engagement and PersistenCe standard 49
each makes to children’s development and how they relate to one another.
Looking at engagement on its own helps teachers focus on how the environ-
ment calls to individual children: what materials, activities, and projects
captivate a child’s interest. This helps with planning and structuring the
environment in ways that respond to and support children’s needs.
Persistence, an outgrowth of engagement, provides a way to look at how a
child is learning to focus and develop a sustained interest in particular projects
or ideas. Persistence is recognized when children stay with a task over a period
of time, add new and complex elements to their work, overcome obstacles,
work through frustration, and manage distractions. Persistence is a standard
that is difficult for teachers to take head-on. It is not possible to create persis-
tence in children. However, you can set the stage for it by providing the right
environment for engagement. Once children are engaged, they will want to
stay with what they are doing—in short, to persist.
What are the observable behaviors or indicators that demonstrate children
engaging with the engagement and persistence standard?
The persistence and engagement standard is, at its core, a call to teachers to
focus on the environment. Provisioning the learning environment with a variety
of materials and activities offers children the opportunity to make choices and
pursue a range of interests. An environment rich in materials and diverse activi-
ties and projects provides the requisite starting point to captivate each child’s
interest. Children presented with this diversity, and the necessary tools and
time to investigate and pursue activities fully, become engaged. Their engage-
ment supports and motivates them to pursue challenges, overcome obstacles,
and persist through setbacks and distractions. In this way, they develop their
ability to focus, stay with, and extend a project. The outdoor environment is
ideal for engaging children. It is rich in changes for them to notice and inves-
tigate, presents puzzles to figure out, and has a range of both active and quiet
activities to pursue. Enhancing the opportunities the natural world offers helps
create an environment that calls to each child and to each child’s interests.
Some of the phrases used to describe behaviors in the various state stan-
dards related to persistence and engagement are sustained attention, purpose-
ful planning, use of tools in ways that extend experiences, and the ability to work
through challenges and obstacles. These observable behaviors are captured in the
list of indicators we have synthesized from the various state standards for both
engagement and persistence.
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