Problem solving is a process that involves the coordination of many other cognitive skills, such as working memory, attention control, and knowledge about the problem topic. The ability to solve problems is essential for success both in and out of school. Fortunately, parental support and modeling can go a long way in helping kids develop problem-solving skills.
So the next time your learner runs into a problem, whether it’s a ball that has rolled behind a shelf or a block tower that won’t stay up, try these steps:
1. Help your child to identify the problem.
Say, “I notice there is a problem,” and have your child help you to name what the problem is.
2. Help your child to brainstorm solutions.
Ask, “How might we fix this?” and allow your learner to practice coming up with a variety of solutions to the problem. If your child struggles to come up with ideas, ask, “What can I do to help?”
3. Suggest that your child try one of the solutions.
Part of problem solving is trial and error, so if the first solution doesn’t work, try another! Help your child to narrow down the solutions until they find one that works.
4. Remind your child of the steps they took to solve the problem.
Recalling the problem-solving process, from identifying the problem to finding a solution that works, will help your learner to internalize the steps so they can work towards more independent problem solving later on.
5. Congratulate your child on solving the problem.
Say, “I knew you could figure it out!” Your encouragement helps reinforce the positive feelings your child gets from solving a problem and makes them more likely to tackle future problems!
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