Behavior & Environment

3 Questions to Ask Kids While Problem-Solving

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We previously talked about facilitating simple brainstorming sessions with kids as a means to teach kids to problem-solve. Now we’ll focus on how to evaluate those ideas and choose the ones you want to try.

Before you start filtering ideas, make sure everyone has had a chance to contribute and the ideas are listed where everyone can easily see them. When evaluating, there are three questions to pose to children to narrow down the ones worth pursuing:

  1. Is the idea effective? Will it solve the problem? If you’re trying to solve the problem of breakfast taking so long that the kids are late for the bus, the idea of eating breakfast on the bus isn’t effective because the food isn’t portable and it’s not allowed on the bus.
  2. Is the idea practical? Can it realistically be implemented? If you’re trying to solve the problem of a child not wanting to wear shoes outside in the play area but also not wanting to stub their toes, the idea of carpeting the concrete may be effective, however, it’s not practical.
  3. Is the idea respectful to people and property? If you’re trying to decide who should be the line leader for the upcoming weeks, the idea of one child always going first is effective, a line leader is chosen. The idea is also practical and simple to implement. However, one child always going first isn’t respectful to the other children. If you’re trying to find ways for a child to decorate their own space, painting the furniture is effective and practical. However, it’s not respectful to shared property.

As you move through the three thresholds, you can use open-ended questions to help kids spot the ideas that just need some tweaking to make the final cut. For example, rather than decorating a space by painting the furniture, the kids could paint an old sheet and turn it into a slipcover for their favorite chair. That’s effective, practical, and respectful.

Going through the process of evaluating ideas, tweaking some to make them workable solutions, and narrowing down the choices to the best options helps kids embrace the process of creative problem-solving. It encourages a growth mindset; the idea that “we don’t have the solution yet but with work, we’ll discover it!”