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Problem Solving Strategies for Kids

We have all had the experience of being stuck in our thinking, but it can really frustrate our children. One of our jobs as parents is to help create problem solving strategies for kids that will give them a way to move forward.

Problem Solving Strategies for Kids

Girl With A Book, by José Ferraz de Almeida Júnior (1850–1899)

One day, one of my kids was star­ing at a sim­ple cir­cuit dia­gram. It showed a bat­tery con­nected to a resis­tor and a light bulb. He was doing a home­work prob­lem. The par­tic­u­lar ques­tion that had him stumped asked what would hap­pen to the cur­rent in the cir­cuit if the resis­tor was replaced with another that had more resis­tance. He hadn’t been in class that day and had never stud­ied elec­tric­ity, and so he stared at the dia­gram for a few min­utes with­out comprehension.

My son had reached what psy­chol­o­gists call an impasse, which is really just a fancy way of say­ing that he was stuck. One of keys to good prob­lem solv­ing is to deal suc­cess­fully with impasses. My son was not being suc­cess­ful. He sat sul­lenly at the table and his eyes started to glaze over. As luck would have it, I did know the answer to this ques­tion, because I had got­ten a ham radio license as a kid and so I had to study some elec­tri­cal the­ory. But, as a par­ent, I don’t like to give my kids the answers, so I put on my best Socrates impres­sion and went to work with him.

I asked him to describe the prob­lem to me, but all he was able to do was to read it back to me almost word-for-word. I asked him what else he knew about elec­tric­ity. He described to me how the elec­trons in a cir­cuit flow from the neg­a­tive part of the bat­tery through the cir­cuit to the pos­i­tive part. I asked him what resis­tors did, and he said that they made it harder for the elec­trons to move through the circuit.

So, then I asked him if he knew any­thing else that flowed.

Read the rest of this great story by Art Markman at http://www.sharpbrains.com/blog/2012/05/21/is-there-a-formula-for-smart-thinking/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=is-there-a-formula-for-smart-thinking

This is an Excerpt from Smart Think­ing (Perigee Books ©2012 Arthur B. Mark­man, PhD) a professor of Psychology and Marketing at the University of Texas at Austin.

This is an excellent example how you can guide a child by asking questions and relating the information to something else they are familiar with. It seems that a lot of young people today do not know how to make those kinds of connections, to find the patterns or similarities between seemingly unrelated things.

Help your children to develop this skill, and they will be much better equipped to power through any impasse!

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About the Author Staff Writer

Our staff writers come from various backgrounds in the neuroscience, personal development, brain science and psychology fields. Many started out as contributors!

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