Odyssey of the Mind is a hands-on program for kids where only the 7 minds of the team can work on the long term solution. The basic premise is when the team members solve the problem 100% by themselves, they learn to solve challenges within their capabilities, be resourceful, and they develop a tremendous amount of self-confidence. While well-meaning, outside assistance subtly tells kids they are not capable of doing it themselves. When the Team’s solution is the Team’s idea, their design, their work, their performance, and their score, they are more likely to develop 21st century skills to help them be successful now and in the future - and much more likely to develop confidence and a sense of pride in their own work. Remember, in the end, the Team is responsible for what they do, not the coach, parents, or people outside the team.
Parents and Outside Assistance
It’s important for parents to understand the value in letting teams solve the problem on their own. Offering ideas or providing solutions does not teach the team to be able to do this on their own. Asking facilitating questions does. Parents will take greater joy in watching their child grow in their problem-solving skills rather than providing the answer for them. When adults tell the kids the solution, it is sending a subtle message that they cannot figure it out for themselves. Remember, one of the goals of Odyssey of the Mind is to teach kids creativity and problem-solving skills. As adults, you will be amazed at the end of the season at what the kids will be able to do own their own!
What Parents Need To Know About Outside Assistance
Of course you mean well, but providing ideas, making suggestions, and even applying make-up or fixing costumes are all considered Outside Assistance...and the team will receive a penalty. As parents, we all want the best for our kids...and sometimes that means letting them figure it out on their own so the next time, they will have the confidence to solve it themselves. The kids will figure it out, even if it is not the way adults would do it. More often than not, their ideas are much more creative and unconventional!
A Word About Safety & Outside Assistance
We never want a child's safety compromised due to wanting to use the same power tools as Mom or Dad. However, kids will often see what adults can do, such as using power tools, and will want their Mom or Dad to use the power tools for them. Keep in mind this constitutes Outside Assistance, and the team will likely receive a penalty. So what is a parent or coach to do? The key is asking the right questions, such as, “What other materials can you use? How else can you build it?” to help them learn to be resourceful within their abilities.