Resourcefulness is a skill that's necessary for success in life. While your child doesn't need to prepare business plans or plan corporate takeovers yet, start now to help him develop the problem-solving skills and creative thinking he'll need to become a resourceful adult.
Recycling is a resourceful way to help the environment, and you can turn it into a special activity for you and your child. Throughout the day, separate the garbage from the recycling as you go about your cooking and cleaning activities and set aside the recycling in a single bag or box. When your activity time arrives, bring out the recycling boxes and help your child separate the bag full of items to be recycled. Talk about how materials are separated and the different objects the recycled materials are used for later. For example, plastic can be used to make fleece fabric and molded furniture and aluminum cans are often recycled to make new cans.
Teach your child how to transform old things into new, and have some fun while you do it with some "upcycling" crafts. You can help your child turn a plain, old T-shirt into a colorful fashion staple by decorating it with fabric paint, iron or glue-on decals and decorative trims such as ribbon, lace and satin bows. Turn old coffee grounds into fossils for a dinosaur dig in the sand. Turn old CDs into new coasters, margarine tubs into coin banks or musical shakers, old tins into pencil holders or old magazines into an upcycled handbag. Show him how to make a variety of gifts for family and friends, such as baby food jars, decorated and filled with candies for Valentine's Day, or a woven Easter basket, made from painted strips of cardboard and filled with a homemade batch of cookies or chocolates.
Whether it is a school math problem or conflicting extracurricular activities, teaching your child to use effective problem-solving will teach her to become as resourceful as possible. You can pose hypothetical scenarios and work together to find a solution. For example, ask, “What would you do if you wanted to enroll in dance class and karate class, but the time schedule for the two classes overlap?” You can also work on figuring out the best answers to real problems. For example, “Grandma is coming in this weekend to visit you from out of town, but you are supposed to be sleeping over at a friend’s house all weekend. What should you do?” Solutions include, delaying the sleepover for an evening or coming home a night early, or visiting friends during the day and spending the evenings at home with family. You are teaching your child to take a look at all the options available to her and choose the best possible solution from those options.
Read All About It
To teach your child to be resourceful, look to others as an example, and few places are better to look than storybooks of her favorite characters. Read about how others used problem solving skills and found solutions to fairy tale problems. When the two of you are finished reading, take a few moments to discuss the plot, the problem that the character faced and whether your child feels the character used his skills to find the best solution. Talk about what other solutions to the problem might have been. You can reinforce the message in the story by acting it out during creative play or making paper plate crafts of each character for puppet play as well.
- Smart Parenting: How to Raise Happy, Can-Do Kids; Dr. Brad Smart, et al.
- The Values Book: Teaching 16 Basic Values to Young Children; Pam Schiller, et al.