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A model of problem solving in an early childhood classroom involves four steps: (1) identifying the problem; (2) brainstorming solutions; (3) choosing and implementing one solution; and (4) evaluating the solution used.In order to determine whether a particular problem is appropriate for children, teachers can ask whether the problem is interesting, can be solved at a variety of levels, requires new decisions to be made, and requires a solution that can be evaluated.Values and goals must be clearly defined to include a child-centered curriculum, the development of communication skills, promotion of cooperative learning, and inclusion of diverse ideas.
It is also about processing information and evaluating ideas and concepts.
As children are constantly learning new ideas, skills and concepts, these will all help them develop their problem solving skills.
Curricula that foster children's problem solving are those that encourage children's decision making, provide a framework for integrated learning, use a project approach to facilitate cooperative learning, and organize work through themes and units.
Teachers can foster children's problem solving by providing enlarged blocks of learning time, rearranging classroom spaces to facilitate cooperation, and providing a variety of materials for children's use.
When teachers articulate the problems they face and discuss solutions with children, children become more aware of the significance of the problem-solving process.
Being a problem solver is modeled by the teacher and emulated by the children.
By being curious, observing, listening, and questioning, the teacher shares and models the qualities that are valued and promoted by the problem-solving process.
A curriculum that accommodates a variety of developmental levels as well as individual differences in young children sets the stage for problem solving (Bredekamp, 1987).
The teacher's role is two-fold: first, to value the process and be willing to trust the learner, and second, to establish and maintain a classroom environment that encourages problem solving.
It is the attitude of the teacher that must change first in the problem-solving classroom.