Problem solving is one of the life skills we find useful at all ages. It also plays a part in each mathematical process, and makes up part of the mathematics curriculum in most countries. Therefore, it’s important that we encourage this from a young age.
Aside from the inclusion in curriculum, there are many benefits children can gain from learning problem solving skills at a young age. These include:
Children find problem solving interesting
Problem solving often appears particularly interesting to children. Novelty of problems and the introduction of characters or scenarios known to children makes problems much more relevant and appealing to children. With this in mind, children will be more inclined to participate and enjoy this learning area at a young age, giving them good ground knowledge for many other maths areas covered in later years.
Increased flexibility and creativity
Within problem solving, children are free to explore ideas, giving them an opportunity to be more flexible and creative. Children often look at things differently than adults do, and continually explore ways of tackling problems that are not the norm, or that had not been thought of before. It is also true that children who may not be strongest at maths may also enjoy this type of activity and offer solutions just as well as more adept children. The increased flexibility and creativity offered through problem solving learning can be extended to other areas of the curriculum, helping children to advance and excel in other subjects too.
Encourages co-operation and co-operative skills
Traditionally, maths is a subject taught to individuals, who work alone to produce results. However, with problem solving exercises, there are many benefits to be gained by encouraging children to work in groups. Not only does this encourage interaction and co-operation and the sharing of knowledge and ideas to solve a problem, it has positive effects on overall communication. As problem solving and group work is seen as enjoyable for children, they then have a positive attitude towards communicating and working with others – which is beneficial in every subject area and aspect of life.
These are just some of the benefits children can gain from the inclusion of problem solving activities at a younger age. Not only does this area of learning encourage students to take a positive attitude towards, and enjoy, maths, it also enroots other vital life skills which can be applied across other subject areas within the curriculum. You’ll find plenty of problem solving resources within our TeeJay Maths books. Please see our online store for samples from each book.