Developing Self

Approaches to Learning

Problem Solving

Goal 1: Children display an interest in novel situations and demonstrate flexibility, creativity and innovation in solving challenging tasks.

By the end of each age group or grade level, most children will have met prior age group or grade level standards in this domain.

Infants Through Older Toddlers


(0-12 Months)

  1. Use hands, mouth, and eyes in a coordinated manner to explore body, objects and surroundings
  2. React to new voices or sounds by turning in the direction of the sound or changing facial expression
  3. Demonstrate creativity by exploring objects in multiple ways (e.g. pushes a chair to maintain balance)
  4. Watch and imitate the actions of others.
  5. Use actions to solve simple problems (e.g., rolling to side to reach object)

Young Toddlers

(9-18 Months)

  1. Make discoveries about self, others, and the environment through a variety of multi-sensory/motor interactions
  2. Experiment and practice to expand skill level
  3. Use creative role playing to solve problems and to communicate needs
  4. Try solutions to everyday problems until discovers one that works

Older Toddlers

(18-36 Months)

  1. Ask questions to gain information
  2. Experiment with the environment, toys, and peers with purpose.
  3. Demonstrate a willingness to try new activities and experiences
  4. Experiment with the effect of own actions on things and people
  5. Use simple problem-solving skills to figure out solutions to everyday problems
Younger Preschoolers Through Kindergartners

Younger Preschoolers

(36-48 months)

  1. Invent new ways to use everyday items
  2. Investigate new objects, scenarios, and problem situations
  3. Seek to understand cause and effect (“If I do this, why does that happen?”)
  4. During play, problem-solve with others

Older Preschoolers

(48-60 months)

  1. Use imagination and creativity to interact with objects and materials
  2. Uses a new skill in a variety of contexts
  3. Engage in learning through attempting, repeating, experimenting, refining, and elaborating on experiences and activities
  4. Demonstrate appropriate solutions to simple problems


  1. Use available materials in novel ways to meet desired goals. (e.g. build a new marble maze with recycled materials)
  2. Work with peers to solve problems
  3. Ask questions to find out about phenomenon of interest
First Graders Through Third Graders

First Graders

  1. Use prior knowledge to ask increasingly complex questions to gain information
  2. Use a variety of means to gather new information. (e.g. read, experiment, use manipulatives, research, use technology, ask an expert)

Second Graders

  1. Extend and elaborate ideas and conversation with peers and adults
  2. Explore self-directed interests
  3. Demonstrate multiple methods for solving a problem

Third Graders

  1. Use basic “if, then” logic when thinking about complex information
  2. Ask complex questions about an issue or problem
  3. Synthesize information from multiple sources to be applied in a new context

Vermont Agency of Education
Secretary Daniel M. French
219 North Main Street, Suite 402
Barre, VT 05641

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