Friends of the Truckee Library’s review of ‘Mind in the Making:’ Critical Thinking Skills |

Friends of the Truckee Library’s review of ‘Mind in the Making:’ Critical Thinking Skills

TRUCKEE, Calif. and#8212; Sixth in a continuing series on Ellen Galinskyand#8217;s and#8220;Mind in the Making: The Seven Essential Life Skills Every Child Needs.and#8221; Find previous installments at

and#8220;Remember the last time you had to go to a new place or meet new people. How did you prepare for it? Did you imagine what the place or the people would be like? Did you run through scenarios in your mind about what to expect or what might go wrong or right?

Now watch your children and see what theyand#8217;re trying to figure out in their play. Are they doing what you just did?and#8221;

Critical thinking is the ongoing search for valid and reliable knowledge to guide our beliefs, decisions, and actions. Like the other essentials life skills, critical thinking develops on a set course throughout childhood and into adulthood, but its use must be promoted. And like other life skills, critical thinking draws on executive functions of the brain. It is similar to the scientific method because it involves developing, testing and refining theories about and#8220;what causes whatand#8221; to happen.

So how do we go about promoting critical thinking skills in our children. Galinsky offers up a number of suggestions:

Watch your child forming theories about how thinks work. Observe your child at play and see what they are attempting to do understand. Play is the way children often try out ideas, much as we do it with ideas in our minds.

Promote your childand#8217;s curiosity. While children are born with a drive to understand, this drive can be weakened or strengthened by what we do.

Promote your childand#8217;s and#8220;lemonade stands,and#8221; or passions of the moment.

Be an expert. Try to provide accurate and valid information to your child. We can model critical thinking by encouraging our children to ask questions and by responding with accurate information, always keeping in mind what they are ready to understand.

Help your child find other and#8220;expertsand#8221; from whom to learn. Think about your friends, your family, your neighbors, and your colleagues as experts, who can share their experiences, their knowledge, and their passions with your kids.

Help your child evaluate information from others. If you suspect a child has been given information that is wrong, help him or her gain the skills to tell the difference between rumor and reality. Especially as children get older, help them learn about fact checking, and how to find information from reliable sources.

Promote critical viewing skills. While watching television, critique the ads and the content of programming with your child. Galinsky uses the example of her sonand#8217;s annoyance at the way teenage boys were stereotyped on television. To prove it, he kept a notebook by the TV to tally how often boys were depicted in negative versus positive ways. Critical thinking at work!

Help children understand confounds by enabling them to disentangle competing causes. There are daily opportunities to make sure children donand#8217;t jump to conclusions. Itand#8217;s easier to have a simple answer, but itand#8217;s better by far to have answer that connects with reality.

When dealing with parenting dilemmas, use a problem-solving process that draws on critical-thinking skills. Think in terms of sequential steps people must undertake in order to solve any problem in a goal-directed fashion: identify the dilemma, problem or issue; determine the goal; come up with alternative solutions; consider how these alternative solutions might work; select a solution to try; evaluate the outcome, and if the solution isnand#8217;t working, try something else. As always, we need to practice what we preach!

Next time: Taking on Challenges

Truckee Library, 10031 Levon Ave., 530-582-7846,

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