Over the years, while information has gotten easier to gather and children are exposed to more facts daily than many of us were in a year at the same ages, common sense and problem solving skills seem to have taken a nose dive along with concepts like following the rules and respect.
Since I seem to be freshly out of soapboxes I will leave the latter subjects to another time and concentrate on problem solving skills.
These are important abilities. Being able to find more than one solution to any problem allows a person a greater chance at a solution than if they can only come up with the most obvious fix. For whatever reason, and there have been hundreds of ideas tossed around, modern children have more difficulty thinking outside the box than ever before.
There are ways to increase problem solving skills in your kids.
Teach Your Child to Be Specific
A problem canâ€™t be solved if it canâ€™t be defined properly. Ask leading questions to help your child to really define the issue at hand. For example:
I canâ€™t do math.
Exactly which type of math canâ€™t you do?
I canâ€™t find the area of a square.
Do you know the formula?
Yes. I canâ€™t remember what the answer to Â 7 times 8 is.
The child can do math. The problem is that he needs to review and memorize his multiplication tables. If the parent goes in and helps him find the answer to the problem, the basic issue of not knowing multiplication facts remains so he will, at some point, decide that he canâ€™t do math.
Brainstorm for Answers
Have your child write down or dictate to you every possible solution and even the impossible ones, no matter how silly they are. This will allow him to use his imagination when problem solving and that is important. Would having a multiplication table tattooed on his hand or inserting a computer chip in his brain solve the problem?
Yes it would! So would memorizing one fact a day, spending 30 minutes a day studying, or spending time playing multiplication games on the computer. Can you think of more?
Play Mind Stretching Games
Sudoku, chess, Risk, and other games force the brain to solve problems in an entertaining way. Like any system in the body the mind is made stronger through consistent use, something that watching television and committing facts to short term memory just donâ€™t accomplish.
Allow Your Child to Fail
If your child comes up with a solution to an issue allow him to try it, whether or not you think it will work or is the best solution. Trial and error are great teachers and when children do things on their own they retain it better than if they are constantly being told what and how to think.
If he fails, encourage him to begin again. One of the negative things that the current educational system has imparted on society is a fear of failing. When you do it right you get an A and there are no second chances. In real life you will usually have to do something many times before you hit a successful solution.
How do you go about problem solving with your children? Do you have any ideas that have worked well for you?
photo credit: Hungrakka