As children grow, they quickly discover that not all problems have straightforward solutions. Whether they need to find the best solution for a project in an academic setting or navigate a situation in their personal lives, creative problem-solving (CPS) skills can help prepare kids to take on challenges that require thinking outside the box.
Read below to learn why helping children cultivate CPS skills at a young age can prove beneficial, both now and long into the future.
Mental Health Benefits
In addition to causing the school closures and inconsistent access to education and extracurricular activities that have led to learning losses, the COVID-19 pandemic has proven detrimental to children’s mental health across the country. Lacking the ability to easily socialize in person with their friends, many parents and educators have reported that the students in their lives are struggling with bouts of sadness and depression.
Research has shown that teaching a child CPS skills can improve their mental health by showing them how to overcome problems that might at first seem insurmountable. For example, if your child is upset and overwhelmed because they miss interacting with their friends, consider helping them to first identify the problem and then brainstorm solutions. Are there ways to spend time together virtually? Has your child ever considered writing a letter to their friends? Is there an activity or common goal that would allow their friends to team up and work together?
Exploring many different solutions to a problem helps children realize that they have more agency than they might have thought. It can also lead them to better express issues that might be troubling them.
CPS can help equip children for a future in which employees across industries will be expected to develop solutions to problems that do not yet exist. They will need to reach beyond simply having the latest technology, software or even specialized knowledge to apply these tools in a way that prioritizes discovering effective solutions. In other words, they will need to apply CPS skills to embrace the unknown and reframe nerve-wracking uncertainty as an opportunity for growth.
Especially when used in a group context, CPS can create positive experiences by encouraging input from an entire team. Instead of worrying about personal concerns like who deserves credit for a particular idea, the solution to problems instead becomes the product of collaboration.
This shift in mindset is one that some of the world’s most innovative and successful companies use to innovate. Here at the National Inventors Hall of Fame® (NIHF), we know that just because a current solution or process works right now, that does not mean it can’t be improved or simplified. That’s why CPS is a crucial component of NIHF education programs.
CPS and the Innovation Mindset
In collaboration with our NIHF Inductees, individuals whose inventions have made significant contributions to society, we have identified nine essential skills and traits that unlock creative potential. We call this the Innovation Mindset, and it guides the development of all our education programs.
CPS is an important part of the Innovation Mindset because it encourages children to use critical and creative thinking to develop innovative solutions. Early experience with CPS prepares children to take on both everyday problems and complex challenges with confidence.
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