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In child-directed programs, children are free to explore their interests and ideas. 

With a child-directed approach, children learn through experiences, not lessons. Teachers/caregivers offer support as children work together to solve problems. In this way, child-directed programs have a lot in common with play-based programs. In both approaches, adults provide support but step back to let the children lead.

The child-directed approach is:

  • Open-ended. Teachers/caregivers provide support, but allow children the freedom to let their interests, curiosity, and imaginations lead them.
  • Collaborative. Children work and play together to solve problems and create narratives.
  • Imaginative. Children are free to follow their own interests and ideas.
  • Safe. The child-directed learning environment is created with children in mind. All learning tools are age-appropriate. Children are free to explore without restrictions.


Child-directed programs teach:

  • Self-reliance. When students play together, they learn to rely on themselves and their classmates.
  • Problem solving. In child-led programs, children learn through doing. This creates opportunities for learning valuable problem solving skills.
  • Communication. Children learn to communicate with one another by sharing ideas and playing make-believe.
  • Creativity. Children learn to follow and trust their imaginations and play off the ideas of one another.
  • Cooperation. Children learn to work together and cooperate with one another. Teachers/caregivers are there to provide support, but do not act as referees.
  • Appropriate behavior. Teachers/caregivers model behaviors for students.



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Last updated on July 10, 2020
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