CT ELDS Essential Dispositions

Below we’ve outlined 6 essential dispositions — or qualities — of successful and competent learners. The CT ELDS help adults create early learning experiences that set children up to be lifelong learners.

For more information, read the CT ELDS section on Fostering Competent Learners.


To help children be creative:

  • Provide opportunities for children to create, express themselves in a variety of ways, and approach problems from new perspectives. 
  • Focus their early learning experiences on the process instead of the product. 
  • Promote learning, exploring, and thinking over achieving a specific result or answer. 


To help children be inquisitive:

  • Encourage children to explore, seek new information, and ask questions. 
  • Create safe environments where children can explore and experiment.


To help children be flexible and resilient, expose them to new ideas, environments, and situations. 

Critical thinking

To help children think critically:

  • Promote an understanding of the concepts behind specific skills. For example, help them understand the concept of quantity, not just the sequence of counting.
  • Encourage children to question the accuracy of the information they receive.

Purpose and reflection

To help children be purposeful and reflective:

  • Engage very young children in active play. Remind them of the results of their actions. 
  • Make sure that 3 and 4 year old children get to play an active role in planning experiences, setting goals, and celebrating accomplishments. Encourage them to reflect on the impact of their actions and to learn from mistakes. 

Social learning

To help children be social learners:

  • Encourage children to interact with adults and peers, ask questions, and jointly solve problems. 
  • Provide opportunities for children to learn through cooperative experiences with adults and children.
Last updated September 8, 2021