More Information
Source
Early Childhood Today

We are your early childhood teaching partner! Find ideas for activities and lessons, expert advice, teaching tips, and much more!


Steps to Problem Solving

As you know, problem solving is the process of identifying a problem or a goal, generating ideas to solve the problem or reach the goal, and testing out those ideas. The following steps are guidelines for helping make this process happen. Even though problem solving does not necessarily follow these exact steps (and not all problems have a specific solution), you can use these guidelines to encourage and assist children as they solve the problems they meet each day.

1. Define the problem. Young children may not always be able to say exactly what the problem is. Instead, they may feel frustrated or just know that something isn't right. By asking open-ended questions that encourage children to talk about what they are doing, you can help them identify the problem they would like to solve.

Remember: Offer comments and suggestions in the form of questions. You might say, "I see you're working hard on your puzzle, but that piece doesn't seem to fit in that place. Is there another place you could try? Or is there another piece you'd like to try?"

2. Brainstorm solutions. Reinforce the idea that good problem solvers don't decide on solutions immediately. Instead, they think of options. Encourage children to expand their thinking by asking them questions, such as "What's another way you could do this?" "What would happen if we tried a different way?"

Remember: Let children know that brainstorming is a time to think of - not evaluate - many possible solutions. Welcome everyone's ideas even if they seem odd or impossible. (To do this, accept every idea equally, making sure you don't respond enthusiastically to some and with reservations to others.)

3. Decide where to start. After you brainstorm, ask children to choose a few ideas to test. For individual projects, each child can make her own selection. For group projects, children can make the decisions together.

Remember: Problem solving is a fluid process. Children might think of one thing to try, then reshape, modify, or abandon that idea to try something else. Let the process flow.  

4. Select or create problem-solving tools. Help children think about what they need to try out their solutions. Make sure they know they can use materials in usual or unconventional ways. For example, fabric scraps might be good tools for making a collage, but they also work well for plugging a hole in a water tube.  

Remember: Make sure the materials in your room are accessible so children can find and use them without having to ask an adult for assistance.

5. Test and analyze solutions. Create a climate in your room that promotes hands-on experimentation - even rf it means making a mess or trying an idea that just won't work. The learning and sense of independence children gain from trying are well worth the effort.  

Remember: Help children understand from the beginning that problem solving really is a process. Let everyone know you value their experiments. When solutions don't work, be supportive and encourage children to try other ways.

  • Teacher Store
  • The Teacher Store  
    Guided Reading Level X: The Crystal Mask Teaching Card

    Guided Reading Level X: The Crystal Mask Teaching Card

    NEW! Downloadable Teacher Cards for Guided Reading 6-Packs! Offering the same great teaching support of our Guided Reading program in digital format!

    Every Guided Reading Teaching Card targets specific literacy skills and also includes an ELL bridge, writing activities, and extended reading lists.


    You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader® software, version 4.0 or higher, to view and print this Digital Product. Get Adobe Reader® for FREE!

    Click here to read the Terms of Use for Digital Products

    $4.95
    Teaching Card | Grade 6
    Add To Cart
    Educators Only
    Guided Reading Level X: The Crystal Mask Teaching Card
    Grade 6 $4.95
    Add To Cart
  • Teacher Store
  • The Teacher Store  
    Standardized Test Tutor: Reading: Grade 4

    Standardized Test Tutor: Reading: Grade 4

    by Michael Priestley


    View Sample Pages



    Students are sure to succeed in standardized tests, thanks to meaningful and relevant hints from the “Test Tutor.” Designed to resemble various statewide tests, the three practice tests in this book offer different levels of scaffolding that help students understand what to look for in each question and how to answer the question. Students can work through the tests with a teacher, parent, or tutor—or on their own by reading the Test Tutor's helpful tips. A detailed answer key identifies correct responses and explains why the other choices are wrong. A great way to build students' confidence in taking tests! 96 pages.

    You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader® software, version 4.0 or higher, to view and print the sample page above. Get Adobe Reader® for FREE.

    $11.24 You save: 25%
    Professional Book | Grade 4
    Add To Cart
    Educators Only
    Standardized Test Tutor: Reading: Grade 4
    Grade 4 $11.24
    Add To Cart
Help | Privacy Policy
EMAIL THIS

* YOUR NAME

* YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS

* RECIPIENT'S EMAIL ADDRESS(ES)

(Separate multiple email addresses with commas)

Check this box to send yourself a copy of the email.

INCLUDE A PERSONAL MESSAGE (Optional)


Scholastic respects your privacy. We do not retain or distribute lists of email addresses.