Problem solving and having the ability to make quick decisions is a very useful life skill to have. Developing these skills can also improve the abilities of analysis, memorisation, and being able to hold discussions, which are all great characteristics to use in school and in any future career path. Implementing ways to help children develop these skills at a young age will benefit them significantly and can give them a stronger advantage at answering in class, quick fire tests and exams. There are many ways you can help young minds evolve in this sector, but giving them the right support and positive persuasion is the main key. Read on for ideas and advice on how you can help teach children efficient problem solving skills.
Experimenting with different methods can help your students understand what will work for them and what they need to improve on or practise. One of the primary aims is to make the lesson plan memorable, something that is quick to process like a song or a rhyme. Another way to help children remember the quick problem solving process is to address the problem from different angles or perspectives to help cover all areas.
Forward Thinking: Creative and Critical
According to the Scholastic website it is useful to challenge both critical and creative thinking. The critical thinking is based on analysis and investigation whereas creative thinking is more centred around exploration, comparatives and alternate ways of processing. It has been argued that you can improve the ways in which children solve problems by developing both of these characteristics through reflection, brainstorming, challenging and listening. Scholastic write that you can nurture these ‘total thinking’ aspects by strengthening your role as the teacher ‘You help foster problem solving not so much by providing special materials or specific activities but by having a responsive, accepting attitude’.
Group interaction can help children get the learning support they require from their own peers which can help them feel less pressured. Codependent problem solving tasks can also encourage team building and aims to include the students that may have been struggling with certain processes independently.
No Wrong Answers
Negativity is to be avoided as much as possible, from both teacher and students. Instead, help them learn from their mistakes and not resent them. Problem solving is a pathway that can be filled with many different obstacles. Helping children accept that sometimes they will make mistakes can encourage them to try again and can decrease levels of stress and increase levels of confidence. If they make a wrong answer, sit with them and ask them to explain the process they went through to help pin point where they made a mistake.
Discussions can help student analyse and expand on the processes they are using to solve a problem. Verbal tasks are another way of helping children learn and memorise essential points. Learning how to execute a successful presentation or debate requires quick thinking and problem solving for any surprising questions you may discover. Teaching younger student problem solving skills can help them in later life as it acts as both a life skill and an educational resource. In the academic sector however, it is most relevant for exams, tests, discussions and group work.
Explain Your Process
It can also be useful to revise and reflect your successful solutions so you can pinpoint your previous methods of problem solving. For example; ask questions such as ‘how did you get to this stage?’ ‘What aspects of this problem have you looked into?’ and other basic questions like the ‘Who, What, Where and Why?’. You can revise these by brainstorming and making notes to look back on. According to Noodle, the education site, you are able to break this process up into simple steps that are easy to follow. See below for their method:
- Uh oh! There’s a problem!
- Let’s stay calm.
- What can we do?
- Let’s try!
- Did that work? If the answer is ‘no,’ go back to step 3.
You can also explore alternatives method of problem solving instead of your standard listening and speaking tasks. You can create obstacle races, colour code activities, and other games such as rubik’s cubes. These activities are fast thinking and fun. They also create alternate ways to process problems that can help with your development in this skill set.