The toddlers interact freely with Contents and Containers, which is an open-ended curriculum using commonly available materials including plastic containers of various sizes, colors, etc. Findings from this video, indicated that toddlers’ problem-solving included a range of behaviors such as exploration, repetition, experimentation and finding solutions through strategies such as trial and error and means-ends analysis. There were also themes that emerged from this video about problem solving including intentionality, competence, curiosity, perseverance, and reciprocal interaction between play and skills.
As toddlers develop teacher, socially, and emotionally, they are also making big strides in their ability to think and solve problems as well as communicate with those around them. Toddlers’ inborn thirst to understand things and propensity to solve problems can easily be observed during play, which is their way to find out about and explore their world. Children naturally explore the world around them and experiment with objects they encounter with their eyes, ears, noses, mouths, and hands in order to make sense of and organize their world. Toddlers wonder what things are called, how they work, and why things happen.
Problem solving is an important skill that develops in a variety of ways early in life. Toddlers have an innate desire to explore their worlds, and during their exploration, they often encounter many ways that could help them in their quest for knowledge and skills. Toddlers’ problem solving skills and competence develop through actively engaging in experiences, and they need the opportunity to solve the problems they encounter on their own. For example, if a toddler is trying to open a container or is trying to put a lid on it and the adult intervenes in the child’s struggle to accomplish his/her goal, the adult deprives the toddler of a valuable opportunity to figure the solution out on his/her own.
By so doing, the adult reinforces the toddler’s perception that adults are all-powerful and magical and may gradually lead him/her to rely on adults to solve problems instead of doing it him/herself (Santrock, 2011). The adult, therefore, needs to believe in toddlers’ capabilities and allow them to experience frustration as they attempt and fail and attempt again to open the jar or put the lid on it. Through repeated attempts and no interference from adults, the 3 toddlers will surprise the adults and show them that they are indeed capable of more than what the adults expects.