Critical Competencies for Infant-Toddler Educators™ Online Module C-4: Supporting Reasoning and Problem Solving
Reasoning and problem solving are learned skills whose roots begin in infancy as babies learn how and why their own actions cause a response in the environment around them. As development proceeds, older infants can begin to solve simple problems such as fitting a shape into a sorter toy with the help of a trusted adult who provides assistance and models effective strategies to get the right shape into the right hole. As toddlers’ emerging language skills begin to blossom, promoting the use of words to resolve problems and helping toddlers reflect on how and why these solutions were effective become important teaching skills. Sometimes this means modeling words for toddlers while also providing some physical and emotional supports in the heat of the moment. Problem solving is also supported when caregivers scaffold children through challenging tasks with encouragement and assistance that elevates children’s abilities to a new level as they successfully solve the problem—first with a caregiver’s assistance and then independently as children develop these skills through practice, support, and modeling provided by the caregiver and more mature peers.