Problem Solving With Others

The skills needed to solve problems are learned just like academic skills – they don’t develop on their own or overnight

One girl hands a teddy bear to another girl who is seated in a preschool classroom

At a Glance

Preschool children are still learning how to effectively resolve disagreements. To do so, they need to take the perspective of another person and understand how their actions impact others. For example, a child is not likely to think about how taking a toy from another child would make that child mad or sad, which stands in the way of finding a safe, fair solution. You can empower children to learn to solve their own problems by helping them to identify the problem, take another child’s perspective, and implement a solution when issues arise.

What It Looks Like

A quick glance at how you can help preschoolers develop their problem-solving skills

Practice Solving Problems

Encouraging children to think about and practice problem solving can prepare them to come up with solutions in the moment.

Problem Solving During Center Time

Promote children’s problem solving skills by having them think and talk about the issue. Then work with them as they explore and agree on a resolution.

Use Solutions Cards

Using solution cards prompts children to find and accept solutions. Supports like this work to build children’s ability to problem solve.

Child pointing at problem solving cards


Teach, Model, Support

Young children are still learning how to socialize, collaborate, and negotiate with others. With our support, children can learn these valuable skills and work together to find solutions as challenges arise. Learn key strategies you can use to teach social problem solving in advance and support it in the moment.


The Power of Play

A brief video from the Harvard Center on the Developing Child explores how play in early childhood can reduce stress (including trauma-related stress) and scaffold problem solving.


Families as a Resource

In this article from the Center for Responsive Schools, Carol Davis shares how educators can have conversations with families about problems that occur in the classroom.


Considering Culture

In this NAEYC webinar, Dr. Isik-Ercan offers transformative yet practical tips educators can use to understand children’s cultural backgrounds and to support children as they encounter and solve social problems.


Share and Take Turns

Written by Cheri J. Meiners, this book provides many opportunities to talk and think about social situations that young children may encounter in the classroom, such as sharing toys or taking turns.

Book page showing children playing and sharing

Activity Cards for Preschool Classrooms

Part of the STREAMin3 curriculum, these activity cards provide simple and fun ways you can prompt children to collaborate and solve problems together
Solve a Problem Activity Card

Solve A Problem

Create typical social scenarios that children can use to brainstorm solutions.

Partner Talk Card

Partner Talk

Invite children to turn to a peer and ask them something about their life.

Dance Party Card

Dance Party

You and children will work together to create a new dance.

People Sort Card

People Sort!

Challenge children to sort themselves by patterns or colors on their clothing.


Get Our Resource Guide

Includes questions and activities to guide your use of the videos, book suggestions, and activity cards featured for each of the Core Skills