Problem-solving is the ability to analyse and solve problems in more ways than one. It is made up of several core skills including the abilities to think of different approaches to a problem, analyse issues accurately and offer open-ended solutions that are concise and efficient.
Such skills are also valuable in adulthood and the working world, with many issues posing several layers of complexity and nuance that require a great eye for detail and a strong knowledge of specific fields.
Many subjects in school are now updating their syllabus to test the problem-solving skills of students, making it more important now than ever. For worried parents, it can be a relief to know that such skills can be cultivated in young children early on to better prepare them for the rigours they will face in their later schooling years.
Encourage a habit of reading
Many children’s books often feature one common outcome -- a happy ending. However, how stories come to a happy ending can differ greatly. Exposing your child to reading storybooks early on can build problem-solving skills by allowing them to learn just how a single outcome can be achieved through many different methods and strategies.
Just like how a princess is saved by either slaying a dragon, reversing a witch’s spell, or getting her to let down her very long hair, there are several ways in which your child can solve a problem, and storybooks do a great job in inspiring your child to come up with different ways to approach a single issue.
Foster a sense of curiosity
Children are naturally inquisitive and eager to learn about the world around them. Thus, we would encourage you to be a facilitative parent and nurture this aspect of your child! By patiently answering their questions and allowing them to discover why some things work the way they do, you are cultivating their sense of curiosity. This allows your child to learn how the world around them can work in different ways and builds their problem-solving skills. Having their curiosity satisfied also equips them with useful information that they can call upon to help them solve problems in daily life and school.
Ask open-ended questions
Build your child’s critical thinking skills by asking open-ended questions. This instils in your child the importance of thinking out of the box, instead of memorising or being spoon-fed answers. Asking them open-ended questions encourages them to stop and think, or to pay close attention to the issue presented to them.
With a strong set of critical thinking skills, your child is much more likely to answer questions with greater confidence, having learnt from your open-ended questions that there is often more than one “right” answer.
When it comes to building problem-solving skills for use in school, many tutors can help through the use of nonlinear subjects such as Mathematics and Science. As such, it can be beneficial to engage a private tutor who can encourage your child to apply problem-solving and critical thinking to their school subjects. Check out our previous article for a guide on the qualities of an effective tutor you should look out for.
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