6 Life Skills for High-Quality Thinking
Learning how to think critically can create a better world for all children. It is essential to produce graduates with strong critical thinking skills because they are a crucial component of business, government, and individual behavior. But it’s not just learning how to think and evaluate that’s important. Critical thinking and problem solving skills also can lead to a better understanding of the capabilities, problems, opportunities, and interests that lie before us in the world around us.
Developing the skills in young children is important because by adolescence the important results of critical thinking and problem solving skills can be in danger of being lost. Without mastery of these skills by that age, the trajectory of problems can be very misleading and difficult to navigate because of a lack of or an inadequate understanding of problems and people. Instead of leading to a better and more positive future, a lack of critical thinking and problem solving skills can lead to unhealthy and dysfunctional use of the many resources and skills at our fingertips.
Children come to the world of ideas, learning and thinking at different speeds and at different stages of development. Do the best teachers and parents know which kids have the strongest (and least healthy) understanding of how to think and think critically? It is by understanding which kids have learned good values and healthy attitudes that parents can lead students to develop and hone this fundamental ability. Critical thinking skills are so important that their importance was, and can be, recognized by the U.S. Department of Education in 2011 when the department launched the “Mindset” initiative to encourage educators, corporations, and nonprofits to teach, coach, and mentor children to think critically and evaluate problems.
So how can a teacher, parent, or employer recognize a student who is ready to learn critical thinking skills? The key to success is to develop attitudes, values, and ways of thinking that the child will use as he or she learns. So a mother or father can help raise children who are better prepared to succeed, with these six skills that will prepare them for success:
1. Identify Problem Situations and Identify Considerations for Solution-Focus at an early age. Tell your child about the plan to solve a problem, what you think a solution would look like, how you might solve the problem, and the options for a solution. You want your child to be confident that at an early age she will find the solution, not just a plan.
2. Know the Choices. Children also need to know what issues should be considered and how they should be treated. The choice is not black and white. Unfortunately this can be a difficult concept to learn. Therefore make it real by showing your child everything that goes into decisions. This can be as simple as arranging options on a table and explaining to your child why each option has pros and cons, the pros and cons of each plan, and ways to deal with a plan that might make you angry or angry to another person.
3. Process Problem Design and Implementation at an early age. Parental, school, or other intervention work to get your child ready to think strategically about a problem, to make hard choices, to seek out or pursue solutions, and to see possible solutions in the way others see them. Talk with your child about system parts and tools that you can use, and look for the advantages and disadvantages of various solutions. Talk about the how-to-make-a-chosen-resolution book and the calculator that will show you that you can make a choice.
4. Value Consensus in An Early Age. Many children find it difficult to develop the capacity to consider the feelings of others in decision-making. Children who do not feel valued and respected are likely to engage in problematic behaviors and attitudes, which interfere with their well-being. Academic intervention is not the only way to develop this capacity. Positive parental values are also essential for a child’s positive relationship with others and positive sense of self. Tell your child that being respected, having others feel respected, and having others have the confidence to be confident are characteristics of the good qualities that make you a good person. Make sure your child understands that one’s own thoughts and feelings are always valid and beautiful, as well as the feelings and emotions of others.
5. Teach Purposeful Activity and the Research Equation in a Preteen and Young Teenage Age. Help your child develop a skillful way of problem solving as she or he becomes involved in longer-term projects and deeper thinking. Provide strong language around the purpose of the activity or the research equation so your child’s mind can keep on task. Discourage slacking off and encouraging high-quality work. Model good behavior and think about how your behavior will affect your child as he or she grows up.