Developing Self


Developing Self

Developing Self—all children differ in temperament, learning style, home environment, cultural background, needs and abilities. These differences are strengths that influence their self-awareness, development, learning style and relationships with adults, siblings and friends. The Approaches to Learning; Social and Emotional Learning and Development; and Growing, Moving and Being Healthy are the primary domains in this section.

Approaches to Learning

Young children come into the world eager to learn. They are competent, active learners who continually challenge themselves to move to new levels of understanding. They are problem solvers as well as problem generators who are innately curious about the natural world. They seek and create novel challenges. They are often self-motivated and self-directed, while influenced by strong social interactions.

Multiple opportunities to explore, practice, play, and consolidate new skills and knowledge are essential to children’s learning and development. Children approach learning opportunities in a variety of ways. This domain describes various learning approaches, including play, initiative and problem solving. All children are able to learn and be successful. The ways in which they approach new learning opportunities are as varied as each child. Children develop a sense of curiosity through play and problem solving. They take initiative and persist with efforts for increasingly longer periods of time. They demonstrate creativity through play, exploration, and problem solving, and they develop the ability to connect past learning to new situations. These dispositions and skills enable children to strengthen attentiveness, construct knowledge, and become agents of their own learning. Children’s primary approach to learning is through play. Modes of play vary from simple manipulation of objects to complex games with rules. Children use play to make sense of their world, and to develop social and cognitive competence, self-regulation, and physical capabilities. Dramatic play, in particular, requires children to follow a “social script”; they need to take on a specific role, and interact with others while following the “rules” associated with their role. Since inclusion in play is desirable, children are highly motivated to maintain their role and, therefore, improve their ability to inhibit impulses and play cooperatively with others. Research indicates that complex dramatic play has cognitive, linguistic, social, and emotional benefits for children in preschool through grade three.

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  • ElementsGoals
  • Play and ExplorationChildren engage in play to understand the world around them. 
  • InitiativeChildren show curiosity about the world around them, and take action to interact with it and learn. 
  • Problem SolvingChildren engage in play to understand the world around them.

Social and Emotional Learning and Development

From the time infants first respond to our smiles, to when they are negotiating with us for just five more minutes of play, to when they begin to understand how to work on a team, our children are navigating the construct of our social world. Social and emotional skills are the “bricks and mortar” of all areas of development, according to Jack Shonkoff, Director of the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University (Epstein, 2009).

The Head Start Outcomes synthesize the importance of this area by noting that positive social emotional development in the early years provides the basis for life-long learning, relates to later academic success, prevents future behavior difficulties and is more effective than remedial practices in later school years (Office of Head Start, 2010). And, the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child report that, “the foundations of social competence that are developed in the first five years are linked to emotional well-being and affect a child’s later ability to functionally adapt in school and to form successful relationships throughout life.” -National Scientific Council on the Developing Child Social and Emotional learning and Development includes Emotions and Self-regulation, Self-Awareness, and Relationships with Adults and Peers. All children differ in temperament, learning style, home environment, cultural background, needs and abilities. These differences are strengths that influence their development, learning and assurance within themselves to interact with adults, siblings, peers, familiar people, strangers, at home, in school, or other community settings. Children learn about groups to which they belong and about those in which they may not be a participant. They display a wide range of emotions and feelings that they can identify, talk about, recognize in others, and learn to manage appropriately. Social and emotional skills eventually lead children to being able to relate with others, develop trust, recognize and respect individual similarities and differences, and separate own wishes and thoughts from those of others. Infants seek out adults in their lives who respond to and meet their needs. As children mature and communication skills develop, they make demands, learn new expectations of behavior, ask why questions, and become independent action seekers. Later, they work with friends to solve problems and become more skilled in leading, following, and negotiating with others. Competent children challenge and test limits to understand their roles in different groups and settings. By the time children leave third grade, they will likely have best friends, play complex games with rules, control their own actions, and demonstrate empathy toward others.

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Growing, Moving, and Being Healthy

As children grow from newborns to third graders, their nervous systems mature; this maturational process enables them to perform increasingly complex large and fine muscle movements. Children also need to develop strength, coordination, balance, and stamina to play, explore, get from one place to another, and complete various other activities.

Multiple opportunities to explore, practice, play, and consolidate new skills and knowledge are essential to children’s learning and development. Children approach learning opportunities in a variety of ways. This domain describes various learning approaches, including play, initiative and problem solving. All children are able to learn and be successful. The ways in which they approach new learning opportunities are as varied as each child. Children develop a sense of curiosity through play and problem solving. They take initiative and persist with efforts for increasingly longer periods of time. They demonstrate creativity through play, exploration, and problem solving, and they develop the ability to connect past learning to new situations. These dispositions and skills enable children to strengthen attentiveness, construct knowledge, and become agents of their own learning. Children’s primary approach to learning is through play. Modes of play vary from simple manipulation of objects to complex games with rules. Children use play to make sense of their world, and to develop social and cognitive competence, self-regulation, and physical capabilities. Dramatic play, in particular, requires children to follow a “social script”; they need to take on a specific role, and interact with others while following the “rules” associated with their role. Since inclusion in play is desirable, children are highly motivated to maintain their role and, therefore, improve their ability to inhibit impulses and play cooperatively with others. Research indicates that complex dramatic play has cognitive, linguistic, social, and emotional benefits for children in preschool through grade three.

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  • ElementsGoals
  • Motor Development and CoordinationChildren develop strength, coordination, and control of their large muscles.Children develop strength, eye-hand coordination, and control of their small or fine motor muscles.
  • Health and Safety PracticesChildren develop healthy eating habits and knowledge of good nutrition.Children develop personal health and self-care habits, and become increasingly independent.Children develop the ability to identify unsafe situations, and use safe practices.

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