Approaches to Learning

Approaches to Learning Standard 1:

Maintains focus and ​persists at challenging tasks.


Child maintains focus and sustains attention with support.

Focuses on people, sights, ​and sounds of interest in the ​environment.

  • Sophia makes and maintains eye contact with her caregiver.
  • Jamal turns his head toward Quinn who is banging a spoon on a metal pot.
  • After being dropped off at childcare, Luis watches his mother as she leaves the classroom.
  • Logan sits in his caregiver’s lap and feels the textured pictures in a board book.
  • Diego watches children who are playing nearby.

Repeats familiar and novel actions multiple times.

  • Remi puts her fingers in her mouth and sucks on them multiple times throughout the day.
  • Brianna drops her cup to the floor over and over, laughing as her caregiver says, “Oh oh,” and bends over to pick it up.
  • Carlos repeatedly presses the button on his switch toy and smiles when it plays music.
  • After Mia’s therapist helps her press the button on the spinner and Mia sees the balls spin around, she signs “More,” smiling as she presses the button again and again.
  • When Daniel discovers that pushing a knob on the pop-up toy causes an object to appear, he continues working knobs.

Focuses attention on activities of interest for short periods of time.

  • Hailey listens and looks at the pictures as her caregiver reads a short story called Besos for Babies.
  • Elijah pushes two of the four beads on the activity center from one end of the wire to the other, then walks away. 
  • Todd hammers the pegs in the wooden bench until all eight are pushed down into the bench, then sets the hammer down and picks up a ball.
  • Maya plays with a truck for a short period of time, filling it with blocks and then dumping them out twice before she starts playing with a nearby car.

Focuses on an activity of interest despite distractions.

  • Cho selects his favorite book, My First Chinese New Year, from the bookshelf and flips through the pages while his caregiver sings to other children nearby.
  • Mason stacks blocks to make a tower, ignoring others in the block center who are playing with vehicles.
  • Addison uses an easy grip paint brush to spread paint on the front of the card she is making for her mother while two classmates sitting beside her talk about their cards.
  • Naomi concentrates on attempting to write each letter of her name, ignoring Ethan and Morgan, who are also in the Writing Center and are talking about how to use the stamp pad.

Concentrates on completing a short and simple activity of choice.

  • Latrice works slowly and carefully to paint a picture, then asks her teacher to help her hang it up to dry.
  • Gabriela concentrates on the knob puzzle she’s selected, working the pieces until each of the four shapes fits in the matching space.
  • One by one, Christopher shakes each of the three sound shakers vigorously, draws a picture of what he thinks is inside each one, and then shows his drawing to his teacher.
  • Nolan sorts the large pom poms, dropping each one into the matching-colored cup, before moving to another center. 

Child develops the ability to show persistence in actions and behavior.


Child demonstrates emerging initiative in interactions, ​​experiences, and ​explorations.

Intentionally t​ries to make things happen.

  • Amal cries loudly when she is hungry and wants to be fed.
  • Tyler reaches for the rattle and shakes it vigorously to make noise.
  • Misty swats at a ball on her activity center, making it spin and light up.
  • When he wants to be picked up, Wyatt stretches his arms out to his caregiver.
  • Cora turns the handle of the Jack-in-the-Box toy until the bear pops up.

Repeats actions with the goal of achieving a result.

  • Whenever Makayla sees an object of interest on a table, she uses chairs, shelves, or other furniture to pull up so she can reach the object of interest.
  • Sophia works each of the knobs and levers on the pop-up toy until she has made all of the animals appear.
  • Matthew routinely pushes a stool up to the sink when he wants to wash his hands.
  • Santiago chooses to play with the Learn to Dress board every day until he is able to successfully pull the zipper up and down. 

Remains engaged in experiences of interest and protests if interrupted.

  • When his caregiver calls the class together for circle time, Isaac continues working to fit shapes into the shape sorter.
  • Addison looks at a book and says, “No,” in his home language when a classmate reaches for the book.  
  • Lydia spends all of the outdoor time playing at the water table and says, “Not yet,” when her teacher tells her it is time to go back inside the classroom.
  • Axel works diligently at building a holding pen for his farm animals and begins to cry when his teacher tells him it is time to put the materials away.

Continues to work on self-selected tasks despite challenges.

  • Clark concentrates on pushing peas onto his spoon and into his mouth, picking up those that fall off, placing them back on his spoon, and trying again.
  • Jaxon tries again to build a tower with blocks after it falls down on his first attempt.
  • Lucia pushes the fish net through the water in the water table, attempting to catch the plastic fish that keep floating away.
  • Heather tosses bean bags at the bucket, picking up those that miss, and trying again.

Completes an activity or task of choice from start to finish with adult support.

  • Isabella and her caregiver take turns placing rings on the post of the rock-a-stack until all the rings are in place.
  • With encouragement from his interventionist, Javon works on a peg puzzle until all of the pieces fit into place.
  • Bryson sits in his caregiver’s lap looking at a book and lifting the flaps until he finds Spot hiding under the rug on the last page.
  • Rose’s early interventionist helps her hold the mallet and strike each of the metal keys on the xylophone.

Approaches to Learning Standard 2:

Demonstrates creativity and imagination in learning about the world.

​ IT-ATL 8

Child uses creativity to increase understanding and learning.

Observes and interacts with familiar people, objects, and ​events in the environment.

  • Ivy looks at her caregiver intently while he feeds her from a bottle.
  • Sara smiles and gurgles when her caregiver sits down beside her.
  • Logan reaches for the wobbler toy and watches it roll around after touching it.
  • Kevin turns his head and looks in the direction of his caregiver as she calls his name.
  • After watching her caregiver stick her tongue out, Hailey mimics her by sticking her tongue out.

Actively explores new objects in the environment.

  • When Stella notices her feet, she pulls on them and brings them to her mouth.
  • Owen picks up the textured cloth book he’s discovered, squeezes the cover, and looks at it as it makes crinkly sounds.
  • Jamison scoots across the floor to reach an activity center that’s been placed on the floor nearby and begins pushing its buttons.
  • Missy pulls up on a bench and cruises to the end where a stuffed animal sits, then pulls the animal into her arms. 
  • After her caregiver secures the new magnetic drawing board on the tray of Maren’s wheelchair, Maren looks at each of the stamps, then grips the adapted handles to pick each one up and press it onto the board. 

Uses objects and materials as intended.  

  • Quinn shakes the rattle vigorously.
  • Lillian rolls the toy car on the floor.
  • Carlos presses the switch to activate the drumstick, so it bangs on the drum.
  • Aubrey stacks the stacking cups, one on top of the other.
  • Simeon pushes the bubble lawn mower around the playground.

Invents new ways to use familiar objects. ​

  • Michael lies on his side, sliding a block along the floor, making the sound of a car motor.
  • Kirsten holds the small red ball up to the baby doll’s mouth and says, “Baby eat apple.”
  • Kiara fills the pot with shapes from the shape sorter and puts it on the stove to cook.
  • Kyle places blocks end to end and then drives a car on the road he’s created.

Child shows imagination in play and interactions with others.


Child imitates and engages in play with other children.

​ IT-C 13

Child uses pretend play to increase understanding of culture, environment, and exp​eriences.

Participates in playful exchanges with peers and ​adults.

  • After his caregiver wiggles his toes and plays “This Little Piggy”, Lance pushes his foot toward his caregiver so she will do it again. 
  • Jana and her caregiver take turns playing peek-a-boo.
  • Leona and Joseph roll a ball back and forth between each other.
  • Benjamin and his early interventionist take turns pressing the switch on the adapted bubble machine and try to reach and pop the bubbles with their fingers.
  • Jada’s caregiver shakes a tambourine, then Jada bangs on the drum to make music.

Engages in pretend play using familiar objects and experiences. 

  • Taylor places a bowl and spoon on the table and pretends she is eating paella.
  • Harper puts the teddy bear in the stroller and pushes it around the room.
  • After Liza’s caregiver places a baby doll on the tray of her wheelchair, Liza pretends to feed it with a bottle.
  • Alexander puts on the fireman’s hat and uses a paper towel tube as a fire hose.

Uses objects to represent other objects in imaginative play.

  • Amira wraps a baby blanket around her head and wears it as a hijab.
  • Liam holds a block up to his ear like a phone and talks into it.
  • Wade spreads a scarf over the stuffed animal like a blanket.
  • Justin uses a bowl and spoon to feed his baby doll.

Approaches to Learning Standard 3:

Demonstrates interest and eagerness in learning about the world.


Child shows interest in and curiosity about objects, materials, or events.​

​ IT-C 1

Child actively explores people and objects to understand self, others, and objects.

Uses senses to explore surroundings.     

  • Leo holds his hands in front of his face, slowly turning ​and inspecting ​them.
  • Renata picks up the textured ball, rubs her hands over its surface, then brings it to her mouth and touches it with her tongue.
  • Regina picks up a handful of peas off her plate and mashes them on the tray of her highchair.
  • Jude crawls through the tunnel and rolls into the ball pit.

Discovers new ways to use familiar objects.

  • Marla bangs the rattle on the tray of her highchair.
  • James holds the block to his ear like a phone and chatters into it.
  • Adam uses the hammer from the pound-a-peg toy to play the xylophone. 
  • Liza gets the broom from dramatic play and swipes it under the bookshelf to get the ball that has rolled under it.

Uses gestures to seek information. 

  • One by one, Crystal points to pictures in her picture book and her caregiver names the items she points out.
  • Booker takes a new switch toy to his caregiver, pushes it onto her lap, and signs “Help” so she will show him how to make it work.
  • When Carson points to the empty spot on the shelf where the toy dump truck was sitting and looks at his caregiver, she responds, “Oh, you want to know where the truck is. Go look in the sand table.”
  • Abigail pulls on her caregiver’s hand to get her attention, then blows through her lips to indicate she wants to blow bubbles.

Shows interest in trying new experiences to learn how things work.

  • Angel picks up the raisin with her fingers, examining it closely, puts it in her mouth and then spits it out.
  • Emily pushes the musical pear and watches it wobble, then picks it up, turning it over and over in her hands and shaking it to make music.
  • Clayton plays with the busy box, turning the knobs and pressing the switches back and forth.
  • Ari plays with the Duplo blocks, working to see how various pieces fit together. 


Child demonstrates emerging initiative in interactions, experiences, and ​explorations.


Child shows interest in and curiosity about objects, materials, or events.

​ IT-C 1

Child actively explores people and objects to understand self, others, and objects.

Uses expressions or actions to initiate interactions. 

  • Tiana looks at her caregiver and coos softly to get her attention.​
  • Luca reaches out and grabs the soft book.
  • Dylan whimpers and points to his bottle on the counter.
  • Alice reaches her arms up to her caregiver so he will pick her up.

Explores and manipulates objects in the environment.

  • Kai reaches toward his image in the baby-safe mirror propped up in front of him.
  • Maeve rubs her hands across the various sensory gloves her early interventionist wears, feeling the different textures of each.
  • Jamison crawls into one end of the tunnel, out the other, and back again.
  • Noelle plays with the pop beads, snapping them together, then pulling them apart.
  • Cooper holds the cardboard tube up, drops cars into it, and watches them come out the other end.

Makes choices and expresses preferences for activities. 

  • When asked where she wants to play, Alyssa touches the picture of the water table on her picture schedule.
  • Every day, Lily selects her favorite book from the bookshelf and brings it to her caregiver to read.
  • Alec selects the tub of jumbo nuts and bolts, refusing help from his caregiver and insisting on carrying them to the table by himself.
  • When asked if he is ready for naptime, Juan responds, “No!” in his home language and selects another book from the shelf.

Engages others in shared activities.

  • Lucia rolls a ball to Iris and motions for her to roll it back.
  • Charlie gives Marissa a shovel and together, they dig in the sand.
  • Maya moves over and hands David a paintbrush when she notices him watching her paint at the easel.
  • Logan asks Joshua, “Want to play in Blocks?”

Asks questions to learn new information.

  • Greyson studies a bug and asks, “What dat?”
  • Reese gets her caregiver’s attention and signs, “Milk?” He responds, “Oh, you want to know what’s in my cup. I’m drinking water.”
  • Marcus looks out the door and uses his home language to ask where his Daddy went.
  • Claire notices a new classmate and asks, “Who is she?”

Approaches to Learning Standard 4: 

Uses a variety of strategies to accomplish tasks, overcome obstacles, and find solutions to problems.

Explores the environment with support of a caregiver.

  • Charlotte gazes at herself when her caregiver taps on the mirror he has placed on the floor in front of her.
  • Mason swats at the musical roller his therapist holds out to him.
  • Brock’s caregiver hands him large plastic coins, one at a time, and Brock works to fit each of them in the slot on the back of the piggy bank.
  • Mavis and her caregiver sit beside each other, pressing cookie cutters into the playdoh and talking about the shapes they make.

Tries out new experiences while frequently checking in with a caregiver.

  • While sitting in his caregiver’s lap, Samson turns his head toward the sound of a crying baby, then turns back to look at his caregiver. 
  • When Hannah notices the shape sorter that has been added to the Table Toys area, she sits on the floor and plays with it while repeatedly glancing toward her caregiver.
  • Owen rubs his fingers over the textured objects in the touch and feel book he finds in the book center, then shows the book to his caregiver.
  • Camilla sees a new bin with mega blocks, and after looking around to locate her caregiver, dumps the blocks out on the floor and plays with them.
  • After Mark’s caregiver shows him how to use the new dot markers, he makes a few dots, looks to her for approval, then fills his paper with dots.

Explores in a familiar environment without a caregiver nearby.

  • Zeke tries walking up the ramp by himself, then resorts to crawling after he falls down.
  • Maggie plays in the Art Center, experimenting with a variety of brushes to spread paint across her paper before deciding which she prefers.
  • Riley tries out different scoopers to see which one makes the water wheel spin fastest.
  • Marcia climbs on the scooter by herself and uses her feet to push herself up and down the sidewalk.

Attempts challenging experiences.

  • Kendrick lets go of his caregiver’s hand and takes four steps before falling down.
  • Xavier says, “Me do it” when his caregiver attempts to hold his hand as they climb the steps to the classroom.
  • Hailey declines her caregiver’s offer of assistance and carries the cup full of juice from the counter to the table, spilling a small amount on the way.
  • After watching her friend play on the slide several days in a row, Serena decides to try, following her up the ladder and down the slide.

​ IT-C 6

Child learns to use a variety of strategies in solving problems.

IT-C 7

Child uses reasoning and planning ahead to solve problems.

Uses simple actions to achieve goals.

  • Harper moves her arms and legs excitedly to get her caregiver’s ​attention as he sits down nearby.
  • Avery lifts the corner of the blanket to reach the stuffed animal hidden under it.
  • Bea uses her home language to ask her teacher for help when she is unable to get the top off the paint cup.
  • Bo moves the book so that he can reach the truck sitting on the shelf behind it.

Attempts to use tools to achieve goals.

  • Carlos uses a mallet to bang on the drum and make music.
  • Malik uses his toddler spoon to scoop the food from his plate and bring it to his mouth.
  • Ella pulls the blanket to her so she can reach the stacking toy sitting on top of it.
  • Cameron pulls on the string attached to the toy train, removes the farm animals from the train cars and plays with them.

Uses trial and error to solve new problems or unfamiliar tasks.

  • Luka looks at the toy up on the shelf, reaches up in an attempt to grab it, and when unsuccessful, signs, “Help” to his caregiver and points to the toy.
  • Muriel attempts to place the rings on the stacker, and when unsuccessful in fitting all of them on the post, seeks help from her caregiver. 
  • Evelyn picks up a square puzzle piece, twisting and turning it in an attempt to make it fit various spaces before fitting it in the correct space.
  • When the ball Wilson is playing with rolls under the table, he reaches through the rungs of a chair in an attempt to get it, then, pulls the chair out, crawls under the table, and retrieves the ball.

Imitates actions of others to complete a task and/or achieve a goal.

  • When she sees Alicia banging on the drum, Karla picks up a drumstick and joins in striking the drum to make music.
  • After watching her caregiver move the beads on the bead maze, Zoe moves beads from one end of the maze to the other.
  • After watching his caregiver do it, Miles pulls stickers off a page and places them on a piece of construction paper.
  • Parker watches Ethan use his feet to push himself around on the scooter, and after Ethan gets off, Parker climbs on and attempts to do the same. 

Unmatched Head Start Goals

​ IT-ATL 5

Child demonstrates the ability to be flexible in actions and​ behavior.​