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Coach Problem Solving Skills


^21st Century Skills Social-Emotional Learning All Ages Strategy


Flexible Thinking Self-regulation Verbal Reasoning Abstract Reasoning

Coach Problem Solving Skills

If your student struggles to prioritize time or make choices

Teach It!

  1. Objective: Students will learn to step back, brainstorm and evaluate options when they feel "stuck" or encounter a problem.
  2. Define It: Define the problem with the student so there is understanding. It is important to validate and empathize to help the student work through it and make a good decision.
  3. Brainstorm: Think through solutions together. Include all ideas without judgment. Ideally your student will do most of the brainstorming, but help as much as needed to get him started. Write, type, or use sticky notes to write ideas down. The goal is to have a few good choices, even if none feels "perfect". Helping students accept less than perfect is an important life skill and harder for some students.
  4. Eliminate: Let your student cross off any options that simply won't work. (Ex. Dad helping him solve the physics problem might just not be an option.) The act of crossing out will ease anxiety, as there are fewer items and a list of real possibilities.
  5. Prioritize: Write down pros and cons next to each option. Have the student prioritize the options, ideally selecting one in the process. Keep the goal of having at least one or two reasonable alternatives even if they aren't perfect. For a student who struggles with decisions, you might need to help. As you use this process on multiple occasions, the student will become more independent.
  6. Teacher Notes: Keep in mind that the problem could be picking a topic for a school project, deciding what to wear for Halloween, or understanding how to solve a physics problem. Students vary on when and how they have difficulty making decisions.

*print* Student Checklist: Decision-making Strategies

  1. When you feel stuck, try to define the problem you're having.
  2. Brainstorm all solutions you can think of. You can write down, type, or use sticky notes to keep track of your ideas.
  3. Even if your choices are not "perfect", it is still okay to keep the good choices.
  4. Cross off any options that don't work.
  5. Write down the pros and cons next to each option.
  6. From the list, choose one that feels comfortable to try first.

Why It Works (the Science Of Learning)!

Going through a structured process of brainstorming and evaluating alternative approaches can help some students overcome concerns about making bad decisions or having a less than perfect outcome.