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Critical thinking – Can children learn to THINK?

Note: This post was written by a guest author.


When my children were much younger, there were times when the answer would be unequivocally, “NO.”  But as they sloooowly matured and grew older, I changed my answer to a definite, “MAYBE.”

In today’s world, it is often very difficult for parents and teachers to teach children how to think and make decisions.  Children are more distracted than ever and parents are busy juggling multiple roles.  Parents and children seem to have less and less quality time together.

Children are very stimulated by today’s technology, often over-stimulated.  Video games, computer games, the Internet, television, DVDs, cell phones, smart phones, texts and tweets are often used as baby-sitters to give mom and dad a break.  Although these tools can be educational, when over-used they create a “passive brain” and a child who expects, or demands, immediate gratification.

We need to do our best to mold our children into adults who can function in the competitive “real world.”  They must be able to think for themselves.  Children should be able to understand the meaning of information, data and other thoughts and ideas.  To do that, our major task is to help our children learn to analyze what they hear and read, filter it so they keep the “good stuff.”  Merely repeating information (i.e. memorizing), doesn’t involve thinking.

We want our children to be able to think on their own and not to follow others’ actions blindly not pausing to think.  Thinking means anticipating outcomes, consequences, and unintended consequences.  It is important our children learn to think about decisions they make every day, and have the confidence to say “no” to negative peer pressure and poor choices.

Here are some suggestions that will help develop your child’s thinking skills.

1. Encourage children to play.

Structured time is important for children, but so is free time.  Make sure that your child has enough time in his or her day to daydream, think and create.  Play time encourages imagination, creativity, and thinking.

2. Urge children to do their own work.

Giving children chores helps them develop practical skills and their own accountability.  They will learn cause and effect (The person who spilled the milk needs to clean it up).

3. Promote the importance of reading.

It is important to listen to children read, and also to read to them.  Being able to read and digest material is an important component of growing up and becoming adults.  Help is available if you discover your child is struggles with reading, or simple math.  We have helped thousands of children get “on track” with basic reading and math skills.

4. Develop social skills.

When children are hesitant or shy with peers and adults, relatively quick improvement will come by regular contact and play with other children, and spending some time with parents and other adults.  Interacting with others will help most children develop social skills that improve continually, and strengthen self-esteem.

Thinking children ultimately become thinking adults.  Nurturing these qualities in your children will help them understand the importance of being able to think for themselves.  Spending quality time with your children will help ensure that they will become thinking adults who will contribute to the world around us.

“YES”, there is hope!  Our children can learn to think.

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About the Author

Dave Hoffman