What is Discovery Driven Learning?

Children playing with sand

At Bright Horizons®, we do what is best for children — it’s as simple as that. Since our inception, we have created bold and innovative solutions informed by research and appropriately updated to reflect the most important findings in brain, developmental, and learning sciences.  

Discovery Driven Learning is learning that is guided by children’s innate desire to make discoveries about themselves and the world around them — and that results in exciting revelations.  

Discovery Driven Learning has four separate but interrelated parts:  

  • The Instructional Method 
  • Curriculum 
  • Planning and Assessment 
  • Professional Development 

Together, these four parts make a cohesive, unified, and exceptionally effective framework for children’s learning. We’re so excited and proud to share more about our approach.  

The Instructional Method: The Four Cornerstones 

Before we get to the curriculum we’re teaching, we ensure that the four cornerstones of our model are securely in place:  

  • Responsive and nurturing relationships  
  • Joyful, playful, and inclusive communities  
  • Proven instructional method  
  • Learner-centered environments and design 

The four cornerstones are the foundation of our approach. Because they’re so important to children’s healthy development, we make sure they’re in place first, before anything else.  

The cornerstones were designed with a specific order in mind. The very first is responsive and nurturing relationships. Of everything we do, this is the most important. Relationships build trust and make it possible to create joyful, playful, and inclusive communities.  

As we come to know the children in our communities, we can craft curriculum, instruction, and environments to fit their needs. We know that children learn best when they feel safe, heard, respected, and included; when their teachers use playful, individualized approaches to learning; and when they’re in peaceful, organized environments with engaging materials and experiences. The four cornerstones help us ensure that all these elements are in place.  


Our comprehensive whole-child curriculum — World at Their Fingertips — ensures rich learning in all developmental domains (physical, social-emotional, cognitive, language, and approaches to learning) and is broken down into elements such as literacy, math, science, character development, wellness, and art. 
Planning and Assessment 

To ensure the learning needs and interests of each child are realized, we use the proprietary Meaningful Assessment and Planning Process (MAPP) that incorporates a curated assessment instrument, a responsive planning platform, and a variety of communication tools in order to partner with families.  

Professional Development 

To ensure fidelity to and the reliability of this framework, our teachers and educational leaders are trained in the Discovery Driven Learning method. This training method includes a progressive path for participants to enhance their knowledge and expertise over time. 

Discovery Driven Learning puts the child first, ensuring their sense of wonder, natural curiosity, rich imaginations, and drive to discover are at the heart of all we do. 

Bright Horizons
About the Author
Bright Horizons
Bright Horizons
In 1986, our founders saw that child care was an enormous obstacle for working parents. On-site centers became one way we responded to help employees – and organizations -- work better. Today we offer child care, elder care, and help for education and careers -- tools used by more than 1,000 of the world’s top employers and that power many of the world's best brands
Children playing with sand