Problem Solving With Others

The skills needed to solve problems are learned just like academic skills – they don’t develop on their own or overnight

One girl hands a teddy bear to another girl who is seated in a preschool classroom

What You Need to Know

Preschool children are still learning how to effectively resolve disagreements. To do so, they need to take the perspective of another person and understand how their actions impact others. For example, a child is not likely to think about how taking a toy from another child would make that child mad or sad, which stands in the way of finding a safe, fair solution. You can empower children to learn to solve their own problems by helping them to identify the problem, take another child’s perspective, and implement a solution when issues arise.

What It Looks Like

A quick glance at how you can help students to develop their problem solving skills before conflicts occur.

Practice Solving Problems

Encouraging children to think about and practice problem solving can prepare them to come up with solutions in the moment.

Problem Solving During Center Time

Promote children’s problem solving skills by having them think and talk about the issue. Then work with them as they explore and agree on a resolution.

Use Solutions Cards

Using solution cards prompts children to find and accept solutions. Supports like this work to build children’s ability to problem solve.

COVID-19 ADAPTATIONS

Supporting Children to Solve Problems

In this webinar, educational coaches Stephanie Adams and Caitlin Powell present strategies we can use to support children to solve social problems in a hybrid or physically distanced classroom environment. This webinar includes a set of resources from the National Center for Pyramid Model Innovations (NCPMI).

Covid webinar social problem solving slide
Child pointing at problem solving cards

CLASSROOM STRATEGIES

Teach, Model, Support

Young children are still learning how to socialize, collaborate, and negotiate with others. With our support, children can learn these valuable skills and work together to find solutions as challenges arise. Learn key strategies you can use to teach social problem solving in advance and support it in the moment.

TRAUMA-INFORMED CARE

The Power of Play

A brief video from the Harvard Center on the Developing Child explores how play in early childhood can reduce stress (including trauma-related stress) and scaffold problem solving.

FAMILY CONNECTION

Families as a Resource

In this article from the Center for Responsive Schools, Carol Davis shares how teachers can have conversations with families about problems that occur in the classroom.

CONSIDERING EQUITY

Considering Culture

In this NAEYC webinar, Dr. Isik-Ercan offers transformative yet practical tips teachers can use to understand children’s cultural backgrounds and to support children as they encounter and solve social problems.

PROBLEM SOLVING THROUGH BOOKS

SHARE AND TAKE TURNS

Written by Cheri J. Meiners, this book provide many opportunities to talk and think about social situations that young children may encounter in the classroom, such as sharing toys or taking turns.

Book page showing children playing and sharing

Activity Cards

Part of the STREAMin3 curriculum, these activity cards provide simple and fun ways you can prompt children to collaborate and solve problems together.
Solve a Problem Activity Card
Brainstorm

Solve a Problem

Create typical social scenarios that children can use to brainstorm solutions.

download
Partner Talk Card
share

Partner Talk

Invite children to turn to a peer and ask them something about their life.

download
Dance Party Card
create

Dance Party

You and children will work together to create a new dance.

download
People Sort Card
Sort

People Sort

Challenge children to sort themselves by patterns or colors on their clothing.

download

Get Our Resource Guide

Includes questions and activities to guide your use of the videos, book suggestions, and activity cards featured for each of our core social-emotional skills