Critical Thinking Skills for Kids

Instructor: Eric Campos

Eric has tutored in English, writing, history, and other subjects.

Critical thinking is a crucial life skill that must be developed and applied at an early age. Continue reading to learn about different critical thinking skills and how you can encourage their development in kids.

Understanding Critical Thinking

Critical thinking refers to a person's ability to actively reason, analyze information, and apply the appropriate response to produce a desired result. It's also defined by the use of metacognition or the thinking of one's thinking. Critical thinking relies on the individual contemplating and resolving stimuli independent of steps or other prompts. Children need skills that will push them to think independently and ask essential questions that will solve problems. Below are some critical thinking skills and ways to develop them in young students.

Knowledge Skills

Students must have a strong knowledge base. For children to start thinking critically, they must have information stored that they can use at their disposal. Part of critical thinking involves drawing upon specific information. Ask your students to recall specific facts or details without preparation - as well as their thoughts on the information. This will demonstrate their ability to draw upon what they've learned and correctly utilize information.

Comprehension Skills

Comprehension measures the student's understanding of information. This relies on interpreting what they've heard, read, or seen and understanding what it means, as well as how to categorize that information. There are several ways to develop comprehension in kids. One method is to have students read from a selected text and ask them questions about the material. You should ask objective questions that will require students to pick out and illuminate facts. You should also inquire about their interpretations of what things mean throughout the text.

Argument/Reflection Skills

One of the chief features of critical thinking is independent thought. The greatest expression of this is to reflect on presented information and then build an argument that defends/illustrates the point of view of the individual. Research shows that instructing kids to describe and be mindful of their thinking processes help them to become aware of their own language skills and thoughts. This is an essential step in the development of metacognition. Begin by asking students what they think of something and follow it up with why. Ask them to show examples and reasons to support why they think the way they do.

Teaching Resources offers additional resources to help you understand how critical thinking works and ways you can develop these essential skills in early development and beyond. Developing Critical Thinking Skills will give you some context on how to approach critical thinking skills with students of different ages. It also discusses general info about the subject and even outlines a few useful exercises! You can also use this lesson on Critical Thinking Problems for Kids for some additional ways to enhance this skill in your students. This lesson on Teaching Critical Thinking Skills talks about the use of perspective in critical thinking, as well as how you can bring critical thinking activities into the classroom that will encourage the development of this important skill.

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