Which skill would you most like to improve? Is it,
- Non-verbal reasoning skills ;
- Quantitative reasoning skills ;
- General reasoning skills or
- Verbal reasoning skills.
Helping Your Child Improve Problem-Solving Skills
Parents often notice that their children sometimes struggle when faced with a problem to solve. This can happen when the problem seems too big to tackle or when they don’t recognize the situation as a problem at all.
In my experience of trying to engage my students in critical thinking and problem-solving, I’ve found that a shift in perspective can make a big difference. Encouraging them to ‘find’ the problem, ‘shape’ it into a manageable size, and then ‘solve’ it has helped them take ownership of their learning.
Encourage Your Child to Find the Problem
When your child asks a question that piques their curiosity, it motivates them to seek answers. Often, these answers reveal a problem that needs solving. This process begins with them formulating a research question. As they read and gather information, they try to find answers to their question.
What’s important to understand is that a good question doesn’t necessarily have a single right answer. Instead, there are multiple valid answers. This concept makes your child feel safe sharing their ideas because there’s no ‘wrong’ answer. If they can support their answer with reliable research, they are ‘right.’
Shaping a Problem Makes it More Feasible
Once your child identifies a problem, they may feel compelled to take action. However, if the problem appears too vast, it can overwhelm them, leading to frustration or giving up on the task. To avoid this, they should shape the problem into a manageable piece.
You can help guide them by providing a list of topics and letting them choose one that genuinely interests them. Allowing them to choose their topic nurtures their curiosity and keeps them engaged in the challenging task. It’s also helpful to encourage them to limit the scope, focusing on a school, regional, or national level. This narrowing of focus makes researching and addressing the problem more manageable.
Students Can Problem-Solve with Purpose
Once your child identifies a manageable piece of a larger problem, they can start reading, thinking, and collaborating to find a solution. It’s important to set parameters for the solution, such as it being something they can implement immediately. For instance, solving a complex issue like homelessness by raising millions of dollars might not be feasible for them tomorrow. Focusing on solutions that can be put into action immediately makes it easier for them to come up with practical ideas.
With the problem now in a manageable form, your child will be better equipped to devise a solution that can have a significant impact. This problem-solving process also encourages creativity and innovation as it prompts them to explore their everyday lives and think about how they can make a difference. It allows them to view the world from a different perspective.
By creating an environment that encourages problem-finding, problem-shaping, and problem-solving, your child can:
- Critically examine their world to identify existing problems.
- Feel empowered because they realize they can be part of the solution.
- Innovate by developing fresh solutions to old problems.
By putting these strategies into practice, your child can promote positive change in their own way.