Problem solving

Problem solving Problem solving Problem solving Problem solving

The world of work is constantly changing and skills like problem solving is one that employers across most industries look for in job applicants. Being able to show examples of problem solving is also a great way to boost a CV. Your child may already be showing problem solving skills at home, but it’s useful for them to be aware of how to analyse more complex problems and find solutions.

This home learning activity around problem solving includes some short films. You can either complete it with your child (you don’t need to be an expert just follow the pointers below), or encourage them to complete it independently using the worksheet.

Problem solving practice

Start by asking your child what they think problem solving means. Can they think of a time where they have used this skill? Perhaps you could share a recent time where you have solved a problem. Explain that simply put, problem solving is the ability to find a solution to a complex situation or challenge. Watch this short film with your child showing how this skill can be used in the workplace.

Get them to have a go at solving the puzzle that the film touched upon around a man getting a fox, chicken and sack of corn across a river safely. They can use the worksheet to write down how they would solve this problem, and you can find the solution on the answer sheet provided.

Problem solving puzzle
After a little time, see how they solved the problem. Was it a case of trial and error, or jotting down notes and eliminating different options?

What are the steps to solving a problem?

This animation explains the six steps to solving problems of any size:

1. Identify the problem

2. Break it down into manageable chunks 3. Observe and look for patterns

4. Think freely and keep the bigger picture in mind

5. Apply different options 

6. Evaluate what you’ve learnt and what you'd do differently

If you have any examples of a problem you might have faced in the workplace or in your day-to-day life, you could share this with them so they can see the importance of using this skill.  

Finally, to help hone this vital skill see if they can apply the six stages of problem solving to find solutions to the scenarios below focusing on a school raffle, paper being wasted in the workplace, or not hearing back when applying for jobs.

The answers attached can help with discussing their solutions. 

Your child can continue focusing on the skill of problem solving by heading over to the LifeSkills Young People hub (they need to be 14 or over to register for a free account) and give our Your Problem-solving Toolkit interactive tool a go.