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a lot of your energy. It also interrupts the real learning that is taking place.
Instead, if you anticipate and include room for these unscripted and important
encounters, you create just the right environment for reflection, interpretation,
Why is the reflection, interpretation, and application standard
important for healthy child development?
Young children are continuously struggling to make sense of their experi-
ences. To do this, they construct theories to explain their impressions and
perceptions. They then apply these theories to new experiences to see if they
work. This process of taking experience, reflecting on it, interpreting its mean-
ing, and applying it to new contexts is the child’s essential work. This is how
children continually add to and refine the conceptual framework they are
Young children process information differently from adults. They most
often order and structure their understanding of what they see and experience
through play. Play is a vital component of children’s learning. It is through play
that children actively process their experiences, test out their understandings,
refine their theories, and apply new ideas.
How do states and national early childhood organizations classify
reflection, interpretation, and application?
While reflection, interpretation, and application do not generally appear
together in state standards, we have grouped them here because they are best
understood as interconnected steps. In our experience, children engage with
these three approaches to learning in a unified way as they process information
and learn from their experiences.
Understanding each of these terms individually helps the understand-
ing of how they work together. Reflection involves recapturing experience to
think about it again or from a new perspective and with new depth. Children
often reflect on their experiences as they play, engaging in dialogue, thinking
(silently or aloud), asking questions, or conversing with others. Interpretation
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