4 Ways To Encourage Children To Think Independently


Independent thinking is an incredibly important transferrable life skill. It is leveraged in nearly every aspect of life and it’s vital to teach children to think independently as early as possible. Here are four ways to encourage children to think independently.

  1. Utilize Language Learning

Language learning is one of the most effective ways to encourage independent thinking in children. Foreign language learning, sign language, coding languages and more advanced instruction in the child’s native language all help encourage the child to think independently and communicate more effectively. Learning more advanced lessons about your native language helps you communicate more effectively in it, and learning another language helps expand your information absorption abilities and cognitive flexibility.

  1. Encourage Playing Pretend

Playing pretend is a creative method of encouraging independent and critical thinking. Children who play pretend, on their own time or in the classroom, are letting their imaginations run wild. They can create scenarios based on existing information and media they’re interested in, learn to develop stories, think about things from different points of view and begin to understand events in sequence and story structures. Playing pretend is an ideal method for young children, particularly those who are resistant to more structured methods.

  1. Ask Open-ended Questions

Asking open-ended questions can encourage students to learn more actively. To structure questions in this way, begin questions with words like what, how and why do you think. Avoid questions that can be answered with yes, no or rote memorization. Open-ended questions encourage students to share more information they’ve noticed or synthesized regarding the topic being taught and to think more carefully about their answers before providing them. They can also help students learn to brainstorm and think creatively and critically.

  1. Provide Open Learning Environments

Like open ended questions, Open Learning Environments (OLEs) encourage students to learn autonomously and develop their own theories and perspectives regarding the material being taught. In an OLE, the instructor provides information in an open-ended manner and encourages students to break into small groups and discuss the things they’ve learned. For example, when demonstrating a geometry theorum, ask your students to think about how that theorum would apply in the real world, in their experiences.

Every child is different, so a strategy to encourage independent and critical thinking that helps one child may not work for another. It’s important to personalize the independent thinking teaching process so all children in your charge pick it up.