Teach your child the art of problem solving

Has your child taken up the Vidyartha assessment? If yes, you now know about your child’s  areas of interest, the skills they possess and the aptitude they require to pursue a higher education or the career of their choice. What’s more? You also know about the areas that they need to improve on. Over the course of the next few weeks, we’ll help you understand the different types of aptitude and give you a step-by-step guidance on how you can improve their skills and help them score better marks.

One of the types of aptitude is problem solving. Yes, you heard that right, we said problem solving. Most of you would be flinching at the thought of it because you associate it with math and numbers. But, problem solving is not just restricted to math, it is something that your child uses in everyday life. It is, in fact, a mental process—a way of thinking logically. You are using your problem-solving ability every single day to resolve things, make decisions and ensure that things go your way.

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What is problem solving?

Wondering what exactly is problem solving? It is defined as the process of recognizing a problem, defining it, identifying alternative plans to resolve the problem, selecting a plan, organizing steps of the plan, implementing the plan, and evaluating the outcome.

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Why is problem-solving important?

Problem solving is important because it helps students deal with academic, social and interpersonal challenges that they face every day.

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Myths associated with problem-solving

There are a lot of myths and misunderstandings about problem solving. Some of the biggest myths are that it can only be used in mathematics, it cannot be learnt and that there is only one solution to every problem. You’ll be happy to hear that all of these myths are false!

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The problem-solving process

To make it easy for you, we’ve have broken down the problem-solving process into 5 easy steps:

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  • Identify and define the problem

This may seem obvious and unnecessary but you need to identify and define the problem before you start working on solutions. If required, write down the problem in your own words. You can also break down the problem into smaller, simpler problems.

  • Organize the information that you have

Write down the facts that you know and don’t know about the problem. This is important because the amount of information that you have about a problem will determine how effective or good your solution will be. You can also create mind maps to visualize the problem.

  • Form a strategy and come up with solutions

A strategy is nothing but a step by step plan about how you will arrive at the solution. You can make mind maps, create lists, make tables where you can group and organize data. This will help you see the problem clearly and organize and group data that is related to the problem. This will also help you arrive at the solution or multiple solutions.

  • Monitor progress

You need to monitor each step outlined in your strategy to ensure that you don’t get stuck at any level. This also allows you to change the plan or strategy if you see that it is not working or giving you the required solution.

  • Evaluate the results

It is vitally important to evaluate the effectiveness of the solution once you arrive at it. This is to ensure that you have got the best possible solution to the problem. Questions like” Are you satisfied with the results you’ve obtained?” and “Why do you believe this solution is an appropriate one for this problem”, will help you evaluate the solution or results in a better manner.

With this, we hope that you’ve got a good understanding of the problem-solving concept and how to go about the problem-solving process. Now, you can log into your child’s Vidyartha dashboard and take a look at their problem-solving scores.

Have they aced their test? Is their score average or slightly below average? Whatever their score maybe, there is always room for improvement. Their problem-solving skills is something that gets better with time, so they need to constantly work on it. Get in touch with the counsellors and learning mentors at Vidyartha so that they can help your child develop excellent problem-solving skills.

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Do We Know How to Raise Our Children into Independent Adults?

Do We Know How to Raise Our Children into Independent Adults?
We want our children to be unafraid of ambiguity, make their own decisions and own up to the consequences of their action. But if it does not begin at home, they will never grow up.

Consider a typical Indian parent who teaches his/her child to obey and listen to everything they say. There is no room for collaboration with the child – the adult is right, simply because he/she is older! But we know only too well that wisdom and age do not always go together!

We often find ourselves making decisions for our kids because of the immense sense of responsibility we feel towards them. But what we really ought to do is guide them as they make their own decisions and supervise only when necessary.

That’s what we aim to do at Vidyartha, and sure, we’ve found it isn’t always smooth. We have constantly witnessed parents and adolescents having unending discussions about their learning choices, such as which subject stream to take in Class 11 or what college and course they’d like to get into.

Needless to say, we find very few parents who collaborate. They usually direct the child and make the decision for them. But why is that?

 a) Fear of consequences – Parents believe that children are likely to make decisions that result in bad consequences
b) Biases based on their own experience – Parents arrive at certain conclusions based on their own life’s experiences, which may or may not hold good for their children, who have their own distinct personalities, preferences and needs
c) Hearsay – The tendency to go with what the majority does is high in a country where society directs life
But is there always a happy ending? We’ve met plenty of people with regrets because they could not do what they wanted to – they were not independent, in the true sense of the term.

How do we make sure our children grow to become independent?

#1 – Have a conversation rather than make statements
Do we like it when people tell us what to do without listening to us? Your child is a human being with a unique personality, just like you. We need to have two-way conversations with them instead of making judgments and close-ended statements. In Vidyartha’s counselling sessions with thousands of students and parents, we have seen parents making statements that inspire no further conversation from the child’s end – “He is weak in Maths!” – a final judgement of the child’s potential. What you can say instead – “He may need help with Maths”.

#2 – Keep asking your kids what they think
When a parent says, “What do you think?”, he/she does three things:
a) Shows the child that his/her opinion is valued
b) Increases their belief in themselves
c) Instills a sense of responsibility

#3 – Discuss the consequences of decisions made
You and your child are bound to have different opinions. But instead of ordering him/her to do what you think is best, talk about the pros and cons of both choices. As the discussion progresses, you and your child may arrive at one conclusion – and that’s bound to be the best, whether or not things go wrong.

At Vidyartha, we strongly believe that your child’s future as a professional is determined right from school. And the largest influence is the parent!
After all, life is all about making great choices – let’s teach them to make it themselves.

This piece was penned by Priya Mohan, Co-Founder and Executive Director at Vidyartha.