The Brain Academia

  • (65) 63030505

Tackling Issues In Step-by-Step Problem Solving In Childhood

Tackling Issues In Step-by-Step Problem Solving In Childhood

Solving problems step-by-step is made possible with sequential reasoning, which allows children to see the big picture and compartmentalise a complex task into smaller ones or lay out a sequence of steps to solve it. In other words, it is our capacity to perform activities in order, which requires a good understanding of the procedures in the first place and recognising whether or not we are on track in our efforts. Besides the usual applications where sequential reasoning is needed, like Mathematics, it is also required in other areas, such as social interactions and storytelling or narrative coherence. If a child has trouble with sequential reasoning, they usually have social or academic difficulties as well.

Signs that indicate problems with sequential reasoning

There are several symptoms that point to issues with sequential reasoning among children, some of which include:

  • Difficulty in following step-by-step directions

Children may get frustrated when asked to do a series of actions without frequent prompts or a visual checklist, making them “seem lost” in many situations and fail to follow instructions or finish their work at school.

  • Not following the proper steps in Math problems

Without good sequential reasoning, a child will likely omit to show their work in multiple-step Math problems.

  • Not getting started

Due to a lack of comprehension about how to do things in a logical order, the child may be unorganised and frequently fail to start their homework and assignments due to being unsure of how to go about them.

Tips to resolve sequential reasoning issues in children

1. Model and teach strategies

Learning strategies are essential to addressing poor sequencing skills. Children who struggle with planning and organising the steps in solving problems generally need explicit teaching in the use of strategies. Parents and teachers can outline the steps to a task on paper or a whiteboard which are then checked off as the child completes each step. A direct approach like this goes a long way in helping children develop their sequential reasoning skills.

2. Chunk assignments

Parents can help their child become more organised by dividing assignments into smaller achievable tasks. For instance, an essay can be broken down into parts, starting with choosing a topic, writing an outline, making the first paragraph, and so on. This method teaches children how to sequence the steps towards completing a task or assignment and longer projects.

3. “First-Then” method

The First-Then method typically uses a board to exhibit expected behaviours and routines, showing the first step and subsequent steps to a task with a reward for every step completed. The “First” activity is generally something the child finds undesirable (completing a math page), while the “Then” part is something they like (playing with their toys). Outlining the order of activities teaches children the optimal way of prioritising tasks by doing the most important things first.


Sequential reasoning plays a key role in a child’s learning journey as well as their everyday life outside of school. If you are concerned your little one may have problems with their sequential processing, enrolling them in cognitive brain training in Singapore is one of the best solutions to consider.

At The Brain Academia Singapore, we are dedicated to helping your child realise their full potential by overcoming the brain-related roadblocks that stand in their way. Whether it be our Math, English, or reading enrichment program, you can rest assured that your child’s learning and social skills will be greatly enhanced through our fun and proven cognitive training programs. Check out our article on the importance of brain training for kids for more information!

If you would like to learn more about our services, teams, and ways in which we can assist your child’s learning development, simply fill up this contact form to get in touch with us today.