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Critical Thinking is the Fourth Essential Life Skill

The forth essential life skill, according to Ellen Glanski in her book “Mind in the Making” is critical thinking. Critical thinking is the ongoing search for valid and reliable knowledge to guide beliefs; it guides our decisions and our actions.

Young children make decisions based on the emotional impulse experienced in the moment. This is easy to see when an adult asks them, “Why did you do that!,” after some misbehavior. Children rarely have any forethought or preplanning for their actions. However, by narrating or pointing out the consequence of their action or actions, adults can help children learn to be critical thinkers. For example, when the child chooses to leave his or her play space a mess, causing toys to get lost, the adult can point out the two choices the child had prior to moving on. She could have put away the items, which would ensure their safekeeping, or she could have left them  scattered about and hope they would be found later.

There are plenty of opportunities to use communication, the third essential life skill, as  vehicle for modeling critical thinking in young children. It can be time consuming but, like so many skills, repeated exposure, and the opportunity to practice, will nearly always lead to understanding and mastery.

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