Using Questioning to Help Children Develop Critical Thinking Skills

During my recent visits to classrooms, I have noticed many strategies that our teachers use to help our students develop their critical thinking skills. 

Critical thinking is when we analyze and evaluate information, connect the dots between concepts, and see alternative ways of looking at problems and solutions. 

One of the most effective ways to develop this skill in children is through higher-level questioning. Teachers and parents can encourage kids to think deeply and critically about the world by asking good questions.

Below are questions that the WES faculty frequently utilize and that we as parents  can use at home as well. They can be used to discuss an unlimited number of topics. We can change the subject matter and the vocabulary to meet the needs of children of any age. Just remember to make sure the topic is developmentally appropriate and of high interest to your child.

  • What might have happened if . . .?
  • What are some ways that . . .?
  • How would you improve . . .?
  • Why did you decide to . . .?
  • Why do you prefer ______ to ______?

We can also help children think through their answers by asking follow-up questions such as:

  • Could you elaborate further on that point?
  • Can you express that point in another way?
  • Do we need to consider another point of view?
  • Is there another way to look at this question/problem?

Even younger children can develop the foundations for effective thinking. It is never too early to ask these and similar questions of even our youngest learners.   

But the most important thing is to have fun with this. Keep the conversations light and the topics interesting; the children will not even notice that they are developing a lifelong skill!


Danny Vogelman
Head of School