Critical thinking skills are a must for sound decision-making to achieve the correct result. Read on to know more about the ways and activities to develop critical thinking in an individual.
“Not everything that can be counted counts; and not everything that counts can be counted.” ~Albert Einstein
Einstein has so beautifully explained what critical thinking is. Critical thinking is analyzing and evaluating a situation logically in order to find out the correct result or conclusion. This demands the brain to come out of its usual framework and think about a situation or a problem from all possible aspects, before giving a judgement. This skill is essential for every individual, be it an adult or a child. So, after understanding the importance of critical thinking skills, let us see some of the ways to master it.
Critical thinking can be developed in number of ways like making it a regular habit, by intentional analysis of any situation or by converting it into the habit. Inculcating strategic and analytical thinking in the habit would help in developing critical thinking skills.
Education too plays a vital role in the development of this skill as it also involves logical thinking and reasoning. The areas that require the process of collecting and evaluating information before jumping on to the conclusion involves critical thinking as well. Brainstorming and triggering the mind to think would also contribute in the development of critical thinking skills.
Now-a-days, critical thinking has become important in many professions to carry out the work efficiently, like engineering, research, critics and nursing. So, teaching critical thinking skills should be integrated in the curriculum right from schools for children to training sessions for professionals. Here are some of the basic critical thinking skills exercises.
 Puzzles & Riddles
This critical thinking skills activity can be good for both kids as well as adults. Logical puzzles involve mathematical calculation and brain teasing activities that would coddle your mind in logical analysis to solve the problem. This, for kids in later stages would help during complex decision making. Solving these puzzles would boost the morale and stuff you with more confidence to solve the next level. Riddles would help an individual to think out of the box and analyze the situation from various angles and enhance the problem solving skills.
Games designed from the strategic thinking point of view, whether indoor or outdoor can be a great source to actuate the still and dull mind. Activities like scavenger hunt, obstacle course and outdoor camping would be very useful for encouraging the mind to evaluate, think and act.
 Optical Illusions & Brain Teasers
These also foster critical thinking by utilizing the hidden creativity and imagination stimulating the mind to think critically. Along with the fun and enjoyment involved, it also develops the thinking ability and generates the interests through different challenges.
 Interactive Activities and Sessions
Critical thinking exercises for kids that involve interactive sessions are different from that of the adults. For kids, a quiz can be a way to make them read more and acquire knowledge. For adults, interactive sessions can be debates, presentations, working on problematic situations and discussions that would include thought provoking questions.
 Creative Writing
Creativity and critical thinking are the two sides of the same coin. The writing can be of any form like story or poems would be helpful activity in developing creative thinking as well as critical thinking exercises for children. And for adults, report analysis or open-ended questions can be great to foster this skill.
Reading is no doubt an 'all time hit' activity, whether we talk about children or adults. Irrespective of the age, it can be adopted to sharpen thinking skills and to enhance knowledge. This is an activity which should not be thrust, rather should be accepted as an integral part.
These are six critical thinking exercises that encourage the mind to analyse a situation from different perspectives. There can be many other ways to develop this skill depending upon age and requirements.
For example, the training methods involved in critical thinking in nursing are different from that of engineering because of the different sets of requirements for the job. These skills should be inculcated in an individual right from childhood, as they will be required at every stage in later life, be it personal or professional.
Megha Tiwari also contributed to this article.
Jonas Ezeanya is an executive speech coach and presentation expert based in Lagos, Nigeria. Connect with him on LinkedIn.