Try stopping the story at the crisis moment or decision, and asking your child what they think will happen, and why, and what they think should happen, and why.
In this culture of ‘fake news’, how can your child tell whether something they’ve heard is true or not?
It helps them ask questions and make value judgements, and try to figure things out if they don’t make sense.
Critical thinking encompasses many of the skills your child needs to access the primary school National Curriculum, including inventing, making analogies, formulating hypotheses and suggesting alternatives.
Yes, it can be irritating when your child insists their t-shirt is aquamarine, not turquoise, or reprimands you for calling their sandals shoes, but pedantry can actually be an asset.‘A good critical thinker is also a pedant,’ explains Peter.
‘As a philosopher, I often hear people say, “But isn’t that just semantics? Sometimes life and death and even wars have hinged on semantic confusion or a lack of clarity.’‘Perhaps the most important thing you can do to help your child become a critical thinker is to model good critical thinking yourself,’ explains Peter.
It acts as a kind of “room-for-doubt detector.”’Children who think critically can get a good sense of when they really need to check a source or fact, and when it might be okay to not be certain.‘This will depend on when it really matters: when there are real consequences to saying something is true,’ Peter explains.
If your child is to become a critical thinker, they need to be a good listener, with a concept called an Open Questioning Mindset (OQM).‘OQM is listening, but not just stopping yourself from talking; it is attempting to understand, giving the other person space to think and talk, not imposing your thoughts or interpretations on them, and not questioning them to trip them up or stop them in their tracks,’ Peter says.
They say, ‘I think he should give it back.’You can encourage them to explain why, asking, ‘Why do you think he should give it back?
’This may then prompt them to say, ‘Because it’s not his.’Help your child work through their reasoning by going through a series of steps.