Critical thinking is a way of deciding whether a claim is true, partially true, or false. Parents and caregivers can help children develop critical thinking skills by asking questions which require them to infer information based on what you read together. After reading a story, talk about the message, the characters, and the actions. Ask your child:”Was it a sad story and why?”
“Did a character do a good thing or a bad thing?” “Would you want a friend like the character portrayed in the story?” Try to involve your child in a discussion that causes both of you to think about the story. You can encourage more thinking and sharing of ideas from your child by asking open-ended questions. These questions require some thought for an answer, not a simple “yes” or “no.” For example, if you have just read ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes‘, instead of asking your child, “Wasn’t the emperor silly?” ask, “What was the emperor thinking?” Your child will offer more information than the answer “yes”. Your child will think about why the emperor thought he was wearing clothes, even though this was not true. Your child will be involved in critical thinking, as he/she analyzes the story. Ask your child to make inferences; if the story were longer, what probably would have happened next? If a character had done something different, would another character still have the same reaction?
You can ask your child questions such as these anytime, with any projects, field trips, or activities with which you are involved. Ask questions that require your child to use the information she/he already has learned and to draw conclusions or even make predictions based on that.