How to Raise Successful Problem Solvers
The great jazz musician Duke Ellington had the right attitude about problems when he said, “A problem is a chance for you to do your best.” We face them, large and small, every day. Helping our children develop the critical thinking skills they need to do their best at tackling problems is an important part of our jobs as parents and teachers.
Provide Them with Opportunities
Children start to develop their problem-solving skills almost from birth. It starts as they begin to explore their world – finding a thumb or reaching out and grabbing something they want. When a child begins to play, it presents even more opportunities for them to hone their skills. “Children are naturally curious and learn through playing,” said the Kiddie Academy Director of Training, Sandra Graham. “Play is their work. It’s where they develop their imaginations and problem-solving skills.”
It’s Okay to Struggle
Giving children toys like puzzles and mazes that present fun challenges are also helpful. Watch a toddler play with a shape-sorting toy. They’ll take an object and work with it until they fit the right shape through the right opening. Often, they’ll make mistakes, but they keep at it and even if there’s a momentary snag, they soon figure it out.
Those little struggles are an important process. Resisting your urge to jump in and help promotes independence and creative thought.
Richard Peterson is Kiddie Academy’s Vice President of Education. He can draw from his experience working with children in a preschool setting and from raising four children and two grandchildren. “What I find works best is to allow children to solve their ‘problem’ with minimal intervention or guidance by the teacher, parent or guardian. While at a young age, these problems aren’t at a level which requires intervention. Learning to make choices, compromise and see the other side at a young age will help them take the correct course of action as they grow and their problems become bigger and more difficult.“
Set a Good Example
Setting a good example with your own approach to solving problems is also a valuable way to develop those skills in your children. “Learning through example is another key component in this,” said Peterson. “As a teacher or parent, one can bring the child into a real situation they’re having and ask the child how they would handle that problem. Then together, you can talk through solutions. You’d be amazed how critical thinking and problem solving begins at a very young age. When you watch a child in dramatic play, you’d be impressed how they recreate real-life situations they have observed from others.”
From the time your child wakes up until the time they go to sleep at night, there are countless opportunities for learning and growing. Our caring, expert teachers guide infants to preschool children while letting them lead the way and make their own choices.
Here are links to more ideas about raising successful problem solvers:
“The Arts and Creative Problem Solving,” PBS Parents
“How Your Child Learns to Problem-Solve,” Scholastic
“5 Best Ways to Raise Problem Solvers,” JanetLansbury.com
Thank you for reading along, as we work together in raising the next generation of amazing kids!
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