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Critical Thinking for Preschool Kids

Updated on February 5, 2013

Critical Thinking

The nuances of living require that each individual is able to solve problems they encounter as they journey on. Thus from the word go, we must endeavor to instill the life skill of problem solving in our children. Early acquisition of problem solving ability can enhance a child’s educational experience. After all, academic success depends in part on students’ ability to take-in information, process that information and then use it to solve problems which typically take the form of quizzes and tests in school, but the biggest test is retaining the learned information and generalizing its application. Before long, the time comes when students must say goodbye to school and welcome the great big world. Therefore it is imperative to ensure kids are equipped adequately with life success tools from as early in their life as possible so they can breeze through school and welcome the world with confidence?

While we may not be able to directly teach infants analytical thinking and problem solving skills, we can begin to tune their mode of thinking through certain forms of play. A great activity for young minds is puzzle building which is in effect problem solving. Puzzle building develops analytical thinking skills in children because it requires them to look at each unique piece critically and think logically. For example when the image is one in nature such as a tree, person, house, the builder must recognize the natural order of these things (they stand upright). Also, children quickly begin to realize that though some puzzle pieces may look identical, each must fit in a designated place thus they are forced to form hypothesis, test and refute them as part of the process. Puzzle building is also an exercise in perseverance, patience, and endurance. The great thing about puzzles is that they are created with different age groups in mind so everyone is sure to find one that suits their mental capacity.

Puzzles designed specifically with preschool kids in mind tend to be made from heavy cardboard and sometimes wood. They commonly feature images that appeal to children such as animals, colorful solid shapes, numbers, alphabet, or everyday objects. When used cleverly, children can derive double benefits from puzzle building if the adult facilitating the activity can extend it by using images on the puzzle pieces to boost vocabulary and teach descriptive attributes of objects. When piecing together a farm animal scene for example, the adult can go further and describe the animals, the farmhouse, etc. and ask questions about what’s going on in the picture after the pieces have been successfully pieced together.

Puzzle building requires paying close attention to details such as shape, line, and color among many other considerations. This creative activity requires a good deal of brain work to be successful and can be described as a test of patience and endurance. Anyone who has ever built a puzzle will agree that it sure can test one’s mental faculties.


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