Teaching Problem Solving Skills-Useful Suggestions

Objectives of Teaching Problem Solving

When teaching problem solving skills the objectives are to enable students to

  • identify problems when they arise
  • listen actively to suggestions of peers
  • discern various ways to solve a problem
  • confidently evaluate choices offered
  • impartially reflect on what worked and what did not work

Problem Solving Skills

Educators can use several means to teach problem solving skills – modeling, role-play, discussion and intervention.

Modeling problem solving techniques is an excellent way to teach these skills. Demonstrating for students how to devote enough time to the proper understanding of a problem before attempting to find a solution is imperative. Humans tend to react to an issue, rushing to find solutions without understanding what the problem actually is, thereby compounding the problem by overlooking the obvious.

  1. Identify a problem – "Oh, we have a conflict in that it is time for circle, but I have a reminder on the board that it is time for an assembly."
  2. Think through solutions – "Well, we need to go to the assembly, so what do we do about circle time? Any suggestions?"
  3. Agree on plan – "Yes, I think it is a good idea to postpone our circle time until tomorrow after recess."
  4. Reflect on outcome – "Yesterday, we agreed to have circle time after recess. How do you think that worked out? What worked well? What didn't work?"

Pointing out to students that in making decisions of any type we are informed by previous knowledge, skills and experiences, helps them to understand that they can use this information in discovering the possible solutions or strategies when problem solving.

Role-Play allows students to practice what they have learned.

  1. Present students with various scenarios in which there is a conflict or problem.
  2. Ask them to come up with a way to discuss and solve the issue.
  3. Reinforce good choices and make suggestions for choices the students make that are not good.

Discussion of problems and solutions can be done throughout the school year. Students can keep notes in a journal.

  1. Create a mind map of an issue.
  2. Brainstorm various solutions.
  3. Discuss the options – pros and cons.
  4. Have student reflect on what they learned in their journals.

Intervention can be done when and if issues arise in the class. This would also be considered modeling, therefore, would use the same instructions.


Assess students understanding of problem solving by asking them to write a reflection on what was modeled, done in role-plays, discussed or after an intervention. This will allow the teacher to see clearly, who understands and who needs more guidance.

Benefits of Problem Solving

The benefits of teaching problem solving skills are that it gives students skills that will not only be used during their academic career, but also throughout their lives in every aspect of living. Honing problem solving skills help students become competent and mindful citizens.


  • Problem Solving: https://www.education.com/reference/article/teach-young-children-problem-solving
  • Resiliency Resource: https://www.embracethefuture.org.au