Critical Thinking, A 21st-Century Essential

Critical Thinking For Preschoolers

How many times have you seen friends sharing information online, only to click into it and find out that it is a piece of fake news? Have you received forwarded messages in your Whatsapp or Telegram chats asking you to pass on the message when it is a poorly-researched opinion?

In today’s increasingly complex and technological world, this seems to happen all the time! And the only way to protect individuals from believing false information or emails and phone scams is to develop essential critical thinking skills.

Does your child often go along with answers their siblings or friends say? Or do they question the answers provided? Teaching little ones to question and uncover questionable statements presented as facts, is essential today!

What Is Critical Thinking?

Critical thinking is a phrase thrown about in the workplace, parenting, education, and early education fraternity. It comprises a variety of sub-skills which include analysing, evaluating, synthesising, reflecting, and reasoning information to establish its integrity. What that means more simply is for children to:

  • Arrive at a conclusion independently
  • Look at other perspectives
  • Understand the process of thinking (metacognition)
  • Comprehend different parts and the whole of a problem
  • Draw the links between cause and effect
  • Think about solutions and potential challenges of each solution

In our ever-changing technological world, information is replete, and critical thinking skills are a must! More importantly, if we teach our children to be critical thinkers, they would be making a positive change in society and the world in the future.

Why Do Children in Preschool Need Critical Thinking?

While it is possible to achieve success during our schooling days decades ago just by memorising information and regurgitating them for our tests, society today requires children to have intelligent thinking habits to continually ask challenging questions and acquire critical thinking.

Especially when the world outside of the classroom holds questions with do not necessarily have one correct answer, it is imperative to start building a strong foundation for critical thinking at an early age; yes even when they are in preschool!

Educators say that if we want children to succeed in our increasingly complex world, we should teach them how to think critically!

How Do We Encourage Children To Be Critical Thinkers?

Teaching critical thinking is easier than one might think and here are some simple ways to get your little ones started!

1. Ask Questions Instead of Providing Answers

Children are curious by nature and love asking questions about everything and anything around them. Why is the sky blue? Why are the clouds look like they are moving? What does my crayon fall to the ground? Why, daddy? Why, mummy?

Instead of providing answers to their plethora of questions and in turn unintentionally prescribing your views and opinions onto your child, you may just want to turn the question back to them and get them thinking: “What do you think?” As young children see the world differently, they may have their own creative opinions; yes, even your toddlers! Sometimes, you may get funny or impossible answers, but you are helping them to make sense of the world on their own, and are also simultaneously opening the doors for deeper investigation and discussions!

2. Challenge Their Perspectives

Whenever children tell you a piece of new information, rather than take it as face-value, you may just want to challenge their perspectives or views. For instance, when your child tells you that “You shouldn’t go out when it rains”, you could challenge them by asking, “How do you know?” or point out that people are walking downstairs as you look out the window on a rainy day. Sometimes, these statements are picked up by their caretakers, and challenging them encourages them to think and research on their own.

Furthermore, you could also prompt them to think about how that perspective may be different from another person. For example, a person who doesn’t have an umbrella or raincoat may not want to go out when it rains, but if you have an umbrella or raincoat that keeps you dry, you can head out of the house! This teaches young children that there are conditions to which a statement may or may not be true.

3. Provide Opportunities For Play

Your little ones learn the most through play and by testing how things work through trial and error, it helps them to develop critical thinking. Play helps children explore cause and effect and encourages curiosity as they learn how to play and how things work.

For instance, children will need to problem-solve as they find out how to get the figurine to balance on top of the tower, or to observe why a spoon drops faster than a piece of fluff.

Read more – Let Children Learn Through Play: 8 Play-Based Learning Activities

4. Don’t Solve All of Their Problems

It also helps that daddy and mummy don’t come to their rescue ALL of the time! Some children cry and give up when things don’t go their way. Crying helps alert their caregivers and signals for help. While adults do need to assist with the big problems that children face, for little situations, children are capable of solving it on their own.

Baby steps, baby steps; and these are what it takes to encourage and stimulate critical thinking skills in our children!

Developing Critical Thinking At Mulberry Learning

At Mulberry Learning Preschools, children are encouraged to ask questions, pose problems, and figure out the answers, with the help of their teachers! These skills are imparted through our proprietary inquiry-based learning approach which provides a rich opportunity for kids to widen and deepen their understanding and strengthen their appreciation of new knowledge. Students can act as little scientists, finding answers to their questions through engaging in research, conducting mini-experiments, analysing their findings, and presenting their observations to their peers and parents.

Find out more about our Signature Programmes

About Mulberry Learning

Established in 2006, Mulberry Learning is an award-winning Reggio-inspired preschool with 11 locations around Singapore. Mulberry Learning is the world’s first and only preschool network certified by the USA for the Habits of MindTM framework, and its curriculum has been voted as “Singapore’s Best Holistic Learning Programme” for 3 years running by leading parenting publications.

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