Problem-solving skills are important because they help your child grow into a well-adjusted, independent adult. Even if your child is young, it’s never too early to teach them important problem-solving skills through play.
At ExploraToy, we’re passionate about helping you get the most out of playtime with your child. The following is a list of six fantastic activities to stimulate you child’s critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
- Use construction toys to build something.
Construction toys are great for open-ended play, but they’re also a useful tool to help you teach your child problem-solving skills. Although your child will develop some of these skills while coming up with projects to build on their own, you can push their skills by giving them building challenges.
For example, you might tell your child to build two towers with a bridge connecting them. Or perhaps you’ll challenge them to build the tallest building possible. These building challenges will force them to work toward a specific objective. This will help them address problems and test solutions.
- Ask questions during pretend play.
Questions are a great way to engage your child in problem-solving skills. Take time to regularly ask your child questions about all the moving parts during any activity. During pretend play, ask them why they think certain characters took certain actions. This will push your child to analyze motives and come up with creative solutions to interpersonal problems.
For example, you might ask your child, “Why didn’t your teddy bear like its tea?” or “What would have happened if the mommy doll didn’t get mad at the baby doll?” Let the questions flow naturally during play. Over time, these questions will stimulate your child’s imagination and help them build the emotional intelligence they’ll need later in life.
- Play board games.
Board games are a great way to build your child’s critical thinking skills. Simple games like ExploraToy’s Connect 4 Game are great, since the rules are easy to explain to younger children. As your child learns how the game is played, they will employ their critical thinking skills to come up with winning strategies.
Play the games your child likes, since they’re more likely to learn when they’re already having fun. Resist the urge to let your child win every game, since occasionally losing will inspire them to come up with better strategies. If you have two or more children, encourage them to play board games together. This will help them sharpen each other and improve their communication skills.
- Complete activity book activities.
Whether you purchase age-appropriate activity books or print free version from online, paper activities are a great way to help your child find and identify problems. For example, spot the difference activities are great for helping your child tell the difference between two pictures.
Hidden picture books, such as the Where’s Waldo book series, are also a great way to engage your child’s critical-thinking skills. Over time, these books will teach your child how to use their observation skills strategically. Search and find picture books are available for children of all levels, making this an engaging activity for you and your child to enjoy together.
- Build puzzles together.
Puzzles are one of the most effective critical-thinking activities available to you and your children. Your child will have to sort through the pieces to create the picture. Even if they have completed the same puzzle before, they’ll have to put the pieces together strategically and methodically each time they build it.
ExploraToy has a wide selection of great puzzles for your child to enjoy. Our Fire Engine Puzzle and our Noah’s Ark Puzzle are both 48 pieces, making them a great fit for preschool and young elementary students. For younger children, our wide range of Wooden Knob Puzzles offer an age-appropriate challenge.
- Sort and group items during play.
While you play with your child, encourage them to sort and group items as a fun challenge. For example, you might ask your child to bring you all the green food from their play kitchen. This encourages them to sort through their toys and determine which ones meet your criteria. For a more difficult challenge, you might ask your child to bring you all the fruits or all the items that make good breakfast foods.
When your child learns to sort and group objects, they’ll learn how to sort through the information in front of them to find answers to their questions. This is an important problem-solving skill we often take for granted in adulthood. However, it’s vital to teach this skill to young children because of its important role in their development.
Problem-solving skills can be taught during everyday playtime with your child. The six activities listed above are just some of the many great ways you can help teach your child important problem-solving skills.
If you’re looking for more great activities to help you improve your child’s problem-solving skills, check out our great selection of toys. At ExporaToy, we specialize in high-quality wooden toys that your child will enjoy for years to come. You’re not just buying a toy, but an opportunity for your child to grow into a healthy and well-adjusted adult.