Approaches to Learning

Approaches to Learning Standard 1:

​​Sustains attention and persists with challenging activities and ​experiences.

​ P-ATL 6

Child maintains focus and sustains atten​tion with minimal adult support.

Engages in an ​activity for a sustained p​eriod of time.

  • Kinsley strings beads one by one until she has made a long necklace.
  • Miles carefully cuts various pieces of colored tissue paper, then glues them on paper to make a collage.
  • Nicolas moves the clear, colored geometric shapes around on the light table, creating one design, then moving them to create a new design, and repeating the process again.
  • Lea fills three ​cups with water, then uses a jumbo eye dropper to add blue food coloring to one cup, red food coloring to the second, and yellow food coloring to the third. She adds a few drops of red water to the blue to see what happens, then keeps mixing colors and watching the results.

Maintains focus and attention on activities despite distractions and interruptions.

  • Amir concentrates on drawing a picture of his family while classmates play instruments nearby.
  • Emerson closely examines the leaves through the microscope while Shane and Landon talk about the pictures in a science book on the table beside him.
  • Mario looks closely at his large print name card, running his fingers across the raised lines, then carefully makes each letter of his name while his teacher talks to a classmate sitting beside him at the table.
  • When Paula's friend asks her where she got the counting bears, Paula pauses to answer her friend, then returns to placing the counting bears in the matching colored cups.

Sustains attention during group activities that last a short period of time.

  • Hunter sits with his classmates, watching his caregiver and listening as she reads a short story, Under My Hijab.
  • Levi and three of his classmates watch as his caregiver shows them how to use the stamps that have been added to the writing center.
  • Alexis pays attention to her teacher as he demonstrates, and explains in Alexis' home language, the hand motions that go with Wheels on the Bus, then joins her classmates in singing the song and making the hand motions that go with it.
  • Jayden and his classmates play a game with the parachute, lifting it up, lowering it down, then running under it.​
​ P-ATL 7

Child persists in tasks.

Persists with self-selected activities until completed.

  • Braydon works at p​lacing jumbo teddy bear counters into bowls of the same color until all of the teddy bears are sorted.
  • Ashley drops objects into the water table to see which float and which sink, then uses a scooper to get them all out.
  • Malik walks around the playground looking for the six items he needs to find on his nature walk, then returns to the class after locating each item and marking it off his list.
  • One by one, Kayla picks out the letter stamps she needs to spell for her name, then presses each one to her paper and returns them to the tray.

Continues working on self-selected activities despite setbacks.

  • After struggling to snip paper strips, Sophie adjusts the position of the scissors in her hand and tries again with success. 
  • After his first tower collapses, Evan adds more blocks to the base and builds another tower.
  • Amelia is using a tape measure to measure the length of the table, but the end of the tape measure keeps moving and won't stay at the edge of the table, so she signs “Help" to a friend, and he holds the tape measure in place so Ameila can try again. 
  • When some of the Dominoes Wyatt has been standing on end and lining up begin to fall over and knock others down, he sighs, then picks up those that have fallen and puts them back in the line.

Persists with adult-directed tasks with support as needed.

  • Mason carefully pushes the ​grass seeds into the dirt in his paper cup while his teacher offers suggestions for covering them up.
  • With her teacher's help, Stella uses a balance scale to compare the weights of a variety of objects.
  • Katie's teacher demonstrates, and explains in Katie's home language, how to match the numbers on the dice to the numbers in the cups of the ice cube tray. Then Katie places all of the dice in the matching cups.
  • Parker's teacher tells the class they will be making cards for Father's Day, so he uses the stamps and ink pad to decorate his card and the teacher writes the message he dictates to her.​

With prompting and support, develops a simple plan and works toward completing planned activities.

  • When Amelia's teacher asks her what center she wants to go to, Amelia slips her name card in the slot beside the picture of the Art Center, says, “I want to make something," then goes to the Art Center and draws a picture.
  • Mia wants to build a house with blocks and asks her teacher for help. Her teacher directs Mia to a construction book, and when they find a model Mia likes, she takes the book to the block center and uses it as a guide as she works on building a house.
  • When Paula's teacher places her choice board in front of her, Paula touches the picture of the Writing Center, then goes to that center and uses the Magna Doodle to work on writing the letters in her name.
  • Ethan goes to the Science Center and works with a magnet to discover which items from the tray will stick to it. After trying out all the items, he asks his teacher what else he can try. His teacher suggests he look around the room for ideas, so Ethan walks around the classroom and touches the magnet to various objects to see if they stick.

Develops plans that extend over time and follows through to accomplish tasks.

  • Nia tells her teacher, “I want to paint after breakfast," and goes to the Art Center after she finishes eating.
  • Evie tells her teacher that she plans to go to Dress-Up and be a dentist. “Scout will be the Daddy and will bring his baby so I can check her teeth." She and Scout then go to Dress-Up, act out these roles, and continue the same plan the following day.
  • When free play comes to an end, Keenan creates a “Save" sign and places it on his block construction saying, “I can finish tomorrow."
  • Kinsley wants to be a server in the restaurant set up in Dramatic Play and Addie wants to be the chef. They make menus by drawing pictures of the food, then gather construction paper to make place mats. They just get started playing when it's time for lunch, but as soon as lunch is over, they return to the restaurant and continue their play.​

Approaches to Learning Standard 2:

Approaches learning with flexibility, creativity and imagination.

​ P-ATL 12

Child expresses creativity in thinking and communication.

Finds new ways to use familiar objects and materials.

  • William creates a balance beam by placing large unit blocks end to end, then attempts walking back and forth on it.
  • Emma hangs a doll blanket over the side of the table and tells her friend “We're camping."
  • Ellie collects shells from the Science Center and uses them to press into the playdoh and make designs.
  • Kyle gathers small pine cones from the playground and piles them into the back of his dump truck, pretending they are dirt and rocks.

Identifies new materials to use in completing a task.

  • After her teacher shows the class how to create a collage, Cora takes a basket from housekeeping, goes out on the playground, and collects acorns and leaves to make a fall collage.
  • Colton asks his teacher to help him use the new drawing app on the iPad so he can draw a picture for his Mom for Mother's Day.
  • Chad points to Art on his picture schedule, then takes the new book about dogs, Perros! Perros!/Dogs! Dogs!, from the Book Corner to the Art Center, where he uses it to help him draw a picture of his new puppy.
  • Mia turns on the new CD of classical music that has been added to the Listening Center and creates a dance to go with the music.

Experiments with combining objects and materials in new and imaginative ways.

  • After Joshua sets plates, cups, and food from Dramatic Play on the tray of Abigail's wheelchair, they go out to the playground so they can pretend to have a picnic outside.
  • Connor and Nicholas use cardboard building blocks to create holding pens, then place animal figures in the pens and collect play food from Dramatic Play to feed the animals.
  • Natalie takes a pot to the Writing Center, drops all of the magnetic alphabet letters in the pot, and puts the pot on the stove to make soup.
  • Julian takes a maraca from the Music Center to Dramatic Play, where he sets it in the lap of the baby doll, pretending the baby is shaking a rattle.​
​ P-ATL 13

Child uses imagination in play and interactions with others.

Uses materials in new and different ways to ​represent objects, characters, and ideas.

  • Rose slips a bead on a string, asks her teacher to tie it around her neck, and then uses it to listen to the teddy bear's heart.
  • Silas and Caleb climb on a bench under the tree and pretend to be jockeys in a horse race.
  • As Ava and Iris are playing Three Billy Goats Gruff in the block center, Ava holds up one of the blocks and says to Iris, “This can be our troll!"
  • Philip borrows the headset from the Listening Center and pretends to be a 911 dispatcher.

Engages in short sequences of dramatic play that include some interaction with peers.

  • In the Dramatic Play area, Emery prepares food at the stove, then Callie feeds Emery's meal to the baby.
  • Using his therapy handle to hold a marker, Peyton writes a letter, seals it in an envelope, and gives it to Nolan, who delivers it to the post office box in the Writing Center.
  • In the Dramatic Play area, Maria prepares churros for her friends, and they pretend to eat them at a birthday party.
  • Liza and Nora play in the Car Repair Shop, with Liza pretending her car is broken and Nora working to fix it.
  • In the Block Center, Felix uses his home language to count the number of blocks he and Joseph used to build a tower.

Uses a variety of props and invented characters as part of pretend play.

  • Juan, Miles, and Lucas each select an instrument, then march around the room playing their instruments, pretending they are a mariachi band.
  • Gavin, Ryan, Marcie and Stella use puppets to act out The Three Little Pigs. Gavin says, “I'm the big bad wolf. You be the pigs." They each select their puppets and act out the drama.
  • Zane and Joseph pretend to be archeologists, using shovels and brushes to dig in the sand table to find dinosaur fossils.
  • Carlos and Richard use cardboard building blocks to build a castle, then pretend to be knights defending their home.

Engages in elaborate and sustained play themes with self and others.

  • Calvin plays with the safety vehicles each day during free play, responding to imaginary fires, accidents and emergencies.
  • Natalie, Bella, and Claire play in the Farmer's Market set up in Dramatic Play. Claire acts as a customer, Natalie weighs the fruits and vegetables, and Bella collects money. They change roles when they return to that center the next day.
  • Hannah returns to the Garden Shop every day during free play, arranging artificial flowers in bouquets, planting artificial plants in pots, and painting flower murals.
  • Luis and Thomas pretend to work at a pet store, with Thomas bathing the animals and Luis feeding them. At the end of day, they ask Carl if he wants to play with them on the next day, promising he can take care of the sick animals.​

Approaches to Learning Standard 3:

Demonstrates eagerness to explore, investigate, and learn about their world.

P-ATL 11

Child shows interest in and curiosity about the world around them.​


Child asks a question, gathers information, and makes predictions.

​ P-SCI 5

Child plans and conducts investigations and experiments.

Investigates topics, ideas, and interests to learn new ​information.

  • Tiana picks up the bong​o drums that have been added to the Music Center and begins playing with them. “It sounds different," she says as she hits the top of the drums in different ways and different places.
  • Owen asks his teacher, “Does ice melt faster in water or out of water?" He drops one ice cube in the water table, puts the other in a cup, and watches to see what happens.
  • Luke carries a collection of dinosaurs to the math center where he uses the new Unifix cubes to measure how tall and long they are.
  • Isabelle gathers flowers from the playground and takes them to the Science Center so she can see what they look like under a microscope.

Uses a variety of strategies to discover answers to questions about topics, ideas, and interests.

  • When her therapist asks, “Which one is a circle," Shelby runs her fingers over the raised outlines of the circle, square, and triangle, then points to the circle and says, “This one is the circle."
  • After several unsuccessful attempts to blow a large bubble, Logan stops to watch how Mark is blowing bubbles. After noticing that Mark blows softly and very slowly, Logan tries again using Mark's strategy.
  • After Austin's teacher reads a book about clouds that is in Austin's home language, Austin points to a cloud in the sky and asks his teacher to identify it. The teacher takes a picture of the cloud and then helps Austin use the book to identify it.
  • When Ivy's therapist shows her how to press the letter stamps into the clay, she asks, “Can you show me how to write my name with the stamps?"
  • Melanie wants to make something special for her pet gerbil, so she opens a book about gerbils to find out what they like to play with.

Shares new discoveries with peers and adults.

  • Rowan examines leaves on the Discovery table with a microscope, then invites Adam over, saying, “Come look. Leaves have veins."
  • While outside on the playground, Nora calls her teacher over, points to the ground where a piece of candy is covered with ants and says, “Look at all the ants. Do they like candy?"
  • Maria shows her painting to her teacher and signs, “Red and blue make purple."
  • Theo tells his teacher, “I guessed it would take 3 little cups of water to fill the big cup but it took 4."

Participates in discussions about a variety of topics, ideas, and activities.

  • During the morning meeting, Olivia joins her classmates in talking about the things they learned on their field trip to the farm.
  • After completing a “sink or float" experiment with objects in the Science center, Jasper and Julian talk together about their discoveries.
  • In the Technology center, Arlo and Tobias watch the live stream of an eagle's nest and talk about how the babies are pecking their way out of the eggs.
  • After listening to their teacher read a book about a trip to the zoo, Victoria and Emily talk about the animals they would like to see.​
P-ATL 10

Child demonstrates initiative and independence.

P-ATL 11

Child shows inte​rest in and curiosity about the world around them.


Child asks a question, gathers information, and makes predictions.

​P-SCI 5

Child plans and conducts investigations and experiments.

Seeks out and participates in new experiences.

  • Javier sees his friend Ray eat a cucumber slice and decides to taste one.
  • After the teacher adds an easel with paint cups in the Art Center, Grace explores what ​happens when she mixes different colored paint together on her paper.
  • After watching his friend do it, Hugo decides to try climbing the ladder and going down the slide.
  • Carlos works slowly to write each letter of his name on the sign-in sheet his teacher has added to the classroom routine.
  • Matthew works with Kayla to use the balance scale their teacher demonstrated during Morning Meeting, attempting to find items that weigh the same.

Asks questions and seeks information about topics of interest.

  • When Melissa notices a caterpillar on the sidewalk, she returns to the classroom and looks at the pictures in a bilingual book about caterpillars to see what they like to eat.
  • After listening to his teacher talk about how sea turtles dig a hole in the sand to lay their eggs, Miles asks Garrison if he wants to watch the video of sea turtles laying their eggs so they can see how the babies get out.
  • Leah looks at the peas on her lunch plate and asks, “Why do we have to eat vegetables?"
  • Adrian looks out the window and asks, “Why does it rain?

Seeks out and uses materials to support investigations.

  • On the playground, Asher takes a shovel from the sand table and digs in the dirt, looking for worms he can study under his magnifying glass.
  • Abigail pushes her wheelchair around the room collecting objects that she can look at under the microscope.
  • Hailey and Charlotte get the Lego blocks and use them to measure how long their feet and hands are.
  • Hudson gets a book about bridges from the shelf and looks at it while he works at building a bridge with blocks.

Demonstrates self-direction while investigating a range of topics, ideas, and interests.

  • Archie and Brook make plans to build a ramp for the race cars. They experiment with adding and removing blocks to raise and lower the ramp to see how to make cars go faster.
  • Mackenzie wonders how big the class guppies will get. She picks out a book about guppies and begins looking at pictures so she can learn more about their size.
  • Grayson spends some time each day watching the bird feeder hanging outside his classroom and draws pictures of the different types of birds he sees eating.
  • Claire experiments in the Art Center, painting with brushes, feathers, string, and sponges to see the effects of each.​

Approaches to Learning Standard 4:

Uses a variety of strategies with purpose to accomplish tasks, overcome obstacles, and solve problems.

Expresses confidence in their abilities.

  • Victoria is the first to volunteer to try painting with the eyedropper, saying, “Let me. I can do it."
  • When his teacher uses Manuel's home language to offer help with the large buttons on his coat, Manuel refuses her offer, saying “I can do it" in his home language.
  • Alex washes his hands by himself, then smiles at this teacher and signs, “I did it!"
  • When Camille notices her classmate is struggling with the “same and different" activity, she says, “I'll show you."

Tries new ways of doing familiar tasks.

  • Instead of using his hands to press out the playdoh, Nico flattens it with a mallet.
  • After sorting the counting bears by color, Silas and Jude decide to sort the plastic animals in the Science Center into land and sea animals.
  • Rather than using a paint brush, Ian uses a small sponge to put paint on his paper.
  • After several days of driving her cars on roads built by putting unit blocks together, Sophia decides to use the arch and tunnel blocks to create structures for her cars to drive under and through.

Seeks to participate in new activities they've observed.

  • Maddy watches her classmate play the new spin drum her teacher brought back from Africa, then takes a turn playing it herself.
  • After observing Katie use the new turkey baster to draw up water from the water table, Jill rolls her wheelchair up to the water table, picks up another baster, and tries to do the same.
  • Louis watches two classmates toss bean bags at a bucket that has been added to the outdoor play area, then asks if he can join the game.
  • After the teacher demonstrates and explains in Sammy's home language how to use the new balance scale, Sammy goes to the Math Center and places various objects on the scale, watching to see what happens.

Attempts challenging experiences.

  • After drawing a picture, Ellie attempts to write her name by making some letter-like marks on her paper.
  • Adrian watches some of his classmates hop on one foot, then attempts to do the same.
  • Instead of using the loop scissors provided by her therapist again, Diana picks up the regular scissors and attempts to use them to cut strips for her collage.
  • When his teacher introduces unusual kinds of fruit to the class, Michael is the first to taste the dragon fruit.

Recovers from setbacks.

  • Sammy covers his eyes and heaves a heavy sigh when his Magna-Tile structure collapses, but after a few minutes, he clears the various pieces off the lightbox and begins again.
  • After Emma has attempted to order the Unifix cubes from smallest to largest, she notices one in the wrong place, then moves the cubes around and reorders them again, this time correctly.
  • Charley tries walking on the balance beam and slips off, but then gets back on and tries again.
  • Misty wants to paint a picture for her mother, but Renee is already at the easel. Misty asks, “Can I paint now," but Renee says, “No. I'm painting." Misty goes to the Math center to work, then returns to the easel after Renee finishes.​

Child demonstrates flexibility in thinking and behavior.

​ P-ATL 12

Child expresses ​creativity in thinking and communication.

Uses proven strategies to solve familiar problems and ​accomplish tasks.

  • When Madelyn drips paint on the floor, she reaches for the wet rag she knows is hanging beside the easel and wipes up the paint.
  • Rorey pulls the stool from under the sink and climbs up on it so he can reach the faucet to wash his hands.
  • When Carson spills his milk, he asks his teacher for paper towels and wipes it up the way he has seen her do.
  • Ellie works with the Touch and Match Tactile Board, and just as her therapist has shown her before, runs her fingers across the surface of each counter, then across the various surfaces on the board until she is able to place each counter in the hole with the matching texture.

Seeks assistance from peers and adults as needed to solve problems and accomplish tasks.

  • While playing in the farmer's market set up in the Dramatic Play center, Sawyer asks his friend to hold the grocery bag open so he can drop the fruit in.
  • When Nina is unable to get her jacket zipped, she uses her home language to ask for help and her teacher responds by helping Nina zip her coat.
  • Elijah asks his friend to remind him how to make the “j" in his name.
  • After trying unsuccessfully, Jayden takes the bottle of bubbles to his teacher and asks her if she can get the top off.

Analyzes problems and experiments with strategies to see what works.

  • When Graham and Oscar have trouble taking a picture with the tablet, Graham suggests, “Maybe it's like the computer. Let's turn it off and turn it on again."
  • When Sara and Marla both want to play with the same red truck, and Marla remembers that yesterday, Sara picked the blue truck so they could each have one, she asks Sara if she wants the blue truck.
  • After the small block of wood falls off the piece of cardboard for a second time, Seth suggests to Finn, “Maybe tape will work."
  • As Ivy and Helen attempt to build a bridge connecting two towers, Ivy says, “We could try a long block or maybe build another tower in the middle. Let's try a long block first."​