According to William Gormley, a professor at Georgetown University, developing critical thinking skills is incredibly important. Not only does strong critical thinking improve academics and assist on the path to college and career, it’s essential to being a civic member of society.
Gormley points out three skills necessary for a critical thinker:
- Ability to spot weaknesses in arguments
- Passion for strong evidence
- Self-awareness about one’s beliefs and views and a willingness to change them
We agree with Gormley and believe that encouraging our children to think critically about the world around them is incredibly important. In today’s media-filled word, it’s important for kids to start practicing how to create their own conclusions based on facts and research. That’s why we’ve put together the following suggestions to practice these necessary skills. We hope you’ll take some time this summer to stretch those critical thinking muscles with your child!
- A strong argument makes a claim and then uses evidence and reasons to back it up. See if you can spot strong or weak arguments while following the Presidential election or even while watching TV ads! As you listen or watch, ask your child to identify the answers to the following questions:
- What is the speaker trying to convince you to do?
- Why does the speaker think you should do this thing?
- What are the reasons behind why you should do this thing?
- Will you listen to them? Why or why not?
- Read a story together and note the problem and the solution that the main character used. Ask your child if they agree with how the book ended. Why or why not? If they didn’t like the ending, how would they change it?
- Encourage your child to speak up if they don’t understand something! Give them positive feedback for asking questions about what a word means or how something works.
- Ask your child to create their own country! Questions they should consider are:
- How will the country be governed?
- What language does everyone speak?
- What will the school system look like?
- Who creates the laws and enforces them?
- Any time your child expresses any negative self-talk, such as “I’ll never be good at reading!” or “I’m bad at playing soccer” ask them why they think that. Ask them what sorts of things they might need to practice or improve to feel better. Work with them to create a plan to try and accomplish these things.
Let us know if you try and of these activities or come up with your own in the comments or on our Facebook page!