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How to develop critical thinking skills at any age?

We use critical thinking almost every day in our life, at school, college, and work. How to develop these skills in kids and improve in adults? You will learn it from this full guide. Let's dive right now!

What you need to know about critical thinking

The critical thinking concept has become popular at the early ages of the 20th century and was first used by John Dewey, an American philosopher, psychologist, and educational reformer, in 1910. Today critical thinking is considered to be one of the essential skills. According to the World Economic Forum research, among the skills in demand are problem-solving, critical solving, creativity, management, communication, decision-making, and cognitive flexibility.

We'd love to share Michael Scriven & Richard Paul's definition at the 8th Annual International Conference on Critical Thinking and Education Reform, Summer 1987:

"Critical thinking is the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action."

It's necessary to develop critical thinking, and it requires constant hard work. Critical thinking is not about criticism. This process helps us manage enormous information flow and analyze and question the information we receive.

Why develop critical thinking in kids?

Critical thinking is an essential life skill that kids need for the future. Ellen Galinsky, the author of Mind in the Making, has included it on her list of the seven essential life skills necessary for every child.

A child's natural curiosity builds a foundation for critical thinking; that's why parents should encourage it. Critical thinking skills matter not only for kids; it's also useful for college students, work, and everyday life. We don't stop applying this skill in adulthood. Once kids grow older and get out into the real world, critical thinking matters more and more.

Critical thinking helps us to:

  • Make sound decisions
  • Solve problems and understand consequences
  • Grow an independent person
  • Provide an ability to reason
  • Take information, analyze, and make judgments.
"If we want our children to have flexible minds that can readily absorb new information and respond to complex problems, we need to develop their critical thinking skills."
Educator Brian Oshiro

Thus, teaching critical thinking today isn't an additional skill but a must-have in the modern world. If you want your kid to grow into a successful and independent person, you need to start developing critical thinking in early childhood.

When should you start developing critical thinking?

Critical thinking is a special kind of thinking needed to develop as early as possible. A kid with essential skills of thinking can easily explain his or her decision. Once your kid begins to ask "Why?" - it's the first expression of critical thinking. Your child is eager to know the reasons for different phenomena, behavior patterns, and rules.

Parents often complain about their kids' curiosity and get tired of their questions. Still, if you brush them off, they will lose interest in cognition. To avoid it, try to encourage curiosity in your kid.

So what age should you begin to teach your child critical thinking?

According to Jean Piaget, there are four cognitive stages of childhood development. By the age of 7, kids become less egocentric, and others may think differently and not share their thoughts, beliefs, or feelings. This age is a reasonable period for encouraging critical thinking. Still, many educators recommend starting to teach this skill even earlier, in the preschool years. As mentioned above, kids are inquisitive at this age, which is a good foundation for building critical thinking.

How to teach critical thinking?

There's no one strategy to teach critical thinking, and it may include various techniques. The best way would be guiding your child's thinking process. Here are some of the useful tips on how to develop and improve thinking skills. They will be a good fit for the whole family.

Asking questions

How can you develop critical thinking from an early age? Right! Questions! Asking questions is an activity that every child likes when he or she is about 3-5 years old. Why not use the skill every child has for building a foundation for future independent teenagers and adults?

Rather than giving answers to the questions your child raises, help him think critically by asking follow-up questions: "What do you think about it? What do you think is happening?"

You don't need additional free time or space to teach you kids critical thinking by asking questions. Every time they ask you about something, follow these useful tips:

  • Have a conversation with your child at every opportunity. For example, he or she is having breakfast. Ask about his or her thoughts about breakfast. Is it vital to have breakfast? Why? What's his or her favorite dish for breakfast? Why?
  • Make errors intentionally. Let your child notice it. The child will object to your argument and try to express his point of view based on the knowledge he or she has.
  • Don't ask your kids questions automatically. Try to ask a follow-up question so that your kid can reason. Such an approach will help to systematize knowledge and build new connections.

Games and puzzles for kids and adults

Games are a great way to spend time usefully with your kids. Children explore cause and effect while playing, and these experiences provide a foundation for critical thinking. Playing indoors or outdoor games, they have opportunities to see the reaction — this way, kids reason game rules and form their point of view about them.

Try these fun games that encourage critical thinking in your kids.

"I don't know"

You can play this game every time you get a question from your child. Say: "I don't know. Let's find the answer together!" or "I can't answer right now. Please ask me later; I'll think it over."

"Truth and Lies"

With the Logiclike online platform, you can solve logic puzzles wherever you are. Have fun solving funny puzzles with your child or for yourself.

Example of "Truth-Tellers and Liars" problem

One of 3 people ate all the candies.
Bill: It wasn't me.
Kim: It was Charlie.
Charlie: It wasn't me. It was Kim.

Who ate all the candies if only one statement is false?


Choose a book or cartoon you will read or watch with your child. Stop reading or watching and suggest a discussion to your kid. Let your child imagine what will happen next: "What do you think happens next? Why?"

"Join blocks"

Prepare or buy blocks for building a picture. They help children give a sense to the imagination and build logical skills.

Online activities

Funny online games are a modern and efficient approach to developing logical and critical thinking skills in kids and adults. They allow you to play everywhere and anytime you want.

What's LogicLike?

LogicLike provides you with 2500 easy and challenging brain teasers for adults and kids gathered in your gadget. It's a unique systematized course that can be used as a brain trainer and entertainment wherever you are. At any point, you can check the progress choosing beginner, advanced, or expert levels.

Logic in Games!
  • Flexible mind and confidence Training on LogicLike, you develop your savvy and self-confidence!
  • A good foundation for IT We teach to deal with information efficiently, develop logic, memory, and thinking!
  • "Breath of fresh air" for parents Spend 20-30 minutes for yourself while your kid is training. By the way, LogicLike is much fun for adults, too!
Let's try it!

In a nutshell

If your kids point to errors and ask many questions, we congratulate you because they are growing smart, curious ones. Teach your child to reason, collect information, and only after that, conclude.

Create a conducive environment where your kids can make decisions independently if you want them to grow confident and decisive personalities.

Used and recommended sources:

"Mind in the Making" Webinar with Ellen Galinsky.