Logic & Reasoning Framework icon

This document was developed before the release of the Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework 2015 (HSELOF) [PDF, 9.2MB]. While information in this document is still valuable, the Office of Head Start (OHS) is in the process of updating materials to reflect the HSELOF 2015 to ensure they address the current needs of programs and reflect best practices and research. At this time, Getting Started [PDF, 703KB] provides initial guidance to programs in how to use the HSELOF.

Logic & Reasoning refers to the ability to think through problems and apply strategies for solving them. Logic and reasoning skills are an essential part of child development and early learning and a foundation for competence and success in school and other environments. Children's ability to think, reason, and use information allows them to acquire knowledge, understand the world around them, and make appropriate decisions. In the domain of Logic & Reasoning, programs need to ensure that children who are dual language learners can demonstrate their abilities, skills, and knowledge in any language, including their home language.

Strategies to Develop Reasoning & Problem-Solving

  • Engage children in generating multiple solutions to questions or problems: "It is raining and we can't go outside. What could we do instead?"
  • When exploring or experimenting with a science or math topic, engage children in the scientific method of asking questions, generating hypotheses, gathering data, predicting what will happen, and observing consequences.
  • Play games that involve classifying, comparing, and contrasting, such as Dominoes, Lotto, and other matching and sorting games.
  • Ask children to classify objects using more than one attribute ("Find the large, blue square; find the small, red circle.").
  • Help children verbalize their reasoning, thinking out loud about how to solve a problem or answer a question. Write down children's recommended ways of solving problems as well as their solutions to problems. Try them out.
  • Model open-mindedness and creativity. Demonstrate that there may be more than one way to do things or to solve problems.
  • Encourage children to think of as many solutions as they can to interpersonal problem situations. Ask them to think about what would happen next if they use a certain solution or to anticipate the consequences of an action.
  • Read and act out stories in which characters reason and solve challenging problems.

Domain Element: Reasoning & Problem-Solving

Title of Resource Type of Resource Notes
Mathematics as problem-solving, Communication, and Reasoning Article Excerpt Teaching staff and parents can use these math experiences to encourage children's reasoning and problem-solving abilities.
Measuring Experiences for Young Children [PDF, 344.94KB] Article Teachers explore using measurement investigations as a way to promote children's problem-solving.
Geometry and Spatial Sense (Webcast #3) Where's the Teddy Bear Lesson? Video and Lesson Teaching teams and parents can use this activity to enhance children's curiosity, reasoning, and problem-solving skills.
" 'Big Bill and Little Larry (Length)' [in] Measuring Experiences for Young Children" Article Excerpt Teaching teams including parents learn how to introduce a measurement problem that supports children's use of standard and non-standard units including their feet, hands, legs, rulers, pencils, and yarn to find solutions.
Science at the Center of the Integrated Curriculum: 10 Benefits Noted by Head Start Teachers [PDF, 31.98KB] Article Teaching staff use these tips to emphasize the content and context of science experiences as a way to incorporate meaningful language and literacy skills.
10 Benefits of the Scientific Approach Noted by Head Start Teachers [PDF, 31.98KB] Article The scientific approach of trial and error helps teachers see that errors offer valuable information about potential solutions to problems. Such trial and error experiences are valuable for young children, too.
Mathematics and Scientific Inquiry [PDF, 171.45KB] Article Teachers understand that intentionality is foundational to designing learning experiences and supporting children's progress in Math and Science. They can find approaches that support the development of problem-solving skills.
All Newts Are Good Newts [PDF, 44.92KB] Guided Practice Teachers can explore the ways in which children use a variety of materials to respond to the task of creating a newt.
Mrs. Ramirez's Class at the Water Table [PDF, 46.30KB] Guided Practice Teachers can review ways to focus questions about children's observations and experiences at the water table. Examples of interpreting children's responses offer information on which to base "next steps" to promote children's progress.

Strategies to Support Children's Symbolic Representation

  • Encourage children to record their thoughts in pictures or writing in their personal journals.
  • Ask children to sign-in each morning. The most meaningful word to any young child is his or her name. They are naturally motivated to see their name in print and spell their name when they are ready.
  • Display their writing attempts as proudly as you do their pictures. Keep in mind children learn about print by using it. They need encouragement: "You wrote me such an interesting note!"
  • Watch their scribbles change to letter-like symbols and eventually recognizable forms of print as they progress through predictable developmental stages reflecting their knowledge about writing as well as their developing fine motor skills.
  • Provide opportunities to write daily and make writing materials available in each activity or interest area in the classroom. Have a clipboard with pens and pencils attached in many different areas in the classroom for both children and adults to use. In the block area, provide markers and paper for children to make signs to label constructions, create street signs, and the like.
  • Stock a writing center with all kinds of writing tools and paper for children to experiment with.
  • Take dictations from children - their own stories or messages or large language experience charts - and let children take turns pointing to words as they read. They gain in many ways from seeing you write out their own words and reading the sentences back to them.
  • Support early writing experiences for English language learners in their home language whenever possible.
  • Give children journals in which to draw and write on their own.

Domain Element: Symbolic Representation

Title of Resource Type of Resource Notes
Script for Webcast #3: Language and Literacy through Science [PDF, 1.64MB] Script for Webcast Teachers can view examples of children's concept representation (p. 8, slide #11).
The Joy of Learning: Effective Curriculum & Assessment for Young Children [PDF, 202.34KB] PowerPoint Education managers can learn how symbolic representations help children communicate their mental concepts.
Curriculum, Assessment and the Head Start Framework:  An Alignment Review Tool [PDF, 703.79KB] Tool Education managers can determine their program's assessment and curriculum alignment with the 2010 domains and domain elements.
Josie's Drip—a Learning Story Photos and Story Teaching teams can review how a picture and story represent a child's mental processes.
Wheels on the Bus [PDF, 62.22KB] Guided Practice Teaching teams can find examples of children's creations and ways to interpret progress in representational drawing.
At the Post Office [PDF, 59.61KB] Guided Practice Teaching teams can find examples of children's progress in the development of representational drawing.
The Flowers that Bloom in the Spring [PDF, 83.13KB] Guided Practice Teaching teams can review this example of a child's series of drawings of a flower and think about her understanding of science and nature, evidence of symbolic representation, fine motor skills, and creative expression.
Angel's Avocado [PDF, 135.64KB] Guided Practice Teaching teams can review this example of a child's drawing of an avocado to determine how to extend learning and document progress. 
All Newts are Good Newts [PDF, 44.92KB] Guided Practice Teachers can review the examples of children's creations of newts to gain an understanding of their understanding of newts and what they've learned.

References for Evidence-Based Practice for the Logic & Reasoning Domain of the 2010 Early Learning Framework

The body of research that focuses on early education intervention as a key contributor to children's school readiness and successful achievement has grown significantly since the creation of Head Start in 1965. In order to highlight the significance of this research across the outcome domains of the Early Learning Framework, we include a variety of references that describe various levels of evidence in the research base. Specifically we include levels of evidence that support the scientific believability of approaches, strategies, instructional practices, and outcomes. These levels of evidence include results of large scale research studies, documentation of evidence-informed practices, and/or replicable practices that effect children's progress toward outcomes, or are heuristic in that they hold merit for future research.

Reasoning & Problem-Solving

Antliak, S. & Sahin, D. (2010). An observational study for evaluating the effects of interpersonal problem-solving skills training on behavioural dimensions. Early Child Development and Care, 180(8), 995-1003.

Lau, P. N. (2009). The effects of cooperative learning on preschoolers' mathematics problem-solving abilities. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 72(3), 307–324.

Patel, P. & Canobi, K.H. (2010). The role of number words in preschoolers' addition concepts and problem-solving procedures. Educational Psychology, 30(2), 107-124.

Symbolic Representation

Bialystok, E. (2000). Symbolic Representation across Domains in Preschool Children. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology , 76(3), 173-189.

Carruthers, E. (2005). Making sense of mathematical graphics: The development of understanding abstract symbolism. European Early Childhood Education Research Journal, 13(1), 57-79.

Dijk, E. F., van Oers, B. & Terwel, J. (2004). Schematising in early childhood mathematics education: Why, when and how? European Early Childhood Education Research Journal, 12(1), 71-83.

Poland, M. (2007). Effects of schematizing on mathematical development. European Early Childhood Education Research Journal, 15 (2), 269-293.

Rogers, J. P. (2008). Cardinal Number and Its Representation: Skills, Concepts and Contexts. Early Child Development and Care, 178(2), 211-225.

Uttal, D. , O'Doherty, K. ,Newland, R. , Hand, L. & DeLoache, J. (2009). Dual Representation and the Linking of Concrete and Symbolic Representations. Child Development Perspectives, 3(3), 156-159.

Last Reviewed: June 2015

Last Updated: June 19, 2015