Tips on teaching your preschool child to be a critical thinker

Rema Rajiv
Feb 24, 2022
Preschool education

Thinking, we know, is in human nature! However, how we think is an important skill set that can be developed  through education. Thinking well is often associated with critical thinking but experts suggest that critical thinking is much more than this, and includes logic and reasoning.

Preschool students can develop their critical thinking skills by working on both their reasoning and problem-solving techniques. A classroom environment that emphasises story-based approaches, classroom interactions and outdoor activities will help them develop the building blocks they need to become adept critical thinkers.

What is Critical Thinking?

Critical thinking is a skill that every individual needs to master in order to succeed in their professional and personal lives. By being able to rely on data, analysis, evaluation, inference and reasoning, a person is able to make sound decisions as well as come up with innovative and creative solutions.

The importance of critical thinking as a 21st century skill lies in the fact that it needs to be honed and developed over time – starting as early as during early childhood education.

Characteristics of a Critical Thinker

The main characteristics of a critical thinker include:

● Having the ability to reflect on what was learned and think reasonably.

● Being confident enough to make decisions and passionate enough to learn new concepts.

● Having the ability to put things into context and the awareness to self-correct.

● Being able to engage in purposeful judgement based on analysis and reasoning.

● Being able to use their cognitive skills in a variety of settings.

Also read: How an international preschool is beneficial for your child

Critical thinking skills during early childhood education

Recent educational research shows that even 3-year-olds can begin developing their critical thinking skills, largely because, at this age, they are already starting to attain knowledge through communication and gestures. 

In order to establish a foundation for critical thinking in the future, preschool students should be enrolled in a play-based educational facility with a focus on visual and auditory experiential learning.

Playtime teaches preschool students how to be independent

Transforming preschool students into Critical Thinkers

No one is born a critical thinker. In fact, critical thinking can be a difficult skill for adults to master, which is why it's important that young children begin building the foundation for critical thinking during their early childhood education.

These are a few ways that educators and parents can help preschool students become critical thinkers:

● Encourage preschool children to ask questions. They are naturally curious at this age, and their curiosity should be nurtured. When they do ask a question, make sure they receive a respectful and age-appropriate response. The responses can also be questions directing them to finding the answers themselves.

● Become their playmate. Preschool children learn through play, and they often model the behaviour of those around them. By playing with them, you are doing more than forging a bond with them; you are teaching them the hard work of being creative and using their imagination.

● Ask them to consider an alternative solution. This will help them understand that not every question has one distinct answer and will give them the ability to consider other possibilities. 

● Hear them out. Encourage them to use their own words to showcase their understanding of a topic. You may prompt them by asking thought-provoking questions but do allow them to speak their minds.

● Give them opportunities to be independent. It can be so easy to help children by taking care of a task because you can do it faster. However, when you give them opportunities to be independent, they will naturally become confident and self-assured.

● Read with them and encourage them to tell the story themselves. Three-year-olds are probably not going to be reading on their own, but you can ask them to share what they think the story is about based on the pictures.

● Provide them with interactive STEAM activities. This will guide them as they identify problems, come up with their own solutions and test their theory in order to see the results.

Early Childhood Education at GIIS

At GIIS, we have created an early childhood programme that supports holistic development in a student-centred environment. Preschool students enjoy engaging in activities in an immersive classroom environment they can safely explore on their own terms. Our preschool is anchored by the award-winning Global Montessori Plus (GMP) programme, which is supported by five pillars:

Excelerate Programme: This pillar works to accelerate students' speaking, reading, listening, writing and numeracy skills.

Multiple Intelligences: This pillar allows for multifaceted learning, based on Howard Gardner's Theory of Multiple Intelligences through music, art, movement and more.

iCare: This pillar encourages students to become involved in their communities and the world around them.

iPlay: This pillar provides extensive opportunities for play-based learning.

Future Ready Learning: This pillar encourages the use of age-appropriate STEAM activities and introduces young learners to science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics.

By combining outdoor activities with a play-based curriculum, GIIS naturally develops critical thinking skills in preschool students. 

GIIS’ Preschool Extended programme: 

Moreover, GIIS’ extended preschool hours from 9-3.30 pm supplement the regular 9-12.30 pm programme by offering extra time for enrichment, and includes a rotation of structured instruction in music, dance, drama, speech, storytelling, and more.

If you are keen to know more about preschool at GIIS, please feel free to book a campus tour today.

Rema Rajiv

Ms Rajiv has been an Early Childhood educator and practitioner for the past 15 years at GIIS. She heads the Global Montessori Plus (GMP) Programme, supporting kindergarten students in their learning and holistic development to maximise the potential of every student. She has been instrumental in implementing developmentally age-appropriate curriculum that provides a strong foundation for lifelong learning. She is well-respected due to her rich experience in the field and passion for working with preschoolers, helping establish a good rapport with the parent community.​

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