In School: Semi-Structured Problem Solving Interactions

Semi-structured problem solving involves a shared agenda, where the caregiver can teach a child something new by setting up challenges for the child to solve.

The challenges can be structured learning activities that are meaningful and relevant to the child's experiences, or they can be spontaneous challenges, such as when the child has to solve a problem or confront something different in his environment to get something he desires.

The caregiver can create a new problem-solving challenge whenever it becomes evident the child may want something. Because problem-solving interactions involve creating challenges that motivate a child, semistructured problem solving is similar to following the child's lead, which builds on child's interests and motivations. In problem-solving interactions, however, the caregiver helps to create these interests and motivations.

The amount of time spent on semi-structured problem solving will vary depending on the developmental level of the child, how purposeful he is, and specific areas of need, such as the need to increase gestural communication, language and concepts, or motor planning.

Semi-structured problem-solving interactions may occur from 3 to 6 times a day, for 15 minutes or more each times. Those children requiring more semistructure may have as many as five to eight sessions a day.

Problem solving interactions can occur during daily routines, with enough time allowed for extended interactions.

For children who are unable to imitate, more structured learning and behavioral approaches (such as TEACCH, Discrete Trial. and special educations) can be implemented to teach imitation, motor planning, and problem-solving patterns. Once a child can imitate and problem solve, dynamic challenges should be used to teach new skills.