In early childhood, we understand that children develop as a whole within the context of their families and communities. But we also understand that the development of skills are grouped into domains of development. These commonly understood domains of development are used by states, territories, and Head Start to create early learning standards which are the statements that tell providers what children should know and be able to do. These domains are:

  1. Approaches to Learning
  2. Language and Literacy
  3. Social and Emotional
  4. Cognitive – including mathematics, science, and social systems understanding
  5. Creativity and the Arts
  6. Physical Health and Development

In the next few weeks, the Early Learning Success Blog will focus on looking at the developmental domains in-depth.  This information comes from the Early Learning Success Curriculum Manual.

The first domain we will look at is the Approaches to Learning Domain. Early Learning Success Curriculum Manual, pages 42-43

When educators talk about approaches to learning, they are referring to the attitudes, behaviors and learning styles children and adults use in social situations, acquiring knowledge, processing information, and being flexible and resilient when  confronted  with change or conflict.  A child’s ‘approach to learning’ impacts all areas of learning and social interaction. 

Approaches to Learning also encompasses the development of positive attitudes and dispositions.   These attitudes and dispositions contribute to each person’s success in life. Temperament often plays a role in how children ‘approach’ people, experiences and learning.

Some States have a specific developmental domain called Approaches to Learning, while other States integrate these learning standards into the other developmental domains.

Common components within this area of development used by the Early Learning Success curriculum include: 

  • Interest in learning including curiosity and risk taking – how children approach new learning
  • Learning strategies such as imagination, invention and persistence – how children apply new learning
  • Reflective learning practices such as reflection and interpretation – how children assimilate new learning into already acquired learning

Each State has early learning standards which are written to further describe the knowledge and skill expected for each component. These specific standards should be used to develop child-specific goals.

A child’s inborn approach to learning not only impacts their cognitive school learning, but their social and emotional development.  Their approach to how they learn and respond to new situations needs to be taken into consideration in every learning opportunity and daily experience.  Knowing how children will respond or react to different situations helps educators/providers know the appropriate support to give. 

In Practice

Questions to ask about children:

  • Are they curious about the world around them?
  • Do they want to discover and learn about new things?
  • Do they use their imaginations to play make-believe?
  • Do they use a variety of strategies to solve problems?
  • Are they able to complete tasks and stay engaged in an experience?

How is positive development fostered in this domain?

  • Encourage an interest and excitement in discovery and exploration
  • Share activities where children and adults learn new things together
  • Provide opportunities and materials for children to make choices
  • Build upon children’s ideas and interests
  • Model curiosity and excitement for learning

Nurturing the child’s natural curiosity, imagination and interpretation greatly enhances their ability to get along with others, problem solve, and understand their world!