As our lives become more embedded with technology, creativity and critical thinking are one of the most important skills for future generations. They will need to analyze, compare, contrast and demonstrate a high level of critical thinking. The capability of analyzing a situation, and deriving a solution is a demand that will continue to grow. Thus, as parents, we need to encourage creativity and critical thinking from a young age.
There is no single path of action that will work for all children, so as a parent you will need to provide different types of activities and opportunities for your child. Below are some ideas we believe will benefit your child:
Allow opportunities for play, where they are not restricted
Free play is a very important building block in critical thinking skills. This is one of the reasons children love summer break as it allows them free time to spend time with their friends or on their own. This unorganized form of play develops their coordination while promoting their creativity to run wild. As you can see, this is quite the opposite of your child’s regular day during the school year, where their days are scheduled and timed. According to this study, child’s play is one of the best methods of developing critical thinking.
Encourage STEM Activities
STEM Activities allow children to find out how things work through fun, hands-on projects. Through these activities, children get the opportunity to improve their creative and critical thinking skills. While you can do STEM Activities using LEGO at home, you can also enroll your children into professional programs such as those offered by iFuture Academy. Our Robotics and Space Explorers programs are effective, structured and curriculum-relevant programs for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) powered by LEGO® Education. These STEM solutions trigger engagement and learning in children by allowing them to solve challenges that they can relate to. For more information, you can read here: https://ifutureacademy.com/stem/.
Read books that will spark their imagination
Imagination is what makes us human and unfortunately, it begins to fade as we grow older. According to this study, children spend two-thirds of their time in a state of imaginative play. This type of play creates imaginative pathways in the brain which help to develop creativity and problem-solving skills. As a parent, you can help by reading to them, and even encouraging them to read themselves. We are all aware of the genius Elon Musk, who said "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" by Douglas Adams inspired him as a young child.
Reducing Screen Time
Too much screen time can get in the way of children exploring and interactive with their surroundings, such as toys, other children and grown-ups. Some tips to decrease screen time include; setting time limits, minimizing the influence of TV at home and avoiding use of screen time as a reward or punishment.
Asking open ended questions
Open ended questions are great to practice critical thinking with your child. An easy way to do this is by guiding your child to finding his own answers. The next time they ask a question, rather than providing the answer, as a question such as “Why do you think that” or “What do you think is happening here”. If they seem troubled to answer, you can use encouraging statements such as “That’s interesting, let’s think more on it together” or “How can we find more information on this problem”. It is also important that you allow your child a moment to come up with answers. Remember to be patient, encouraging and respectful.