This is the second installment from our 5 Skills Essential for Kindergarten article. A few weeks ago, we talked about Following Directions, but now it’s time to talk about solving problems! Problem solving skills are ESSENTIAL no matter how old you are. Whether you are going into kindergarten or you’re a fortune 500 CEO, you need problem solving skills (in fact the fortune 500 CEO likely got that job because he/she is a good problem solver).
Problem solving skills allow you to overcome obstacles, find solutions to unfamiliar situations, and build your confidence as you enter new challenges. Below are 5 ways you can help your preschooler and future kindergartener build their problem solving skills.
Let Your Child Struggle a Little
I know how hard this can be. Rea is learning to dress herself and she is PAINFULLY slow and I just want to take her pj’s off and help her get dressed, but the only way she is going to learn is if I step back and let her dress herself.
Encourage Your Child to Try and Explore New Things
Allowing them to explore their surroundings will also improve their problem-solving skills. This will take some patience and practice on your part though. I often find myself starting to redirect Rea’s behaviors and then stop myself and think, “What is the harm in her exploring x?” If there is no harm, I try to allow her to continue whatever it is she is doing. (*This also leads to A LOT of lessons on cleaning up after ourselves, because more often than not her explorations create a big mess.)
Tinker trays do not have to be formulaic. In fact, I encourage you to go through your junk drawers and empty out anything you don’t want. Put all those materials out for your Lil’ and let them explore.
The Teaching Mama has some great ideas on themed tinker trays if you want to check them out.
My personal favorite is Ormie the Pig
Strategies for Problems with Friends
I found this chart over at Therapy and Learning Services. It gives kids multiple ways to resolve a problem with their peers. This is a skill that is unbelievably important. Teaching your child to resolve or walk away from problems is a crucial skill for all walks of life, but as a elementary teacher I can assure you that I can do my job teaching your child a million times better if I am able to focus on teaching academics rather than resolving peer conflicts.
Check out the chart HERE.
Asking for help
Here’s the final skill: asking for help!