What’s the problem?
Inspiring strategies for success in problem-solving
The ‘real world’ is full of complex problems that lack clear solutions and approaches. Teaching children to problem-solve from a young age can help them develop essential skills and strategies to deal with the problems they’ll continue to encounter in everyday life.
Search for the struggle
A good starting point is to ‘normalise’ problems – help children understand that life doesn’t always go as planned, but that this can be an opportunity to improve and innovate. Look for chances to share a problem your children have encountered and then discuss how they managed to work through it. By highlighting how your children have solved a problem, they’re likely to be more independent and productive when tackling future challenges.
Teach them how to get stuck and unstuck
Give children a task, riddle or problem that will make them feel ‘stuck’. Encourage them to embrace the feeling of being stuck before they begin to work through the problem. They should then mindfully document the steps they take to get themselves ‘unstuck’. As they work through the problem, ask questions like:
- What was your first step in getting unstuck?
- What are you doing now?
- What are you going to try next?
Working out a problem verbally slows down the thinking process, helping children to learn from the problem-solving experience.
Take a step back
When children are confused or unsure about a particular task or problem, don’t always jump straight in with an answer. First, have them work through the problem on their own. You can give helpful suggestions or ask directing questions, but don’t provide more assistance than necessary.
When working on problems, it’s normal for children to become unsure of themselves. To prevent this lack of confidence from hampering their learning, be sure to provide positive reinforcement along the problem-solving process.
Make problem-solving fun!
Problem-solving can be satisfying and fun, especially with teaching aids and toys that challenge children to come up with solutions. Why not create a puzzle corner in your classroom or playroom? Or introduce a ‘riddle day’ over breakfast?
Toys that encourage problem-solving:
Truly Toys stock a wide range of toys that promote problem-solving. To find out more about our educational toys for all ages, please visit our website or contact us for a quote: 011 618 1337 / firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Teaching problem solving: Let students get ‘stuck’ and ‘unstuck’, Brookings: https://www.brookings.edu/blog/education-plus-development/2017/10/31/teaching-problem-solving-let-students-get-stuck-and-unstuck/
- Teaching Problem Solving, Vanderbilt University: https://cft.vanderbilt.edu/guides-sub-pages/problem-solving/