Helping kids to think and express themselves in novel, imaginative ways

“Each of our young people has an idea that deserves to be expressed. A creative idea that wants to take shape and an opportunity for entrepreneurship that seeks to make the world a better place – and we are the ones called to empower this spirit in our young people.” John Kao

We want our children to be happy and independent, to have good self-esteem and to be reaching their goals, but often our way of educating does not achieve this. For our children to grow to become leaders who can resolve complex problems and be innovative, one area we could focus on more is developing their critical and creative thinking skills.

What do we mean when we talk about creative and critical thinking?

Critical thinking assesses the validity of something that already exists, and creative thinking tries to generate something new. Critical thinking employs established methods and principles (logic and rationality), whereas creative thinking privileges moving beyond current traditions and paradigms. Creative thinking overcomes existing constraints to achieve its purpose of generating something original. For this, intuition and subconscious (or unconscious) processes are used. We sometimes refer to this as “thinking out of the box”. Its counterpart, critical thinking, evaluates and examines the analytical validity of an argument or an hypothesis from within existing conceptual frameworks and methodological procedures.

Thinking outside the box

To think outside the box, you need to break with your paradigms, turn your mental schemas upside down and look for new ideas. Thinking outside the box is easy. You just have to try! For Maltese psychologist Edward De Bono, lateral thinking is a new way of looking at the world that allows us the mental flexibility to do extraordinary things.

How can I get started?

Let this article inspire you to become curious, to use your own creativity and to try new things. Try out some of the strategies we’ve suggested, always allowing your kids to freely express what they think. Storyberries offers free children’s books, and tips for parents on enhancing creative and critical thinking, below.

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Encourage a love of learning

Teach children to enjoy finding out about things and gathering facts, and promote a love of learning. Information is essential for critical thinking, and the more information we have, the better informed we are.
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Learn about the world

Develop understanding: to think critically, we need to understand the world around us, to know the causes of things and the effects of our actions. For example, you might choose to read an item of current news together, one that is appropriate to the child’s age, then write down what the main topic is, thoughts that could be used to describe it, and any questions that remain unsolved.

Discuss and debate

This can be done through discussion, for example, sharing opinions about movies or books. Discussions allow us to explore different ideas and opinions, as well as moral, social and ethical values. By exploring our ideas in this way, we get to know our own likes and dislikes. This in turn helps with getting our needs met (because we know what we want) and with decision making (because we feel the strength of our own convictions, but are also aware and respectful of other people’s).
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Autonomous decision making

We learn by practicing what we have learned, so it is really important for children to be able to make decisions and express their opinion in everyday situations. In making their own decisions, children learn to prioritize, accept and fix mistakes, be more autonomous, and take responsibility for their decisions.
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Thinking outside the box

Kids do it all the time…. We just have to enhance it. Activities that help with creative thinking:
Relaxing, chilling, meditating, taking happy time-out.
Journalling or mind-maps.
Painting or being artistic in other ways.
Enjoying music.
Exploring, adventuring and trying new things.
Being philosophical and questioning universal truths.
Being spontaneous and trying new things.


Some Free Books About Independent Thinking At Storyberries

Best free books at Storyberries
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How To Be An Otter

Can you imagine living as an otter and being part of an otter family? With this fabulous book, kids can imagine what it would be like to inhabit a different world, and along the way develop their creative and critical thinking skills,
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Our Beautiful World

This beautiful and encouraging book for 7-10 year olds highlights some of the climactic issues that face our beautiful world. A super book for encouraging kids to thinking independently, to be responsible and to get involved.
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Independent thinking is all about being imaginative and open to seeing things in different ways, and then having the confidence to express our ideas. Join artist Sue Clancy as she offers a wonderful guided tour of her fine art – household objects will never look the same again!

Article by Luzmery M. Romero Gamboa and Fleur Rodgers

Luzmery Child Psychologist Storyberries

Luzmery works in the area of clinical psychology as a psychotherapist for children, adolescents and families. Since 2016, she has run a Psychological Center in Venezuela called Psicoluz. She offers workshop facilitations to parents, is involved in recreational activities for children, and has been working as a freelancer since 2017 performing online psychotherapy. 

Storyberries parenting portal author and mindfulness coach Fleur Rodgers

Fleur is a meditation teacher in France and uses a compassion and loving-kindness based approach to meditation and slow-minded living. Fleur posts regularly to Instagram @rodgers.fleur . She has two children, is a qualified teacher in adult education and is the founder of