How to Encourage Critical Thinking in Children at Home

21 June, 2020
Most studies agree that students with the best results come from families that encourage critical thinking in children. Discover more in today's article.

In today’s article, we’re going to analyze the ways in which we can encourage critical thinking in our children. We’ll also look at what we can do to improve their abilities.

Critical thought can be defined as the habit that we acquire by reasoning in order to solve problems and make decisions. It involves using logic and asking questions in order to find the best explanation for each event or situation.

It’s our responsibility as parents to encourage critical thinking in our children. But be careful… It’s not about forcing our children to adopt our own opinions or copy our own way of thinking. It’s important for them to learn to think for themselves. And yes, it’s possible to help your children practice critical thought.

Critical thinking should be a habit for our children

Practicing critical thinking in their native environments, at home, with friends, reading books of their choosing… This is a useful strategy for reinforcing cognitive functions. The more they practice, the more natural it will be for them. And, in time, it will become second nature.

It doesn’t matter what the subject is… Whether you’re talking about the news or about a video game, we should help them see the importance of critical thinking. Try to show them that thinking critically is the best option. Once you do, they’ll start using critical thought on their own.

How to Encourage Critical Thinking in Children at Home

The importance of debate

Debating is useful on a number of levels, including the following:

  • It helps children seek alternative explanations in their studies, good explanations while analyzing the results of the reasonings that follow or the concrete results of science, for example.
  • Debating can help develop natural communication abilities in children. For example, what do you think about…? Coming up with topics that your children are interested in is a good way to motivate them to debate.

The need to obtain knowledge

Possessing information and obtaining knowledge are fundamental when it comes to critical thinking. The more data that we have in general, the greater our ability to make judgments, formulate opinions, and act accordingly will be. So, to encourage critical thinking in our children, we also need to encourage a desire for knowledge.

Encourage your children to always ask questions and respond in a clear way. Encourage them to be curious and reward this curiosity.

Access to a variety of good quality reading materials

We should try to give our children constant access to a variety of reading materials by creating a quality library. Of course, you can also take them to the public library to borrow books for free on a regular occasion. Give your kids time to read and discuss the material they’re reading.

One game that you can play is to ask them to make affirmations based on their reading. Then, allow them to provide the reasoning behind these affirmations, looking for proof. You can also ask them about the last book they read and have them tell you about it. They can talk about their favorite character, the different challenges the protagonist faced, or recurring themes, etc.

The importance of understanding

To encourage critical thinking in our children, we need to help them understand the world around us. We can work with them in simple ways, like interpreting a news story. For example, we can encourage them to discern what information is most important, and what information is secondary.

How to Encourage Critical Thinking in Children at Home

For this activity, you can read or watch a news story that you’ve selected regarding an age-appropriate issue. Then, help your child identify the main topic and write it down. Finally, write down any questions that the article or program doesn’t answer, and then talk and debate about these issues.

Play is important when it comes to developing critical thought in our children at home

There are many games that help our children develop the habit of critical thinking. A good example is the game of chess, which is also very useful for creating a growth mentality. That’s because, in order to be effective, players must consider several possible moves before choosing the best one.

By applying these strategies in your home, you can help encourage critical thinking in your children. In doing so, you’ll maximize their future autonomy and problem-solving skills.

  • Ennis, Robert H. (1962). A concept of critical thinking. Harvard educational review.