Think back to your grade school days, critical thinking has always been something teachers strive to teach their students. After all, it’s a skill that is vital in life. Critical thinking is when someone thinks independently, clearly, and rationally, by connecting ideas, forming their own opinions, analyzing, and then drawing a conclusion.
There are many opportunities to teach your child how to think critically, so don’t just leave it up to their educators. As human beings, we tend to be curious creatures and with a few strategies and talking points, you can turn an everyday moment into a teachable one.
Ask questions that can’t be answered with a simple “yes” or “no.”
Take a moment to think about the questions you are asking your child. Do you always keep things simple and get one word responses? Change up what you ask. Instead of asking if the sky is blue, try asking why is the sky blue. Just switching the question around a little bit will turn it from a no brainer question to one that they have to think about before answering.
Look to classic literature pieces.
Do you have a teen who loves to read? Encourage them to read the great classics, such as Shakespeare. Classic pieces have characters that are deep and rich. They are sure to get your teen thinking in a critical manner while they think about what will happen next in the story, what the characters motives are, and so on.
Relate questions to real life events.
As we mentioned, life presents opportunities at every turn for one to think critically. Watching the evening news, reading the newspaper, or even simply people watching at the local mall will provide plenty of opportunity to pose questions and have open discussions with your teen.
Ask questions such as:
- What do you think that person was thinking?
- If you were in their shoes, what would you do?
- What were the dangers there?
- Who were the helpers?
- How would doing that benefit them?
- How did their actions help achieve their goal?
- What were the possible outcomes in that situation?
Questions like these will get them digging deeper and also will get them thinking about how they would respond if they were in a particular situation.
Teach them to sort through information.
A big part of critical thinking is knowing how to dissect vast information. Your teen will need to know what information will be crucial to them when forming their opinion and what information is just “fluff.” They will need to know how to read information given to them and find the useful and pertinent facts relative to their topic. They already do this to some extent when working on project or pulling out which information to focus on when studying for a test. Help your student further develop this skill by reading passages from newspapers or articles online. Ask them to read the story and then let you know their opinion and what information they used to form their opinion. This opens a gateway for a nice dialogue between you and your child.
Remember, your teen’s brain is still developing which is why we are focusing on their critical thinking skills. They might have assumptions or misconceptions of what they are reading. This is a great time to talk with them should you notice their line of thinking isn’t factual. When you give them information that they might not have had or explain to them why their assumption is wrong, you are widening their horizons and broadening their knowledge so never miss out on that opportunity.
At My Virtual Academy, we are always striving to incorporate critical thinking into our lesson plans. With help from parents like you at home, your teen will have the skills needed to be successful for life after graduation. Looking to stay in-the-know with the MVA community? Make sure to “like” our Facebook page. Our staff is always sharing useful information about our school and ways to help your students.