Have you been in a situation where you were at crossroads and had to make a choice? How do you assess the two alternatives and reach a final decision? The ability to look at a situation objectively, analyze the potential alternative solutions and come out with a logical next step is the basis of problem solving.
The skill of problem solving requires some critical sub skills like common sense, logical reasoning, sequential thinking, understanding consequences and the ability to focus on the critical aspects of a situation.
When a child finds their way through a maze, sorts objects to categories or predicts patterns the brain is developing basic reasoning and problem solving abilities. You often observe children working their way back from the end of a maze towards the start.
This is brilliance at play – “Begin with the end in mind.” They understand that working backwards can solve the problem.
Another example is when a child is attempting to place blocks on top of one another to build a tower. The child understands that the block at the bottom should be wider than the one on top so that the tower does not collapse.
There are several parts to solving a problem and as a parent you can intervene at the necessary stages to help build problem solving skills in your child:
- Recognizing the problem – While it sounds obvious, often recognizing a problem is the most difficult step in the process. As a parent, you should encourage your child to identify problems, for example – “Why is the tower collapsing again and again?”
- Replaying a similar problem from memory – Encouraging your child to relate the problem to similar experience will allow a child to “play back” learning’s from when he or she encountered such a problem earlier.
- Considering relevant information that applies to the problem- This involves processing all the available information to generate potential solutions. You should ensure that your child has considered all the factors involved.
- Generating solutions – This is all about finding answers to help solve the problem. As a parent, you must avoid giving your young one’s ready solutions. Rather you must help them work through the problem to generate their own solutions.
Across the Skillmatics range, we have multiple age appropriate activities that are designed to develop and build problem-solving skills in children. Whether it is mazes, categorization, pattern recognition, Sudoku, math problems or special problem solving games – we have it all! Your child may find some activities challenging which may prompt them to give up. Our activities are designed to teach perseverance and as a parent you should support them so that they do not give up and keep trying until they can find the solution. It is important to realize that the understanding always comes from within the child. Once a child begins to enjoy the ‘Aha’ moments, he or she will be able to learn new concepts and solving challenges with ease and independence!