Critical thinking skills involve using logical reasoning, analysis and synthesis when approaching a subject. It has been used in classrooms as a way to teach information, such as important dates or math tables. Recently though it has been used to help analyze subjects and approach them logically, so the student learns how to think, not necessarily what to think.
There are many ways to help a student learn how to think critically. One way is to ask open-ended questions to the child. The are questions that have many different answers. Questions that begin with “why” are a great way to begin this process. The child does not have to worry about whether they are correct or not, but they are learning to answer questions creatively.
Asking a child how they know something is another way to work on their seasoning skills. When asked how they know something their answer should be accepted. Then keep asking questions to show the assumption. Even if the child answers incorrectly on a subject, by asking the questions they can come to their own understanding of the correct one.
When a child learns categories and classifications they are also learning critical thinking skills. This kind of thinking does require certain kinds of identification or rules which the child has to uncover and understand. They, then, need to be able to apply it. When classifying items at home, ask questions concerning why the child is classifying something in a certain way. This can be done from buttons, or leaves, to food on the table.
Children need to understand the reasoning behind their statements. As they get older, they will need to be able to argue for or against topics that are presented to them. This could be with other children, or on television or in the newspaper. The child needs to be able to understand why an argument is a good one or is a bad one. When presented with a good argument, make sure to let the child know.
By introducing children to group work, they are being shown how others think. This can help them to understand there are many ways to come to solutions and many different ways could be correct. This could also be an opportunity for the child to see that not all information is the truth. Others may be able to present a persuasive argument, but without research to back it up, it may not be truthful.
Even when the child is confronted with someone that does not agree with his position, help him to see that he should not put the other child down. This is showing respect. This can be demonstrated at home when the child disagrees with a parent. Do not shut the child down, but have an open conversation that shows respect for the child.
Each of these steps will help to create a critical thinker in any child.