Observing children as they grow is one of life’s great joys. Supporting children as they grow is our most important responsibility. As children grow, they acquire skills in five general domains, or areas, of development:
- Approaches to Learning
- Social & Emotional Development
- Physical Development
- Language Development
- Cognitive Development (which includes math, science, and creative arts)
Development in one domain affects—and is affected by—development in other domains, so each one is equally important to the development of the whole child.
This month, let’s take a closer look at the Approaches to Learning Developmental Domain.
In order for children to become successful learners, they need to develop their natural abilities to cooperate, to be creative, to take initiative, to set goals, and to persevere to reach their goals. Children need lots of opportunities to practice and build upon these skills as they grow.
Here are some great ways for you to promote Approaches to Learning at home.
- Encourage your infant to explore objects and use them in new ways. For example, they may use a wooden spoon and a pot to make noise.
- Put toys or materials just out of reach of your infant. Observe as your infant sets a goal (reaching the toy) and perseveres to reach that goal.
- Place a toy under a container or blanket. Observe as your infant tries to find the toy.
- Encourage your child to explore areas of the house on their own. For example, if you are preparing dinner in the kitchen, put interesting toys in the living room and encourage them to play independently.
- Encourage your child to help you complete a task. For example, while folding laundry, give your child a towel so they can imitate your actions.
- Give your child play dough, crayons, or paint and ask what she or he would like to create. Observe as your child exercises his or her creativity and works to reach that goal.
- Provide your child with opportunities to choose from a few activities. Give positive feedback when they finish the activity without having to be reminded. For example, if they are able to choose a puzzle, put it together completely, and then put it back on the shelf.
- Provide your child with positive feedback when they choose not to give up on a difficult activity. For example, “I saw that you were frustrated when you were trying to zip your coat, but you didn’t give up.”
- Talk to your child about what they want to do before starting an activity. For example, when your child sits down with Legos, ask what they plan to build.
- Allow your child the opportunity to try and solve problems on their own. Encourage them to think about the problem and possible solutions in a different way.
- Talk to your child about a plan that has not worked. For example, if your child spilled a glass of water and tried cleaning it up with a napkin, ask, “Why do you think that didn’t work? What else could you use that might work better than a napkin?”
- Ask for your child’s cooperation to help make the household run smoothly. Responsibilities can include setting the table, cleaning up their bedroom, or putting away their laundry.
Here’s a great resource about how to support Approaches to Learning at home: https://www.naeyc.org/our-work/families/support-learning-with-play
Next month, we’ll explore Social-Emotional Development.