Intentionality means to act with purpose and plan to achieve. Children who are intentional think before acting. They consider their choices before choosing. They make a plan before they start a project. Intentional children are competent and effective.

An infant moves a blanket to find a toy underneath, she has a goal and she accomplishes it with an action. Her actions are based on cause and effect. “I want the toy. I move the blanket. I get the toy.” This is intention.

It is important during the early years to help children set appropriate goals and teach them strategies (tools) that help them achieve their goals.

Children learn by doing. If we want children to be able to set and achieve goals successfully then we need to provide experiences that allow them to practice making intentional choices. Ultimately, we want children to combine their self-confidence with their intentionality. Individuals who are secure in their choices are more likely to achieve their goals because they move forward with confidence. They are also more likely to inspire the confidence in others and, therefore, are more likely to ask other for help.

A Child Shows Intentionality When…

An Intentional Child Understands These Words…

  • She makes thoughtful choices.
  • He considers alternatives.
  • She understands the difference in thoughts and actions.
  • He finishes work.
  • She demonstrates persistence and determination.
  • He acts with confidence.
  • Actions
  • Choices
  • Commitment
  • Consider
  • Do
  • Drive
  • Effectiveness
  • Focus
  • Goal
  • Intent
  • Persistent
  • Purpose
  • Reflection
  • Satisfaction
  • Think

What You Can Do to Boost a Child’s Intentionality Skills

Talk About Intentionality

  • Talk about your plans.
  • Point out examples of intentional thinking.
  • Let children know when you are thinking about something and why.

Model Intentionality

  • Discuss the importance of thinking about what we want to do and what we want to accomplish.
  • Read stories that feature characters who make intentional choices.

Practice Intentionality

  • Offer choices and assess the pros and cons.
  • Discuss the difference between doing what we want to do and doing the right thing.
  • Allow time for focusing and reflecting.
  • Encourage persistence and commitment.
  • Encourage the development of internal satisfaction.
  • Stimulate children’s curiosity.
  • Share control.
  • Encourage cooperation.

Acknowledge Intentionality

  • Acknowledge children’s successes.
  • Sustained effort (persistence) deserves recognition.

Reflect on Intentionality

  • Ask children questions that encourage them to think about intentionality.

Research shows: Preschool children cannot make thoughtful deicisons when they are given more than three options to choose from.

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