Teaching Children ‘How’ To Think And Not ‘What’ To Think

Rancho Labs
5 min readJul 3, 2021


We do not wish to have an army of like-minded people with a robotic sense of learning in the future. If we’re to develop and discover new wonderful answers to the many problems we are facing, we must encourage children to think critically,outside the box. They should feel free to have their own thoughts and thinking process.

Hence, it is essential that children learn how to think rather than what to think. They should be conditioned to think critically, to ask questions, and to be imaginative with their ideas.

Learning to think is similar to learning any other habit as it must be learnt and then practiced. Because changing habits and routines is one of the most difficult things a person can do, it’s essential to teach children how to think from the very beginning, while their personalities and brain is still developing.

Margaret Mead’s famous quote “Children must be taught how to think, not what to think” should be put into reality in order to raise innovative-minded children.

Suggestions And Tips For Parents

1. Make Them Critical Thinkers

The term ‘critical thinking’ is often used in a wider sense. It refers to children’s ability to recognize, analyse, and evaluate information or skills. During this process,they will explore and provide compelling reasons in support of their answers or thoughts.

Some of the ways by which you could promote critical thinking can be- by using analogies, asking open-ended questions, helping children develop hypotheses, and letting them incorporate different points of view. Children will be able to do more than just memorizing facts with the help of critical thinking skills.

Few essential skills that are the basis for critical thinking include: Communication and information skills, Problem-solving, Interpersonal communication and Collaboration skills.These are four skills that children will require in any career and at any stage of life.

As a result, we must teach our kids to think critically and independently. Providing opportunities for children to practise being critical thinkers will help them in analysing others’ thinking and evaluating others’ logic.

2. Ask Questions

Ask meaningful questions to evoke sound reasoning. In this way, children’s thinking is shaped through word conversations and communication. It shouldn’t be a question that can be answered with a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Instead, the questions should encourage problem-solving and discovery learning.

When you ask children a question and they come with an answer, use some of the following to encourage them to think further:

Could you go into further detail about that?
Will you make that point in a different way?
Could you give me an example?
Would you provide additional information about that topic?

Give them time and let them think. This will enable them to give a well-thought-out response. Quick responses frequently result in few words and minimal eye contact, both of which are qualities we don’t want to encourage.

3. Present Them With Problems

There is no greater cognitive challenge than dealing with problems and searching for solutions. This process does not just need effort but also a change and an adaptation process.

Thus, rather than telling children absolute facts provide them with challenges that force them to think. This would help in improving their abilities to observe, analyse, and make judgments.

If we educate children to accept something without questioning it, the information would be insignificant, would not cause a big change in their minds, and would just be stored somewhere inside the memory and might not even get retained.

On the other hand, when we are compelled to think in order to solve a problem or find out where we went wrong, the brain undergoes a reorganization that leads to growth.

When children are accustomed to think, to question the reality, and to seek answers for themselves, they gain confidence in their abilities and approach life with less fear.

4. Encourage Creativity

There is a convention of making children learn a set formula for solving a problem. This inhibits their creativity and hinders them from implementing their own ideas.

One definition of creativity, focuses on divergent thinking which involves the following: The breaking up of old concepts, establishing new connections, expanding the scope of knowledge and the onset of bright ideas.
We can boost children’s passion and motivation for in-depth learning by encouraging divergent thinking among them.

Encouraging kids to constantly come up with fresh ideas helps them develop their creative thinking abilities. When children learn to be comfortable with ambiguities,complex thinking skills are also developed.

5. Play Interactive Games

These games are sometimes referred to as “brain games” since they require the player to think critically in order to win. As a result, the incentive is tempting enough to keep them going and developing thinking skills. Free Thinking Games, Smore, and Exquisite Minds all have some excellent options for these games. Such interactive games with rewards may be an excellent motivation for the development of thinking abilities.

As the renowned Chinese philosopher Confucius said, “Learning without thought is labor lost; thought without learning is perilous”.

The children of today’s generation are going to be the country’s future so care should be taken while guiding them about anything. Educators and parents must encourage children to think for themselves, follow their passion, and explore the topics that stimulate their interest.It is necessary to teach a child how to learn, unlearn, and re-learn. Value the creative expression of children and encourage their unique talents.



Rancho Labs

Tech enthusiasts fostering young minds to have a strong foothold in Coding | Robotics | Artificial Intelligence.