Let us have an idea of what is critical thinking and how math games can boost it. Critical thinking is broadly described as the ability to think with clarity, rationality and objectivity, to enable independent and reflective thinking in any situation and be able to derive logically sound conclusions. It is primarily a set of logical and analytical abilities.
And nothing spells logic like mathematics!
“Without mathematics, there’s nothing you can do. Everything around you is mathematics. Everything around you is numbers.” These golden words that have stood the test of time were spoken by a genius mathematician popularly known as the Human Computer, Shakuntala Devi. The best way to develop thinking skills in children therefore is to introduce them to math games and puzzles.
Apart from achieving formidable number skills, the greatest advantage of engaging your child in such logical games is creating a problem-solving mindset. Children are almost akin to clean slates, except they have a brilliant mind of their own and can apply their ingenious thought process to whatever has been written on those slates. However, it is imperative that this process is logical and constructive in its nature. The mathematical nature of these games stimulates their minds and helps them think logically.
Here we help you understand better how incorporating math games in your child’s day-to-day activities will help them gain critical thinking skills that are an essential part of life.
Interesting and fun mathematical riddles teach children to identify relevant concepts.
Since all kids are not naturally curious by nature it is extremely important to stimulate curiosity in their brains. Curiosity keeps their minds sharp and helps them open up to various possibilities and theories, that as adults we might outright reject from fear of being labeled crazy for entertaining such out of the norm ideas. But blissfully young kids have no such constraints and are often themselves brimming with a few wacky ideas of their own. It then becomes important that they be able to distinguish the validness of such concepts.
This is where math games for kids play a crucial role. A lot of these games are often designed in a manner that requires the child to apply and test various theories and concepts. Gradually they get the hang of it and learn to identify the relevant ideas, evaluating their merits and demerits with respect to the case in hand. This is a necessary critical skill that most debaters and coders must possess. Involving a logical gaming session in the regular routine will go a long way in children’s futures if they are inclined towards studying in any such fields that requires putting various theories to test.
Logical puzzles and games develop excellent strategizing skills in kids.
An integral aspect of traditional critical thinking is to develop a systematic approach towards any problem to be able to strategize a solution for it aptly. Strategizing is a complex problem that includes other critical thinking skills. Uncluttering all the information available, sifting through them to extract necessary details and making sense of the gathered information is a huge part of strategizing. Involving your kids in sessions of fun math games is an excellent way to cultivate this skill. The games are structured to encourage dealing with large numbers and functions. Regular bouts of such gaming train these young nascent minds to form logical and reasonable connections between various ideas. Focusing their minds on the solution map they can easily find loopholes and inconsistencies in them, thereby creating a great strategy.
Another extremely important aspect of critical thinking is to be reflective and being able to generate a line of constructive questioning independently. Challenging math puzzles are a great way to promote this behaviour in kids. Through games that are difficult and have various complex levels of increasing difficulties, it is necessary for the player to recall what theories worked and what didn’t for previous levels. This teaches kids to think back to what steps had been taken earlier, examine them and decide what needs to be modified for the next hurdle, thereby perfecting their strategizing skills.
Active gaming inspires creativity in kids and leads them to experimenting with ideas.
Imagination and creativity are two important pillars of contemporary critical thinking. Having a keen interest in something often leads to more curiosity about it and in turn activates latent creativity. Tricky math puzzles when finally solved after much brainstorming often begets enormous satisfaction and moral boost amongst children. And this further inspires them to create their own riddles and puzzles. Kids love to experiment and should always be encouraged to do so. This rids them of the fear of failure and strengthens them against the downside of taking risks.
A systematic approach to executing a strategy is promoted through math puzzles.
More often than not a good plan is laid to ruin for lack of proper execution. A systematic execution of a strategy is an evaluative skill that takes time to develop. Therefore it is always advisable that these lessons be taught in an interactive and practical manner rather than a conventional method of studying in theory. As helpful as theoretical lessons are in enlightening kids about these skills, research shows they aren’t really productive. It is well established that solving math puzzles nurture systemic execution skills as a fundamental part of developing a critical thought process.
Analytical puzzles foster curiosity and develop constructive criticism abilities in kids.
Just like a good teacher instills curiosity about a subject in the minds of students and encourages them to ask questions, these puzzle games play a similar role for kids in a very fun way. Actively participating in these stimulating games teaches kids to question different concepts while fanning their innate curious nature. They learn to constantly question and challenge the status quo, never accepting norms as they are without applying their evaluation skills to them. They also learn to think and form a critically positive line of reasoning in favour of enhancing progress of the problem. As this habit develops, children get accustomed to seeking answers constantly. When a child learns to ask important and relevant questions they are essentially gaining constructive argumentative skills.
Critical thinking ability is an intrinsic skill necessary in any field of study whether it is literature and academic studies, finance and management, research work, legal profession or artificial intelligence. Along with these essential skills kids also develop other important qualities while playing these cool math games like patience, diligence, accountability, and most importantly a familiarity with facing hurdles and overcoming them. They develop a fighting spirit and get accustomed to the frictional nature of life which helps them remain unfazed in the face of challenges. Also, they will be able to play around with big numbers effortlessly, which is a stellar and prodigious skill that they will have gained right from childhood.
Some parents may argue in favour of a conventional learning approach. But it is often observed that children are more responsive towards playful teaching. They receive and accept sound reasoning more positively than strict dictations. Thus when a lesson is imparted to a kid through a story or a game or a movie, they are far more likely to remember them. Children learn better by applying these concepts through games and other activities and performing practically. Starting from an early age will condition them to be able to think critically in any given situation, no matter how stressful or difficult it gets. This is because children have brains that are incredibly active, imaginative and susceptible to new and exciting theories and concepts. They are far more intelligent than we always fail to give them credit for.
We can therefore see that math puzzles and games are a much more effective and enjoyable way to enable kids to think critically, apply analysis to situations and derive justifiable and purposeful conclusions. Research and studies suggest that a fun and engaging method of teaching has almost always produced more efficient results. It is thus prudent to incorporate these learning games as part of your child’s daily life. These games and puzzles that fundamentally require application of logical reasoning and analysis have been designed with the aim of enhancing a child’s critical thinking abilities. When math becomes your kid’s best friend they gain a unique perspective to life that will open up almost every door for them in future.