4 Ways to Promote Critical Thinking in Kids

Critical thinking is a popular buzzword among educators, but a lot of parents wonder what it really means to instill critical thinking skills in kids. Psychologists describe critical thinking complex, non-linear and open-ended thinking that allows a variety of interpretations and perspectives, multiple responses and the ability to recognize order in chaos.

Children (and adults) with critical thinking skills collect information through experience, observation and communication; analyzing and evaluating this information and using it to solve problems. Critical thinking involves questioning and being responsive to information, rather than accepting it passively. Critical thinking is an important part of subjects like mathematics, science, history, economics and philosophy.

Here are some of the ways in which you can instill critical thinking skills in your child.


Critical thinking: Why our students need it and resources for teaching it” by opensource.com, licensed under CC BY Sa 2.0

Asking Open-ended Questions
If you want your child to think creatively and respond without the fear of giving the wrong answer, you must ask questions that do not have one right answer. For instance, instead of asking, did you enjoy the first day of Mrs. Wellman’s class?” you could ask, “What did you think about the first day of Mrs. Wellman’s class?”

Allowing kids to make decisions
Let your child make decisions about things like how he wants to spend his pocket money; what he wants to do in his spare time; the kind of activities he wants to do in the Christmas holidays, and so on. Help him analyze the pros and cons but let the final decision/choice be his alone. If he chooses wrongly, discuss and evaluate it later. Ask him, “What do you think/feel about your decision? Is there anything you would do differently next time?”

Practicing Classification and Categorization
Classification involves identifying and arranging things according to one or more rules that your child must understand and apply. You can use critical thinking worksheets and other online resources to explore similarities and differences between groups and promote critical thinking. You can also play sorting games and follow-up activities at home using anything from books, groceries and dirty laundry.

Working in groups
Working in a group settings offers cooperative learning opportunities that will help your child develop critical thinking skills as he shares ideas and learns from others. Play activities involving sand, water, bubbles and building blocks are creative ways to expose your child to their peers’ thought processes. Encourage kids to read stories aloud and express their understanding and evaluations – this can lead to healthy debates where they must defend their views and opinions.


I am an assistant teacher and my aim is to curate unique learning tips and techniques customized towards kids.

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