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Teaching problem solving and deeper thinking...

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

Any suggestions on teaching problem solving skills and deeper thinking to an 11 year old boy? 

 

While using Life of Fred for math has helped some in these areas (beyond math problem solving) I am finding he really struggles in these areas.  We do some board games and such.  He reads a ton, but has a hard time answering questions that require some of these more advanced skills.  He has adhd and is easily distracted so I need to find something that he will value enough to work on.  He also looks for the easy way out of everything in general so I am trying to find ways for these skills to develop in all areas of life.

post #2 of 16

lurk.gif

post #3 of 16
Rush Hour game
Chess, without classes so learning what works yourself.

My son was very interested in Star Trek, so we did Star Trek challenges (made up).

We also read lots of detective books and watched detective shows. Encyclopedia Brown Hardy Boys, Cam Jansen, Jigsaw Jones, etc. Columbo was great. Murder She Wrote, Matlock, etc .

Also let him help make decisions in real life. Encourage him to make up his own games, too. Some will work, others will need improvement.



Is there something specific that you are worrying about?
post #4 of 16

Partly sitting with SS here with the lurk.gif

 

But it occurs to me that teaching problem solving and deeper thinking might be actually impossible. I'd say problem solving is not really a skill but an attitude. Its the willingness to keep playing about and experimenting until you come up with a solution that fits. A lot of problem solving is keeping going and a lot of that is to do with confidence that trying to solve the problem is worthwhile.  It sounds like it could be more that he's not motivated to rise to challenge. You say, he always looks for the easy way out. That's not necessarily a bad thing! But what does he do when he can't  take the easy way out? When he has a genuine, real life problem with real life consequences for screwing up? When the problem is personal to him? What I'm trying to get at is, are you sure that he doesn't have these skills in there but that he's not really very interested in the problems that other people might feel he should be interested in?

post #5 of 16
Kicking ideas and concepts around, both of you contributing, will also help. Children often learn by example.
post #6 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by pek64 View Post

Kicking ideas and concepts around, both of you contributing, will also help. Children often learn by example.

 

Yes, like Fillyjonk I'm not sure this is a skill that can be taught so much as it is an attitude. Attitudes are partly based on temperament and motivation, but perhaps they can to an extent be instilled by example.

 

My kids tend to think deeply and to be creative problem solvers. I'm not sure that's because of anything I did, although I do much of what pek64 suggests here: kick ideas around with my kids, puzzle through things aloud, open up my own thought processes to them, and involve them in problem-solving within our family from an early age. We've done family meetings for many years, figuring stuff out through discussion and consensus, where they've had a chance to have problem-solving demonstrated, guided and supported, and have also experienced that their own ideas with respect to family issues and plans make a tangible difference to their lives. 

 

Miranda

post #7 of 16

While I don't think it can be taught, I do believe it is something that goes hand in hand with letting kids have the appropriate level of independence to solve their problems.  Too much hand holding, too many rules, and too little trust can affect their desire/motivation to master their lives and take ownership of the problems that arise.  

 

I also think kids need time to think.  I see is a huge value in having blocks of free, alone AND quiet time for them to do whatever they want. I have seen a lot of contemplation spring during this time of the day at our home.  Some of our best discussions have been after the kids quiet down to fall asleep in the evening and I think they are asleep, then son pipes up with a question he clearly was just thinking about during that calm space after the day and before sleep overtakes him.  

 

Exposure to bigger issues is also important.  We are part of a world that has many challenges.  Directly or indirectly witnessing those and discussing them theoretically, practically or philosophically feeds the mind.    

post #8 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Emaye View Post

While I don't think it can be taught, I do believe it is something that goes hand in hand with letting kids have the appropriate level of independence to solve their problems.  Too much hand holding, too many rules, and too little trust can affect their desire/motivation to master their lives and take ownership of the problems that arise.  

 

I also think kids need time to think.  I see is a huge value in having blocks of free, alone AND quiet time for them to do whatever they want. I have seen a lot of contemplation spring during this time of the day at our home.  Some of our best discussions have been after the kids quiet down to fall asleep in the evening and I think they are asleep, then son pipes up with a question he clearly was just thinking about during that calm space after the day and before sleep overtakes him.  

 

Exposure to bigger issues is also important.  We are part of a world that has many challenges.  Directly or indirectly witnessing those and discussing them theoretically, practically or philosophically feeds the mind.    

yeahthat.gif

post #9 of 16

I've found that reviewing scientific method and letting my kids work through science labs without my input is helpful. Dh likes to involve them in fixing things whenever possible. And we like logic puzzles sometimes when we are traveling. I even have a phone app with brain teasers. They aren't necessarily what I'd call good at these yet, but it is a good reminder to feel free to think sideways sometimes. Both kids enjoy a challenge, so it's nice to be able to let them just think and work and see what they come up with.

post #10 of 16

I think sometimes putting a spotlight on thinking processes the way traditional teaching materials do, especially these days with an attempt to focus on the process as well as the outcome, can be off-putting. Kids might have a lot going on in their heads, but if they feel like the quality of their thoughts and methods will be judged, they might be reluctant to share.  Then parents have to figure out if the the process isn't happening at all, or if kids simply aren't willing.  In our house, the question, "Oh, what made you think of that?" is common and conversational and I am frequently bowled over by their thinking (and often baffled, honestly!)  I like the idea of backing off, giving space, even if it means that sometimes you aren't quite sure what's happening up there.    

 

Another (half-serious) observation is that humans have been taking the easy way out for millennia-- and have given us simple machines and gadgets for doing so along the way!  I agree that finding something he values deeply will bring out those qualities that would balance the ones that seem dominant now.  Good luck!

post #11 of 16
I'm not suggesting putting a spotlight on thinking processes, in case anyone got that idea from my cryptic answers. I just think having games and books around that encourage thinking is good. And as for discussions, I talk about everything, so there has never been a feel of spotlighting anything in particular. I prefer to make decisions by thinking out loud, and asking for feedback, so my son always chimed in with his ideas. If I thought his idea had merit, I would try it. If I didn't, then I just told him why I liked something else better and went with that. My son never felt that I was putting him down in any way. Tone is everything, according to my son, when explaining why I chose a different option. And I always worded it as "different", not "better". Anyway, he said his father could have said the exact same words and he would have been furious, because his father's tone tends to be demeaning. Respecting the child is key. Both about what the child enjoys and the ideas expressed. Too many parents have an attitude of "I know best", and that strains the willingness of the child to share inner thoughts.

P.S. I *love* detective stories, and shared that love with my son. And if that helped his deductive reasoning, great. But that wasn't the goal.
post #12 of 16

We have a ball with detective stories and mysteries.  I like that it keeps us guessing, and at dd1's age, we read them together and guess together.  It's loads of fun.  Or we watch mystery videos--Hercules Poirot is a favorite--and we are always on the lookout, first for who the person is who is going to die orngtongue.gif and then who did it.  Then we watch them over again to see what we missed.

 

BTW, I was responding to the first post, and emaye's comment "kids need time to think", which I heartily agree with and comment on regularly, usually educators (usually of younger children, esp. preschool) trying to direct the focus of the observation, but that same thought also applies to thought processes with other things.  This is where I think less traditional, more casual educational methods would have a distinct advantage--so much is covered, talked about on car rides, in the dark before bed, etc.  Note that both of these places where the conversation flows most freely are the ones where parent and child cannot look at each other!

 

Anyway, sometimes I get lazy and avoid the quote function when it might be a wise idea for a better flow.

post #13 of 16
No problem about the lack of quoting. I just saw the potential that my remarks could have been interpreted differently than I intended and wantes to try to clarify.

We did the same with the mysteries, and loved David Suchet (not sure of the spelling) as Hercule Poirot. Agatha Christie books are favorites, as well. And we compare the book to the movie or show to see what was changed, etc.

I'm wondering if anyone else's child(ren) enjoyed Rush Hour. We bought extra decks and other versions, over the years.
post #14 of 16

Tell me about rush hour... or...pm me if this is getting too OT.

 

I also liked watching different actors play the same character.  DD1 and I discussed the merits of Albert Finney's Poirot in Orient Express, vs. David Suchet's and the literary Poirot.  Same with Sherlock Holmes-- Basil Rathbone vs. Jeremy .... ach.... something orother, I'll remember it while I'm in the shower I'm sure... and both those characters vs. the literary Holmes.

 

ETA:  I think for kids who are reluctant to put themselves forward when expected to show critical thinking skills, these seemingly irrelevant fluff conversations just day to day and randomly and about .... well, video games or sharks or whatever interests the kids.... this will get those wheels turning and especially those words flowing.  Because it isn't being judged, it is not counting as more important than other things. They can be themselves.  And I  think most parents will find that there is a lot more going on up there than kids are willing to strut.

post #15 of 16
Rush Hour is a traffic jam game. Different vehicles are between the red car and the exit, and you have to move the other vehicles (cars, trucks, and or buses) out of the way so the red car can exit. There are cards that show the jam on the front, and the solution on the back. Each deck of cards has four categories : beginner, intermediate, advanced, and expert.
post #16 of 16

Interesting idea--that it can't be taught.  I never thought of it that way before.  While I agree that a certain amount of problem solving requires the tenacity to do so, I do think that certain strategies can be taught.  Most the time, these strategies would just be a springboard for the child-- to get the gears turning.  So, then, I guess you are back to being willing to take the time to work through the problem.  Anyhow. . . here are some things that my kids have enjoyed that I think helped them to develop decent problem solving skills.  

1.  Hands on stuff. . . examples:  building a catapult (not from a kit!), building boats/cars/etc from veggies (my dd's gifted program did this, and we stole the idea), building toys like marble runs, etc.  

2.  Games -- many mentioned here already.  I haven't seen quarto mentioned.  It is a great (quick) game that requires you to think ahead.  

3.  My oldest loves "logic puzzles" (with the little chart to fill out), sudoku, etc.  My 10 yr old also like them, but she did need to be "taught" how to do them.  Then, she was able to take those techniques further.  

4.  My kids actually like the workbooks from the critical thinking company.  We liked the "building thinking skills" book, mind benders (kinda an intro to 'logic puzzles'), and balance benders books.  We haven't liked everything from that catalog, but those were good.  (FWIW, we didn't write in the mind benders --we placed a post-it over the grid.)

5.  Plenty of time to explore and play in nature.  They come up with the most interesting ideas. 

 

Amy

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