Kids learn a range of facts and information in school, but they also hone enduring skills that will allow them to succeed in and beyond the classroom. One of these skills is critical thinking. The ability to find information and then use that information to make sense of something is a tool children will draw on throughout their lives.

What Is Critical Thinking?

A mother sitting on the floor, encouraging her child to think critically while drawing.

Back to School by Natasha Hall is licensed with Unsplash License

When thinking critically, kids analyze data, compare and contrast, or make decisions based on information (they may often do all of the above). Critical thinking is about more than solving problems or learning facts. Instead, it’s about understanding different ways you can solve problems. It involves applying logic and reason when assessing arguments and coming to your own decisions and conclusions. Children who develop critical thinking skills can go beyond simply knowing textbook answers to a deeper understanding of what they truly believe and think.

Why Is It Important To Practice Critical Thinking With Your Kids?

When kids know how to think critically, they can assess information, critique that information, and create on their own. They’ll have the toolkit to engage in conversations while offering constructive solutions to issues that arise in the real world.

Teachers and parents can develop critical thinking skills in kids in and out of the classroom, encouraging children to think deeply about the world around them by asking good questions. The questions you ask your kids matter, and you can ask them about topics that build the critical thinking competency that sets them up for success now and in the future.

What Are Some Questions That Help Kids Flex Their Critical Thinking Skills?

Questions that help kids build their critical thinking skills work by engaging children’s analysis skills and imagination. Critical thinking skills develop over time, so consider your child’s developmental age when selecting questions. No matter how old your child is, the questions you ask should challenge reasoning and logic. You can do this by asking a range of both serious and fun questions.

The key is giving your child enough time to respond when asking critical thinking questions. This skill isn’t about speed — it’s about taking the time to be thorough. Some ways to incorporate asking critical thinking questions while interacting with your kids include:

  • Playing brain games together to build reasoning and logic.
  • Stopping to ask questions that require deeper thinking while watching a movie or TV show or reading a story together.
  • Talking about kid-friendly current events and having a debate to cover both sides of a timely issue.
  • Writing down a question of the day on a board or piece of paper and asking your children to write down or say their answer during the day.

Critical Thinking Questions for Kids Ages 2 to 7

Children between the ages of 2 and 7 learn through language and imaginative play. While they are not typically ready for complete critical thinking as they are still working on perspective-taking to fully understand other people’s motivations, kids in preschool and kindergarten can practice critical thinking through questions that focus on reasoning or comparing objects or situations.

Mixing fun and serious ideas, some critical thinking questions appropriate for kids ages 2 to 7 include:

  • Could (insert name of family pet) join Paw Patrol?
  • What do you think (insert name of favorite toy) does at night?
  • What do you think would happen if you left your paints on the table all night?
  • If you got to pick your name, what name would you choose and why?
  • What are some things you can do to find out how to get to Sesame Street?

Critical Thinking Questions for Kids Ages 7 to 10

When children reach an older elementary school age, they truly begin developing critical thinking skills. Kids can see someone else’s viewpoint, separate fact and fiction, and make logical inferences at this age. You can start to ask more open-ended questions that relate to your child’s life.

Again, you can ask both serious questions and question that play with fun ideas with questions such as:

  • If Barbie (or another favorite doll) was human, could she could do all the jobs she does?
  • How can you get money to buy (insert the toy, game, or another item your child wants) if you’re too young to have a job?
  • What do you think teachers do when they’re not in school?
  • How do you think SpongeBob ended up living in a pineapple under the sea?
  • What would happen if it were sunny every day?

Critical Thinking Questions for Tweens and Teens

Once kids get to middle and high school, they develop strong logic skills. They’re ready to advance to abstract reasoning, see information from various perspectives, and answer complex questions.

Questions appropriate for flexing critical thinking in older children include:

  • What would happen if you suddenly woke up in (insert favorite book or TV show)?
  • What are some ways you can learn another language without taking a class?
  • Could you play your favorite sport using a ball or similar item from a different sport, for example, a hockey puck to play baseball?
  • Is it better for kids to watch TV or play video games?
  • Should kids in middle school still get recess?

General Critical Thinking Questions for Kids

The best critical thinking questions get kids to think outside the box. No matter how old your child is, asking great questions will encourage critical thinking. You can ask some general questions throughout the day, tailoring what you ask to the specific situation and your child’s age to continue to hone critical thinking skills naturally. Try asking questions like:

  • How do you know (fact or piece of information your child is talking about)?
  • How would you solve (insert problem or issue)?
  • How could (event or situation) have ended differently?
  • Can you give me an example?
  • What’s another way we can look at (insert issue)?

Here at Crème de la Crème, we encourage children to explore the world around them and develop lifelong skills like critical thinking. Contact us today to learn more about our programs and curriculum and schedule a tour of your local Crème de la Crème location.