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5 Tips to Develop Critical Thinking in Early Childhood Education

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From the moment they begin to have a little understanding of the world around them, children develop the ability to question the events of everyday life with gracefulness and charming innocence.

Soon, they surround us with questions and their opinion on matters and sometimes talk about things we stop and think about: Jeez! I didn’t ask those questions at their age! I didn’t have this argumentative ability and empathy that children show nowadays! 

Thinking about unraveling a little of the enormous capacity of our children in early childhood, we want to understand what critical sense is within the process of early childhood education, and we will discover ways to better develop this conscious ability in the little ones.

This brings us to the initial question!

What is critical thinking in early childhood education?

Critical thinking is the ability we have to develop our ideas about the issues and situations around us consciously and independently.

In early childhood education, this definition gains a little more brightness as we are talking about the phase of many discoveries, and developing a critical sense from a good foundation of fundamentals and skills necessary for life in society allows the development of autonomy from respect for the authenticity of each child.

There is one thing that we need to know, but we only notice when we are surrounded by children. It is about the enormous capacity to absorb every example that we provide with our everyday attitudes.

What our children learn in the school environment will influence their whole lives, and we need to demonstrate we are confident. It is necessary to think that from the first steps in school life, children need to establish contact with different thoughts. 

The ability to deal with small situations, such as: why is recess over? Why do I have to brush my teeth after meals? All of this can give children the opportunity to understand that time must be managed, and that there are things that benefit our health and well-being.

When we talk about the development of critical thinking in the classroom, we think of a complex process full of complicated strategies, however, it happens simply.

One of the most common features of critical thinking development is continuity. This is an ongoing process where children can learn at all times.

So, if you watch a group of children playing, you will realize they have an enormous critical capacity in their socialization. They can express their opinions and are less resistant to the other’s thinking with each new learning. 

What is the difference between critical sense and common sense?

Common sense is the knowledge that people acquire from everyday situations. They apply practical solutions to problems or questions superficially, without much reflective or technical depth on the subjects, basing their ideas on socio-cultural customs. 

In this way, remaining in common sense is something dangerous for our lives and, of course, for the life and education of children, as we are increasingly prone to manipulation due to the superficiality of situations. 

When we think of critical thinking, we are talking about deepening our knowledge of certain subjects. When we relate to the development of children, at first, it is about directing them to understand the small everyday situations and get to know the world around them in a reflective way so that they can grow with creative and humanized ideas. 

How to develop children’s critical sense?

Children need to develop the analytical ability to understand the world around them early in their developmental process.

The development of this critical thinking is given from the freedom for the child to elaborate answers, regardless of the attribution of right or wrong in their attitudes, but based on the explanation of situations and behaviors that best suit each concrete situation. 

One of the most common ways to encourage the development of critical thinking in children is to have an analytical and respectful approach to everyday situations.

Thinking like this, when you are at home with your children and you don’t give them all the answers but stimulate their imagination and ability to develop a thought about something, you are helping to formulate this critical sense safely.

When your child asks you a question at home, or even when he has an attitude that doesn’t match the values that have been shown to him, a good alternative is to encourage him to evaluate the consequences of the situation and look for ways to solve situations with simplicity.

Asking children’s opinions on certain subjects is a viable option to develop their critical sense.

A person will be successful throughout his/her life if he/she has a good position on the issues around him/her; if he/she respects others and, from an early age, can defend their point of view based on a solid basis of arguments, surrounded by critical knowledge of situations.

Check out 5 tips that can help in the development of children’s critical senses:

  1. Arouse curiosity

It is a fact that children have an inborn curiosity. As adults, we must demonstrate how magical it is to learn something new and encourage children to explore their surroundings.

Playing games and activities that allow them to express themselves is a way to make them reflect critically on their attitudes towards the world around them.

Entering the world of imagination with children and playing make-believe directing their skills will playfully develop their self-knowledge.

Children show their opinions about the adults around them when they are playing, and this can be directed to simple reflections, but that will make a difference in the formation of their critical sense.

  1. Allow them to create their answers

Sometimes, in the rush of everyday life, we deliver ready-made answers to children’s questions, and this can interrupt a discovery.

When a child asks something, we can answer it or make it come to the answer in a fun and effective way.

At home, this strategy can be used in moments of play and reading when children show a lot of interest in discovering.

In the school environment, we raise debates on matters of collective interest and this generates an argument within the classroom that helps to develop children’s criticality on a given topic.

  1. Encourage dialogue and argumentation

Dialogue should be encouraged not only at school but in all environments in which the child participates.

In the classroom, the provision of concrete information on the subjects, the contact with games, reading, activities, and practical experiences can raise discussions that should be used to develop the critical sense of the little ones.

As they have contact with the targeted information of the subjects and are sharing it in the school environment, the ability to argue is manifested, so that their vocabulary is enriched, as well as their ability to understand the speeches of their colleagues, especially those that differ from yours. 

Letting children express their opinion freely can be a great opportunity to help in the development of critical thinking, having the teacher as a guide for dialogue.

In these moments of expression of positions, children begin to develop a critical sense and the ability to respect the opinion of others.

  1. Encourage creativity

A huge point for the children’s critical sense development is to get them to know different cultures and diverse environments which can safely bring information to them.

A simple game can transform a child’s idea of a subject he/she did not know.

The creative environment and the free expression of creativity make the little ones wake up to new ideas formulated in concrete learning situations. 

These situations can be demonstrated in the daily life of the classroom, and also through outings with the children, where the family can instigate creativity in a guided way, contributing to the improvement of critical thinking.

  1. Stimulate the habit of reading

The magical world of reading is a huge opportunity to help develop critical thinking in children.

They can appreciate stories as they get old and their interests change and mature together in this stage. Therefore, presenting children with age-appropriate readings helps in the development of this critical sense. As well as diversifying this universe.

Another important thing is to read to children as a way to make their imagination flow in an immeasurable way, giving rise to opinions on subjects and situations. Within the classroom, this reading is directed and involves all children as a way to help their argumentative development.

Thus, offering a diversity of topics can allow them to demonstrate the ability to choose, starting from their consolidated interests to create the habit of reading as a tool that will develop a more critical sense and the opportunity to express their ideas every day with safety.

Come to visit St. Nicholas School. It offers your child the opportunity to develop critical thinking from their first school experiences, guided by qualified professionals and with a curriculum containing international experiences, with cultural exchanges that allow your child to experience globalized experiences based on a humanized education. 

Come to visit St. Nicholas School, and offer the best private kindergarten in São Paulo for your child with an international teaching proposal, aimed at the development of critical thinking, inserting them into the community based on socialization and respect for diversity, as well as the development of their individualities.

Click on the link to apply now!



  • St Nicholas

    St. Nicholas School is a school with an international education with the aim of developing responsible, confident and caring citizens. Teaching students to ask the right questions, to get to the right places for them. You can find St. Nicholas School in Pinheiros and Alphaville.


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