Critical thinking is an important problem-solving skill that benefits children and adults alike. Logic and critical thinking skills may be developed and strengthened with intentional use starting in childhood.
Of course, children are not training themselves to use logic or think critically, so it is up to parents to guide and instruct them in the skills. Teaching those skills starts with knowing what critical thinking is and why it is important.
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What is Critical Thinking?
It is identifying and evaluating evidence to guide decision-making. Critical thinkers use in-depth analysis of evidence to make decisions and communicate their beliefs clearly and accurately. [source]
Oxford Dictionary defines it as follows:
- the objective analysis and evaluation of an issue in order to form a judgment.
Let’s break down the phrase and define each word individually using Webster’s Dictionary 1828:
- Capable of judging with accuracy.
- Imagination; cogitation; judgment.
Let’s also define logic using Webster’s Dictionary 1828:
logic, noun [Latin id; Gr. from reason, to speak.]
The art of thinking and reasoning justly.
Logic is the art of using reason well in our inquiries after truth, and the communication of it to others.
Logic may be defined, the science or history of the human mind, as it traces the progress of our knowledge from our first conceptions through their different combinations, and the numerous deductions that result from comparing them with one another.
Correct reasoning implies correct thinking and legitimate inferences from premises, which are principles assumed or admitted to be just. logic then includes the art of thinking, as well as the art of reasoning.
The purpose of logic is to direct the intellectual powers in the investigation of truth, and in the communication of it to others.
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- Thinking Critically Starts Young
Critical thinking starts at a young age. As soon as a child can question or make decisions, they are using logic and thinking critically even though it may be on a very small scale.
When formal academic education starts, parents can include critical thinking exercises and assignments. Age-appropriate lessons will challenge children without overwhelming them.
- Teaching It In Homeschool
Homeschool parents are, by default, blessed with the time and resources to provide their children with a high-quality academic education. Education does not stop with academics, though.
Independent thinking is just one of the important character traits children should possess when entering adulthood to become hardworking individuals. Using logic, facts, truth, and real-life experiences to solve problems and make decisions on their own are beneficial skills for all people, no matter the age.
Choose a curriculum that encourages and strengthens critical thinking skills.
- picture/nature studies with questions
- narration can start at a young age because it can be done orally
- questions that require custom answers, not just multiple-choice
- young children can narrate/dictate/draw pictures for answers
- older children can paraphrase passages from literature, texts, etc.
- word/story problems
- analyzing is often part of the lesson
Knowing WHAT they believe is one thing, knowing WHY they believe it is another. Both are important.
Preparing children for life means equipping them with the tools needed to use critical thinking, logic, and apologetics to declare truth and reality. Training children to analyze facts and evidence will help them develop the ability to make rational and confident decisions – skills needed no matter what role they lead in life.
Ultimately, parents should realize they are raising adults. Children are growing into adults and, ideally, they are learning how to be responsible adults of integrity.
Intentional parenting includes allowing children to practice skills needed in adulthood so that they are learning from their mistakes and gaining experience. Practicing critical thinking skills within the homeschool is one way to strengthen these character traits.
Of course, building logic and critical thinking on solid biblical truth is the best starting point for Christian parents. A strong foundation makes all the difference.
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