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Help students develop effective problem-solving skills

Updated: Oct 23, 2021

Problem-solving helps improve thinking and communication, and it is also a key predictor of future success in school and in life. You are best served by showing students the value of asking questions, learning from their environment, and solving their own problems.

Aim to map out a plan that will give you and your students greater energy and motivation to develop their problem-solving skills.

These are just a few areas to help your students accomplish goals daily, so they can succeed in school and beyond school:

  • Creativity – Listening to music, art, drama, and literature can help keep students mentally engaged. It can be beneficial to put styles of creative expression on display in your classroom to better engage children’s brains. Offer students with an artistic outlet. This can be done using many methods.

  • Extroversion – It’s important to teach the art of social skills, or how to act appropriately in social situations. Teaching young children how to stay calm and be active by responding to other children's activities and being assertive can motivate them to learn more about how to handle challenges in their daily lives.

  • Fluency – The younger the student, the more important it's that he or she master the art of speaking clearly and accurately. Over time, small segments of speech might run amiss and have to be taught or assisted. This is where audio and video resources can really be helpful. Reading aloud works in a similar fashion.

Challenge your students (as well as yourself) to think of a solution

One way to incorporate problem-solving into your classes is to assign a performance projects. Some people find this fun, while others don’t like it. I like it because it forces them to come up with solutions independently (with your guidance).

I will always choose the performance project as an option in all my classes. I encourage my students to create solutions on their own by researching what they believe to be the answers. They may piece the puzzle together on their own, but they are more likely to figure it out if it’s spelled out for them.


The most important factor that goes into solving problems is having a structure that the student understands and can navigate to its end goal.

Teachers can provide the structure, but it's up to the student to take upon the challenge of solving the problems and diversifying their views on how a world works.

At the end of the project, if your child isn’t able to come up with a solution, trust that they will be able to after some more practice. If they cannot figure it out after more practice, then they will just need a little more structure to help them through.

Teach your children to think before they act

As educator and educator-parents, we have a vested interest in the success and growth of all our children.

Some of your students aren’t only listening to what you say; they’re also trying to figure out what you mean. Don’t just tell them what to do, show them what to do.

Use the example you set for your students to teach them how to think before they do. They’ll learn more from watching you than they will from your words.

Help them learn to be persistent when trying something new

Persistence is the ability to keep trying, even when the first attempts don’t succeed. We need persistence to keep trying new things, to keep working hard, to keep challenging ourselves and to keep trying to improve ourselves.

The key to persistence is to keep communicating with yourself. You must know that there is something better for you. You must commit to taking action.

Without persistence, students will give up too easily, and they'll never achieve their goals. Persistence, by nature, takes time, so you must keep sending messages to your students, that something better for them is in store, to keep pushing forward, and to commit to taking action.

Encourage students to seek help when needed; Support their recourse when they make mistakes

Encourage your students to seek help if they are struggling with anything. If you can’t help them personally, then provide them with the information they need to find someone who can.

If you're helping a student to manage a mistake, encourage them to talk about what happened, what they could have done differently, and to learn from the experience.

Almost every man makes mistakes, and we are man. It’s important to be supportive and to recognize that everyone makes mistakes and it’s part of the learning process.

What is the lesson?

One of the most important skills a child needs to develop is the ability to learn by doing. Children who are able to solve problems and apply logic to conclusions tend to be at an advantage throughout their lives.

Problem-solving allows a child to express their independence, their idea of the 'rules of the game', and allows a child to reflect on how to respond to a challenge and adapt their behavior to in accordance.

Through daily challenges and by reviewing and synthesizing the lessons they have learned in class, their skills can be developed. The way you organize your exercises may depend on what your students' strengths and learning styles are.

A child with engineering leanings might learn by working from diagrams, while a child with artistic ability might watch a tutor as they demonstrate a task along with simple instructions. It's important to facilitate problem-solving in a way which makes sense and is most effective.

It's unlikely to be easy, just do what you've got to do and don't let what you can't change hold you back.

No excuses.


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