Developing Children’s Critical Thinking Skills Using the News
This blog will outline some ways you can incorporate the news to build your children’s critical thinking skills.
Attention to detail
Reading newspaper articles and learning about current stories are a good way for you as an educator to encourage children to listen for and find details. Paying attention to detail within the article can prompt children to think critically and deeply about the content in front of them.
You could ask children to break a story down into the 5 W’s or detect some key points to practise analysing and assessing content – skills which are useful for critical thinking.
Children’s critical thinking skills can be important when finding, interpreting and sharing news stories. Having the ability to comprehend, question and analyse written work can help your children critique the news piece they are reading.
Having a checklist of things to consider when reading can help children think critically about the news, such as:
- Where have I found the article?
- Is it from a trusted, reliable, reputable source?
- Have the facts and figures been fact-checked?
- Does the news story sound realistic to me?
- Have I talked to an adult about this story to hear their opinion?
Encountering news stories develops critical thinking skills as children can go beyond objective understanding, to question and analyse how news events make them feel personally.
This element of teaching the news builds emotional articulation as children begin to unpick the emotional impact of news stories. This also facilitates the opportunity to broaden emotional vocabulary to consider these impacts effectively.
Children can then use the news story as a base to investigate wider repercussions of events and issues. They can think critically to contemplate who might be most impacted and why, and consider how impacted people might feel as a result of the event or issue.
Considering wider impacts and emotional implications from news events therefore boosts children’s ability to think deeply, rooted in real life learning.
Taking it further
Learning about current affairs creates broader discussion opportunities which relate to the topical issues and events you are covering. Go beyond the article in your news sessions, and exercise critical thinking skills to explore stories beyond face value and first impressions.
Children can look at where the news sits in wider contexts; for example, a story on using green energy is located in the broader context of climate change, which could be further explored. You can ask related open questions to unpick this context.
Some useful methods to explore broader contexts are brainstorming, class debates and votes, research projects based on the story, and open discussions to really get to grips with current affairs and topical issues.