How Afterschool Programs Develop Critical Thinking Skills

Published by Catherine Durkin Robinson on

Our world is constantly changing – and along with change comes new problems. As they arise, we can either choose to ignore those problems or work to solve them. But if we truly desire to change outcomes and improve situations, we must set up processes that help us do things differently. That’s where critical thinking comes into play. When things don’t turn out as expected, afterschool programs help kids take a close look at what happened, analyze what went wrong, chart a new path toward a different outcome, and test out and evaluate the final results. 

If you have children and want to help them develop important critical thinking skills, consider high-quality afterschool programs. As your kids learn and grow, resources like these teach them how to take the necessary steps toward working through problems and reaching the desired outcome. Our communities need citizens with valuable skills like these!

At KidzToPros (KTP), we understand how to encourage and develop critical thinking skills in students. We provide programs like afterschool and holiday camps throughout the year to help kids learn to identify problems before they happen, and solve them once they do. Read on for more information about the 7 ways we do this. 

Why is critical thinking important? 

When kids learn the art of critical thinking, it helps improve their decision-making, enhance their problem-solving, polish their creativity and stimulate their curiosity. With all those processes working at full-tilt, a pathway opens for success in many career fields – and in life. 

Indeed, our children need critical thinking skills to carry them through the future. They are facing a tech-driven destiny, accompanied by complicated environmental, social and global issues. Such problems require them to explore solutions we can’t even fathom – which creates opportunities for brand new professions. In fact, many studies suggest that the vast majority of careers in 2030 do not even exist today. 

Teaching Kids to Reason

KidzToPros’ afterschool programs and holiday camps develop children’s critical thinking skills so they’re ready for high school, college and career. We teach kids to reason using the following strategies.

1. Promoting Independence 

Many successful tech companies set aside time for employees to work on personal projects. This important quality time values workers and their development. Education providers like KidzToPros often do the same thing by offering students and campers a chance to choose and create their own learning experiences. This leads to a deeper sense of ownership in our programs and kids willing to take a chance on themselves and their education.

2. Learning Outside the Classroom 

So much learning takes place in the real world! Getting kids outside the classroom opens their eyes to things they’ve never noticed before. For instance, when students see nature at work, they often wonder why things happen the way they do. This opens doors for important conversations about the world around them. Similarly, participating in STEM, arts or sports projects or tournaments helps youngsters practice different ways of doing things and observe what happens when things change. This kind of thorough examination gives young people an insider’s view that helps them reason through difficult situations and practice critical thinking to avoid repeats. 

3. Collaborating with Other Kids 

We give KTP students invaluable opportunities to collaborate with others, both inside STEM classrooms and in labs, studios, playing fields and on stage. As kids work together, they learn to debate, struggle, cooperate and compromise. They spot weaknesses in others’ approaches and their own as well. Just as importantly, they also spot strengths, which help them move toward workable solutions. 

4. Asking Open-Ended Questions

Our open-ended questions require campers’ full attention. They can’t just say “yes” or “no” and move on. They must think about the context of the question and how that affects their answer. Meanwhile, we give them plenty of thought time to construct their reply. As parents, help your kids practice critical thinking skills by asking them “why” and “how” questions during dinnertime discussions. You might be surprised what they come up with!

5. Engaging in Different Kinds of Discussions

At KidzToPros, we encourage students to think about situations in light of their effects and to discuss that with peers. For example, how does changing a piece of code affect the way a robot behaves? How does adding shading to a digital character change its appearance? Together, they discuss the main question and brainstorm thoughts and ideas. Then kids work together to choose and design a solution. Afterward, it’s observation time. Did things turn out the way they were supposed to? If so, it’s celebration time! If not, it’s time to review the problem, figure out what went wrong, try something new and start again.

6. Looking at Things in Different Ways 

No two people see things exactly the same way. So at KTP afterschool programs and holiday camps, we encourage kids to consider multiple viewpoints to help broaden their outlook. With the help of friends and instructors, youngsters examine things from a multitude of angles, which generates creativity and expands their minds.  As they practice this more and more, they come to understand others, their thoughts and opinions in ways they never did before. This also generates solutions to problems that make the world a better place.

7. Making Room for Failure

Guess what? Nobody’s perfect – and failure is part of the learning process. When kids fall, they get back up. Looking at what happened and why throws a powerful learning curve unmatched by success. It teaches valuable lessons like preparation, cause and effect, and continuous learning that overrides anything they learn from textbooks. Failing, and cleaning up their own messes, transforms children into stronger, more understanding adults with better reasoning and problem-solving skills.

Let Us Help

If you’re looking for ways to help your kids become world-changers, KidzToPros’ afterschool programs and holiday camps are here to help. We encourage critical thinking – and teach the skills to back it up – in kids as young as four years old. 

Prepare your little ones for a successful life after school with critical thinking strategies that make them leaders and innovators. Enroll them in our afterschool programs and holiday camps today, and help set a course for a successful tomorrow.

Categories: After School Programs