5 Ways to Instill Creative Problem Solving Skills in Your Child

5735283_origThink about how you get to work every day. Do you always take the same route? Or do you change it based on what time you leave home? Or do you adjust route because you need to make a stop along the way?
All of these questions are problems that you solve, likely without much thought. As adults, problem-solving is at the center of many decisions we make every day. In addition, using creativity to solve these problems allow us to balance our busy lives.
So how can we pass along this critical skill to our kids?Problem solving is one of the key skills that the Common Core Standards aim to instill in students, along with collaboration, communication and critical thinking. Curricula around the country have been adapted to include activities that build creative problem-solving skills throughout a student’s education, but it is also important for parents to emphasize the importance of problem solving outside the classroom.
To solve today’s real-world problems, future generations will need to use creativity. To instill creative problem solving in your child, try one of these ideas:
1. Encourage creative play
Sometimes breaking the rules is a positive thing! Encourage creativity by challenging your child to build something new out of an old set of LEGOS, or take it even further by working with your child to make up a brand new game complete with rules and how to win.
There are also some out-of-the-box options for creative play, like Magna-Tiles and LEGO sets called Mixels that are designed specifically to encourage kids to modify and mix them to build things in creative ways.
2. Read stories that inspire creativity
An easy way to get an extra dose of creativity every day is to read books that feature characters who demonstrate creative problem solving. Depending on your child’s age, you could start with a book like The Dot. As they grow up, you can move on to real-world problem-solving stories like Hatchet.
These stories will demonstrate the importance of resourcefulness to your child and emphasize that novel challenges can be solved if only you think outside of the box.
3. Leverage the power of technology
Technology provides a unique way to help the younger generation build problem solving skills. Never before have there been so many online tools to help kids learn to use technology to solve problems and think critically.
Apps like Inventioneers (for iOS and Android) are a great place to start with getting your kids thinking creatively. They may not even realize they’re solving complicated physics problems as they play through this delightful, engaging game.
If your child develops a keen interest in technology, you can encourage them to pursue it further by enrolling them in a tech course geared towards kids. These courses are a great way for kids to master problem-solving skills while also getting experience with coding, animation or design.
4. Ask for their help with a DIY project
Hands-on projects are a great way to get kids’ creative juices flowing. If your child’s room is overflowing with too many clothes and toys, ask them for help coming up with solutions to reorganize it and banish the clutter. By posing a clear problem — too much stuff! — and  challenging them to think of creative ways to solve it, you’ll build your child’s teamwork skills while also clearing some chores off your to-do list.
5. Don’t plan everything
Too often we tend to fill our kids’ schedules with classes, practices, enrichment activities and various other extra-curriculars. While structure and routine builds great habits in kids, unstructured time allows kids to think creatively and be flexible as they make decisions on how to spend their time. Will they be productive and finish their chores, or spend time playing outside instead? Time management only becomes more important as they get older, so starting out early lets kids solve the problem of how to get things done but also enjoy their lives.
Any of these activities is sure to challenge your child to think creatively — and critically — and will give them a chance to build valuable problem-solving skills. Placing value in this habit early in life will ensure that our kids grow up capable of solving the real-world problems of today, likely using solutions we haven’t yet imagined.

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