Critical thinking is the ability to analyze, evaluate, and synthesize information in order to form a judgment or make a decision—it involves looking at a problem or situation from multiple angles, considering different perspectives, and using logic and reasoning to arrive at a conclusion. It’s a pretty valuable skill, but one that is often overlooked as focus tends to be put on more measurable subjects to kids.

So, why is critical thinking so important? For one, it can help kids perform better academically. When kids are able to think critically, they are more likely to understand and retain information, rather than just memorizing facts. This is especially important in subjects like math and science, where understanding the underlying concepts is key to mastery and application.



But critical thinking isn’t just important for school. It also helps your kids make better decisions in their everyday lives. By considering multiple perspectives and using logic and reasoning, they can make more informed choices that are based on evidence, rather than just going with the crowd which can help them avoid mistakes and make positive choices that can have long-term benefits.

In addition to academics and decision-making, critical thinking can also help kids develop important life skills. They can become more independent and self-sufficient, as they are able to solve problems and make decisions on their own. They’re also likely to develop stronger communication skills, as they learn to articulate their thoughts and ideas clearly and effectively.

So, how can you help your kids develop critical thinking skills? Here are a few suggestions:

Encourage your kids to ask questions. One of the best ways to encourage critical thinking is to encourage your kids to ask questions. This helps them explore new ideas and concepts, and encourages them to think for themselves. When they ask a question, rather than simply providing the answer, try to guide them through the process of finding the answer themselves. Consider responses like, “Well why do you think that happens?” or, “What do you think is the answer?” to help them start reasoning through their questions.

Encourage your kids to read and write. Reading and writing are important activities that can help your kids develop their critical thinking skills. When they read, they are exposed to new ideas and perspectives, which can help them think more critically. Writing, on the other hand, helps them articulate their thoughts and ideas clearly and effectively, which can help them form and communicate their ideas and opinions.

Encourage your kids to think for themselves. It’s important to encourage your kids to think for themselves, rather than simply accepting what they are told. Encourage them to consider multiple perspectives and to use logic and reasoning to arrive at their own conclusions. This can sometimes be hard for parents because it’s easy to want kids to simply quickly and quietly follow directions. It takes patience to foster an environment where children feel like they can ask (respectful) questions, or even voice disagreement, when they are told to do things a certain way.

Model critical thinking for your kids. As a parent, you can model critical thinking for your kids by demonstrating it in your own life. When faced with a problem or decision, show your kids how you analyze and evaluate the available information, and explain your thought process to them. Children are always watching their parents, and are more likely to be impacted by what you do than what you say. Telling your kids to develop critical thinking skills is one thing, but modeling those skills for them is likely to leave a far more lasting impression.

Parents are always walking a fine line between wanting their kids to obey them without question, and wanting them to think and reason and make decisions for themselves that will lead them to be well-rounded and free-thinking adults. It can sometimes be frustrating to raise free and critical thinkers without feeling like you’re letting the animals run the zoo, so we’re happy to help. We’ve written a handy guide to help parents teach critical thinking to their kids in a way that fosters respect and encourages personal responsibility and growth.

It asks 15 questions like, “Is it possible for there to be a different conclusion than the one presented?” and then gives examples like this:

Imagine that you’re reading a news article online. The article has a chart with some colorful lines, with one bolded red line extending out farther than the others. The article headline shouts about some danger that the red line is supposed to represent, and the article itself conveys fear to the reader.

But is the red line, and the resulting conclusion of fear, the only possible conclusion from the data?

Is there another way to interpret the chart?

Is there another way that the chart maker could’ve organized the information to make it seem
less scary?

Is the conclusion of doom and gloom reported in the article the only appropriate conclusion? Or is it possible for there to have been a different conclusion than the only one presented?

Learning to ask questions like this when presented with news and information is a skill that a lot of adults don’t even possess, and it’s certainly not something that most public schools are eager to teach kids. That means it’s up to concerned parents to teach and model critical thinking for their kids—we’re just here to help make it a little easier.


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