Skip to main content

Early Learning and Problem Solving Skills - A Perspective


As adults, we come across many problems in life. To think of something basic, let's go with, say, a tube light not working in the living room. How do we solve this problem? We may take this in a sequence of simple steps. First, we may check out the mains of the house, and see if any MCB has tripped. If it has, then we will try to lift it ourselves. That should hopefully solve the problem. If it doesn't we may try to identify some major appliance on the same circuit which may be giving us a problem and shut it down. If that works, then great, and if that doesn't then we will end up calling an electrician. Alternatively, if the MCB hasn't tripped, then we will try to move the tube light to see if it works, then check for blackening edges to see if the tube is too old to be used anymore, and if that is the case, then we will either buy a new light ourselves or once again, call the electrician.

Seems simple enough? At our age, it probably does, but looked at in such detail, it involved a thought process, which we have developed over time. 

This is one example of problem solving process which we face in our adult life. 

How do we link it with early learning though?

Problem solving in early learning refers to developing an independent thought process, by exposing children to simple activities, which at their age, requires them to think through and find a solution for something. Sounds complicated, but this can be achieved through a whole host of fun activities. These activities not only help develop an analytical approach to thinking, but you can also witness a crossover with right brain development, when they try to think of out of the box and holistic solutions to the problem presented before them.

Let me share a few activities/examples to illustrate the point. We have been using them extensively in our online preschool classes (pan-India), and have found out that kids can really develop amazing ways to solve a problem. At such a tender age, these help their thought process, without giving them stress.

PASSING DAL THROUGH STRAW/PASTA WITHOUT IT FALLING OUT

Please visualize this activity. Your child has a piece of straw, a piece of clay, and some yellow dal. They have to put the dal through the straw, piece by piece, without it falling out the other end. You present your child with this problem, and ask them to think for a moment, and come up with a solution.

We did this activity in our online preschool sessions (India) for kids in the age group of 3+ to 4+, and they came up with the following two solutions :

1. fix the piece of clay at one end of the straw, then pass the dal through

2. keep the straw in a sleeping line position, and then pass the dal through

So while the children were using the left side of the brain to think logically and analytically, they were also using the right side of their brain to come up with some really creative solutions to the problem.

SEGREGATING A BASKET OF MIXED SOCKS

You set a basket of mixed socks in front of your size. You can take say 10 pairs of socks, and mix them all up. Your child has to sort them in pairs. For us, this is a simple activity. For the child, it is an activity which involves them thinking on how best they can find the correct pairs - they will look at the size, the colours and then the patterns on each of the socks to find the right pairs.

And if they feel creative enough, they may just decide that they would like one green and one yellow sock together to make it look more fancy, and who is to say that is a wrong approach :)

Some other examples of problem solving activities - finding the path through a basic maze, finding the odd one out in a set of objects - in our online preschool in India, we do these both using animated slides, which the children find a lot fun, as well as with physical objects (say one fork in 3 spoons) - and so many more. 

Activities like these help develop thinking process for the children, which is also an important life skill which they acquire as a consequence. Done right, these activities are only fun, and learning is a by product. Children experience, and think for themselves, and learn to take decisions. As they grow older, they learn to face any problems head on, instead of shying away from them.

The crucial aspect here is giving children the time to think for themselves. We prompt them only when they feel stuck, but when they are given time to first think, they also feel a great sense of achievement in solving these mini problems by themselves :)


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Musings of a Pioneer: Playschool Learning for Toddlers (Part 2)

 …Till we were struck by a miniscule virus – the Covid 19. It is important for the child to continue to have the additional support in their most important brain development phase – the two to four-year-old age bracket – when the brain develops rapidly to almost 80 percent of a fully developed brain. It is important for the child to have external support to develop cognitive, linguistic, social, emotional, and motor skills. It is important for the toddler to be exposed to a peer group and caregivers other than parents, whom they could observe and imitate for holistic development to happen. It is important for the child to be in a more conducive environment at school where they could indulge in their favourite pastimes in a non-judgemental atmosphere. It is also important for the child to continue to have an environment where they can interact socially with their peer group. This environment is now being denied to the children of this age bracket of two to four years. Many young

Do you feel like your child is a fussy eater?

A child's nutritional  needs are very important. As parents and caregivers, we need to ensure that the right set of nutrients are available in a child's meals. These broadly fall under the same heads as what an adult needs in terms of the food groups, with a few minor variations - the number of calories, protein and calcium intake for growth, and so on. Most of the young parents would probably have a diet chart given by their pediatrician, and most of them are able to follow it reasonably well. However, we do sometimes get a different set of queries in this regard - 1. My child is not eating enough 2. My child does not like to eat healthy food Let's take this up point by point. My Child is Not Eating Enough Medical research says that for the most part, barring any serious medical condition, children do not go hungry. When they say they are full, they have eaten all they can, and when they are hungry, they ask for food. The more important thing to note is

Conflict in Parenting Approaches and Impact on Your Child

  The thing with working with kids and interacting with parents - be it in creche with smaller babies, preschool with toddlers, after school care with older kids, or even now, in our online preschool classes - is that we get to discuss many parenting challenges. Many of them have a common thread irrespective of the age of the child. One such issue which many parents face is Conflict in Parenting Approaches This isn't necessarily a broad issue which is present all the time, though it could be, in which case you need to sit down and discuss to reach a common ground. Sometimes, it can just be small, specific instances. A few examples - 1. Your child asking for an expensive toy, to get it for them or not 2. Your child refusing to eat food, one of you insists on them finishing it, the other feels like leniency is the way to go 3. When your child is throwing a tantrum, one of you disciplines them, the other tries to protect them from the disciplining These are just a few simple examples