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DOMAIN: Approaches to Play and Learning

SUBDOMAIN: Risk-Taking, Problem-Solving, and Flexibility


Infants (Birth to 12 months):

  • Explore new experiences both indoors and outdoors (toys, foods, people, spaces) with support of a familiar trusted adult.
  • Try to do things that are hard for them (stretch to reach a toy, work to crawl or walk, try to capture tiny crumb with pincer grasp).
  • Look to adult for cues and, when reassured, proceed.

Younger Toddlers (8 to 21 months):

  • Try unfamiliar experiences and interact with new people with a familiar adult nearby.
  • Move away from a familiar adult to explore, but check in frequently.
  • Show interest in and try to operate toys that offer a challenge.

Older Toddlers (18 to 36 months)

  • Explore freely without a familiar adult nearby.
  • Try out new skills in a familiar environment (learn to climb steps and then try to climb ladder to the slide).
  • Approach a challenge with confidence (try to lift a heavy object, work on a difficult puzzle, “I can do it.”).
  • Want to do things their own way (say “Me do it!”, push an adult’s hand away if the person is trying to help).

Younger Preschoolers (36 to 48 months)

  • Express a belief that they can do things that are hard.
  • Choose to participate in an increasing variety of familiar and new experiences.
  • Accept new challenges when offered.
  • Try things they are not sure the can do, while avoiding dangerous risks.

Older Preschoolers (48 to 60+ months)

  • Express a belief that they can do things are hard.
  • Approach new experiences independently.
  • Ask to participate in new experiences that they have observed or heard about.
  • Independently seek new challenges.

Click here for more on Step Up to School Readiness and the SC Early Learning Standards.