Problem Solving for Children – Tips

Problem solving helps with critical thinking skills in children.

Working with children on how to solve problems on their own will give them greater independence. Start off by giving them the words to say in certain situations.

A child wants a toy another child is playing with.  Say something along these lines:  “may I use that when you are done?”
Another child is doing something they don’t like.  Say something along these lines:   “please don’t do that to me I don’t like that.”

When they are put in a situation where problem solving skills are needed it is best NOT to jump right in, but rather allow the child to try to solve the problem on his/her own.

Offer child opportunities to solve problems with day-to-day activities (these wonderful ideas are from

  • Hands-on investigations. Offer child interesting items to explore, such as magnets, found objects, and broken (but safe) appliances. Rotate your materials to keep them fresh and thought-provoking.
  • Use items in new and diverse ways. Strings of colored beads, for example, can become reins for a racehorse, hair for a doll, links for measuring, or tools to press into clay to make designs.
  • Suggestions and solutions. Promote brainstorming by asking open ended questions: “What can you do with a …?” “How many ways can you …?” Listen carefully to children’s ideas.
  • Allow child to find their own solutions. Offer help when they become frustrated, but don’t solve their problems for them.
  • Share books that show how characters solve problems, such as King of the Playground by Phyllis Naylor and Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina.

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