Becoming a competent problem solver is quite a complex process that requires a whole range of skills and experiences. That is why it is encouraged for learners to start practicing problem solving at an early age. For such young learners it is important to start from their own level of understanding and slowly build up towards some new understandings. Such approach is most likely to offer the opportunity for rich and successful learning. Still, it can be quite hard to make problem-solving tasks interesting for young learners. It is necessary to do this as it will result in enthusiasm and eagerness with the learners. No matter if you are working with a whole class or with your child alone, the following strategies will make the problem-solving tasks much more interesting for them.
Defining the problem
So the first thing you have to do is explain to the learners what the problem is. It is important to grab their attention at this very first step since they can solve it only if they understand all from the beginning. Do not give the instructions in the same way you would do with another adult. Kids want something that is interesting and lets their imagination play with the problem. One of the things you can do is writing your problem as if it was a newspaper headline. For example: “Local man starts a small zoo in his backyard”. If you are dealing with math problems you can deal with how many types of animals he has and how many of them there are.
Once you gave learners the instructions it is time to help them think of the ways they can solve the problem. While helping them out you can also make the task more interesting by using certain strategies. The first thing you can do is start off with a dumbest idea. When working with a group you will want everyone to participate in the problem solving. Is there a better way to do so than to have them come up with funniest and dumbest solutions? Once everyone had their laughs it is time to actually start dealing with the problem. Make sure that everyone is still participating by making them shout “yes” when someone gives a good suggestion for the problem solving. Have them all talk about it and work together towards the right way to approach the problem.
Solving the problem
Since the learners have found the way to approach the problem, it is time to have them actually solve it. It is necessary to do something to make them still focus on the problem. One of the things you can do is execute the task as if you were a fictional character from it. Talk in first person and ask the students to help you solve your problem. Another thing that you cannot go wrong with is to make the problem solving a competition. Divide the learners into teams, let them choose their team names and prepare badges for the winners. This will motivate them to work and solve the problem the best they can. Another thing that is necessary to do is to come up with problems that are inherently interesting. One way to this is to give them online Sudoku games to play. Start with the easier tasks and increase difficulty as they gain experience in the game.
Be sure to implement all of these strategies to make the problems more interesting. The better you present it, the more fun they will have while solving the problem and will actually be more eager to solve it.
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