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Approaches to Learning Domain

Approaches to Learning Domain (AL)

Children are born with an inclination to learn and to figure things out, but each child approaches learning in his or her own way. The Approaches to Learning domain addresses how children learn and includes children’s attitudes toward and interest in learning.It reflects behaviors and attitudes such as curiosity, problem-solving, maintaining attention,and persistence. These are general characteristics that children display as they learn in all domains and curriculum areas.

For infants and toddlers, their approach to learning begins with their openness and interest in the world around them. They learn through their senses, tasting, touching, smelling, listening, and looking at anything and everything in their environment. They also learn through moving their body as they try new actions and see how they can impact the world around them when they do something with objects. When adults support their efforts, and children feel safe and secure, they are more willing to try new things and take risks. When responsive adults encourage exploration in a stimulating environment, young children have the emotional security necessary for exploring, growing, and learning.

As children move into the preschool years, they begin to establish learning behaviors that are more obviously tied to later school success. They become more confident in their ability to learn and through play, enjoy exploring how the world works. This is also a time when children develop some specific areas of interest and learn different strategies to find out more about those interests. Typically, they are able to concentrate for longer periods of time and are likely to persist towards completion of tasks even after encountering obstacles.

Adults can support children in developing positive approaches toward learning by setting up safe environments that offer a variety of interesting materials that children can explore freely. Time to play, explore, and experiment is essential. Adults who encourage children’s creativity and risk taking help children develop positive attitudes and behaviors that guide their approach to learning. With guidance, technology and interactive media can also provide opportunities for children to try out creative solutions to problems, ask questions, find information about new topics, and draw or create. Teachers and caregivers can encourage children to be curious, express creativity, solve problems and take risks during every part of the day, inside as well as outside of the classroom.

It is important for teachers of young children to recognize that children vary in their learning styles and in how they express their approach to learning. For example, some children show great enthusiasm for trying new things, while others are more content to sit back and watch. These differences may be the result of the child’s temperament, cultural differences in how families encourage children to interact with the environment, and/or disabilities that may affect how children take in information. Teachers and caregivers must be attuned to these differences and provide support and guidance to children as they need it. The Early Learning Guidelines included in this domain describe important aspects of approaches to learning that early childhood educators should seek to foster as they work with young children while also respecting each child’s individual approach to learning.

Approaches to Learning (AL) Domain

Component: Curiosity, Information-Seeking, and Eagerness

Goal AL-1: Children demonstrate curiosity and eagerness and express interest in the world around them.

Goal AL-2: Children actively seek to understand the world around them in play and everyday tasks.

Component: Initiative, Effort, Engagement, and Persistence

Goal AL-3: Children demonstrate initiative and effort in play and everyday tasks.

Goal AL-4: Children are engaged and maintain focus in play and everyday tasks.

Goal AL-5: Children persist at challenging activities in play and everyday tasks.

Component: Risk-Taking, Problem-Solving, Flexibility, and Resiliency

Goal AL-6: Children are willing to try new and challenging experiences in play and everyday tasks.

Goal AL-7: Children use a variety of strategies to solve problems in play and everyday tasks.

Component: Play and Imagination

Goal AL-8: Children engage in increasingly complex play.

Goal AL-9: Children demonstrate creativity, imagination, and inventiveness in play and everyday tasks.


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