Being a learner

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Involvement in learning

A child is a confident and involved knower and learner.


  • build dispositions for learning such as curiosity, cooperation, confidence, creativity, commitment, enthusiasm, persistence, imagination and reflexivity
  • apply a range of skills and processes such as problem-solving, enquiry, experimentation, hypothesising, researching and investigating.

Educators focus on the following aspects of children’s learning:

  • delight and wonder in the environment and world around them
  • curiosity, motivation and enthusiasm for learning
  • the ability to sustain involvement and concentration in play and learning
  • awareness of useful strategies and skills for learning
  • desire to find out, research, discover, test, solve problems and consider possibilities
  • confidence to become involved in and contribute to learning conversations
  • willingness to pursue interests, carry out plans and participate in ongoing investigations
  • creativity and imagination in representing thoughts and ideas
  • ability to generate ideas and solutions, to innovate and invent
  • ability to revisit and reflect on the learning process.

Educators intentionally promote this learning, for example, when they:

  • build on culturally valued ways of knowing and learning, for example, through storytelling, visual and kinesthetic learning, relationships and connections
  • provide multiple opportunities for children to creatively represent their thoughts and ideas through the visual arts, music, dance, performance, imaginative play, puppetry and storytelling
  • encourage experimentation by adding complexity to children’s thinking and ideas — ‘Perhaps we could try this way?’, ‘Can you think of another way?’, ‘I wonder what happens if we try it this way?’
  • make connections to past, present and future learning — ‘Can you remember how you did it before?’
  • use explicit language to describe thinking processes — ‘That’s a good idea’, ‘Let’s think about that a bit more’, ‘We could solve this together’
  • question children about their thinking — ‘How do you know?’, ‘Can you show me how to do it?’, ‘How could we find out?’
  • celebrate new ideas and creative ways of doing things create environments that encourage collaborative and independent learning
  • map and document learning for the purposes of revisiting and reflecting with children, for example, ‘Let’s take a photo, so we can remember’, ‘We can write it down’
  • provide reference books, pictures, posters, maps and technologies to support children’s investigations
  • ensure that the environment can accommodate creative experiences and ongoing investigations that continue over a number of days
  • involve children in reflecting on their own learning by revisiting documented experiences
  • display delight, encouragement and enthusiasm for children’s attempts to gain new skills and knowledge.

Educators look for evidence of children’s learning, for example:

In the familiar contexts of family and community when children:

  • demonstrate curiosity, enjoyment and enthusiasm for learning
  • use their skills as an observer to learn
  • watch carefully what others are doing, imitate their actions and repeat ways of using objects and materials
  • look to other children for support in learning, for example, older brothers, sisters, cousins and friends
  • use ‘where’ as an important and frequent question, for example, ‘where your mob from’, and avoiding questions about ‘why’ or ‘when’
  • prefer collaborating with others and achieving collectively.

In new and unfamiliar contexts of an early learning program when children:

  • show interest by listening to or observing others engage with learning materials
  • prefer to listen to or watch others discuss and solve problems
  • respond to demonstration and modelled ways for exploring materials
  • show caution about making mistakes
  • contribute their ideas in small group situations with the support of familiar or like-speaking adults
  • explore ways to use materials to represent their thoughts and ideas in creative ways with encouragement and support
  • make choices about and sustain interest in learning experiences with support.

In the familiar contexts of a culturally secure early learning program when children:

  • sustain concentration to identify problems and experiment with solutions
  • use novel and creative strategies to achieve tasks
  • contribute ideas in group discussions,
  • seek out and organise new learning opportunities individually and with others
  • ask questions to enquire about and extend their interests
  • reflect and give reasons for their choices
  • use books and technology to enquire about topics
  • record ideas, share stories and make plans with others
  • comment on their own learning, for example, ‘I’ve got an idea’, ‘I think ...’.

As you reflect on practices, ask yourself

What do I know about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ways of knowing and learning and how are these incorporated within the program?

Do I model curiosity and wonder in my interactions with children?

Am I listening to and extending on the children’s ideas?

How can I organise the day to incorporate long periods of uninterrupted play?

Do I allow time and space for projects and works-in- progress to evolve over a number of days or weeks?

How could families contribute their ideas?

How could I extend children’s interests and ongoing projects into the community?