Critical thinking is an essential skill at any age. Being able to look beyond the surface of an issue and make better decisions can make a huge difference. But this ability is something that children must learn and practice. While critical thinking is incorporated into their education at school, there are ways you can help at home.

Let them work through challenges.

It can be tempting to jump in and give your child the answer because it is faster and easier. You know from experience what a good solution would be. Be patient and let them try to solve the problem on their own. You can guide them with helpful questions or prompts, but let them figure out the answer. If it doesn’t work out like they had hoped, it is a good learning experience and something they can reflect back on in the future. Discuss what they could do differently next time. (Of course, if their safety is at risk, you’ll want to intervene accordingly.)

Invite them to help you with planning.

Thinking about going on a family trip? Get your child involved. What route should you take? When should you go? What do you need to budget for? What activities can you fit in each day? Let them dig into some of the details and help you make decisions based on their findings. Buying a new computer? Encourage them to compare your options while staying within a budget. Which features are a must-have and why based on what the computer will be used for? Which features are nice but not necessary?

Ask them to explain their thinking.

When your child comes up with an idea or a solution to a problem, ask them to explain how they reached that conclusion. What makes it better than another option? How did they come to that decision? Why should you agree with them? When they have to include their reasoning, it can make them think more carefully and critically.

Pose alternative ideas.

When working on projects, talking about news stories, discussing books you have both read, or making decisions, ask the elusive, “what if?” What if you had done Y instead of X? What if the character had made a different decision? What if you did this first? Encourage them to look at things from different perspectives or angles. How did they come up with their answer?

You can also ask your child to come up with hypotheses about what they think they might happen before you do something. Test it out together and see if they were right. If they weren’t, consider why not.

A big part of critical thinking is asking open-ended questions and giving your child a chance to develop an answer. It’s okay to provide some guidance to help them think through things, but see what they can come up with. Provide a variety of opportunities for them to work out problems and support their decision with facts or logical reasoning.

Crafting Scholars can help your child enhance their critical thinking and other key skills to boost their academic success. We offer a wide range of programs tailored to your child’s needs and goals. Contact us today to learn more and sign up!