t rush it. Let them take their time with it and get the wheels turning in their head. This will give them time to reflect on their response and critically think about it instead of going with their first instinct.
Encourage Them to Think Outside the Box
When you’re working on something together, try to challenge them to think of other ideas and solutions. Have them make a list of all of the possible ways it can be solved to help them exercise critical thinking. One way to do this is to set up playtime.
Another great way to help your child develop critical thinking skills is to engage in structured play. This type of play has an end goal in mind and encourages problem-solving and critical thinking skills. Free play will also encourage creative thinking, so consider purchasing toys that can be used for both styles.
Some of the best toys for developing critical thinking skills are building blocks. Wooden building blocks are a staple for a reason, but magnetic styles are easier to deal with and can be more fun. We recommend Clixo’s magnetic building toys for developing critical thinking skills.
When you set your child up to play with Clixo toys, it can be structured or free play. You can simply give them the set of toys and encourage them to get creative, or set up an assignment.t For example. You can suggest they build a building, or that they only use pieces of a certain color.
While they are playing with Clixo, ask them questions. Ask them what they’re building, why they chose the pieces they did, and what they would do differently next time. Doing so will help them hone in on their critical thinking skills instead of blindly putting pieces together. Not only are toys like this fun, they’re going to encourage critical thinking as well as creativity.
The bottom line is that critical thinking is a skill that should be developed as early as possible. It is the type of skill that applies to almost all areas of life. If children aren’t taught critical thinking early, they may not be able to make it a valuable skill.
There are plenty of ways to encourage critical thinking even in young children. A great way to help get them started is by getting them to build toys such as the ones from Clixo. They make learning fun!Back to the Blog