Problem solving and critical thinking are some of the top skills that both schools and parents are worried about students learning. But while saying that it’s important is easy, figuring out how to help students learn it is hard! That’s why we’re giving you 5 simple ways to improve critical thinking.
How to Improve Critical Thinking
When it comes to improving critical thinking, puzzles are a major contender. And I’m not only talking about sudokus and the kinds of logic puzzles you find in the newspapers. Riddles, drawing puzzles, and even the 3D kind can do wonders for problem solving.
First off, trying to solve them and seeing the solutions teach different strategies for finding answers. Many of them also challenge traditional thinking patterns, which helps people think outside the box.
Any game that involves strategies can improve critical thinking. Board games have the advantage of varying by the people playing. Strategies that work against one player may not work against another, so mixing up the games and the players can definitely keep kids on their toes!
Art projects are wonderful ways to practice and improve thinking skills. At its heart, designing any art project is problem solving. And it’s problem-solving with low risks. At the very worst, the art project won’t turn out as wonderfully as the child hoped. Done at home, it doesn’t even affect the child’s grade.
Encourage your child to take each project that doesn’t come out as intended and look for ways to improve (but without pressure!). That’s how art works – practice makes improvement!
Let Them Plan.
Whether it’s cooking, art, gatherings, chores, or even a trip, let your child help you plan. Part of planning is evaluating what worked well on previous attempts versus what didn’t. That’s an essential skill for critical thinking, and planning for real-life scenarios teaches kids to consider real-life problems. Little teaches as quickly or memorably as being trusted with responsibility!
Let Them Fail.
This is one of the hardest tactics for many parents, especially perfectionists. It is, however, extremely important. If there is a project or planning job that the child has been given responsibility for, do not take that responsibility away by stepping in and fixing the child’s mistakes or oversights. Only step in if other people are relying on the task, and the mistake will completely derail the entire project.
Even in that case, though, asking questions to inspire the child to realize the error is more helpful in the long run. Remember that one of the most important aspects of problem solving is recognizing problems, analyzing their cause, and devising ways to fix them. Stepping in to solve the child’s problem keeps the child from being actively involved in these three steps.
Letting children fail and fix the problem themselves, on the other hand, gives them active lessons in these important skills.
Does that make sense? How did you learn critical thinking?
Author: Elizabeth F., Writer and Teacher at A Grade Ahead