Monday, September 08, 2008

Problem solving my way into a penthouse.

Even though I am not using what I learned in college in an office setting, I do use my degrees in education nearly everyday. One of the things I do with my children is problem solve out loud.

Essentially, I talk to myself. Out loud. A lot.

However, my college textbooks call it critical thinking and offer many problem-solving models.

One example of this general problem-solving model is Bransford's IDEAL model:
1) Identify the problem
2) Define the problem through thinking about it
3) Explore solutions through looking at alternatives, brainstorming
4) Act on the strategies
5) Look back and evaluate the effects

Yesterday at the grocery store, my minivan would not start. I jiggled the steering wheel and pushed my keys in, "My car won't start." I identified the problem out loud.

I jiggled the steering wheel with a little more force and tried turning the keys in both directions, "It just won't start. I have enough gas and the oil has been changed and it just won't let me start." I defined the problem out loud and now had three curious little people giving me their undivided attention. They live for my chaos and problem solving situations. They LOVE it.

Again, I jiggled the steering wheel and turned around to face them, "I could call Daddy at work, but he is far from here and that would waste a lot of time." I started to explore my solutions. "You could buy a new car!!! A hot pink minivan." Exclaimed Lola. "Or. We can call a taxi." The more reasonable Jay chimed in.

"Yes, those are all good solutions but both would involve spending money. I am going to look for a grocery store worker in a uniform and ask him for help." And so, I grabbed all three kiddos and walked back into the grocery store to look for some help.

I acted on one of the solutions. After locating a man in uniform I described our problem. The man walked back with us and with one jiggle of the wheel he had the minivan purring and did not even comment on the state of the van. He was a good man.

"That was good problem solving, Mama." Jay determined when he looked back on our situation.

You might be thinking to yourself, "OHmommy, you are crazy. You seriously do not talk like that." And I tell you, I do. I do. All. The. Time. The word PROBLEM SOLVING is one of the most common used words in our house. I believe that problem solving and critical thinking are important skills to teach even our youngest children.

"What's the problem, Babcia?" Lola asked my mother when they were swimming in the pool over the summer. "I can try and help you solve it." My mother still laughs at the image of tiny Lola swimming over to her in the pool to lend a hand.

One of the problems we had on our vacation in Europe was that our hotel room in Warsaw, Poland was too small for a family of five. We had the same hotel room booked for the first and last night of our vacation. While standing in line to be checked in, on our last night, I turned to the kids and admitted that the room was just too small for us. There was no way we would all sleep soundly in a tiny room again. I even blogged about it from Warsaw with an awake Fifi in my lap at 2am. After defining the problem and discussing solutions it was my turn to act...

"Dzien Dobry (pronounced: 'jean' and 'dough' plus 'bree' like the cheese). Our family is rather large and the rooms upstairs are rather small. Are there any bigger rooms available tonight? We have a 6am flight and would like to rest comfortably tonight." I told Jakub the hotel concierge on duty. Jay and Lola were by my side anxiously awaiting the verdict.

"Yes. Of course." Jakub handed over the keys to the penthouse.

I thanked him, took the keys, knelt down to face my children and whispered, "I solved the problem with my words. We got the biggest room on the highest floor. It is where presidents stay and stars like Hannah Montana too." The kids were jumping, laughing, and clapping their hands.

"Bravo! Bravo." Fifi unaware of what happened chimed in by clapping her hands.

The kids eagerly ran down the hall of the highest hotel floor and raced into our room. The view ...




"We are on top of the world Mama. You can see the whole entire world." Jay peered out of the window in amazement.

"You solved the problem!" Lola squealed with delight. "Yes, yes I did." I admitted while throwing on a plush robe and diving into the delicious down comforter. I was on top of the world.

Not only do I model the important skill of critical thinking by problem solving out loud with my children, I also get to enjoy their comical solutions and responses. Those are the things that put me on top of the world. Besides, I have the rest of my life to use my degrees.

53classy comments:

enthalpymama said...

Very nice problem solving! The engineering side of my brain is very proud of you. Of course, you've got to love a penthouse too!

Angie @ KEEP BELIEVING said...

You sound like a Sesame Street episode, too. They encourage problem solving. Or at least the 70's version I used to watch did.

Also, I am surprised Jay didn't suggest an ambulance as an option for the mini van problem!

KEEP BELIEVING

Marketing Mama said...

I think I just learned a few things from you - thanks for sharing this! My 3 year old is the perfect age to learn about solving problems! Did you have to pay extra for the penthouse? :)

DYSFUNCTIONAL MOM said...

You problem solved your way right into the penthouse suite! Works for me!

beth said...

Nice job, especially on the penthouse!

Our problem solving approach comes from Dora the Explorer- Let's Stop and Think! Much less glamorous and professional than your approach...

chris said...

That's great! And talking out loud is not that weird... I think that's a great way for kids to learn how to think things through.

Kathryn said...

I'm learning so much from you, OHMommy! Maybe I'll problem solve my way into a penthouse someday too! :)

Rhea said...

I like your style of solving problems, OHmommy! You rock! And you're teaching your children such a nice logical way to deal with problems. And, that's our job, to give our children the best tools we can so they can take on the world on their own eventually. Way to go!

Rach (Mommy Learns to Blog) said...

Teaching problem solving skills early on is so important. I can practically hear your little ones chiming in with suggestions and being so proud of finding a solution.

Great job on getting that Penthouse, and the opportunity for some fantastic photos (as always!).

Zoeyjane said...

I am so jumping on board with that. I think maybe I dropped out of psych courses just a bit too early to have learned and critical thinking methods! That seems like an amazing thing to instill.

LaskiGal said...

But you are using your degrees. Clearly, every single second. And, in the best situation ever. With your own children.

I talk out loud all the time. But, I'm not so sure I say anything all that intelligent. And, now, because of J, I say nearly everything in an Elmo voice.

I love the look at people in the store when I start going over my list in Sesame Street character voices. Priceless . . .

Marmarbug said...

Now that? Is awesome! Way to go momma!

Rachel said...

Brilliant darling :-)
I'm so glad to know that I am not the only one who does this :-)

XOXO Hope you have a wonderful bootcamp workout today!!

Mr Lady said...

How's about you problem solve yourself into a Vancouver vacation? Please?

Awesome, and good for you. I totally do that with my kids all the time, too.

Traceytreasure said...

You SO deserve to be on top of the world!!
Good job!!
Your kids are very lucky to have such a wonderful and smart Mama!!

Hugs!!
:)

Jessica said...

I love it! I usually sound like such a dork when I am talking to my boys like they are adults...and reasonable people. You have at least given me hope that they are soaking it up...and possibly learning from it. Great pictures!!!

April said...

I love it when our education dollars are put to good use!

JCK said...

Teaching problem solving is brilliant. And you never know when you'll get a Penthouse unless you ask... What a great story. And those views, with the little faces....

carrie said...

Thank You.

People all the time ask me if I use my college education and my usual lame-o response is "well, I am a household *manager*." And then I just smile, because it makes me mad that people expect me to be out in the professional world - there is plenty of time for that later if that is what I chose to do!

Anyway, thank you for opening my eyes up to the fact that so much of what we do (degrees or not) is thought-out and executed with a high degree of planning. And it also never, ever hurts to ask for something. . . ever. I always do stuff like that!

Laura said...

Very nice! Thanks for sharing!

I am just getting caught up...You last few posts have, as always, been wonderful. Thank you. I so enjoy your blog! Cheers!

Rachel said...

That is an adorable story!!!1 I always love reading about your kids reactions.

And, I am SOOOO glad that Talking OUT Loud is a perfectly acceptable method of problem solving. My husband was beginning to worry about me. Now, do you know if it's ok to still daydream/pretend out loud (as a nearly 30 year old Mama)? I hope so!

Stephanie said...

I may need to talk out loud more it seems...Wow! That is a spectacular view!

Lisa said...

Can you travel with me so I can stay in the penthouse too?

Tiaras & Tantrums said...

love this - any ideas how I can use my bean counting degree on my kids? They DO NOT love numbers like I do!!

Crystal D said...

I love it. I am totally going to start problem solving out loud in front of the kids. I always make them work out their problems with me, but I never thought to let them see me do it like I am talking it out in my head. What a good post for today!!! Amelia is such a little copycat she is going to pick up on this by the end of the week. See, now I feel so productive. I may not be able to force this baby out of my body, but I can teach problem solving!!! LOL

Kel said...

Thats great that you are teaching the children 'real life' problem solving solutions rather than just book solutions. I think that is important to their development and I'm sure moments like the penthouse will stay in their minds as 'happy' solutions to their problems.
~K

Crystal D said...

PS - and those views from the Penthouse, what a great reward for such a good problem solver!!!

Nan Patience said...

You, young lady, are a chaotic superhero!

Krystyn said...

What a great story and great problem solving. I do this same thing all the time.

Nap Warden said...

Wow, you mean tantrums aren't the way to problem solve? Someone please tell my toddlers this...Oh wait, I guess I'm supposed to do that;)

The Mom said...

You are such an inspiration, I wish I had half the patience, wisdom, and class as you!

Stephanie said...

Well said, OhMommy. Love it!

renatamic said...

you really could have a children's program!! cheesy, yes! but, v. effective. btw - can we come visit you the weekend of sept 20? we just realized we have NOTHING giong on that weekend!!! YAY!

THopgood said...

You're such a good mama.

Jessica said...

Hhhmmm need to work on problem solving. Right now it is more along the lines of "MOM help me!" Lovely. Also, wanted you to know that your European trip has inspired me. Yesterday, I said to my husband with no lead in"OHMommy survived Paris with 3 kids and an ER visit! We only have 2 kids and you can bring #1 to the armory museum that I didn't want to go to last time :)" His response "Who is OHMommy?"

mommynotes said...

Great Problem solving! I would have freaked out because that is what I do sometimes when issues arise. Then I calm down and try to "problem solve".

Blessings From Above said...

I can just imagine confident 4 year old Lola swimming over to solve all your moms problems. And of course Lola is so confident...her mommy is a fabulous problem solver! :)

Glad things worked out with the penthouse. I have to admit, I kept thinking you were going to say you were on top of the world...until you received a ridiculously expensive bill in the mail.

LceeL said...

Well ... glad things worked out well, for you, and you didn't have to sell yourself into slavery or anything to get it fixed.

well done.

Amy said...

Girl, you've got mad problem solving skillz!

Allison Says said...

Way to go, OHmommy! No wonder your kids are so smart--the things you do with them are just great!

Kaci said...

Awwhh cute pictures!! So cute!

Karen said...

I love your problem solving skills. I'll have to remember to do that in a softspoken manner though. I usually do that very loudly.

WHY ISN'T THE CAR STARTING?! WHY WONT' MY KEYS GO IN?! DID SOMEBODY USE MY KEYS FOR SOMETHING THEY SHOULDN'T HAVE?!

See, not so good.

Elaine A. said...

I *heart* Jakub.

Problem solving at its best...

Tiaras & Tantrums said...

not sure if you do tags - but I've tagged you anyway!

Shauna said...

Hi!

Just stumbled onto your blog. Love it. Will be back.

Miss said...

You are so freakin smooth! When we travel together, I need you to use those skills!

Ashley said...

Man, you have mad problem solving skills. I do the same, but have never gotten an awesome room from it.

The Daily Stroll said...

What a great view! The problem solving method really worked in your favor! I admire you for teaching your kids this method! I try to do the same with Jonah! Maybe next time it will help me get the penthouse suite! :)

* TONYA * said...

Your problem solving was just fabulous.

I problem solve in a similar manner, in the shower and in the car I have such wonderful conversations out loud where I'm telling somebody off or if a situation is about to arise I pre-emptively go over the conversation out loud. I plan my shopping and plan lists.

Anglophile Football Fanatic said...

Wow. The penthouse. Very plush!

Lisa@verybusymomwith4 said...

Don't you love it when a complete stranger can turn a problem into a blessing :)

Glowstars said...

I am so taking you on holiday with me next time!

Shamelessly Sassy said...

You have such beautiful children. :)

 

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