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Child Development Tracker

Home » 5 to 6 »

Approaches to Learning

Supporting Activities


Puppets help develop problem-solving skills. Puppet Role-Play

George Shrinks

Watch your child make creative decisions. You Decide How the Story Unfolds!

George Shrinks

Sharpen engineering skills by building this car. Zooper Car Challenge

Books for Your Child

Reading to children every day is a great way for them to learn new skills. Try these read-aloud concept books for kindergartners.

Research shows that if children start school with a strong set of attitudes and skills that help them "learn how to learn," they will be better able to take advantage of educational opportunities. While some learning skills come naturally to children, others can be developed through a supportive environment.

Tips for building learning skills:

  • Let them choose.
    Give kids a chance to make simple choices, such as what to wear or what to eat for a snack.
  • Help them finish what they start.
    Children experience great satisfaction when they try and finish new things. Give them a bit of support when they need it, but be careful not to take over completely.
  • Nurture creativity.
    Encourage children to ask questions, try different ways of using materials, or offer them a wide range of new experiences.
  • Don't rush activities.
    Whether at home or in preschool, children need extended periods of time to really get involved in activities and to experience the "engagement" that is such an important foundation for learning.
  • Provide encouragement.
    All children start life eager to learn, but if adults are critical, that eagerness may disappear by the elementary grades. Look for achievements to praise and acknowledge your child's progress whenever possible.

Five-year-olds are creative and enthusiastic problem solvers. They offer progressively more imaginative ideas for how to do a task, make something, or solve longer-term or more abstract challenges. As they participate in a variety of new experiences, five-year-olds ask more analytical questions and weigh their choices. They are also more social as they learn new things and prefer activities that involve other children.

Initiative, Engagement, and Persistence

  • Deliberates and weighs choices (e.g., may spend a long time thinking about whether to go to the store with mom or to stay home and help dad).

  • Can maintain focus on a project for a sustained period of time (e.g., spends a rainy day building a complicated fort out of chairs and blankets, complete with props and signs). Is able to return to an activity after being interrupted.

  • Persists in longer-term or complex projects, with supervision. Can return to projects begun the previous day. Uses self-talk and other strategies to help finish difficult tasks and assignments from adults (e.g., a school project to make an alphabet book).

  • Chooses and follows through on self-selected learning tasks. Shows interest and skill in more complex self-help skills (e.g., decides to learn to skate, zips jacket, prepares a snack).

Curiosity and Eagerness to Learn

  • Tries an even wider range of new experiences, both independently and with peers and adults (e.g., goes on a camping trip with grandparents, tries to learn to play piano like older brother). May deliberately take risks when learning new skills.

  • Asks higher-level questions (e.g., asks, "What would happen if we had no food?" or "Why was Raymond mad at me"?).

  • Expands verbal and nonverbal enthusiasm for learning new things, including academic (e.g., reading, writing) and physical skills (e.g., riding a bike).

Reasoning and Problem-solving

  • Is increasingly able to think of possible solutions to problems. Can use varied and flexible approaches to solve longer-term or more abstract challenges (e.g., when planning to have friends over on a rainy day, thinks about how to deal with a limited space to play).

  • Analyzes complex problems more accurately to identify the type of help needed (e.g., says, "I think I know how to play this game, but I think you'll have to help me get started. Then I can do the rest.").

  • Continues to benefit from hands-on experiences to support more abstract thinking skills (e.g., makes a book about last summer's vacation trip, complete with sections for each place visited, drawings to illustrate, and labels written with adult help).

Invention and Imagination

  • Collaborates with other children in extended and complex pretend play, taking on more varied roles and situations (e.g., acts out roles of lions, hunters, rescuers, and other animals in a dramatic and sustained scenario).

  • Offers increasingly creative, unusual ideas about how to do a task, how to make something, or how to get from one place to another (e.g., asks, "Let's use these old boxes to make a spaceship! Where's some paint?").

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