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SEL Problem Solving: How to Teach Students to be Problem Solvers in 2022

If you are an elementary teacher looking to learn how to help your students solve problems independently, then you found the right place! Problem solving skills prepare kids to face dilemmas and obstacles with confidence. Students who have problem solving skills are more independent than students who do not. In this post, we’ll go into detail about what problem solving skills are and why they are important. In addition, we’ll share tips and ideas for how to teach problem solving skills in an elementary classroom setting. Read all about helping students solve problems in and out of the classroom below!

What Does Solving Problems Mean?

Solving problems means brainstorming solutions to the problem after identifying and analyzing the problem and why it occurred. It is important to brainstorm different solutions by looking at all angles of the problem and creating a list of possible solutions. Then you can pick the solution that fits the best.

Why is it Important for Kids to Solve Problems?

It is important for kids to solve problems by brainstorming different solutions so that they can pick the best solution. This teaches them that there can be many different solutions to a problem and they vary in effectiveness. Teaching kids to solve problems helps them be independent in making choices. 

How Do I Know If I Need to Teach Problem Solving in My Classroom?

The students in your 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th or 5th grade classroom would benefit from problem solving lessons and activities if any of these statements are true:

  • Student confidence is lacking.
  • Students are getting into conflicts with each other.
  • They come to you to solve problems they could have solved on their own.
  • Students are becoming easily frustrated.
  • Recess is a hard time for your class.

5 Reasons To Promote Problem Solving In Your Elementary Classroom

Below are 5 reasons to promote problem solving in your elementary classroom.

1. Problem solving builds confidence 

Students’ confidence will grow as they learn problem solving skills because they will believe in their own abilities to solve problems. The more experience they have using their problem solving skills, the more confident they will become. Instead of going to others to solve problems for them, they will look inside themselves at their own abilities. 

2. Problem solving creates stronger friendships

Students who can problem solve create stronger friendships because they won’t let arguments or running into issues stop them from being friends with a person. Instead they work with their friend to get through their problem together and get through the bump in the road, instead of giving up on the friendship. 

3. Problem solving skills increase emotional intelligence 

Having emotional intelligence is incredibly helpful when solving problems. As students learn problem solving skills, they will use emotional intelligence to think about the feelings of others involved in the conflict. They will also think about how the problem is affecting others. 

4. Problem solving skills create more independent kids

Students who can problem solve become more independent than kids who cannot because they will try to solve their problems first instead of going to an adult. They won’t look at adults as being the only people who can solve their problems. They will be equipped with the skill set to tackle the problems they are experiencing by themselves or with peers. However, it is important to make the distinction with kids between problems they can solve on their own and problems they need an adult for. 

5. Teaching problem solving skills causes students to be more reflective 

Reflecting is part of the problem solving process. Students need to reflect on the problem and what caused it when deciding how to solve the problem. Once students choose the best solution to their problem, they need to reflect on whether or not the solution was effective. 

5 Tips and Ideas for Teaching Problem Solving Skills 

Below are tips and ideas for teaching problem solving.

1. Read Aloud Picture Books about Problem Solving Skills 

Picture books are a great way to introduce and teach an SEL topic. It gets students thinking about the topic and activating their background knowledge. Check out this list of picture books for teaching problem solving skills!

2. Watch Videos about Problem Solving Skills 

There are tons of free online videos out there that promote social emotional learning. It’s a fun and engaging way to teach SEL skills that your students will enjoy. Check out these videos for teaching problem solving skills!

Vocabulary words can help students develop understanding of problem solving and create connections through related words. Our problem solving SEL unit includes ten vocabulary cards with words related to the SEL topic. It is important for students to be able to see, hear, and use relevant vocabulary while learning. One idea for how to use them is to create an SEL word wall as students learn the words.

4. Provide Practice Opportunities

When learning any skill, students need time to practice. Social emotional learning skills are no different! Our problem solving SEL unit includes scenario cards, discussion cards, choice boards, games, and much more. These provide students with opportunities to practice the skills independently, with partners or small groups, or as a whole class.

5. Integrate Other Content Areas

Integrating other content areas with this topic is a great way to approach this SEL topic. Our problem solving SEL unit includes reading, writing, and art activities.

Problem Solving SEL UnitSocial Emotional Learning Units Bundle

In closing, we hope you found this information about teaching problem solving skills helpful! If you did, then you may also be interested in these posts.

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