Critical thinking is the analysis of facts to form a judgement, it is involved in problem solving, decision making, reasoning and reflection. Skills involved in critical thinking are analysis, interpretation, evaluation, inference, explanation, and self-reflexion.
Critical thinking skills can be taught, and as parents and caretakers we can play an important role in building these skills in our children.
During the summer, when you have more time with your children, you can help them build these skills through fun activities. Most children will do better with some kind of structure, plans and routine that allow for predictability. Finding the balance between having programmed activities without over-scheduling is key. You want them to have an enjoyable summer in which they do not have the stress of the school months, so even when you want to do many activities, keep your plans active, challenging and relaxed at the same time while promoting critical thinking.
Activities to consider in our summer plans that involve critical thinking skills:
Play strategy games
Games such as chess, dominoes, checkers, monopoly backgammon and others that involve patience and thinking steps ahead in each move. This helps your child to rely on strategy more than on merely luck to win the game, becoming challenging. When the game involves teams such a dominoes, it helps our young players to have collaborative goals and strategise within a group, developing critical thinking within a group.
Discuss current events
Just as we read the news and form opinions on what we learn about current events in the world, our children can do the same. Look for articles that are appropriate, relevant and interesting for your children and discuss about their thoughts and opinions about issues presented in these articles. Ask open ended questions, answer a question with a question and encourage them to think and form opinions supporting these opinions with solid reasons and examples. This is easier when the issue addressed is relevant to their everyday life such as videogames, screen-time restrictions, wether homework helps, etc.
Art does not only involve painting and drawing, we can include in our children’s activities singing, writing a song, a story, creating a short-show with music, dancing and/or acting. Critical thinking can be encouraged in these activities raising the appropriate questions at the planning stage and continue with reflective questions after the show, story or painting is shared.
Making s puzzle can be a fun and challenging activity for all, they help build spatial fluency and helps in learning to eliminate wrong answers through visualising patterns and relating each part with the whole.
Have your children use some spare time, without screens. Help them learn to think, to be creative and explore things for themselves. Be creative and encourage creativity in your child. This is the time to try something new, to explore things that can be interesting and fun…trying out some new sports game, becoming an artist, a photographer…practicing basketball to score every time…
Include exercise in their daily schedule, exercise helps them (and us) release energy in a healthy and positive way. When exercise involves being a team member, it also becomes social by sharing a goal.
If you are planning a vacation away from home, make sure you share your excitement with your children, share the places and activities you are planning, involve them in the planning using maps and logic in building an itinerary, always question and analyze alternatives with them. This will help them with critical thinking, transitions and your excitement will ignite excitement in them.
Summer and our kids’ childhood will be over soon enough, so make the best of this opportunity and make sure you make a collection of summer memories while teaching important skills for life just before school starts.