How Critical Thinking Promotes Excellence in ECE: Preschoolers

Here are a few real world examples of how early care and education providers who work with preschoolers can incorporate critical thinking skills:

Using Critical Thinking

• Ask for other perspectives when seeking to solve classroom management concerns.
• Examine your routines and classroom rituals for appropriateness, meaning, and relevance.
• Engage in professional discussions groups by asking questions and sharing your perspectives.
• Organize a system for collecting observations about children’s learning.
• Select materials based on the interests and abilities of the children in your group.
• Take an online course and create an action plan for implementing two of three strategies shared in the course.

Promoting Critical Thinking

• Explain to children how you are approaching a problem and the options you are considering to solve it.
• Provide materials that promote comparison, classification, and design.
• Encourage children to take on the perspectives of others. Start with fictional characters from books or movies, and then see if they can take on the perspectives of their peers.
• Create opportunities for children to make predictions, ask questions, and conduct experiments. Include some of these opportunities during arrival and departure, so parents can practice as well. For example, create an estimation station or a mystery box that can be explored in a short amount of time.
• Promote open-ended art, found-object sculptures, playscapes, and sensory play. Question children about their work. Prompt children to think of questions to ask their peers about the work they are doing.
• Encourage story telling. Document the stories told. Allow children to act out their stories or to create books with illustrations of their stories.