Critical thinking is a skill that we continue to develop throughout our lives. It allows us to seek out reliable knowledge and evaluate information. It begins early as children develop theories, sometimes seemingly far-fetched, to explain their world.
We can promote critical thinking in children by giving them room to follow their curiosity, and resisting the urge to jump in too quickly to fix things they're struggling with. Because working through confusion hones critical thinking, we support children when we let them resolve problems for themselves. The Maker Studio, Water Works, and Building Bridgetown, among other exhibits, offer opportunities for critical thinking, asking why simple machines work, what they do, and how they do it. If something isn't working right, consider asking the child, "What do we need to fix it?"
We can also help children learn to look critically at the sources of their information, asking questions about how we can tell if something is true. This is true for conversations at the Museum and back home while reading a story or watching a television program.
**Critical Thinking is one of the Seven Essential Life Skills described by Ellen Galinsky in her book, Mind in the Making: The Seven Essential Life Skills Every Child Needs (2010), available in the Museum Store. We have also created a brief handbook to provide information for you to explore at home.