Parents can encourage critical thinking skills as early as children learn to read. Brain teasers, puzzle books and questions are good tools for this stage. Help your kids become more engaged, thoughtful and self-aware through the natural back-and-forth conversations with you about rich texts. Choose stories that promote creativity and imagination by including open-ended queries or issues that call for original solutions.
Observation is the ability to notice and take in information. In reading, this includes words, pictures, inferences, and symbolism that go beyond what is stated on the page. Encouraging children to think critically at a young age helps them develop literacy skills later. Moreover, children’s books foster their imaginations and allow them to experience the world through characters they can relate to. This prepares them vicariously for the next stage of life and gives them tools they can use in real-life situations. Naturalistic observation is like studying wild animals in their habitat versus in zoos.
As children begin the Grammar phase of their Trivium, they can be exposed to critical thinking materials such as picture books, puzzles, brain teasers, books of facts and simple exercises. These children’s learning materials prepare them for the following logic phase. Reading is an essential activity for building critical thinking skills. Parents can use techniques to help children develop their logical and analytical thinking skills while enjoying reading. Books for children have a long history, with illustrations accompanying stories as early as papyrus from Byzantine Egypt. Artwork plays a key role in books for children, from picture books to chapter books for older children.
Observing evidence is one thing, but logically linking it to make an inference is a much bigger step. Children who can make inferences will better comprehend the stories they read. These studies used different types of evidence (supporting, irrelevant and no evidence) to test the ability of four- to eight-year-olds to infer the reality status of novel entities. Children without an initial reality status bias utilized supporting evidence well, but their responses were often at chance when they received irrelevant or no evidence. Using a variety of clues, including facial expressions, behaviors, and things characters say, helps kids develop critical thinking skills. Picture books can be one of the great tools to promote this kind of inference and higher-level discussion around themes such as tone.
The ability to understand what one reads is critical to reading comprehension. Comprehension is more than just recognition of words on a page; it’s an active, intentional process that happens before, during, and after reading. Children’s books are a wonderful way to teach kids to think critically and examine ideas. By reading about relatable characters and experiences, kids learn to be more understanding and self-aware. Children’s stories that promote critical thinking often include multiple viewpoints on a subject, which helps kids to consider different opinions and perspectives. In addition, many of these books encourage the development of vocabulary and reading comprehension skills. Kids must develop a strong foundation of these skills to become proficient readers. This allows them to move into more complex literature down the road.
The process of combining elements to create something new is called synthesis. You might use the term when describing your bedroom décor as a synthesis of vintage and punk, or you might hear scientists using it to describe their experiments. Synthesis is important because it allows scientists to pursue goals they cannot achieve through observation and analysis alone. For example, the ambitious ‘put-a-man-on-the-moon’ goal forces scientists to overcome challenges that are not readily apparent through research and do not fit within current paradigms. Children’s books that foster critical thinking often feature open-ended questions or problems that require original solutions. This is a great way to help kids develop imagination and creativity, two traits that are essential to successful critical thinking.