Helping Your Child Think Critically

It is easier to learn things when you are younger because many habits have not yet been formed. When you are an adult learning how to think critically, you have already spent so long thinking more simplistically that you will really have to try to think critically. For children, even toddlers, this will be a beneficial skill to learn. 

You can add critical thinking to playtime. For example, when they get a new toy, instead of showing them how everything works and where the buttons that make it light up are, give them time to figure it out. At first, they will probably throw it or bang it on the floor or even take a taste test. This is okay – it is their way of learning. Once they are done with their initial evaluations, either they will give up on it and go play with a toy they know how to use, or they’ll continue to investigate. 

If they keep investigating, that is awesome. Their little gears are turning up there! If not, give them a nudge, give the toy back to them and ask suggestive, open-ended questions like “What is that?” or “What does this one do?”. It is likely that they will respond positively to your questions. If you are excited about this new toy, they’ll be excited about the new toy. 

If you have asked all of the questions and given them a little more time and they are still not all the way there, now you can give them a nudge in the right direction. Now you are going to ask questions that will help them hypothesize – obviously they won’t know these complex terms, but the learning process is still the same. This could prompt them to press buttons or turn knobs. 

You can also encourage them to think critically by talking about what you are doing. If you’re playing with a light-up toy, say “Let’s press the button” before you press the button. Verbalizing your thought process can trigger their thought process in the same way. 

It will be a very rewarding moment when your child is happy because they figured it out on their own. Their successes will make them more confident and motivated to find out how the next toy works. 


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