19 Oct 10 ways to encourage resourcefulness in kids
Resourcefulness is a highly desirable attribute, not just in education but in our careers and life, in general. It is certainly a trait that can be developed at home in children and will stand them in good stead moving forward.
resourceful – adjective – having the ability to find quick and clever ways to overcome difficulties.
Resourceful people are just that; full of resources or tools for coming up with solutions. Resourceful people adapt to novel or challenging situations and they are often able to think creatively.
How to encourage resourcefulness in kids
It’s a great idea to encourage children to become more resourceful and to overcome the challenges they face. We’ve compiled 10 ways in which you can encourage children to be more resourceful in everyday life.
Use different methods to find the answer
Most problems have several possible solutions or at least different ways of reaching the right answer. If a child has found a solution to a problem in a roundabout way, that says a lot about their thought patterns. This isn’t to be discouraged! Sometimes it’s those folk who think differently or find a novel thought process that solve the most challenging of problems.
If there’s only ever one way of finding a solution, we become blinkered to alternative methods or become too tunnel-visioned. We then don’t automatically tend to think of novel solutions. Of course, when it comes to school work and subjects like maths, it’s important to get to the right solution quickly, especially in timed exams so there is merit in finding efficient solutions.
Try puzzles and lateral thinking games
Sometimes schoolwork can feel like following a series of processes within a set framework. It might be the case that schoolwork doesn’t really require or promote resourceful thought. If this is the case, you might want to look at other exercises or ways of play that do require a different type of thinking or problem-solving.
A Rubik’s cube seems completely impossible to solve until you learn and remember the methods required to solve it.
Try some riddles or brain teasers; they’re usually all about looking beyond the obvious and thinking outside the box.
Leave them to work it out
Children are naturally inquisitive and creative. As educators, our aim should be to provide the minimum information and guidance possible that a student needs to complete their task. Leaving them to get on with their work may mean they take longer to complete it, but they’ll learn to work hard to complete tasks on their own and work out ways of solving problems.
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Ask questions to lead them to the answer
If you are required to step in and help, see if you can ask the right questions to guide a child to the right answer or at least get them on the right track. Sometimes getting a child to rephrase or reframe a question might help them overcome an initial blocker.
It’s important to avoid just taking over; giving away all the answers might only teach them to ask for your help each time they need it!
Introduce them to other resources
An important element of resourcefulness is knowing how or where to look for a solution. Helping children to use a dictionary, thesaurus, encyclopedia or Google search is a great way to give them the tools to learn more. No one is expected to know the answer to everything but it’s almost always possible to find the answer!
By doing this, they begin to understand how to get the information they want, without depending on you for it. Over time, this independence will build up within them and their resourcefulness will develop too.
There are a plethora of apps, games and websites that are designed to help children solve problems and embrace their passions independently. Search for educational apps or puzzle games for kids and see if there’s anything you find that might suit them.
In encouraging children to use these platforms and software, you encourage children to understand that they have access to other resources and not just you!
Remember it’s a mindset
We often think of resources as physical things but resourcefulness is primarily a mindset.
Cultivate a can-do attitude whereby even if they cannot see the solution immediately, they back themselves to find it and work out the first steps to completing a task. Seeing a challenge as a hurdle rather than a dead-end is a big part of this attitude.
Even with the greatest mind, if you aren’t looking for the solution or believe you can find it, you won’t!
Reflect on success and failures
Making mistakes is a valuable part of the learning process and failures when trying something new are an inevitability. When trying to be resourceful in the face of challenges, it’s important to be able to learn from both our successes and failures. From both of these, we can work out how better to approach problems next time.
Appreciating that not everything goes to plan all of the time means that we’re less fazed when that happens. We know that we simply must look for the next solution. Building this process of reflection will become a habit and this kind of feedback loop will become hardcoded in a child as they grow up.
Ask them for their help and suggestions
Children are generally the ones that ask a lot of questions, and that’s great! But why not turn the tables and ask their thought and opinions? “What is the quickest way to get to the shops?”, “Where should we walk the dog today?” , “What fruit shall we go and buy?”. If they don’t know, simply ask them how they can find out.
Little questions like these help children come up with novel solutions and get them involved in real-life problem-solving. Start with small and simple matters and work on to more complex issues.
Resourcefulness in practice
It’s great fun to test out our resourcefulness in a real-life context. A great example of this might be to go camping or exploring a new town or city. Planning routes, clothes and meals requires a number of skills. Putting yourself in a new environment and even getting lost will really push them to their limits and force them to find their resourceful side.
Embrace any challenges or detours along the way because these are the very things that require resourcefulness.
Resourcefulness is a key part of life, and should definitely be encouraged! Children are always going to be curious, they are always going to meet with issues and they are always going to need you. However, in being taught how to overcome difficulties, they are being taught a vital skill for life.