Advanced Academic Services is part of the Austin Independent School District. This blog provides information, activities, and events regarding advanced academics and high ability children and teens. Smart without compromise. Potential without limits.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Critical Thinking Skills

One of the “buzz” words in today’s education is critical thinking. Teachers are encouraged to have their students use critical thinking skills throughout the day across all disciplines and content areas. Critical thinking skills are vital to the success of your children in the classroom, on standardized tests, and in real-world applications. How can parents, grandparents, and others help their youngsters improve critical thinking skills?

Here are a few examples of easy things you can do with your children to enhance their critical thinking skills:
Ask open-ended questions. Asking questions that don't have one right answer encourages children to respond creatively without being afraid of giving the wrong answer. Try answering a question with a question!

Categorize and classify. Classification plays an important role in critical thinking. This type of thinking requires identification and sorting according to a rule, or set of rules, that kids must discover, understand, and apply. If you play classification games at home, be sure to follow up the activity with questions about the similarities and differences between the groups. You can sort everything from dirty laundry to Legos to produce to doll clothes in order to promote critical thinking.

Make decisions. Help your child consider pros and cons, but don't be afraid to let them make a wrong choice. Ask your child, "How do you feel about your decision? What would you do differently next time?" Evaluating their decisions and discussing these decisions validates your support of their thinking process.

Find patterns. Whatever you're doing, whether it's going to the park or watching television, encourage your child to look for patterns or make connections for critical thinking practice. For example, relate a favorite television show to a real-life situation. Or, while driving in the car, have your child identify different shapes in roads signs and in the windows and roofs of passing houses. 

Whether you are driving in the car, or talking with your child around the kitchen table, we encourage you to discover new ways to think critically with them. Critical thinking is not just a “buzz” word, but a life skill that will serve children well in school and in the future.

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Check out our November GT Family Activity: Problem Solving Iconic Austin!  It is not too late to participate.  Simply email