Early Childhood Education Journal

, Volume 46, Issue 3, pp 313–322 | Cite as

Solution Stories: A Narrative Study of How Teachers Support Children’s Problem Solving

  • Laura Kelley


Young children’s self-regulation and problem-solving skills are significant predictors of school success. While early childhood educators shape the development of these skills, providing effective and timely assistance can be challenging. Drawing on complementary theories of Vygotsky, Pekrun, and Lerner, this article chronicles the instructional approaches and strategies employed by one team of teachers to support preschool children’s solutions to complex functional and social problems in the classroom. Findings from this narrative study highlight the focal teachers’ use of modeling, mindful language, and other proactive strategies to develop students’ problem-solving skills and foster independence. In an age of results-focused education, this article argues for the importance of cultivating intentional teacher pedagogies that build young children’s autonomy and efficacy by working through problems, as opposed to seeking resolution only. In so doing, this study elucidates the value of these intuitive and often nuanced aspects of early childhood educators’ classroom practices.


Preschool Problem solving Early childhood educators Decision making Language Narrative 



This study was supported by the 2014–2015 Arlitt Center Best Practices in Early Childhood Education Research Grant.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The author declares that she has no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of CincinnatiCincinnatiUSA

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