Using one of the ideas shared in your peer’s initial post, provide an example of a strategy that you would use to help children develop reasoning or problem solving skills. Make sure to describe how the strategy fits within the Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) for the children you would use the strategy with.
Problem Solving and Reasoning
“Questioning one’s own assumptions, supposing something is true even if it is not, and then systematically considering the consequences of those hypothetical thoughts” are all cognitive characteristics that grow and evolve starting in childhood and assists in learning how to reason (Farrar & Montgomery, 2015, p. 8.6). According to Piaget, children between the ages of two and six are in the preoperational stage of development and their thinking is not yet logical (Farrar & Montgomery, 2015). Piaget states that children between the ages of seven and twelve are in the concrete operational stage of development and therefore “capable of engaging in logical reasoning about problems with observable and/or factual content” (Farrar & Montgomery, 2015, p. 8.6). Social skills play an important part in the ability to reason, and problem solve. The very existence of all age level schools “reflects the central role that social learning plays in cognitive development” as human beings are especially proficient in social learning (Farrar & Montgomery, 2015, p. 7.4). For children especially, scientific evidence has shown that parents play an important social role as their interactions and conversations with their child(ren) encourages scientific thinking and reasoning (Farrar & Montgomery, 2015).
Cognitive characteristics such as one’s thought process, memory and the ability to recollect, being able to distinguish between cause and effect, understanding consequences, in addition to decision-making all come together to help children develop problem-solving skills. According to Farrar and Montgomery (2015), problem-solving aligns closely with the IP theory which compares the brain to a computer stating that much like a computer’s programming rules, the brain goes through a similar process of using rules and strategies to problem solve (p. 8.5). A way in which an individual chooses to handle or solve a problem is not solely influenced by just their cognitive level but also more personal attributes such as the culture in which they were raised. Children in some cultures are encouraged to learn hands on through trial and error. A trial and error method of learning assist in the development of reasoning and problem-solving. Some cultures use direct instruction where the child can observe and then make decisions of reason or problem-solving based on what they have seen or based on how the adult they observed handled a particular situation. There are many various cultures in the world, and each may have a different way of thinking, teaching, and learning due to their values, practices, and customs. No matter what method is used, all play a part in the development in the way a child reasons or solves problems.
Socially competent children who develop the ability to reason and problem solve typically are said to have proper interconnection skills with adults and peers when engaged in activities. “Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory contributed to the recognition about and emphasis on the sociocultural aspects of children’s social competencies” (Han & Thomas, 2010, p. 470). From a sociocultural perspective, a child’s culture and cultural events influence what is important in that child’s life. Therefore, to truly understand an individual’s social and emotional development as it relates to reasoning and problem-solving capabilities, it is necessary to reference their cultural background. “This socially mediated learning occurs in the zone of proximal development (ZPD)” which “is defined as the area in which social mediation can enable the child to reach new levels of competence” (Farrar & Montgomery, 2015, p. 1.3). According to Vygotsky, the ZPD is where “the most effective form of learning takes place, particularly for children ages 2 to 8 years” and is also where “interactions between children and their social partners enable children to acquire cultural skills such as language and math” (Farrar & Montgomery, 2015, p. 7.2). Most importantly, these particular interactions are critical in the development of “higher order cognitive abilities, including reasoning and problem solving” (Farrar & Montgomery, 2015, p. 7.2). Farrar and Montgomery (2015), state that “in the context of problem solving, knowing the child’s underlying rules (that is, preexisting assumptions) can be very informative for revealing the partial knowledge the child brings to the task and the additional learning the child needs to discover” (Farrar & Montgomery, 2015, p. 8.5).
“Cultures refer to the social communities in which children live” and “are defined by their values, language, and practices (including everything from food and clothing customs, to religious beliefs, to educational and governmental traditions)” (Farrar & Montgomery, 2015, p. 7.2). These various cultures differ in the strategies and tools that they use to teach their young intellectually and socially. Therefore, when planning strategies to develop reasoning and problem-solving skills in a culturally diverse setting, so that everyone benefits; many cultural considerations must be taken into consideration beforehand. It is good practice to try to get to know these children and families on a personal level. Find out some background information and most importantly, keep a line of open communication with the parents. Some cultures teach their children using hands-on learning experiences as opposed to direct instruction and observation, while others teach using collaboration and group efforts. “Although guided participation can take place in all cultures, in many cultures children are with their parents continuously and thus learn primarily through participating and observing cultural activities” (Farrar & Montgomery, 2015, p. 7.2). These informal methods of learning within these cultures teach children to problem solve and reason when making decisions or engaging in trial and error learning through hands-on experiences. If indirect learning is the only type of education a child has received prior to becoming enrolled in a school-based instruction setting, not only should cultural values be learned and accepted, but other strategies should be employed as well. It is important to encourage these students to remain diligent in their learning and work, remain positive, provide examples and demonstrations through modeled behavior or even the correct way to achieve a task, be sure to “provoke thinking” by asking questions and engaging the student in thought or problem-solving, as well as provide clear directions (NAEYC, n.d, p.1). Also, “providing opportunities to incorporate keen observation skills with adult-directed teaching may optimize school success for some students” (Farrar & Montgomery, 2015, p. 7.2)
Farrar, M. J. & Montgomery, D. (2015). Cognitive development of children: Research and application [Electronic version]. Retrieved from https://content.ashford.edu
Han, H., & Thomas, M. (2010). No Child Misunderstood: Enhancing Early Childhood Teachers’ Multicultural Responsiveness to the Social Competence of Diverse Children. Early Childhood Education Journal, 37(6), 469-476. doi:10.1007/s10643-009-0369-1
National Association for the Education of Young Children. (n.d). 10 effective DAP Teaching Strategies. Retrieved from http://www.naeyc.org/dap/10-effective-dap-teaching…