Approaches to Play and Learning Foundation: 1 - Initiative and Exploration

Topic: APL1.2 - Demonstrate interest and curiosity as a learner

Children are natural born scientists, wanting to know the how and why of our world.

The development of interest and curiosity as a learner leads to the ability to:
*Ask questions to gain or deepen understanding
*Identify one’s own strengths and preferences
*Approach learning and problem solving with a creative and critical lens

Looking Ahead to Kindergarten Family Engagement Special Populations
Developing interest and curiosity as a learner is critical in kindergarten. Children will be challenged with many new concepts across content areas, and maintaining interest and curiosity will lead to their success. This also leads to a student’s ability to demonstrate:

*Self-efficacy (SEL Competency 2C)
*An understanding of metacognition (SEL Competency 6A)
*A willingness to learn, especially when faced with challenges or following a failure (SEL Competency 7A)

Encourage families to:

*Observe, ask questions, and support a child in their exploration at home (e.g. “I see that you’re interested in dinosaurs. Do you want to learn more about that? Let’s go to the library and find a book about it!).
*Demonstrate curiosity alongside their child (e.g. Child: “Why don’t penguins need a coat? It’s so cold!” Parent: “Let’s look up how penguins stay warm!”).

Educators can:

*Provide support and ensure that children have the necessary materials to demonstrate their interests and curiosity (e.g. communication devices, materials that support individual children’s needs, etc.).
*Promote curiosity by providing accessible choices for children with varying abilities.
*For DLL, provide time for children to explore and interact with others while accepting the use of their native language.

Powerful Practices
Across all developmental stages, educators can:

*Provide time and space for children to pursue their interests (e.g. when the child sees an ant crawling along the sidewalk, support them in exploring, asking questions, and wondering).
*Provide a predictable environment including some stability in materials and organization (e.g. construction area is consistently available, but materials in the interest area change over time).
*Build positive relationships to develop trust in order for children to feel comfortable exploring.
*Engage in meaningful conversations and actively listen and respond to children.
*Encourage children to move freely and explore the environment.
*Intentionally plan opportunities for new experiences while providing support for individual child needs.
*Model enthusiasm for new experiences using body language, facial expression, and tone of voice.
*Encourage communication to build relationships with children and foster their inquisitive nature.
*Make connections between children's interests and current and past experiences.
*Minimize transitions and interruptions.

Infant

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.)

Model and describe how to engage with objects and materials

Recognize and value repetition in actions as learning (e.g. fill and dump, dropping spoon)

Encourage persistence and scaffold play (e.g. “You are trying to fit the square into the shape sorter. Turn, turn, turn. There you go! You got it!”)

Younger Toddler
Expand on and value child initiated actions or vocalizations by modeling a variety of words and actions (e.g. child brings educator a rock. Educator says, “You brought me a rock. Look! I’m feeling it and it is hard and bumpy. Would you like to feel it?”)

Provide organized, consistent environment that includes a variety of materials (e.g. rotate materials or add new materials to spark interest)

Older Toddler
Expand on and value child initiated actions or verbalizations by modeling a variety of words and actions (e.g. Child brings educator a rock and says “Rock!”. Educator says, “Yes! You brought me a rock. Look! I’m feeling it and it is hard and bumpy. Would you like to feel it?”)

Understand the importance of and respond to child initiated questions and/or comments by asking open-ended questions and expand on their interests

Provide organized, consistent environments that includes a variety of materials

Younger Preschool
Provide time for children to carry out their desired activity or exploration

Ask open-ended questions (i.e. “I wonder what…”, “Tell me about…”, “What do you notice?”)

Demonstrate brainstorming with a child on a topic of interest (e.g “What do we know about squids?”)

Create environments that encourage exploration and investigation and model use of materials (e.g non-fiction books, magnifying glasses, natural materials)

Older Preschool
Provide time for children to carry out their desired activity or exploration

While communicating with children, use phrases like “I wonder…”, “Why do you think…”, “What would happen if…”

Facilitate brainstorming with a child on a topic of interest (e.g “What do we know about squids? Where should we look to find out?”)

Create environments that encourage exploration and investigation and model use of materials and encourage collaboration (e.g non-fiction books, magnifying glasses, natural materials)