Why Building Critical Thinking Skills is Important for Your Child

Building critical thinking skills is important for all children when it comes to their reading development. Today, children are bombarded with loads of attention-seeking content, news, and information Think about all the content one is exposed to through social media, advertising, online video games and streaming platforms, etc. Ok, of course critical thinking skills have always been super essential. However, with the growing amount of false or unsupported information placed on the internet daily, it is pertinent that students are given the tools necessary to properly analyze and determine the value of data and information. By those means, students are set up to make the most informed decisions and avoid making potentially costly mistakes across all facets of life. 

This post will fill in you on what critical thinking skills are, how they are related to reading, and ways you can incorporate critical thinking into any lesson plan or activity.

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Building Thinking Skills: How To raise a critical thinker

How Do You Foster Critical Thinking Skills at Home?

Critical thinking skills are also defined as higher-order thinking skills. This is a term that has become fairly common amongst K-12 teachers as it has been incorporated into many common curriculums. 

However, learning how to think critically doesn’t come from a textbook. A major key to learning how to think critically is actively attending to and participating with the information at hand. This is where you as the teacher or parent comes in.

Students should be put in positions where they are required to think about what they read. This goes beyond reading comprehension and accurately stating facts from the reading. 

Critical Thinking Skills are as follows:

  1. Evaluate: Determine the value by taking a closer look at the information within the reading. Clarify what you know and what is needed to be known in order to gain a better understanding of the issue or topic. 
  2. Synthesize: Combine the new information with other information that has been previously acquired. Consolidate and consider new understandings.
  3. Consider Different Perspectives: Seek out different perspectives through conversation with others or conducting further research. Hello, Google.
  4. Formulate: Formulate further questions or develop a more informed opinion based on the new understandings.
  5. Apply: Apply the information by writing or opening up the floor for further discussion

This is cyclical and it doesn’t necessarily have to go in order as some of the steps occur simultaneously or are even skipped. The magic happens when your child is able to apply and synthesize the things they have learned to future learning experiences. 

Critical thinking Pinwheel. This colorful pinwheel highlights the different components of critical thinking that are essential for your child to master for reading and thinking success.

Ways to Raise a Critical Thinker at Home

Children are naturally curious.

“Why does the moon shine when the sun is put away?”

“Do fish ever sleep?”

“Why do me and my sister have curly hair and you don’t?”

When it comes to teaching your child, it’s not about what you teach them, it’s about HOW you teach them. Instead of laying out the facts on a particular topic, invite them to explore the topic with you.

Check it out, Essentials of Assessing and Preventing Reading Difficulties
Essentials of Assessing, Preventing and Overcoming Reading Difficulties by David A. Kilpatrick

Here are a couple of ways you can raise a critical thinker in your household. 

Turn HOW or WHY Questions into an Adventure. Ask, “What do YOU think?”

It is such a beautiful experience to listen to your child put into words what they think on a topic. The other day I asked my 3rd-grade student about ocean waves. “What do you think happens to cause massive waves in the ocean?” She told me about how she thinks the wind causes major waves. That left the door open to talk more about the tides and the position of the moon.

Let Them Find the Answer Themselves

Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development is a component of his wonderful learning & development theory that is important to consider when it comes to supporting your child through the learning process.

In a nutshell, ZPD means meeting your child where they are at in regards to what they already know. As the parent, you guide them to understanding each bit of the question at hand letting them take the lead. I think of it as teaching a child how to ride a bike for the first time. You are obviously not the one on the bike doing the pedaling but you’re holding on and guiding along the way until they master it. 

Lev Vygotsky's Zone of Proximal Development chart to help locate the ZPD while working with your child.
Lev Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development chart to help locate the ZPD while working with your child.

Read Books that Encourage your Child to Think Outside of the Box

Reading time is a great way of building those thinking skills. Not only do you have an anchor point for engagement but think of the opportunities you gain build on thoughts and ideas from the book!

Reading books with the intention to build thinking skills opens up the pathways to different perspectives. This will allow your child to begin to understand the world is not so concise and structured as she may think. She will begin to understand just how much of an impact she can make on the world around her just by being her.

Critical Thinking Skills Books, Games & More

Like I said before, critical thinking skills are not learned from a textbook. Critical thinking skills are a passive skill that is fostered by engaging in activities; by doing.

Critical Thinking Activity Books

There are some helpful activity books that have been created with critical thinking skills in mind. These would be good for anyone that may need a little assistance in conceptualizing these skills as they offer activities that focus on a singular skill such as working memory or synthesizing information.

Building Thinking Skills - Primary
Building Thinking Skills – Primary
Highlights Hidden Pictures 2021 4-Book Set
Totally Awesome Mazes and Puzzles: Over 200 Brain-bending Challenges

I have used the Building Thinking Skills set for students between the ages of 6-14. Here are some links to the other levels of books that are available to you.

Building Thinking Skills – Beginning – Ages 3 – 4
Building Thinking Skills – Level 1 – Grades 2 – 3

Critical Thinking Skills Books to Read

Here are some books that you can read with your child that will build their critical thinking skills as they read along with you. Be sure to ask engaging questions that require more than just restating facts from the story. Incorporate personal questions or anecdotes that allow your child to see the connections you are attempting to me.

What Do You Do with an Idea?
What Do You Do with a Problem?
Do You Know Which Ones Will Grow?
Children’s Book of Philosophy
Can I Eat That?
A Day in the Life of a Poo, a Gnu, and You

Critical Thinking Skills Games & Activities

Rush Hour Traffic Jam Logic Game
 Mastermind Game: The Strategy Game of Codemaker vs. Codebreaker
Mastermind Game: The Strategy Game of Codemaker vs. Codebreaker
ThinkFun Hoppers Logic Game - Teaches Critical Thinking Skills Through Fun Gameplay
ThinkFun Hoppers Logic Game – Teaches Critical Thinking Skills Through Fun Gameplay
SET: The Family Game of Visual Perception

ThinkFun Shape by Shape Creative Pattern Logic Game
Gifted Learning Thinking and Problem Solving

Thank you for joining me here today. I hope you’ve enjoyed this post dedicated to all things critical thinking. Be sure to sign up to receive updates on all of Think Beyond Literacy’s content sent right to your email each week. Please email me if you have any questions at samantha@thinkbeyondliteracy.com

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