Obstacles are a part of life, a fact which is especially true during the first few years. Small kids encounter problems on a daily basis that they can’t immediately solve, from the many frustrations of potty training to the intricate social dynamics of a playgroup.
As parents and educators, we cannot spare our children from these tough challenges. But why would we want to? The step-by-step process of analyzing, understanding and mastering new skills is the reward that drives little minds to learn and create. Problem-solving is a bedrock of early childhood education, and one of the most important life skills that any young person can develop.
All of which brings me to the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), a terrific source for discussion and ideas. Recently I sent out one of their “Message in a Backpack” posters to our Culver City preschool parents. As they put it:
Preschoolers who can solve their own problems feel conﬁdent and enjoy learning. They are willing to make mistakes and learn from them and keep trying until they succeed.
Amen. Several tips on how to encourage and nurture problem-solving skills are in the piece, including reminding your kid about skills that once were hard and now are easy; expressing to your child that you believe in her; and talking about some times when you struggled with a similar issue.
I recommend checking out the full piece. It’s a great thumbnail guide on an important topic, and a nice reminder that pretty much every skill worth learning flows from patience and persistence.