Child development and the importance of critical thinking education

Many would agree that one of the most important aspects of child development is preparing a child to be an independent thinker and a good decision maker. So the question becomes, how does a parent, teacher, guardian, or anyone dealing with children, prepare a child to become an independent thinker, and a good decision maker?

In my opinion, the education and practice of critical thinking applications should play a very important role in child development. I define critical thinking as a well-planned process in which individuals examine and evaluate information before they form interpretations, or accept information, as being true or false.

In order to teach a child to think critically, one first must understand the biases and generalizations they cling to, on the topics and issues in which they desire to teach. For example, if you are a parent and you would like to teach a child about American history, it’s important to let the child know that you have a perspective you agree with, and why you have chosen to accept a particular viewpoint. It’s also important to let that child know that there are other viewpoints and presentations that exist on the issue of American history. When you introduce other ideas and viewpoints to young children, they may get a little confused, but at least you are not locking their minds in a one-dimensional box, leaving them with one perspective of thinking. Kids are more likely to want to ask questions. Many will want to explore who, what, when, where, and why.

This may be a little frustrating to individuals doing the teaching, only because they themselves have not explored those same questions. Instead of teaching children to cram and memorize information, teaching them the skills needed to examine, question, and dissect information, should help children to become better independent thinkers. Let’s get more in depth in to the concept of teaching children to be good decision makers. We all make mistakes, so I am not speaking as a perfectionist. The main idea here is to help children to become better decision makers right? Well this is something that takes practice. It will not happen overnight or in a few months. One way to improve a child’s thinking ability and decision making is to give the child daily decision evaluations. Let the child define an objective or goal. For example, the child may want you to purchase a toy. Make an agreement that the child has to do certain chores and follow certain behavior guidelines in order to get this toy. Monitor the objectives with a point system. Make sure that points are deducted for bad behavior and bad decision-making. For example, if the child comes home and throws clothes on the floor, instead of hanging them up, points may be deducted. If the child puts clothes in the dirty basket instead, points may be added.

At the end of each day, give a list to the child showing how you arrived to a point total. Go over ways in which points could have been increased, and deductions could have been avoided. Allow the child options of ways to gain points, and allow the child to create strategies to gain these points in a certain amount of days. Allow the child to see the consequences of their decision-making, and allow them to think outside the box to achieve goals. This is one of many applications that one can use when applying critical thinking concepts in child development.