Critical Thinking And Problem Solving Definition For Kids

The importance of critical thinking for young children

Critical thinking is essential life skill. Learn why it is so important and how you can help children learn and practice these skills.

Posted on May 3, 2016 by Kylie Rymanowicz, Michigan State University Extension

It is important to teach children critical thinking skills.

We use critical thinking skills every day. They help us to make good decisions, understand the consequences of our actions and solve problems. These incredibly important skills are used in everything from putting together puzzles to mapping out the best route to work. It’s the process of using focus and self-control to solve problems and set and follow through on goals. It utilizes other important life skills like making connections, perspective taking and communicating. Basically, critical thinking helps us make good, sound decisions.

Critical thinking

In her book, “Mind in the Making: The seven essential life skills every child needs,” author Ellen Galinsky explains the importance of teaching children critical thinking skills. A child’s natural curiosity helps lay the foundation for critical thinking. Critical thinking requires us to take in information, analyze it and make judgements about it, and that type of active engagement requires imagination and inquisitiveness. As children take in new information, they fill up a library of sorts within their brain. They have to think about how the new information fits in with what they already know, or if it changes any information we already hold to be true.

Supporting the development of critical thinking

Michigan State University Extensionhas some tips on helping your child learn and practice critical thinking.

  • Encourage pursuits of curiosity. The dreaded “why” phase. Help them form and test theories, experiment and try to understand how the world works. Encourage children to explore, ask questions, test their theories, think critically about results and think about changes they could make or things they could do differently.
  • Learn from others. Help children think more deeply about things by instilling a love for learning and a desire to understand how things work. Seek out the answers to all of your children’s “why” questions using books, the internet, friends, family or other experts.
  • Help children evaluate information. We are often given lots of information at a time, and it is important we evaluate that information to determine if it is true, important and whether or not we should believe it. Help children learn these skills by teaching them to evaluate new information. Have them think about where or who the information is coming from, how it relates to what they already know and why it is or is not important.
  • Promote children’s interests. When children are deeply vested in a topic or pursuit, they are more engaged and willing to experiment. The process of expanding their knowledge brings about a lot of opportunities for critical thinking, so to encourage this action helps your child invest in their interests. Whether it is learning about trucks and vehicles or a keen interest in insects, help your child follow their passion.
  • Teach problem-solving skills. When dealing with problems or conflicts, it is necessary to use critical thinking skills to understand the problem and come up with possible solutions, so teach them the steps of problem-solving and they will use critical thinking in the process of finding solutions to problems.

For more articles on child development, academic success, parenting and life skill development, please visit the MSU Extension website.

This article was published by Michigan State University Extension. For more information, visit To have a digest of information delivered straight to your email inbox, visit To contact an expert in your area, visit, or call 888-MSUE4MI (888-678-3464).

Related Articles

Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Learning Development

2109 Words9 Pages

Critical thinking and problem solving are skills required to increase the growth in children’s learning and development, especially if our goal is to prepare a community of effective life-long learners. Researchers find that the definitions of each of these skills vary among the education community, but the necessity of student acquisition of these skills is demanded in the learning process. Critical thinking and problem solving offer an extensive, fundamental skill to the educating of children. This skill set is necessary for student understanding, development, and learning. It has been found that the internalization and automatic use of these skills would greatly increase student opportunity as future learners provide insight of…show more content…

Rethinking and validating these concepts exposes students, learners, and teachers to another view that may cause emotions to increase during discussions. Critical thinking involves the area of cognition, so the learner and teacher must be at some level of knowing (background on the topic) when embarking on this task. Also, teaching or facilitating critical thinking exercises challenges the role of the teacher and increases the level of discomfort. The facilitation format is uncomfortable. This specifically affects the teacher whose position for classroom motivation, directing, and instructing is done predominately by standing in front of the classroom (Brookfield, 2010). However, he found that this “sage on the stage” practice can be overcome by developing the personality of the teacher. He also indicates that the Teacher of the Year or other charismatic leaders can motivate and gain the learner‘s interest and maintain motivation by the “force of their personalities” Brookfield (2010, p. 235). Although this teaching style may cause some teachers difficulty, problem solving has been used, incorporated in the curriculum, and widely accepted throughout the world of education. According to Sezer (2008), the Bloom Taxonomy has served as the framework for educators for many years. The art of problem solving would be at the top of Bloom’s hierarchy because problem

Show More

One thought on “Critical Thinking And Problem Solving Definition For Kids

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *