How to Develop Critical Thinking Through Math and Reading?

Did you know that you can start shaping your brain to be the best it can be while you are young? Yes, you can! The good news is, young minds are the ones that can best grasp important concepts and essential skills like creative and critical thinking.  

So while you are still in the springtime of life, why not use your math and reading subjects to exercise and sharpen your mind. Here are a few tricks to try: 

When looking at sample Math problems, ask ‘How and Why?’ 

While reading your math textbooks and worksheets, study the examples given. They are there, not just to provide you with hints but also to elicit your curiosity. So turn your curiosity into critical thinking, make it a habit to ask, “How did they arrive at this answer?” You may also compare different math problems and ask, “Why are they different?” 

By always asking these kinds of questions, you slowly develop critical thinking. 

Challenge yourself to come up with better solutions 

In Math, you may explore multiple ways to get to the solution of a problem. From the basics you learned in school as your basis, challenge yourself to develop better ways to solve an equation! You may also discuss the new solutions you came up with with your teacher and engage in a healthy exchange of ideas that will energize your mind. 

The more you train your mind to be creative, the more you will enhance your critical thinking skills. 

Give math word problems a try. 

Worded math problems are also a great way to train your mind to think deeply. To find your way into a solution, you get to digest the worded problem, analyze keywords and numbers, and decide how you will put all these together to arrive at an answer.  

So when you have the chance to solve them, jump on it. 

Explore other reading materials 

There’s no doubt that reading is one of the most effective ways to improve your thinking skills. But when it comes to developing critical thinking, it’s best to explore various reading materials to broaden your knowledge and get another point of view on things. 

Aside from reading academic books on math and reading, read through newspapers, legitimate news sites, novels, encyclopedias, magazines, and even academic journals! This activity will fill your mind with mind-enriching facts and ideas! 

Ask questions after reading. 

Once you’re done reading, make it a habit to ask questions and find answers. Perhaps, if you’re reading a chapter of a mystery or detective-inspired novel, put yourself in the shoes of the main character and ask yourself, “How will I solve the mystery?” or “How will the story unfold?” In reading academic journals, you may also dig deeper by asking, “How did they arrive at a conclusion?” If you’re knowledgeable about their research topic, revisit your previous readings, explore, and ask yourself, “If I am the author, what will my conclusion be?” 

It’s never too early to be the best you can be! With the help of math and reading, start training your mind to think creatively and critically. This essential skill will surely help you think independently and become a reliable problem-solver. In no time, it can take you to great heights in school and beyond. 

Kumon is the world's leading after-school enrichment program. We offer two subjects: Math and Reading in more than 300 Kumon Centers nationwide.

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