Initiative and exploration is the cornerstone of future learning. Initiative and self-direction are critical to developing independence and decision making skills. As educators, we need to acknowledge and encourage children to follow their interests in order to support this learning. It is important to take advantage of teachable moments that occur every day. Children need to be given time to explore and discover, rather than be seated and “talked at.” With adult support, their self-confidence will flourish, and they will be prepared to initiate exploration, attempt new experiences, and engage with objects and people.
|Looking Ahead to Kindergarten||Family Engagement||Special Populations|
|Children who enter kindergarten demonstrating initiative and self-direction are:
*More confident in a new environment
|Encourage families to:
*Be flexible with plans, provide time for children to explore their interests, and provide choices when possible.
*Provide support and ensure that children have the necessary materials to demonstrate initiative (e.g. communication devices, materials that support individual children’s level of development, etc).
|Across all developmental stages, educators can:
*Ensure the environment is organized, inviting, and safe.
Create environments that support exploration and curiosity (i.e. limit the use of “baby containers” or equipment that restricts an infant’s movement such as bouncy seats, swings, etc.)
Engage infant in play and interaction with objects and peers (e.g. shaking a rattle in front of infant or building a tower together out of blocks)
Communicate with and guide infant through social interactions (e.g. "You are holding the ball in your hand. What are you going to do with it? Oh! You threw the ball. Where did it go?")
|Create environments that encourage children to interact with each other (i.e. collaborative play experiences across all interest areas)
Organize the environment so that desired materials are readily accessible to children on low open shelves (e.g. placing blocks, people & cars/trucks out for construction play)
|Recognize child’s interest and ask questions about the desired activity (e.g. child brings object to educator. Educator asks, “What would you like to do with that?”)
Organize the environment so that desired materials are readily accessible to children on low open shelves (e.g. art materials are available at the easel for use)
|Provide extended time for self-directed activities
Support active and creative exploration of materials in the environment (i.e. children and materials move freely in and out of interest areas)
Ask open-ended questions (i.e. “I wonder what…”, “Tell me about…”, “What do you notice?”)
|Encourage children to ask questions, to ask for additional materials or resources
Offer opportunities for children to plan their activities (e.g. put a clipboard in the block area so children can plan their construction)
Educators ask guiding questions to assist in a child’s plan (e.g. “I see you’re opening a store in the dramatic play area. What do you think you’ll need?”)