Discovery Driven Learning

Our Proven Approach to Teaching & Learning

Explorers…discoverers…thinkers…that’s what children become when they step into our classrooms. With Discovery Driven Learning, children are investigators who get to know the world, all while discovering their creative problem-solving skills. So in the future when they’re asked to find answers, they’ll confidently recall the words from their earliest teachers: “Let’s find out!”

A young child learns about a sun flower with a magnifying glass at daycare

Get an Inside Look

Hear Rachel Robertson, VP of Education and Development, describe our science-informed framework for learning and teaching. Learn how it gives children the skills they need to reach their full potential in school and in life.

WEBINAR: Discovery Driven Learning

Hands-on, minds-on.

Hear why learning through play is so important and find out how Discovery Driven Learning creates a foundation for early education at Bright Horizons.

Young girl explores nature at daycare with educational rich curriculums

In Discovery Driven Learning, we...

encourage questions and inquiries; value the process of learning and discovery

explore through children’s own interests

build future-ready skills such as social-emotional learning, creativity, and problem-solving for kindergarten readiness and beyond

provide joyful, playful, and inclusive environments and experiences that combine multiple learning domains

integrate care and learning through our exclusive proven instructional method

blend the theories of early childhood pioneers with contemporary science and research

In many typical programs, they...

simply focus on right answers rather than life-long learner skills

provide lesson plans driven by adult ideas and pre-planned themes

place an imbalanced focus on academic kindergarten readiness and test preparation rather than whole child development

teach through rote learning methods such as flashcards and drills

use outdated models of teaching and learning

use singular theories, outdated research, or no scientific basis at all

How It All Works

Children want to make discoveries about themselves and the world around them — and that results in exciting revelations! Discovery Driven Learning is built upon the following components:

Young children learning at a local daycare preschool
Teaching Methods
Teachers prioritize building trust and respect with each child, knowing that strong relationships are the foundation for learning. When children feel safe and valued, they are able to explore the world more freely, building a positive self-concept and self-confidence.
A teacher holds an infant in the air at daycare
Vibrant classroom communities where children experience joyful learning, and each child, teacher, and family feels welcome. Children are capable and active participants in their own experience with unique identities, strengths, and assets. Families are valued partners.
Young children playing with hats and instruments at daycare
Bright, organized classrooms are filled with rich learning materials, books, and natural objects. We carefully design our spaces and thoughtfully select materials to provide comfort and security, inspire curiosity, and foster children’s independence.
Daycare sensory objects of rocks shells and a magnifying glass
Teaching Methods
The methods, behaviors, and practices proven to build relationships and nurture children’s growth and learning. Rooted in evidence-based research, our teaching methods help “good” teachers become “great” teachers as they focus on deepening their practice and craft.
A child care teacher helps a young learner at daycare
Our assessment, planning, and portfolio process based on observations of children’s interests and needs. Teachers thoughtfully develop flexible, engaging lesson plans designed for where children are right now, and document, assess, and communicate learning with families.
A daycare teacher focuses on a young child's learning and development at a local preschool
World at Their Fingertips®, our whole-child curriculum including STEM, literacy, social-emotional wellness, the arts, and much more. Our curriculum honors the joy of childhood, encourages children to pursue their interests, and builds foundation skills and knowledge.
A young child learns from the educationally rich Bright Horizons curriculum at daycare

I like how this training emphasized the whole child and incorporated learning that supports each area of a child’s development.


- Alicia, Toddler Teacher

Discovery Driven Learning is an amazing way to learn how to connect with children and to remember that’s how we build strong relationships and that caring for children is the center of all this.


- Kayla, Preschool Teacher

This training is a good reminder to take care of ourselves so we can take care of little ones. It’s so important to focus on relationships, because it helps children build confidence and feel secure.


- Emily, Infant Teacher

Discovery Driven Learning 

Teachers are constantly seeking new, innovative ways to keep children engaged and help even the youngest students develop a love of learning. In early education classrooms, Discovery Driven Learning helps nurture curiosity, encourage exploration, and more. 

Picture this: That “a-ha” moment when your child makes a connection or discovers something new and a light bulb clicks on in their mind. The look of awe, their excitement, and their desire to learn more are priceless. And that’s what they should experience throughout their early childhood education.  

Wondering how Discovery Driven Learning is incorporated into early education, child care, and daycare centers? Read on to find out and learn more about this framework. 

What is Discovery Driven Learning? 

Discovery Driven Learning is a hands-on style of learning that encourages children to actively participate — it puts them in charge of their own learning. It incorporates children’s questions and interests, boosts their curiosity, offers the tools they need to investigate, inspires exploration, and gets them excited about making new discoveries.  

Discovery Driven Learning for All Ages  

From the baby day care experience to kindergarten prep, and beyond — Discovery Driven Learning is beneficial for all ages.  

4 Key Advantages of Discovery Driven Learning 

If you’re looking for — or you’ve already found — a child care program that encourages Discovery Driven Learning, here are four things you can expect

  • Hands-on Learning: When children ask questions, teachers guide their learning, help them investigate, and offer support as they look for answers. All through hands-on experiences and learning through play, children participate in activities based on their own interests and make new discoveries about their world. 
  • Rich Learning Materials: In welcoming classrooms, Discovery Driven Learning makes early education a joyful experience, incorporating natural materials, books, and more to encourage children’s curiosity. 
  • Strong Relationships: Teachers build relationships with each child to help them feel safe and supported — this boosts children’s self-confidence and inspires them to explore. 
  • Skills for the Future: Discovery Driven Learning helps children develop ready-for-school skills — problem-solving, social-emotional, and more.

The Future of Discovery Driven Learning 

Children benefit in many different ways from this type of framework. If you’re in the process of finding daycare, ask about curriculum and day-to-day structure at each center you’re considering. If their answers include things like “hands-on experiences,” “learning through play,” “curriculum based on children’s interests,” and other similar phrases, you’ve likely found a center that prioritizes Discovery Driven Learning.  

At Bright Horizons, we use a Discovery Driven Learning teaching and learning framework for all age groups. This hands-on approach helps children make discoveries about themselves and their world, and prepares them for all the big steps ahead.  

Frequently Asked Questions About Discovery Driven Learning

What is an example of Discovery Driven Learning?


Discovery Driven Learning can start with children’s questions, such as, “How do birds fly?” or “Why is the sky blue?” Instead of just giving answers, teachers help students think, investigate, and explore — and find their own answers along the way.

How do teachers use this framework?

With Discovery Driven Learning, teachers base daily activities on children’s interests and questions, instead of creating lesson plans that follow pre-set topics. Teachers encourage hands-on experiences that make early education fun and inspire a lifelong love of learning.

What does Discovery Driven Learning look like in a classroom?

In an early learning center or educational daycare, you might see children exploring books about a certain topic, making predictions and investigating through science experiments, participating in dramatic play, or a number of other activities. You’ll likely see children in control, with teachers there to guide them.
mother holding child

Get Started Today

Find a center near you to get started with Bright Horizons

Or call us to start the conversation 877-624-4532