process of learning. For the educator, this
requires planning to ensure children learn
what is expected from the curriculum, and at
the same time, engage in self-directed learning.
Self-directed learning involves making decisions,
based on such strategies as weighing options,
listening to perspectives, having a rationale, etc.
Educators need to provide guidance in this process
as it cannot be assumed that children instinctively
understand how to make good decisions. Also key
for self-directed learning are social and inquiry skills.
Some children will need more support and guidance
than others as they experience a different way of
working than one to which they may be accustomed.
For their part, educators must fine-tune their skills
of observation and assessment. It is important for
educators to refrain from bringing preset assumptions
to their observations of a child at play which could
influence their assessment.
As a starting point, it may helpful for educators to
reflect on the following questions to determine a
focus for their observations:
• What are the children interested in?
• What are they doing well?
• What are their understandings? What are their
• How do they use language?
• What is their use of vocabulary, particularly in
relation to content areas?
• What do they do when faced with a problem?
What problem-solving strategies are they using?
• How do they apply what they know?
• What connections are they making?
• What mathematical processes are they using?
• What inquiry skills do they use?
• How do children use higher level thinking skills?
The initial focus on process does not mean that
content is ignored. By attending to the process,
content can be dealt with in a meaningful context.
Once the children are comfortable with the freedom
to play and become engaged in projects of interest,
content can be introduced, incidentally at times, and
deliberately at other times.