UCSI International School, Kuala Lumpur
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Small Wonder, Damai
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Introducing Problem-Solving to Preschoolers

by on 12/07/2022 1054

No one can ever predict when life will throw you a curveball – 2020 was a great reminder of the importance of being able to think out of the box, and handle situations with creativity and resilience. Like all other skills, it’s always best to start teaching them young. If you are new to implementing problem-solving skills in your classroom, here are a few of the most effective strategies to help your preschoolers develop problem-solving skills and be prepared for the rapidly changing world out there.

Easy ways to teach preschoolers problem-solving skills

1. Let them do it

Although it’s almost a natural reflex response for us adults to help a little child open a tightly closed lid or resolve a peer-to-peer argument, it’s important to actually let the child try before we jump in to help. You may support the problem-solving process with an open dialogue, and a lot of times, you will be amazed at how creative children can be when given the opportunity to figure things out on their own.

2. Use everyday moments as the third teacher

Learning can occur anywhere and everywhere. When it comes to developing problem-solving skills, letting children learn through real-life everyday moments will provide much better practice than reading books or doing worksheets. You need to have the understanding and knowledge to take advantage of these opportunities, be it during class, mealtimes or even shower time, to talk children through the thought process and work alongside them to come to a conclusion.

3. Problem-solve along with the child

It’s always helpful to talk through your thinking out loud or even use visuals to support children as they try to solve a problem. For instance, when a child spilled his drink on the floor, you may simply state what you see, ask open-ended questions and approach like below:

  • It helps to always talk to the child in a calm, supportive way.

  • Ask him, "What’s wrong?" If the child doesn't reply, you may say as you see it: "You accidentally knocked your water bottle over and water spilled."

  • Suggest possible solutions and pick the best one together. "What should we do now? Could we grab a towel and clean it up? Or should we …?" Now is also a great time to pull out your problem-solving card visuals, if you have prepared any.

  • After that, don't forget to offer some positive reinforcement like giving a high five or praise.

In early childhood education, soft skills like problem-solving should not be separated from academic competencies. Children need opportunities to solve problems in peer interactions, negotiation situations and everyday life to learn how to self-regulate, develop empathy and express emotions appropriately.