The importance of critical thinking & creative problem solving for kids
What is it about? And why should parents, students, and entrepreneurs care?
I was chatting recently with Evan Delahanty, creator and founder of Peaceful Fruits, Shark Tank contestant, and generous partner of Young Launchers, and he shared his thoughts about this topic: “At 10, I was at Old Trail School and fascinated with science and anything else that let me experiment with creative problem solving — bottle rockets, chess, and a lot of playing outside! Creative problem solving is so key to being successful at making the world a better place — and you can learn to be one.”
We’ve heard all about critical thinking, but you might wonder if (and why) kids need it. First, let’s describe it…curiosity, flexibility, and keeping an open mind. Studies show that kids who are exposed to critical thinking and creative problem solving at a young age are better learners. The benefits include: improved aptitude, analytical skills, inventiveness, independence and ability to creatively solve everyday problems. And creative thinking and reasoning have been identified and highlighted as an essential twenty-first-century skill by many business, education, community and government leaders.
So, how do we teach these skills? When taught formal principles of reasoning with explicit instruction, kids definitely benefit, but you don’t need another class or formal lessons. You can use the American Philosophical Association’s tips for teaching critical thinking with your child:
- Start early
- Encourage kids to ask questions
- Ask kids to consider alternative explanations and solutions
- Get kids to clarify meaning in their own words
- Don’t confine critical thinking to factual or academic matters
- Get kids to write
Young Launchers is proud to be one of the many outlets for children in Northeast Ohio to develop their critical thinking and creative problem solving skills, while they explore ideas that intrigue them. Students get to be an entrepreneur for a week, learning skills, getting information, and making connections that will expand their abilities to succeed.
Evan reinforced the importance of encouragement and a supportive environment when he talked about his family: “My parents were farmers before my father opened his own medical practice — with my mother as his office manager — so the entrepreneurial spirit definitely runs in the family. Mostly, we all like to try things our own way and see what works!” That spirit of trying what works is what we as parents and educators can encourage and help kids develop.
Evan‘s best advice for critical thinkers, creative problem solvers, and aspiring kidpreneurs: “Try something! You don’t have to come up with an earth-shaking idea to start, come up with something you can START and see where it takes you!”
When I asked what motivates him to keep going, even when things are tough, Evan said, “Being a positive impact for others — small or large — energizes me and reminds me why I work so hard to be successful. It’s not for me, it’s for the people that count on me and that I can inspire to do even more when their turn comes!” The same goes for his company, where their mission is “to help people discover the kind of food they deserve — good food that does good!”
I couldn’t resist asking Evan about his February 10 (2017) Shark Tank experience! He said it was “incredibly fun! To have the chance to tell my story — the story of Evan, of Peaceful Fruits, and social enterprise in general — was an incredible opportunity and it made me feel so good to share that story with people and see the positive response.”
Sign up for a Young Launchers entrepreneurship camp near you!