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Early Childhood Education and Family Engagement

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New Jersey State Department of Education

Preschool Teaching & Learning Expectations:
Standards of Quality

PTM# 1503.18

July, 2004


The New Jersey Department of Education gratefully acknowledges the hard work and dedication of numerous individuals who represented early childhood experts from across the state. They include:

Deborah Allen Kean University
Sue Anderson Garfield School District
Carolyn Atherly Atlantic Human Resources Head Start Program
Adrianna Battista-Werner Mile Square Child Development Center, Hoboken
Maria Benejan Bank Street Early Childhood Project,
New York City
Kimberly Brenneman Rutgers, The State University
Terri Buccarelli New Jersey Department of Human Services
Paula Bunyan Essex County Community College Child Development Center, Newark
JoAnn Burns Millville School District
Linda Byrd Irvington School District
Lorraine Cooke Egenolf Early Childhood Center, Elizabeth
Joanne Cote-Bonnano

Anna DeMolli

Montclair State University

Paterson School District

Wilma Farmer Camden School District
Pat Fields Lucent Technologies
Kimberly Friddell The IMPACT Center
Maria Garcia Passaic School District
Peggy Gens Burlington City School District
Paulina Alvarado Goldman Hispanic Directors Association of New Jersey
Judith Hall New Jersey Department of Health and Human Services
Carol Irving Jersey City Day Care 100, Jersey City
Katie Johnson Parent Representative, Passaic City
Lorraine Johnson New Jersey Head Start Association
Jacqueline Jones Educational Testing Service
Elizabeth Kendall Montclair State University
Beth Lavin Rutgers, The State University
Beverly Lynn New Jersey Department of Human Services
James Lytle Trenton School District
Colleen Malleo Passaic School District
Ginny Martin Community Coordinated Child Care of Union County, Hillside
Linda McGinnis Keansburg School District
Ruth Piatt Little Lamb Preschool, Vineland
Kathleen Priestley Elizabeth Public School
Marion Rilling The Graduate School, Rowan University
Nancy Rivera Newark School District
Victor Sciacchetano Union City School District
Michael Searson Kean University
Holly Seplocha William Paterson University
Barbara Fridy Scott NJIDEAS
Paquita Roberts New Jersey Department of Education
Rainie Roncoroni Phillipsburg School District
Deborah Thompson The College of New Jersey
Barbara Tkach New Jersey Department of Education
Carmina Villa Long Branch School District
Claire Warnock West New York School District
Timber Washington Little People At Work Preschool, Neptune

The Department is grateful to reviewers Elena Bodrova of MCREL, Rochel Gelman of Rutgers, The State University and Herb Ginsberg of Teachers College, Columbia University.

The Department acknowledges the following staff members from the Office of Early Childhood Education for their assistance in preparing this document: Jennifer Beaumont, Laverne Blue, Lisa Cuff, Amy Hornbeck, Patricia McMillan, Raymonde’ Morton, Kathleen Priestley, and Elizabeth Vaughan.

The Department also acknowledges staff from other offices for their input in the development of this document. They include: Jay Doolan, Joseph Hatrak, Linda Morse, Jean Voorhees, Robert Riehs, Iris Nagler, Arthur Mitchell, and Janis Jensen.

Special thanks go to the hundreds of individuals who participated in the focus group sessions and responded by letter or e-mail to provide input in the final document.

















In April 2000, the Department of Education developed and publishedthe Early Childhood Program Expectations: Standards of Quality [(now called Preschool Teaching and Learning Expectations: Standards of Quality)] as guidance to the adults working with young children. In July, 2004, the State Board of Education adopted these revised Preschool Teaching and Learning Expectations: Standards of Quality. For districts receiving State aid to provide preschool programs, the Standards are requirements for good practice as regulated by N.J.A.C. 6a:8 and N.J.A.C. 6a:10A. For districts not receiving State aid for preschool provision but have or are affiliated with preschool programs, the Standards are guidelines for good practice.

The document, grounded in a strong theoretical framework for delivering high quality educational experiences to young children, does the following:

  • Articulates the optimal relationships between and among families, the community and schools;
  • Describes developmentally appropriate teaching practices;
  • Identifies expected learning outcomes for young children;
  • Definessupportive learning environments;
  • Links indicators within the expectations document to the Core Curriculum Content Standards;
  • Provides guidance on the assessment of young children;
  • Provides examples for both preschool teaching practices and learning outcomes within each domain; and
  • Provides specific developmentally appropriate practices within the learning environment.

The Preschool Teaching and Learning Expectations: Standards of Quality sets a standard for preschool learning outcomes and serves as a benchmark for determining how effectively the classroom curriculum is being implemented. In other words, the curriculum is the vehicle for meeting the learning outcomes described here. The term "standards" as it applies to the field of early childhood education, is described in Early Learning Standards: Creating the Conditions for Success, the joint position statement of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and the National Association of Early Childhood Specialists in State Departments of Education (NAECS/SDE), approved in November, 2003 and endorsed by the Council of Chief State School Officers in April, 2003. The position statement uses the term "early learning standards" to describe expectations for the learning and development of young children. (p.1) The terms are used interchangeably.

Linking the Expectations to the Classroom Curriculum

As with the Core Curriculum Content Standards, the Preschool Teaching and Learning Expectations: Standards of Quality presents standards for all districts in the state. It is to be used as follows:

  • A resource for ensuring appropriate implementation of the curriculum being used in the classroom;
  • A guide for instructional planning and teaching;
  • A framework for ongoing professional development opportunities; and
  • A framework for development of a comprehensive early childhood education assessment system.

Developmentally appropriate practices are the scaffolds for the Preschool Teaching and Learning Expectations: Standards of Quality. Developmentally appropriate practice is based on knowledge about how children learn and develop, variations in development that may occur, and how best to support children's learning and development. It is important to note, therefore, that although the domains are presented as discrete areas, the instructional program has to be delivered in an integrated process through the use of projects and small-group activities.

Preschool education consists of specially designed educational experiences to stimulate, assist, support, and sustain emergent skills before entering kindergarten. Preschools, whether public or nonpublic, aim at providing a wide range of developmentally appropriate experiences that young children need to be successful with the Core Curriculum Content Standards through the selection of curricula that allow for the movement toward, and/or the attainment of, the indicators in the Preschool Teaching and Learning Expectations: Standards of Quality. These experiences are usually shaped by a curriculum.

The curriculum is defined as an educational philosophy for achieving desired educational outcomes through the presentation of an organized scope and sequence of activities with a description and/or inclusion of appropriate instructional materials.

Purpose and Overview of the Expectations

The Preschool Teaching and Learning Expectations: Standards of Quality is not a curriculum. Indicators of high-quality teaching practices that will support and enhance the development of the learning outcomes for students are not intended for use as a checklist. This document presents standards for working with the home, school, and community; for creating and sustaining the learning environment; and for identifying and using appropriate assessment tools and practices. It begins with Home, School and Community Partnerships; the Learning Environment; and Assessment -- the areas essential to a high-quality program and that both support and facilitate teaching and learning in Social/Emotional Development, Creative Arts, Health, Safety and Physical Education, Language Arts/Literacy, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, and WorldLanguages. An extensive, but not exhaustive, bibliography is provided.The books, articles, and periodicals listed here are valuable resources for any professional library.

Issues of Implementation

This document is developed for use in any program serving preschool children. The preschool environment, materials, and teaching strategies should be adapted as appropriate to meet the needs of all children. The needs of young learners are as diverse as the homes and communities from which they come. There will be learners from many cultural, racial, and ethnic backgrounds. There will be learners from homes and communities where the dominant language is not English. There will be learners needing specialized and focused interventions to support and sustain their educational progress.

Special Educational Needs

This document provides the focus for curriculum determination and instruction for all preschool children ages three and four. This population includes preschoolers with disabilities. Providing appropriate intervention services to these students is in accordance with the Individuals with Disabilities Act Amendments (IDEA) of 1997, which guarantee students with disabilities the right to general education program adaptations, as specified in their Individualized Education Programs (IEPs), after parental consent is granted. These federal requirements are intended to result in adaptations that provide preschool children with disabilities full access to the early childhood education program and the early childhood education curriculum.

Preschoolers with disabilities demonstrate a broad range of learning, cognitive, communication, physical, sensory, and social/emotional differences that may necessitate adaptations to the early childhood education program. Each preschooler manifests his or her learning abilities, learning style, and learning preferences in a unique way. Consequently, the types of adaptations needed and the program in which the adaptations will be implemented, are determined individually within the IEP. Adaptations are not intended to compromise the learning outcomes. Instead, adaptations provide children with disabilities the opportunity to develop their strengths and compensate for their learning differences as they work toward the learning outcomes for all children. The specific models used in addressing the adaptations can range from a fully inclusive classroom to a self-contained classroom, and is determined by the student's need.

Childhood experiences can have a long-lasting implication for one's future. The earliest years of schooling can promote positive developmental experiences and independence and encourage the uniqueness of each child. Preschool programs can be planned and structured so that all children develop the belief that they are "more alike than different." Careful planning is needed to ensure the successful inclusion of preschoolers with disabilities in early childhood education programs. The focus should be on identifying individual student needs, linking instruction to the early childhood curriculum, providing appropriate supports and program modifications, and evaluating student progress.

Diversity and Multiculturalism

The opportunities for learning are strengthened as the connections across the home, school, and community are acknowledged and respected. Multicultural issues (e.g., language, culture, race, ethnicity) and diversity (e.g., different social, economic, lifestyle, physical abilities) are woven into the daily activities of the early childhood education program. A high-quality early childhood education program embraces the heritages of the families being served. Young children are developing their sense of self and of others within their families, classrooms, and communities through exploration. The early childhood education program must, therefore, provide activities, materials, and experiences that allow and encourage young children to become aware of the differences and similarities of the members of the community in which they live.

Young learners arrive filled with curiosity, ability, and past experiences. These past experiences have been nurtured in home environments where racial, physical, ethnic, gender, and socio-economic diversities and biases are present. It is important that the program administration and staff understand their own personal attitudes and biases, be culturally sensitive, and be willing to learn about and accept the range of differences present in the program.

Professional Development

Implementation of these expectations is a continuous, ongoing process. These expectations will result in preparing children to meet the Core Curriculum Content Standards only if there is a commitment to their implementation by all stakeholders. Full understanding of the document and familiarity with the developmentally appropriate practices necessary for its implementation can be fostered through a well-organized and consistent plan for professional development geared to each stakeholder group.

  • Local boards of education and boards of child care centers need to make professional development a priority and provide support by allocating necessary resources.
  • Administrators need to provide curriculum support, resources, materials and opportunities for staff to improve teaching practices. Preschool directors, principals, education supervisors and directors of special education will need to actively pursue and provide professional development activities and time for teachers to reflect on and refine practice. They will also actively engage themselves in the professional development activities.
  • Early childhood teachers and aides, special education teachers, bilingual educators, librarians, support staff, child study team members and related service providers need to review and explore this document together. In addition, each person will be encouraged to independently reflect on this document and implement strategies to improve classroom practices. Classroom teachers and other staff will need to collaborate in program planning and in the implementation of these expectations.
  • Families need to become more knowledgeable about developmentally appropriate practices and be made aware of resources and suggestions for affordable access to activities that promote the child’s learning and development. They also need to support their child's growth and development through participation in their child's early childhood education program.
  • Colleges and universities need to support the State's efforts to improve preschool practices by providing opportunities for professional preparation specific to the Expectations that will contribute to the attainment of the Preschool - Grade 3 teaching endorsement.



Supportive partnerships around a child provide the kind of environment in which families, schools, and the community work together to achieve and sustain shared goals for children. Ongoing communication and interaction encourages appropriate and effective learning opportunities for children. A well-defined plan is required for incorporating a wide range of family involvement and educational opportunities into the early childhood education program.

Trust and respect are essential to building collaborative and interactive relationships between school staff and families. These relationships promote the sharing of ideas and learning from each other. An integral component of the partnership is the recognition of the family members as the experts on their children. The program and the program staff must always show respect for the child, the family and the culture of the home.

The National Association for the Education of Young Children’s (NAEYC's) fifth guideline for decisions about developmentally appropriate practice states they come

"from deep knowledge of individual children and the context within which they develop and learn. The younger the child, the more necessary it is for professionals to acquire this knowledge through relationships with children's families" (NAEYC, 1995)

thus providing the scaffolding for building reciprocal partnerships among homes, school communities and the community at large. Outlined below is a well-defined plan for establishing and nurturing these reciprocal relationships.

Governance and Structure

The program design provides structure and policies that encourage and support partnerships among home, school and the community at large:

  • Family members are involved in aspects of program design and governance (e.g., advisory councils and school leadership/management teams).
  • Opportunities are provided for preschool staff and families to develop the skills necessary to actively and effectively participate in the governance process (e.g., workshops offered by the program, seminars sponsored by the Department of Education, speakers and activities sponsored by colleges and universities and/or child advocacy organizations).
  • Advisory council meetings and parent programs are held at times conducive to family participation (i.e., activities are not always scheduled at 3 p.m. or at 9 a.m. when most people are at work).
  • Program policies actively encourage and support family involvement (e.g., family members are welcomed as volunteers in the classrooms and other areas within the program, family members are encouraged to observe in classrooms, family members see and interact with program administrators formally and informally).

Culture and Diversity

The program design ensures recognition and respect for culture and diversity:

  • Classroom materials reflect the characteristics, values and practices of diverse cultural groups (e.g., there are books in a variety of languages, the art work reflects a broad spectrum of people living and working in many different locations and climates).
  • Cultural and religious practices are acknowledged and respected throughout the year (e.g., absences for religious holidays are allowed, dietary restrictions are respected, culturally driven reasons for nonparticipation in some school activities are honored).
  • The uniqueness of each family is recognized and respected by all members of the school community (e.g., language, dress, structure, customs).
  • Cultural traditions are shared in the classroom and throughout the program (e.g., pictures of specific activities that a student may have participated in are displayed in the classroom).


The program design provides a two-way system of communication that is open and easily accessible, and in which families and community representatives are valued as resources and decision-makers:

  • Program information is provided to the family in lay terms, in the family's native language and using multiple strategies (e.g., handbooks, videos, e-mail, TV and newspapers).
  • Ongoing information concerning program/classroom expectations and activities are provided to families (e.g., regular newsletter for families and the community, strategies for family members to assist a child with specific learning activities, suggestions of experiences that can be provided at home and in the community to extend the child's understanding of an activity done in the classroom).
  • Family education is based on the stated needs and interests of the families and includes information such as child development, guidance and positive discipline. Family members are an integral part of the decision-making process for developing the family education program.
  • Information about the child and family is solicited before enrollment and at regular intervals throughout the year through home visits, home-school conferences, informal chats, phone calls and notes.
  • Documentation of each child's progress and guided by written and verbal communications in the language most comfortable for the family between the program personnel and membersof the families.The instructional staff has conversations with family members to understand their goals so that decisions about the most appropriate ways to proceed are made jointly.
  • Pertinent information regarding the child's progress is provided to the receiving school when a child transitions from one program to another (e.g., child portfolio, teacher annotations).
  • Registration procedures and documents provide essential information about the child (e.g., family contacts, immunization records, special health needs).

Community Resources and Partnerships

The program design ensures opportunities for building partnerships and accessing community resources:

  • Information and referrals regarding community resources are provided to the family, such as employment, health and adult education classes.
  • Large corporations, small businesses and other organizations are invited to collaborate in supporting children and families (e.g., creating a community resource board).
  • Collaborations between the program and community agencies are facilitated to ensure delivery of services to the family (e.g., a program can offer a meeting space for families to interact with community agencies).

Family Support

The program design recognizes the family as the expert about its child.

  • Resources are provided to the family members to enhance the social, emotional, physical and cognitive development of their children (e.g., a newsletter with ideas for educational trips, a listing of books to support the development of emergent literacy and numeracyskills, discussion sessions to share information about activities at local museums and libraries).
  • Support networks among families with children enrolled in the program are developed (e.g., monthly potlucks, game days for adults, fairs and craft shows to promote and support the talents of families, babysitting cooperatives, welcome wagons and buddy families).
  • Family activities are planned at varying times of the day and week to encourage the participation of as many families as possible (e.g., at breakfast, at the end of the work day and on weekends).
  • Encourage family members to visit the program when it is most convenient for them (e.g., to observe their child, volunteer during play, participate at meals and special events).



A supportive learning environment is created through the interaction of the indoor and outdoor physical environment, the instructional materials, furnishings, interpersonal relationships (adults with children, adults with adults and children with children) and daily routines. It is within this supportive environment that each child's optimal development takes place. The child's development in the four domains - social, physical, cognitive and emotional - is being supported, sustained, extended and enhanced primarily through activities which promote purposeful play. While the adults provide the conditions and the materials that influence how the child plays and extend the activity so that more sophisticated levels of interaction and expression are realized, it is the child who determines the roles and the rules shaping the play.

The learning environment must, therefore, accommodate planned and unplanned, as well as structured and unstructured experiences. Unstructured play should take up a substantial portion of the day. Structured activities such as circle time, small-group time and lunch include the routines that provide stability and familiarity necessary for young children, as well as learning activities integrating the content areas and having specific goals planned by the adults. For structured and unstructured activities, the environment must provide welcoming, safe, healthy, clean, warm and stimulating areas to promote the development of critical thinking skills, foster awareness of diversity and multiculturalism and provide the supports to strengthen, expand and deepen learning.

The instructional materials provide opportunities for children to broaden and deepen their knowledge by providing a variety of firsthand, developmentally appropriate experiences and by helping children acquire symbolic knowledge through representing their experiences in a variety of age appropriate media, such as drawing, painting, construction of models, dramatic play and verbal and written descriptions.

The foundation for creating learning environments that foster optimal development of young children comes from the National Association for the Education of Young Children’s (NAEYC's) principles of child development and learning that inform developmentally appropriate practice. Two principles hold special significance:

  • Development proceeds in predictable directions toward greater complexity, organization and internalization; and
  • Play is an important vehicle for the child’s social, emotional, and cognitive development, as well as a reflection of development.

A rich learning environment contains the following elements:

Physical Environment

  • Provides learning centers that encourage integration of multiple content areas (e.g., in the library center there will be big books, picture books, books with words for adults to read, books representing a broad range of topics, headsets with audiotapes, stories on the computer; in the block center there will be large unit blocks, hollow blocks, cardboard vehicles, audio tapes, pencil, paper and architectural magazines).
  • Accommodates active and quiet activities (e.g., the library area may be for children wanting to read alone, quietly listen to a book read by an adult or listen to music through head sets; while the block area encourages lots of movement and discussion to plan and complete projects).
  • Provides materials that deepen awareness and knowledge of diversity and multiculturalism (e.g., dolls of different ethnicities and race, musical instruments from a variety of cultures, stories that show how one event is interpreted differently by different cultural groups).
  • Allows children easy access to materials.

  • Provides an ample supply of materials.

  • Offers opportunities for solitary, parallel and group play in view of an adult.

  • Provides space for individual, small- and large-group experiences, both indoors and outdoors.

  • Displays classroom materials at children's eye level.

  • Creates a literacy-rich environment through a variety of sources for print, audio, video and non-print media.

Daily Routines

  • Encourage the development of self-confidence by offering multiple opportunities for making choices, such as deciding on projects, selecting centers or inviting classmates to be a part of an activity.
  • Encourage curiosity, problem-solving and the generation of ideas and fantasy through exploration.
  • Include activities to meet the individual needs of all children and provide opportunities for success (e.g., recognizing that a particular student would benefit from more fine motor activities by collaborating on a painting activity).
  • Provide opportunities for talk and self-expression in English and in the child's home language.
  • Encourage and model the use of language in different social groups and situations.
  • Stimulate questioning and discussions during all activities.

  • Include the use of technology, such as computers with age-appropriate software, to enhance the development of critical thinking skills.



Assessment of young children is an ongoing process which includes identifying, collecting, describing, interpreting and applying classroom-based evidence of early learning in order to make informed instructional decisions. This evidence may include records of children's conversations, their drawings and constructions, as well as photographs of and anecdotal notes describing their behaviors.

Documentation, a preliminary stage in the assessment process, focuses on identifying, collecting and describing the evidence of learning in an objective, nonjudgmental manner. Teachers of young children should take the time to identify the learning goals, collect records of language and work samples, and then carefully describe and review the evidence with colleagues. However, beyond documentation, the evidence must be connected back to the learning goals and, based on these findings, new curriculum strategies may be designed and new questions about the child's learning may be posed.

Careful documentation and assessment can increase the teacher's understanding of normal child development, assist in understanding the needs of the children in a specific class and enhance the teacher's ability to reflect on the instructional program.

Major Purpose of Assessment in Early Childhood

The primary purpose of the assessment of young children is to help educators determine appropriate classroom activities for individuals and groups of children.

The documentation/assessment process should do the following:

  • Build on multiple forms of evidence of the child's learning;
  • Take place over a period of time;
  • Reflect the understanding of groups, as well as of individual children; and
  • Reflect sensitivity to each child’s special needs, home language, learning style and developmental stage.

The information from the documentation/assessment process should do the following:

  • Connect to developmentally appropriate learning goals;
  • Add to an understanding of the child’s growth and development;
  • Provide information that can be applied directly to instructional planning; and
  • Be communicated to the child’s family and, to the appropriate extent, to the child.

Achievement Tests

Individual- and group-administered achievement norm-referenced tests are usually inappropriate tools for assessing young children's development. Such instruments are not typically designed to provide information on how children learn, how they might apply their learning to real-life situations, or how the test results relate to the teacher's instructional goals and planning.

Developmental Screening Measures

Developmental screening measures are administered to each child individually and are used to identify children who may demonstrate developmental delay with language or motor skills, or problems with vision or hearing. In such cases, the results of the screening measures should be used to determine whether a child needs further comprehensive diagnostic assessment. Information received from a single developmental assessment or screening should never serve as the basis for major decisions affecting a child’s placement or enrollment. Developmental screenings should be viewed as just one component in a comprehensive early childhood education assessment system. Assessment should be tailored to a specific purpose and should be used only for the purpose for which it has consistently demonstrated reliable results.

Referral for an Evaluation

When a parent or teacher has a concern about a child’s development and suspects a potential disability, the parent or teacher may submit a written request for a special education evaluation to the district’s child study team. The written request (referral) must be submitted to the appropriate school official. This may be the principal at the neighborhood school, the director of the preschool program where the child attends, the director of special education or the child study team coordinator for the district in which the child resides. The child may be eligible for special education. The parent, preschool teacher and the child study team (school psychologist, school social worker, learning disabilities teacher-consultant, speech-language specialist) will meet to determine the need for evaluation, and if an evaluation is warranted, discuss the assessments to be completed. After completion of the evaluation and a determination of eligibility is made, an Individualized Education Program (IEP) is developed for the child by the IEP team (parent, a child study team member, a district representative, the case manager, general education teacher, special education teacher or provider). The team will determine modifications, interventions, support and supplementary services necessary to support the child. To the maximum extent appropriate, preschoolers with disabilities will receive their early childhood education with their non-disabled peers.

Importance of the Documentation/Assessment Process for Teachers' Professional Development

Teachers who use the documentation/assessment process enhance their ability to do the following:

  • Respond easier and more effectively to demands for accountability;
  • Teach more effectively, using interactive experiences that enhance children's development;
  • Make more productive instructional planning decisions (e.g., how to set up the classroom, what to do next, what questions to ask, what resources to provide, how to stimulate each child's development and what external support systems are required);
  • Meet more of some children's special needs and interests within the classroom. The ongoing process of identifying, collecting, describing, interpreting and applying classroom-based evidence can help the teacher to become more aware of and develop a broader repertoire of instructional strategies; and
  • Identify the most appropriate learning experiences for children.

The documentation/assessment process can also help young children to perceive learning to be important and worthwhile, as they see their teachers actively engaged in documenting their learning.

Portfolio Assessment

Portfolio assessment is the systematic and intentional collection of significant samples of children's work with the teacher's comments on how the work samples and records of language serve as evidence of the child's movement toward established learning goals. The portfolio process should clearly indicate the learning goals, illustrate and document children's development over a period of time, actively involve children and reflect each child's individual development.

Some Strategies for Portfolio Assessment

  • Determine the developmental areas to be assessed (e.g., spoken language, art, early literacy, symbolic play, motor skills, math concepts, creativity, peer relationships).
  • Identify the documents which best demonstrate development (e.g., drawings, paintings, other artwork, photos, dictated stories, book choices, teacher's notes, audio tapes, graphs, checklists).
  • Regularly create a collection of samples with children's input (e.g., record what the children tell you about a variety of things).
  • Develop a storage system for the samples of children's work.
  • Describe the documents with colleagues in order to gain additional perspectives on the child's development. Study groups of teachers can be formed to collect and describe samples of children's work.
  • Connect the children's work to the learning goals.
  • Make sure the samples show the full range of what each child can do.
  • Collect data that tells a clear story to the audience.


Observation of young children is crucial to appropriate documentation and assessment. However, observation is a skill that must be developed and perfected by the teacher over time. In the process of observing children, teachers can make use of the following techniques: rating forms, photography, narrative description, anecdotes, videotaping, journals and the conversations of individual children and groups.

Observation must be intentional. As part of the daily classroom routine, it is probably the most authentic form of assessment. Observing what children do every day is the best place to start when creating a real-life profile of each child.

What to Observe

  • Patterns in behavior reflecting motivation to learn, explore or investigate a particular thing. These patterns are evidence that a child consistently exhibits these behaviors.
  • Problem-solving strategies.
  • Patterns of social interaction (i.e., determine individual preferences for large group, small group or solitary play in the classroom and on the playground).
  • Key attributes of the child (i.e., identify and list recurring interests).

How to Observe

  • Observe regularly with a specific purpose.
  • Observe children at different times of the day.
  • Observe children in different settings throughout the school or center.
  • Observe the usual demeanor of the child, not the unusual behavior or bad days.
  • Observe for new possibilities. If a child is having trouble, could the environment or circumstances be changed to assist the child?

The Parents

Parents should be partners in the accurate and sensitive assessment of young children. The following practices help encourage parental involvement in child assessments:

  • Accentuate the positive when assessing children.
  • Build assessment comments about how a child is doing into everyday conversations with parents.
  • Explain assessment approaches at a parent meeting or workshop. Be clear about the differences between standardized tests and authentic assessment.
  • Write about assessment in a newsletter or a special letter home.
  • Demonstrate that parents are valued as respected partners in the behavior and progress of children.
  • Support comments with documentation showing what the child has accomplished over time.

The Children

Everyone has a view of a child's abilities, preferences and performances, including the child. To effectively involve the children in their own assessment, do the following:

  • Observe and document things the children say and do. Often random statements such as, "I was this big on my last birthday, now I'm THIS big" are evidence that children are capable of assessing what they can do and how they are changing.
  • Ask children about themselves. Children will tell you what they do and do not like to do. Some children may prefer a private, intimate setting in which they have your undivided attention, while some children may respond to more informal discussions.
  • Ask children to assess their work. Ask children to help decide which work should be included in their portfolio. Respect their choices and responses about their work.
  • Let children take pictures of their most prized work from time to time. They can make a bulletin board display of their specially chosen picture portfolio.



Social/Emotional growth and learning develops through interactions with others and is interconnected with physical and cognitive domains. Social relationships between adults and children exert a powerful positive influence on children's development. A high-quality preschool program requires a permanent, well-trained teaching staff, who work in partnership with children’s families. These teachers provide an environment for children that is safe, secure, accessible, organized, comfortable, predictable and consistent. In this environment, children are carefully observed as they move through the preschool day in order to systematically assist them in developing social competence and confidence. Teachers listen carefully and adapt their responses to children’s individual social and emotional needs. Teachers support developing self-concept and self-esteem by describing with the children their actions and accomplishments. Throughout the day, teachers coach and guide children as they interact with each other and test their social skills and problem-solving abilities. In this community of learners, children develop the social and emotional competencies they need to fully immerse themselves in the preschool day.

EXPECTATION 1: Children demonstrate self-confidence.

EXPECTATION 2: Children demonstrate self-direction.

EXPECTATION 3: Children identify and express feelings.

EXPECTATION 4: Children exhibit positive interactions with other children and adults.

EXPECTATION 5: Children exhibit pro-social behaviors.

EXPECTATION 6: Children exhibit attending and focusing skills.

EXPECTATION 7: Children participate in group routines.

EXPECTATION l: Children demonstrate self-confidence.

Preschool Teaching Practices

  • Provide materials and activities to foster learning at the child's developmental level (e.g., knobbed and regular puzzles, looped scissors, open-ended art materials, manipulative sizes to best "fit" the child).
  • Make adaptations to the classroom environment to support individual children's needs (e.g., sensory table, quiet spaces, appropriately sized furnishings and visuals at eye level).
  • Make adaptations to materials and activities to support primary language development (e.g., labels in home language and English with pictures to reinforce, actions with words in both languages, simple directions in two languages, books, music and computer software in two languages).
  • Provide common housekeeping and classroom materials that encourage independence (e.g., brooms and dustpans, scissors, staplers, woodworking tools and authentic household and occupational items that are safe and easily manageable for role-playing).
  • Use children's ideas and interests for activities and in discussions (e.g., tire tracks made by playground bicycle wheels lead to an exploration and discussion of the different tracks made from an assortment of wheels).
  • Use open-ended questions to begin a discussion with children individually or in a group (e.g., "What might happen if . . .?, "What would you do if . . .?").
  • Model verbal descriptions of children's actions and accomplishments (e.g., "Anna used the paintbrush to make squiggles."). Ask questions that encourage children to describe their actions and accomplishments (e.g., "Joseph, will you tell Maria how you used the computer mouse to change your drawing?").

Preschool Learning Outcomes

1.1 Makes independent decisions about materials to use in order to express individuality.

1.2 Makes independent choices and plans from a broad range of diverse interest centers.

1.3 Participates independently in using household and classroom materials.

1.4 Expresses ideas for activities and initiates discussions.

1.5 Participates in discussions with teachers and friends.

1.6 Acknowledges actions and accomplishments verbally and nonverbally.

EXPECTATION 2: Children demonstrate self-direction.

Preschool Teaching Practices

  • Organize classroom arrangement and daily routine so that children can independently choose materials and put them away on their own (e.g., keep supplies on low shelves, use child-sized utensils, organize centers so that children can maneuver).
  • Organize and facilitate open-ended and child-initiated activities to encourage independence and self-direction (e.g., Jorge’s interest in trains leads a small group of children to build a train station from found materials in the classroom).
  • Emphasize routines with songs, rhymes, movement and pictures that reinforce independent functioning in the classroom (e.g., pictures that represent the daily schedule, songs as cues during transition times).

Preschool Learning Outcomes

2.1 Explores and experiments with a wide variety of developmentally appropriate, curriculum referenced materials and activities.

2.2 Demonstrates self-help skills (e.g., puts blocks away, pours juice, uses soap when washing hands).

2.3 Moves through the classroom routines and activities with minimal teacher direction.

EXPECTATION 3: Children identify and express feelings.

Preschool Teaching Practices

  • Identify a wide range of feelings with appropriate vocabulary during discussions and storytelling (e.g., "The three little kittens lost their mittens." How do you think they felt?).
  • Provide literature, materials and activities which help children to interpret and express a wide range of feelings of self and others with appropriate words and actions (e.g., drawing, writing, art, creative movement, pretend play, puppetry and role-playing).
  • Model appropriate language for children to use when expressing feelings such as anger and sadness, etc. (e.g., "I felt angry when you pushed me!" "I didn't like it!").
  • Provide specific techniques for children to learn to channel anger, minimize fear and calm down (e.g., taking three deep breaths, using of words, pulling self out of play to go to "safe spot" to relax, listening to soft music or working with clay).

Preschool Learning Outcomes

3.1 Labels and describes a wide range of feelings, including sadness, anger, fear and happiness.

3.2 Empathizes with feelings of others (e.g., gets blanket for friend and comforts him/her when he/she feels sad).

3.3 Channels negative feelings such as anger and impulse through specific techniques (e.g., taking three deep breaths, using words, pulling self out of play to go to "safe spot" to relax, expressive activities).

EXPECTATION 4: Children exhibit positive interactions with other children and adults.

Preschool Teaching Practices

  • Comment on specific behavior instead of giving empty praise (e.g., "Shadeen, you knew every word of the `Wheels on the Bus' song.").
  • Encourage nurturing behavior through modeling, stories, and songs.
  • Encourage the use of manners through modeling and role-playing (e.g., holding the door for a friend, "please," "thank you" and "excuse me," etc.).
  • Demonstrate and involve children in respecting the rights of others (e.g., "It is my turn to use the bike, but you can have the bike when I am finished.").
  • Encourage expressing needs verbally by modeling appropriate language (e.g., "Ask Nancy to pass the juice to you.").
  • Involve children in solving problems that arise in the classroom using conflict resolution skills (e.g., talk about the problem, the feelings related to the problem and negotiate solutions).
  • Model positive interaction strategies through self-talk (e.g., the teacher thinking aloud, "Gee, I really want to see the book right now, but Miss Mary is looking at it, so I will wait until she is finished." Then speaking to Miss Mary, "Miss Mary, may I read the book when you are finished?" "Thank you.").

Preschool Learning Outcomes

4.1 Participates appropriately in classroom activities.

4.2 Demonstrates socially appropriate affection for teachers and friends (e.g., hugs, gets a tissue, sits next to, holds hands).

4.3 Says "thank you," "please" and "excuse me."

4.4 Respects rights of others (e.g., "This painting belongs to Carlos.")

4.5 Expresses needs verbally to teacher and peers without being aggressive (e.g., "I don't like it when you call me dummy. Stop!").

4.6 Demonstrates verbal problem-solving skills without being aggressive (e.g., talks about problem, talks about feelings relating to problem and negotiates solutions).

4.7 Uses self-talk (thinking aloud) as a positive behavior strategy (e.g., after Paula's friend asked her to play, Paula said, "I don't feel like playing right now, so I am going to sit on the on the beanbag chair in the quiet area until I feel better.").

EXPECTATION 5: Children exhibit pro-social behaviors.

Preschool Teaching Practices

  • Pair or group children to foster friendship (e.g., partners, buddies, triads).
  • Provide toys and plan play activities to encourage cooperative play (provide two telephones so that children can talk to each other in dramatic play).
  • Collaborate with children on activities using language and pretend skills as needed for play (e.g., teacher pretends to be mother or father in housekeeping corner and soothes her crying baby; teacher and children build a block structure; teacher and children make a cave out of a box and teacher pretends to be a mama bear and the children are bear cubs).
  • Identify strategies to enter into play activities with another child or group of children (e.g., bring materials into play, give a play suggestion, be helpful, give a compliment).
  • Provide the least amount of support that is necessary for children to be successful during activities and play (e.g., teacher may demonstrate pretend play skills and as children become involved in meaningful interaction with other children, the teacher adjusts the level of support).
  • Provide experiences in taking turns (e.g., "Maria gets to pull the wagon one time around the yard and then it is Jack's turn.").
  • Provide experiences that allow children to share toys and materials (e.g., "There is one basket of markers for Christen and Jameer to share.").

Preschool Learning Outcomes

5.1 Plays independently, in pairs and small groups.

5.2 Knows how to pretend play.

5.3 Knows how to enter into play when a group of children are already involved in play.

5.4 Takes turns.

5.5 Understands the concept of sharing, and at times, is able to share.

EXPECTATION 6: Children exhibit attending and focusing skills.

Preschool Teaching Practices

  • Schedule large blocks of time daily for play inside and outside.

  • Provide an interesting range of developmentally appropriate, curriculum referenced materials with additions and modifications to engage interest at different developmental levels.
  • Balance quiet and active times.
  • Begin whole-group activities with a few children while enticing the rest of the group with an engaging activity.
  • Limit whole-group activities to short periods of approximately 15 minutes with interactive involvement (body movement, singing, finger-plays).
  • Keep the number of daily transitions to a minimum. Limit whole-group transitions while organizing them as learning times (e.g., "Children who ride the #4 bus may get their coats." "Armadillo group may go wash their hands.").
  • Model conversation skills (e.g., listening, letting a person finish speaking before taking a turn, staying with one topic, etc.).

Preschool Learning Outcomes

6.1 Is relaxed and attentive with sufficient energy to meet challenges of the preschool day (i.e., quiet and rest times are alternated with more active classroom and outdoor activities).

6.2 Attends to task for an average of 15 minutes.

6.3 Moves onto next activity without exhibiting signs of stress (i.e., transitions are anticipated by the children and cued by the teacher).

6.4 Demonstrates conversation skills (e.g., listening and waiting for turn to talk).

EXPECTATION 7: Children participate in group routines.

Preschool Teaching Practices

  • Greet children individually in the morning and ease the transition from home to classroom by facilitating involvement in morning activities.
  • Provide a consistent and predictable schedule in a developmentally appropriate way (i.e.,balanced quiet and active times, large blocks of time for play indoors and outdoors, child-initiated and teacher-directed activities, all activities accommodate differences in developmental levels).
  • Provide a permanent place for storing materials, supplies and belongings.
  • Demonstrate and encourage simple classroom procedures (e.g., choosing a center, moving from one center to the next, putting away books, materials and toys, etc.).

Preschool Learning Outcomes

7.1Separates easily from parent.

7.2 Engages in purposeful activity for most of the time while moving independently from one activity to another.

7.3 Uses toys and materials with care and cleans up or puts them away when finished.

7.4 Moves through daily schedule and routines with ease.



For children, the critical component of the creative arts is the process rather than the end result or product. Children develop independence, self-motivation and self-expression through concrete, hands-on, individualized learning in environments that stimulate creativity through music, dramatic play, dance and the visual arts. In many instances, creative arts in the preschool classroom are inextricably linked to other curriculum areas. When integrated in a developmentally appropriate way, creative arts promote curiosity, problem-solving abilities, verbal and nonverbal expression and can be used as a strategy for learning about different cultures and content areas.

The teacher needs to be aware of the importance of providing children with the materials and time necessary to explore, experiment and create in their own way. Providing children with the freedom to create, however, does not preclude the teacher from supporting children's artistic development by using strategies such as describing, modeling, feedback and others to scaffold their learning. The teacher should be knowledgeable about the artistic traditions of different cultures and should integrate aspects of such cultures throughout the classroom environment and activities.

EXPECTATION 1: Children express themselves and develop an appreciation for music.

EXPECTATION 2: Children develop an appreciation for dance and movement.

EXPECTATION 3: Children develop an appreciation for dramatic play and storytelling.

EXPECTATION 4: Children develop awareness and appreciation for visual arts (e.g., painting, sculpting and drawing).

EXPECTATION 1: Children express themselves and develop an appreciation for music.

Preschool Teaching Practices

  • Provide opportunities for children to play musical instruments (e.g., flute, trombone, triangle, drums, maracas, etc.) in their own way.
  • Model what children can do with instruments (e.g., echoing with instruments, creating different levels of sound by striking different places).
  • Use appropriate musical terminology (e.g., the correct names of instruments, terms such as rhythm and melody).
  • Use songs and rhythmic activities throughout the day.
  • Utilize a variety of music from different cultures and genres for classroom activities (e.g., classical, jazz, rock, reggae, rap, etc.).
  • Provide opportunities to experience performances of music (e.g., performances by members of the local community and/or professional troupes, as well as performances by peers).

Preschool Learning Outcomes

1.1 Sings alone or with others.

1.2 Uses a variety of musical instruments (e.g., traditional instruments, homemade instruments, his/her body) to create music alone and/or with others.

1.3 Discusses his/her reactions/feelings to diverse musical genres and or styles (e.g., in reaction to listening to a classic lullaby a child might say, "This music makes me feel quiet inside.").

EXPECTATION 2: Children develop an appreciation for dance and movement.

Preschool Teaching Practices

  • Provide a range of music from different cultures and genres for dance and movement activities (e.g., classical, jazz, rock, salsa, reggae, rap, etc.).
  • Provide opportunities for children to participate in both structured and unstructured dance/movement activities (e.g., provide music and scarves and encourage children to make up their own dance movements, as well as playing a game that requires children to "freeze" their body in a certain position).
  • Participate in all movement and dance activities with the children.
  • Model different dance movements (e.g., twist, bend, leap, slide).
  • Help children to develop skills needed to perform movements (e.g., the teacher repeats a movement slowly for a child who asks, "How did you do that?").
  • Use correct terminology when referring to movements (e.g., gallop, twist, stretch).
  • Provide opportunities to experience performances of dance (e.g., performances by members of the local community/professional troupes, peers in classroom).

Preschool Learning Outcomes

2.1 Explores different ways of moving his/her body with and without music.

2.2 Attempts to move to the beat of music.

2.3 Responds to changes in tempo (e.g., moving slowly or quickly, on tiptoes to soft music, gliding to a waltz).

EXPECTATION 3: Children develop an appreciation for dramatic play and storytelling.

Preschool Teaching Practices

  • Provide props and materials that promote children's active participation in dramatic play and storytelling (e.g., dress up clothes, objects from different cultures, story books, flannel boards, puppets).
  • Provide a variety of locations and times throughout the day where children engage in dramatic play and storytelling in their own way (e.g., outside time, reenact a story during circle time, block area).
  • Join in dramatic play to promote the development of cooperation and encourage more complex roles (e.g., scaffold children’s ideas about playing ‘restaurant’ by suggesting that everyone in the restaurant has an important job to do).
  • Expose children to stories from cultures other than their own (e.g., at circle time and informally, during choice times).

Preschool Learning Outcomes

3.1 Plays a role observed in his/her life experiences (e.g., mom, baby, fire fighter, police officer, doctor, car mechanic).

3.2 Makes up new roles and acts them out, especially from familiar stories.

3.3 Participates with others in dramatic play, negotiating roles and setting up events.

3.4 Differentiates between pretend and real.

EXPECTATION 4: Children develop awareness and appreciation for visual arts (e.g., painting, sculpting, and drawing).

Preschool Teaching Practices

  • Display children's art work at eye level.
  • Provide children with access to a variety of developmentally appropriate, curriculum referenced art materials and encourage children to use the materials in their own way (e.g., sculpting materials, paint, crayons, markers, collage materials, glue).
  • Expose children to visual art from different cultures and artistic traditions (e.g., museum postcards and prints, calendar art, internet web sites, videos).
  • Introduce children to terminology used in visual arts (e.g., line, form, color, shape).
  • Emphasize the importance of the art process by employing open-ended process-oriented activities (e.g., the teacher provides children with watercolor paint, paper and brushes and encourages them to paint rather than having everyone make a dinosaur puppet with the same materials).
  • Make specific and nonjudgmental comments about the qualities of children's work (e.g., instead of the teacher saying, "I like the pink flower you painted, it's pretty," he or she could say, "I see you used long, thin, lines for the leaves in your painting.").
  • Plan art activities that extend children's understanding of art techniques (e.g., plan a small-group activity where children explore paint brushes of all shapes and sizes to discover the different types of strokes they make).
  • Use children's work as a springboard to explore and discuss art forms independently and in small groups (e.g., extend children’s understanding of balance, as an element in creating sculpture, to balancing one’s body in different ways).
  • Encourage children to respond to different artworks and to accept the responses of others (e.g., encourage a variety of responses to questions such as, "Are there any happy colors in this painting? Which ones? Why?").

Preschool Learning Outcomes

4.1 Plans and works independently to create own art representations.

4.2 Recognizes and describes various art forms (e.g., photographs, sculpture, paintings).

4.3 Explores and describes art choices (e.g., "I used red for my screaming mouth," or "I made lots of little circles because it is snowing so hard.").



Health, safety and physical education in the preschool classroom encourage children to think, experience, explore and make connections to enhance each child's sense of control and competence as a learner at the child's developmental level. The development of health, safety and physical skills extends the children's knowledge of themselves, those around them and their world or culture. This area should be integrated into each of the other content areas.

The preschool environment should be organized to include both indoor and outdoor space to maximize each child's opportunities to develop health awareness, as well as gross and fine motor skills. Through daily indoor and outdoor activities, play, and planned and spontaneous interactions, the teacher will provide a wide range of concrete, developmentally appropriate experiences that assist in the healthy development of each child.

EXPECTATION 1: Children develop the knowledge and skills necessary to make nutritious food choices.

EXPECTATION 2: Children develop self-help and personal hygiene skills.

EXPECTATION 3: Children develop an awareness of potential hazards to their health.

EXPECTATION 4: Children develop competence and confidence in activities that require gross motor skills.

EXPECTATION 5: Children develop competence and confidence in activities requiring fine motor skills.

EXPECTATION 1: Children develop the knowledge and skills necessary to make nutritious food choices.

Preschool Teaching Practices

  • Provide opportunities for children to experience a variety of nutritious food choices. Encourage families to share foods common to their culture.
  • Make available learning materials and activities (e.g., books, play food, food guide pyramid for young children and cooking experiences) to reinforce nutritious food choices.
  • Inform parents about nutritious food choices (e.g., parent conferences, family nights, newsletters).

Preschool Learning Outcomes

1.1 Identifies and differentiates among foods and food groups (e.g., fruits, vegetables, meats).

1.2 Describes taste, colors, textures, smells, and shapes of food.

1.3 Compares and contrasts foods that are representative of various cultures (e.g., matzo and naan, plantains and bananas).

1.4 Demonstrates and illustrates understanding of nutritious food choices (e.g., through dramatic play, art and creating stories).

EXPECTATION 2: Children develop self-help skills and personal hygiene skills.

Preschool Teaching Practices

  • Explain how germs are spread and instruct children in techniques to limit the spread of infection (e.g., explain that there are germs on our drinking glasses which is why we don't share drinks).
  • Model appropriate hand-washing and supervise children's hand-washing (e.g., before and after meals, after toileting, after blowing their noses).
  • Promote the habit of regular tooth-brushing and bathing.
  • Ensure the classroom has materials that will help children practice zipping, snapping, lacing and buttoning.
  • Demonstrate appropriate mealtime behaviors (e.g., sitting during meals, engaging in conversations, asking to be excused from the table when finished eating).

Preschool Learning Outcomes

2.1 Washes hands at appropriate times.

2.2 Demonstrates strategies that limit the spread of germs (e.g., covering mouth, using clean tissues, or throwing away food that drops on the floor).

2.3 Discusses, describes and demonstrates personal and oral hygiene skills (e.g., through dramatic play, conversations, story-telling).

2.4 Demonstrates brushing teeth, dressing and grooming techniques (e.g., dramatic play and putting on shoes).

2.5 Pours from small pitchers and serves themselves and others.

2.6 Uses utensils at meals to serve self and others.

2.7 Demonstrates appropriate behavior during meals (e.g., food handling, turn taking).

EXPECTATION 3: Children develop an awareness of potential hazards to their health.

Preschool Teaching Practices

  • Assess the indoor and outdoor environment daily to ensure a safe and healthy environment.
  • Assure that chemicals, medications or other hazardous materials are stored away from children (e.g., locked cabinets, closed containers).
  • Incorporate information on identifying potential hazards into the curriculum (e.g., using a seat belt, crossing the street, staying away from strangers, understanding the poison symbol).
  • Practice emergency evacuation procedures with the children.
  • Invite community representatives of health, fire and police departments to visit the class to teach about how to follow health and safety precautions.

Preschool Learning Outcomes

3.1 Recognizes, identifies and alerts adults to potentially harmful conditions/situations.

3.2 Identifies and recognizes warning symbols and communicates their meaning (e.g., red light, stop sign, poison symbol, etc.).

3.3 Behaves appropriately during emergency evacuation drills.

3.4 Identifies community helpers who assist in maintaining a safe environment.

3.5 Knows how to dial 911 for help.

EXPECTATION 4: Children develop competence and confidence in activities that require gross motor skills.

Preschool Teaching Practices

  • Promote and encourage activities throughout the day to engage children in gross motor play individually and in groups (e.g., group play, physical activities).
  • Participate and facilitate activities that promote children's movement skills (e.g., crawling through a play tunnel, moving around the classroom without bumping into one another, jumping from a block and landing securely on two feet).
  • Be an active participant in gross motor activities (e.g., run and jump on the playground with the children).
  • Guide and support children in the development of gross motor skills (e.g., demonstrating starting, stopping, turning, leaping, marching).
  • Develop clear, simple playground and classroom safety rules with children.

Preschool Learning Outcomes

4.1 Demonstrates large movements (e.g., hopping, galloping, jumping, running and marching).

4.2 Uses objects and props to demonstrate coordination and expands spatial and cognitive learning (e.g., balls, hula-hoops, Frisbees, balance beams).

4.3 Independently selects gross motor activities in which to participate.

4.4 Demonstrates safe behaviors while using playground equipment and participating in activities.

EXPECTATION 5: Children develop competence and confidence in activities requiring fine motor skills.

Preschool Teaching Practice

  • Provide ample opportunities for children to play with a wide variety of developmentally appropriate, curriculum referenced materials that promote the development of fine motor skills (e.g., completing puzzles, using pegs in a peg board, lacing, painting).
  • Provide support and encouragement while children engage in fine motor activities (e.g., identifying shapes or pictures in a puzzle, locking links together to make a necklace).
  • Plan individual and small-group activities that promote the development of fine motor skills (e.g., large tongs for picking up and sorting items, tools for working with clay).

Preschool Learning Outcomes

5.1 Demonstrates an increase in fine motor skills (i.e., hand movements that require control, dexterity and eye-hand coordination).

5.2 Independently selects and engages in fine-motor activities of his/her choice.



Literacy learning has a profound and lasting effect on the social and academic lives of children. Their future educational opportunities and career choices are directly related to literacy ability. Since early childhood is the period when language develops most rapidly, it is imperative that young children be provided with a variety of developmentally appropriate literacy and language experiences throughout each day and that the classroom environment is rich with language and print. Early childhood teachers have the responsibility to understand the developmental continuum of language and literacy and to support each child's literacy development.

Literacy learning begins at birth and develops rapidly during the preschool period. The main components of literacy - listening, speaking, reading and writing - should all be encouraged through participation with adults and peers in conversations and activities that are meaningful to the child. Each child's interest and motivation to engage in literacy-related activities are evident before that child is able to read or write conventionally. Children should be provided with environments that encourage literacy exploration, and their emergent reading and writing behaviors should be valued, encouraged and fostered by their teachers.

It is essential that the literacy component of a preschool program provide children who do not speak English with opportunities for listening, speaking, reading and writing in both English and their native language. Programs that help children to communicate proficiently in their home language also help to develop the capacity of the children to learn a second language. It is important for the teacher to recognize the need to make modifications in the presentation of vocabulary, directions, storytelling, reading and other oral language communication when working with children who do not speak English as their native language. These modifications may include the use of culturally appropriate visual aids, scaffolding, repetition, rephrasing and modeling.

EXPECTATION 1: Children listen and respond to environmental sounds, directions and conversations.

EXPECTATION 2: Children converse effectively in their home language, English or sign language for a variety of purposes relating to real experiences and different audiences.

EXPECTATION 3: Children demonstrate emergent reading skills.

EXPECTATION 4: Children demonstrate emergent writing skills.

EXPECTATION 1: Children listen with understanding to environmental sounds, directions and conversations.

Preschool Teaching Practices

  • Give progressively more complex directions.
  • Play listening games in which children identify common objects through the sounds they make (i.e., a phone ringing, a truck passing by or blowing its horn, animal sounds, musical instruments, voices of peers in room, etc.).
  • Provide a variety of age appropriate, curriculum referenced listening activities including stories, songs, rhymes, chants and individual conversations.

Preschool Learning Outcomes

1.1 Follows oral directions that involve several actions.

1.2 Identifies sounds in the environment and distinguishes among them (e.g., a phone ringing, a truck passing by or blowing its horn, animal sounds, musical instruments, voices of peers in room, etc.).

1.3 Listens for various purposes (e.g., demonstrate that a response is expected when a question is asked; enter into dialogue after listening to others; repeat parts of stories, poems, or songs).

1.4 Shows interest, pleasure and enjoyment during listening activities by responding with appropriate eye contact, body language and facial expressions.

EXPECTATION 2: Children converse effectively in their home language, English or sign language for a variety of purposes relating to real experiences and different audiences.

Preschool Teaching Practices

  • Engage in many individual and small-group conversations with children throughout the day (e.g., lunch-time, playground, while preparing for rest time), as well as during formal instructional time.
  • Interact with children using rich vocabulary words, descriptive language and somewhat more complex language structures than children typically use (e.g., when responding to a child’s comment that it is starting to rain, the teacher can introduce the word ‘drizzling’.).
  • Extend children's language by asking them to make connections between present knowledge and new vocabulary (e.g., "Why do you think that it's called a spider plant?").
  • Organize a variety of age appropriate, curriculum referenced activities that encourage oral language development (e.g., joining in pretend play, encouraging children to talk about their experiences in small groups, providing hands-on science activities).
  • Provide materials that encourage oral language development in all areas of the room (e.g., flannel board stories in the library area, puppets and props in the dramatic play area, small plastic figures in the block area).
  • Provide opportunities for children to converse with peers throughout the day and help children initiate the conversations.
  • Introduce songs, finger plays and chants, and engage children in retelling and inventing stories.
  • Ask children to explain their ideas and plans.

Preschool Learning Outcomes

2.1 Describes previous experiences and relates them to new experiences or ideas.

2.2 Asks questions to obtain information.

2.3 Uses language to express relationships, make connections, describe similarities and differences, express feelings and initiate play with others.

2.4 Listens and responds appropriately in conversations and group interactions by taking turns and generally staying on topic.

2.5 Joins in singing, finger plays, chanting, retelling and inventing stories.

2.6 Uses language and imitates sounds appropriate to roles in dramatic play and sets the stage by describing actions and events.

2.7 Uses language to communicate and negotiate ideas and plans for activities.

2.8 Uses new vocabulary and asks questions to extend understanding of words.

2.9 Connects new meanings of words to vocabulary already known (e.g., "It's called bookend because the books end.").

2.10 Uses complex sentence structure such as compound sentences, if-then statements, and explanations (e.g., "I wanted to make a long snake but Mimi has the scarf." "If I set the table, then you can eat." "Pigs wouldn't like it on the moon because there isn't any mud.").

EXPECTATION 3: Children demonstrate emergent reading skills.

Preschool Teaching Practices

Developing Print Awareness

  • Help children recognize that the written word is represented by symbols through using them in activities and in the environment (e.g., rebuses, picture recipes, traffic signs).
  • Provide literacy props (e.g., empty food and household containers, menus, recipe cards, phone books, order pads) and place books in all classroom centers.
  • Display child-generated print at the children's eye level.
  • Present functional print in the environment (e.g., labels on objects throughout the classroom, and signs with clear meaning that are placed on children's eye level).
  • Use varied, integrated methods to help children learn to recognize letters (e.g., help a child locate his/her artwork by finding the first letter of his/her name, reading alphabet books or playing games that contain alphabet letters).

Developing Knowledge and Enjoyment of Books

  • Create cozy, comfortable reading areas with a variety of age appropriate printed materials (e.g., books, magazines, newspapers, catalogs, circulars, letters and other mail items).
  • Place books that could extend play in different interest areas of the room (e.g., a book about bridges is available in the block area).
  • Provide books and materials that reflect the identity, home language, culture and interests of the class.
  • Read to children daily using age-appropriate, high-quality literature (e.g., picture books, fantasy, big books, books that are predictable and repetitive, informational and culturally diverse).
  • Invite children's participation during storybook reading (e.g., analyzing visual cues, making predictions and making personal connections).
  • Read to children individually, as well as in small and large groups.
  • Call attention to the functions and features of print both while reading and incidentally throughout the day (e.g., two children are arguing over the job of snack helper, and the teacher points out that the person whose name is on the helper chart starts with an uppercase R. While reading a story, the teacher points out that the words are separated by spaces.).
  • Provide opportunities for children to listen to and participate in stories, rhymes, poems and songs in various languages.

Enhancing Phonological Awareness

  • Lead activities and stories that have repetitive patterns, rhymes and refrains.
  • Draw children's attention to the sounds they hear in words (e.g., asking children whose names start with the "S" sound to go wash their hands for snack, using rhythm sticks to tap out the syllables in their names).

Preschool Learning Outcomes

Print Awareness

3.1 Identifies the meaning of common signs and symbols (e.g., pictures, recipes, icons on computers or rebuses).

3.2 Recognizes print in the local environment (e.g., exit sign, area labels, written directions such as such as the steps for hand-washing).

3.3 Recognizes that a variety of print letter formations and text forms are used for different functions (e.g., grocery list, menu, store sign, telephone book, newspaper and magazine).

3.4 Identifies some alphabet letters by their shapes, especially those in his/her own name.

3.5 Recognizes own name in a variety of contexts.

3.6 Recognizes that letters form words.

3.7 Recognizes that it is the print that is read in stories.

Developing Knowledge and Enjoyment of Books

3.8 Displays book handling knowledge (e.g., turning the book right side up, using left to right sweep, turning one page at a time, recognizing familiar books by cover).

3.9 Exhibits reading-like behavior (e.g., pretend to read to self and others and read own writing).

3.10 Uses a familiar book as a cue to retell their version of the story.

3.11 Shows an understanding of story structure (e.g., comment on characters, predict what will happen next, ask appropriate questions and act out familiar stories).

3.12 Asks questions and makes comments pertinent to the story being read and connects information in books to his/her personal life experiences.

Phonological Awareness

3.13 Engages in language play (e.g., manipulate separable and repeating sounds).

3.14 Makes up and chants own rhymes (e.g., when playing in the water table, saying "squishy, wishy, dishy soap," or at lunchtime, children are conversing and say, "A light is for night.").

3.15 Plays with alliterative language (e.g., "Peter, Peter Pumpkin Eater").

EXPECTATION 4: Children demonstrate emergent writing skills.

Preschool Teaching Practices

  • Encourage children's interest in writing using enjoyable and engaging methods (e.g., having children dictate stories, helping children make books, encouraging them to attempt to write their names on their own work, joining a child to make a list of ingredients needed for a cooking project).
  • Respond positively to all writing efforts (e.g., scribbling, letter strings, and non-conventional spelling).
  • Provide a variety of writing tools (e.g., pencils, crayons, chalk, markers, rubber stamps and computers) and surfaces (e.g., paper, cardboard, chalkboard, wood and concrete) in many areas of the classroom.
  • Provide children the opportunity to choose and use writing implements daily.
  • Model writing in a variety of genres (e.g., lists, messages, dictated stories and charts) and explain the connection between spoken and written words.

Preschool Learning Outcomes

4.1 "Writes" messages as part of play and other activities (e.g., drawing, scribbling, making letter-like forms, using invented spelling and conventional letter forms).

4.2 Attempts to write own name on work.

4.3 Attempts to make own names using different materials, such as magnetic letters, play dough, rubber stamps, alphabet blocks or a computer.

4.4 Asks adults to write (e.g., asks for labels on block structures, dictation of stories and list of materials needed for a project).



Young children experience mathematics naturally and spontaneously as they explore, interact and try to make sense of their world. Young children in a high-quality preschool classroom are introduced to and actively engage in key mathematical concepts, language and processes. Teachers observe each child as they make choices and play in a supportive learning environment. They note interests and strengths and assess each child's prior experience and informal knowledge. They use their knowledge of child development and remember not to underestimate what children can accomplish. They provide support and use appropriate teaching strategies.

Teachers integrate math into all aspects of the daily routines through individual and small-group choices and transitions, and also allot time for in-depth, planned, small-group experiences that include interaction, problem-solving and reflection. Teachers recognize the strong connection between math and literacy and the other content areas. Whenever possible, the teacher includes and shares his/her findings with each child's family. Over time, teachers and parents will grow and support each other as models for the children. The children's early interest and the adults' commitment will provide a strong foundation and the confidence necessary for mathematics enjoyment and proficiency in school and life.

EXPECTATION 1: Children demonstrate an understanding of number and numerical operations.

EXPECTATION 2: Children develop knowledge of spatial concepts, e.g., shapes and measurement.

EXPECTATION 3: Children understand patterns, relationships and classification.

EXPECTATION 4: Children develop knowledge of sequence and temporal awareness.

EXPECTATION 5: Children will use mathematical knowledge to represent, communicate and solve problems in their environment.

EXPECTATION 1: Children demonstrate an understanding of number and numerical operations.

Preschool Teaching Practices

  • Make materials and books that promote number exploration accessible to the children (e.g., collections of small objects, cash registers with money, number puzzles, counting books and games, egg cartons and plastic eggs, etc.).
  • Encourage children to compare numbers frequently through questions and graphing (e.g., "Are there more people riding in the bus or in the airplane youmade?" "Arethere more people here whose favorite color is yellow or more who like green?").
  • Integrate purposeful counting experiences throughout other learning opportunities (e.g., taking attendance, following the rule to stay three steps behind another person climbing the ladder of the slide).
  • Encourage and support individual attempts to learn to count numbers. Encourage counting to 30+.
  • Provide children opportunities to use estimation skills during daily activities by asking interesting and relevant questions (e.g., "How many strips of paper will you need for the bird's tail?").
  • Model addition for children by using counting to combine numbers (e.g., "Maria has two blocks and Justin has three. There are five blocks altogether: 1,2,3,4,5.").
  • Model subtraction for children by using counting to separate numbers (e.g., "There are five cars on the carpet: 1,2,3,4,5. Three cars are red and two are blue. I am putting the two blue cars in the basket. There are three red cars left on the carpet.").
  • Foster one-to-one correspondence throughout the day (e.g., select a child to give out placemats and napkins at mealtimes, give each child a bag or basket of materials at small-group time, return containers of play dough to labeled shelves, etc.).

Preschool Learning Outcomes

1.1 Demonstrates understanding of one-to-one correspondence (e.g., places one placemat at each place, gives each child one cookie, places one animal in each truck, hands out manipulatives to be shared with a friend saying "One for you, one for me.").

1.2 Spontaneously counts for own purposes (e.g., counting blocks or cars, counting beads while stringing them, handing out napkins).

1.3 Learns to say the counting numbers.

1.4 Discriminates numbers from other symbols in the environment (e.g., street signs, license plates, room number, clock, etc.).

1.5 Recognizes and names some written numerals.

1.6 Compares numbers in different contexts (e.g., using words such as more and less).

1.7 Uses estimation as a method for approximating an appropriate amount (e.g., at snack time, deciding how many napkins to take from a large pile for the group, determining number of blocks to use when building structures).

1.8 Adds two groups of concrete objects by counting the total (e.g., three blue pegs, three yellow pegs, six pegs altogether).

1.9 Subtracts one group of concrete objects from another by taking some away and then counting the remainder (e.g., "I have four carrot sticks. I'm eating one! Now I have 3!").

EXPECTATION 2: Children develop knowledge of spatial concepts, e.g., shapes and measurement.

Preschool Teaching Practices

  • Provide materials both indoors and outdoors, for children to develop a spatial and geometric sense (e.g., items to fill and empty, fit together and take apart, arrange and shape; materials that move; tunnels to crawl through; photos and pictures that show different views).
  • Use everyday experiences to foster understanding of spatial sense (e.g., talk about locations in the school, map the classroom).
  • Use positional words such as over, under, behind, in front of and up to describe the relative position of items and people and encourage the children to use them (e.g., "Michael is sitting next to Ana." "I see that you used yellow paint under the blue stripe on your painting." "Sam is putting his bears under the bowl." "The car is on the right.").
  • Provide standard and nonstandard measurement materials both indoors and outdoors (e.g., unit blocks, inch cubes, rulers, cups, buckets, balance scales, water and sand tables, etc.).
  • Provide opportunities for children to explore the differences between two- and three-dimensional shapes and constructions (e.g., faces of attribute blocks, balls, blocks of all shapes, boxes, beads, etc.).
  • Introduce the vocabulary relating to two-dimensional and three-dimensional shapes and constructions (circle, sphere, square, cube, triangle, rectangular prism, pyramid etc.).
  • Help children to explore symmetry in their block constructions and in photographs and designs.

Preschool Learning Outcomes

2.1 Identifies basic shapes in the environment (e.g., circle, square, triangle, cube, sphere).

2.2 Uses standard and nonstandard measurement units (e.g., measuring body length with unifix cubes, using a tape measure to gauge height of block construction, counting the number of cups it takes to fill a bucket with water).

2.3 Uses vocabulary to describe distances (e.g., "It was a really long walk to the playground.").

2.4 Uses vocabulary to describe directional concept (e.g., "Watch me climb up the ladder and slide down.").

2.5 Uses positional words in a functional way (e.g., "I put the red block on top of the cabinet.").

2.6 Makes three-dimensional constructions and models (e.g., sculptures that have height, depth and width).

2.7 Makes connections between two dimensional and three dimensional forms (e.g., circle-sphere, square-cube, triangle-pyramid).

EXPECTATION 3: Children understand patterns, relationships and classification.

Preschool Teaching Practices

  • Provide materials for children to sort, classify and order (e.g., buttons, beads, colored craft sticks, bowls and trays and computer games with patterns to create or extend).
  • Create a simple pattern and ask children to repeat or insert missing elements (e.g., "I made a pattern in my tower: red block, blue block, red block, blue block. What color block should go next?").
  • Call attention to patterns in the environment, including visual and non-visual patterns (e.g., stripes on a child's shirt, flowers outside, songs and chants).
  • Plan and set up activities involving various types of patterns (e.g., songs, musical instruments, transition signals and activities).

Preschool Learning Outcomes

3.1 Sorts objects into groups (e.g., separate basket of collected items into piles of pinecones, acorns and twigs).

3.2 Classifies objects by sorting them into subgroups by one or more attributes (e.g., sorting counting bears by color into trays, separating a mixture of beans by individual size and shape).

3.3 Describes an object by characteristics it does or does not possess (e.g., "This button doesn't have holes.").

3.4 Seriates objects according to various properties including size, number, length, heaviness, texture (rough to smooth) or loudness.

3.5 Identifies patterns in the environment (e.g., "Look at the rug. It has a circle, then a number, then a letter...").

3.6 Represents patterns in a variety of ways (e.g., stringing beads red/green/red/green/red/green, arranging buttons big/bigger/biggest, or singing songs that follow a simple pattern).

EXPECTATION 4: Children develop knowledge of sequence and temporal awareness.

Preschool Teaching Practices

  • Provide and frequently refer to visual representations of the routines of the day (e.g., post pictures or photos of children that depict the daily schedule and note any changes that occur).
  • Describe series of events or directions and provide print to reinforce the concept (e.g., child puts on a smock, fills paint cup, paints picture, hangs picture to dry; describe steps to washing hands properly; follow class recipe).
  • Use sounds, songs or movements to signal transitions such as clean-up time.
  • Use words to describe movement and passage of time, such as morning, yesterday, tomorrow, shorter time, longer time, etc.

Preschool Learning Outcomes

4.1 Starts and stops on a signal (e.g., freezing in position when the music stops).

4.2 Describes the sequence of the daily routine and demonstrates understanding of basic temporal relations (e.g., "We will go outside after snack time.").

4.3 Arranges pictures of events in temporal order (e.g., first, a photo of the child eating breakfast; second, a photo of the child getting on the bus; third, a photo of the child in the classroom).

EXPECTATION 5: Children use mathematical knowledge to represent, communicate and solve problems in their environment.

Preschool Teaching Practices

  • Encourage students to use mathematics as a communication tool by modeling mathematical vocabulary and symbolism (e.g., circle, square, equals, "what would happen if. ..?," same, different, more, fewer, takes longer, etc.).
  • Encourage students to use mathematical knowledge as a problem-solving tool by asking open-ended questions and asking for more information (e.g., "Tell me about what you did." "Would you use the same number again?" "What shape did you use?" "What size could you use that will make it stand up better?" "What were you thinking when you put this one over here?").
  • Encourage students to make connections between mathematics and other content areas and real-life situations (e.g., teacher says to Desiree, "Your name is longer than Sam's because it contains more letters." "You and Oxcheanna go home on the same bus, Number 14.").

Preschool Learning Outcomes

5.1 Uses mathematical terms when conversing with others (e.g., "Which car is faster?" "My building is taller than yours." "I have more sand in my bucket.").

5.2 Uses emergent mathematical knowledge as a problem-solving tool (e.g., Maritza notices that Juan has more carrot sticks than she does. She says, "May I have some of yours? Then we will have the same amount." Jorge decides to fill his bucket by using small cups of water when he realizes that he cannot fit the bucket under the faucet).

5.3 Describes how he/she solved mathematical problems in his/her own way.



Young children have informal experience with science before they enter preschool. They have been using their senses to explore the environment and make sense of their world. They have been constructing knowledge by interacting with objects and people. Young children in a high-quality preschool classroom continue to construct knowledge while exploring their interesting indoor and outdoor learning environments. They will be developing concepts and acquiring processes during their play, as they observe, manipulate, discover and solve problems.

Teachers in a high-quality classroom use their knowledge of child development and experience to interact, encourage, use scientific language, extend and reinforce concepts as these experiences occur. Teachers know that learning science through inquiry requires both child curiosity and adult guidance. Teachers acknowledge and value the child's natural curiosity. Teachers know that some mathematical concepts are essential to solving some science problems and other science process skills are essential for both. They know that math and science are best learned when integrated within real life experiences and into the daily routine during individual and small-group times. Science in preschool will be integrated with other content areas into the day. Teachers plan to introduce materials, techniques and technology that allow for reflecting, making connections, recording and representing. Observations and predictions are recorded through notes, drawings, graphs, etc. Content, however, must be carefully considered in relation to the children's development and sensitive to their interests.

Teachers include parents and community members whenever possible in observation, participation, and sharing in classroom activities and events. Parents' knowledge, experience and efforts are an integral part in the effort to model a positive attitude toward science in school and at home. Thus an effective home-school-community partnership contributes to a strong, well-balanced program.

EXPECTATION 1: Children develop inquiry skills, including problem-solving and decision-making.

EXPECTATION 2: Children observe and investigate the properties of objects, both living and nonliving.

EXPECTATION 3: Children explore the concept of change in both living and nonliving entities and in the environment.

EXPECTATION 4: Children develop an awareness of the environment and human responsibility for its care.

EXPECTATION 1: Children develop inquiry skills, including problem solving and decision-making.

Preschool Teaching Practices

  • Provide a supportive classroom climate that will encourage children to develop inquiry skills, solve problems and make decisions as part of their daily activities both indoors and outdoors.
  • Equip the classroom with nature/science materials that children can explore independently (e.g., science-relevant materials, collections of objects such as rocks, pine cones, seed pods; nature/science books; nature sequence cards (the life cycles of plants, insects, animals); magnifying glasses; measuring tools; water and sand tables; plants; journals for recording; audio-visual materials and computer software).
  • Integrate basic technologies as tools to support scientific inquiry (e.g., computers, balance scales, magnifiers, etc.).
  • Plan for specific small-group activities that include simple experiments and cooking (e.g., freezing and melting, the effect of blowing through straws and hollow tubes on common objects, the effect of different kinds of liquids on growing seeds, the effects of darkness and light).
  • Use appropriate science vocabulary including predict, check, test, research, observe, experiment.
  • Facilitate individual and small-group discussions about reflections and observations.
  • Record and allow children to record observations, predictions and findings frequently (e.g., simple charts).

Preschool Learning Outcomes

1.1 Asks questions relating to own interests and current classroom activities (e.g., "What do you think the inside of this nut looks like?").

1.2 Makes observations (e.g., "Look, this tree has big, green leaves. That one has needles.").

1.3 Makes predictions (e.g., "This car is really heavy. I'll bet it sinks to the bottom of the water.").

1.4 Answers questions or tests predictions using simple experiments or research media (e.g., cracking a nut to look inside, putting a toy car in water to determine whether it sinks or using a book or Web site to find out about different types of leaves).

1.5 Discusses, shares and records findings (e.g., drawing and "writing" in journals, making rubbings, charting the growth of plants).

EXPECTATION 2: Children observe and investigate the properties of objects, both living and nonliving.

Preschool Teaching Practices

  • Provide opportunities for children to investigate living and nonliving things in their natural environments (e.g., outdoor walks with appropriate supervision and guidance, field trips).
  • Provide information using books, appropriate Web sites, hands-on materials (e.g., different leaves, shells, other collections) and discussion about living and nonliving things. The human body should be a focus for all preschoolers while other content may vary.
  • Allow children to discuss, participate in, and share responsibility for the care of living things during and outside of school time (e.g., fish and fish tank, plants, hermit crabs, ladybugs, butterflies, etc. in the classroom), including themselves (discuss nutrition and exercise).
  • Use appropriate vocabulary regarding life science (e.g., tree, grass, shrub, flower, leaves, stems, roots, bark, petals, branch, feathers, skin, beak, paws, fins, hooves, etc.) and physical science (gas, solid, liquid, vibrate, change).
  • Compare and contrast living and nonliving objects regarding the capacity for self-directed movement, origins and capacity for growth and change.

Preschool Learning Outcomes

2.1 Acquires and uses basic vocabulary for plants, animals and humans, as well as their parts and characteristics.

2.2 Explains that living things have specific needs (e.g., water, air, food, light).

2.3 Demonstrates knowledge that living things exist in different environments (e.g., "Fish can live in the ocean because they can breathe under water.").

2.4 Explains the differences between nonliving and living things (e.g., "The bunny is alive. He needs to eat." "The shell isn't alive. The hermit crab is!").

EXPECTATION 3: Children explore the concept of change in both living and nonliving entities and in the environment.

Preschool Teaching Practices

  • Provide time and the materials necessary for in-depth investigation of change over an extended period of time (e.g., seeds for planting, journals to record leaf changes in autumn, various organic and non-organic materials for decomposition experiments).
  • Provide short-term activities, such as color mixing or ice melting or to explore the concept of change.
  • Develop activities that promote the measurement and recording of changes over time. (e.g., measuring plant growth with rulers and recording changes on a classroom graph or in children's journals).
  • Provide books and activities that introduce children to seasonal changes, related vocabulary and facts.

Preschool Learning Outcomes

3.1 Uses language to demonstrate knowledge of physical change (e.g., "When I add the red paint to the white paint, it is going to change.").

3.2 Describes how matter can change form (e.g., snow melting in the water table, water left in the watering can, making cookies, gelatin, etc.).

3.3 Demonstrates understanding that living things change as they grow (life cycle) (e.g., "When we first got our fish, they were small. Now they are big and have spots.").

3.4 Uses words related to weather and environmental phenomena and change (sunny, clouds, rain, snow, lightning, temperature, wind, thunder) and night and sky objects (sun, moon, stars).

3.5 Associates the seasons with changes in the climate and environment.

EXPECTATION 4: Children develop an awareness of the environment and participate in its care.

Preschool Teaching Practices

  • Use classroom experiences to assist children in developing an awareness of environmental concerns (e.g., use recycling bins, use both sides of sheets of paper, turn off the faucets).
  • Model behaviors that show concern and respect for the environment (e.g., cleaning up indoors and outdoors, reusing materials for projects and other activities).
  • Develop activities (including book reading) that introduce children to at least one major environmental issue, such as water pollution, air pollution, garbage cycles and simple ecological webs, and discuss how human intervention can help or harm the environment.

Preschool Learning Outcomes

4.1 Demonstrates care of the environment (e.g., cleaning up after snack outside).

4.2 Participates in sorting materials for recycling (e.g., items for the trash can, yogurt containers and cups to be used in the art area).

4.3 Discusses in simple terms how humans can care for or harm the environment (e.g., "If you throw garbage in the ocean it can hurt fish. The water gets too dirty.").



Social Studies, Family and Life Skills in the preschool classroom begins with cultivating children’s understanding of themselves and their place in the family and moves to an understanding of social systems in ever-widening circles: family, classroom community, neighborhood, and the world. Through learning experiences and play, teachers provide a wide range of concrete, developmentally appropriate activities and field trips that provide opportunities to explore and celebrate similarities and differences among children, lifestyles and cultures. However, teachers understand that young children classify and make concrete connections that sometimes lead to statements that may sound biased. At these times, teachers take the opportunity to discuss with children racial, culture and gender biases. These discussions build a foundation for understanding and appreciating diversity.

Social Studies, Family and Life Skills is integrated throughout all aspects of the classroom day. The teachers endeavor to establish a caring community life with respect for individual differences. The classroom environment is organized to provide opportunities for children to develop independent behaviors and to act out real-life situations. The environment reinforces those skills and concepts that encourage good citizenship and develop the child's capacity to participate in a culturally diverse, democratic society in an increasingly interdependent world.

EXPECTATION 1: Children identify unique characteristics of themselves and others.

EXPECTATION 2: Children communicate about their family, family roles and family traditions.

EXPECTATION 3: Children become contributing members of the classroom community.

EXPECTATION 4: Children demonstrate knowledge of neighborhood and community.

EXPECTATION 5: Children participate in activities that reflect the cultures within their classroom and their community.

EXPECTATION 1: Children identify unique characteristics of themselves and others.

Preschool Teaching Practices

  • Engage in individual and small-group conversations about similarities and differences of children (e.g., eyes, hair, skin tone, talents, interests, food preferences, gender, etc.).
  • Provide diverse materials, literature and activities (mirror, graphing, height chart, multicultural paints, papers, crayons, etc.) to compare and contrast individual traits.
  • Incorporate books, materials and activities that support diversity, including ethnicity, culture, age, abilities, gender, race and non-stereotypic roles (e.g., multicultural and bilingual music and literature, dramatic play props, puzzles, displays, etc.).

Preschool Learning Outcomes

1.1 Describes characteristics of self.

1.2 Compares characteristics of self with others.

1.3 Creates visual displays of individual characteristics and those of others.

1.4 Expresses individuality and diversity through dress-ups, dolls, puppets, etc.

1.5 Discusses characteristics of children and adults in multicultural literature and photos.

1.6 Selects materials and activities based on choice and not limited by bias.

EXPECTATION 2: Children communicate about their family, family roles and family traditions.

Preschool Teaching Practices

  • Find materials, photos, artifacts and props from diverse families that reflect family roles and traditions.
  • Invite family members to come to classroom and share talents and traditions.
  • Support and recognize differences in family structures, routines, and traditions through discussions, literature and activities (e.g., diverse articles of clothing in housekeeping area, etc.).
  • Use language to identify family members, roles, traditions and artifacts (e.g., "Your Uncle Leo is your daddy's brother." "Rabiye's mother wears a burqua." "Some grandmothers go to work just like Tony’s. Others stay at home and work.").

Preschool Learning Outcomes

2.1 Talks with classmates and teachers about his/her family.

2.2 Identifies, compares and contrasts family members from a photograph (e.g., "This is my mommy and she has brown hair.").

2.3 Talks about family routines and activities (e.g., languages, foods, celebrations, music, meals, etc.).

2.4 Dramatizes roles and responsibilities of different family members.

2.5 Illustrates representations of families, roles and traditions through different media (e.g., paints, crayons, play dough, collage, cut-outs, etc.).

EXPECTATION 3: Children become contributing active members of the classroom community.

Preschool Teaching Practices

  • Involve children in developing a few simple rules with an emphasis on positive rules (e.g., "walking feet" instead of "no running").

  • Establish classroom routines and involve children in upkeep of classroom (e.g., taking care of the pet, cleaning up, watering the plants, washing hands before using the water table to avoid spreading germs, etc.).
  • Use children's names frequently incorporating them into songs, rhymes and activities.
  • Plan activities and routines that encourage cooperation and collaboration (e.g., classroom murals, pair-painting, buddy-system).

Preschool Learning Outcomes

3.1 Understands rules and will follow most classroom rules.

3.2 Performs assigned jobs and responsibilities.

3.3 Takes responsibility for simple classroom tasks.

3.4 Identifies other children in the classroom and uses names in conversations.

3.5 Works together (e.g., pair, triads and small groups) to complete projects and activities.

EXPECTATION 4: Children will demonstrate knowledge of neighborhood and community.

Preschool Teaching Practices

  • Provide materials, literature, and activities that explore different types of homes (e.g., apartments, buildings, motels, house, multi-family dwellings).
  • Involve children in first-hand experiences in their community (e.g., visits, tours, walking and field trips in the school, neighborhood and community).
  • Invite visitors with community service roles into the class.
  • Develop learning center with literature, activities and materials for play based on children's experiences with their community (e.g., visit the supermarket and create classroom store; visit the school office and create a classroom office, adding tools, props, etc.).

Preschool Learning Outcomes

4.1 Differentiates among types of homes.

4.2 Creates representations of different homes (e.g., draw, build block structure, use boxes, make 3-D structures).

4.3 Identifies and discusses the duties of a variety of common community occupations (e.g., nurse, postmaster, secretary, clerk).

4.4 Dramatizes community roles and activities.

4.5 Identifies tools used for different occupations (e.g., cash register, adding machine, stethoscope, etc.).

EXPECTATION 5: Children participate in activities that reflect the cultures within their classroom and their community.

Preschool Teaching Practices

  • Explore cultures represented in the classroom and community and integrate information, literature, and activities into play activities and the daily curriculum.
  • Invite family and other community members to tell stories and provide activities about their cultures and traditions to the children.

Preschool Learning Outcomes

5.1 Identifies characteristics of other cultures in discussions and play (e.g., "Either a man or a woman can be the president.").

5.2 Participates in cultural activities.



The diverse nature of our society necessitates that children develop an understanding of languages other than their own. In preschool, when children are still mastering their native language, this can involve simply exposing children to languages other than their own. Teachers can integrate words from languages other than English into the classroom through songs, daily routines and storybooks. Labels written in a language other than English can be used to identify items within the classroom. Parents and community members who speak a language other than English can be a valuable resource in helping children both understand and respect the linguistic diversity present in our culture, and should be invited to share their language with the children.

Special consideration needs to be given to children who already possess a second language. Materials should be available that represent and support the native language and culture of the children and adults in the class. Teachers should understand that all languages are learned in context as children interact with and explore their world. Teachers should plan for opportunities to extend children's language throughout the day and across all content areas.

EXPECTATION 1: Children know that others may use different languages (including sign) to communicate and will express simple greetings, words and phrases in a language other than their own.

Preschool Teaching Practices

  • Provide conversations and stories in different languages through a variety of media (e.g., teachers, peers, visitors, videotapes).
  • Identify what language is being spoken by a classmate, parent, or visitor and explain that people use different languages.
  • Put written labels on some items in the room using various languages.
  • Read and display children's books in different languages.
  • Give simple commands or instructions in a language other than English.
  • Provide opportunities for children to hear simple greetings, words or phrases in a language other than their own (including sign language) in appropriate contexts (e.g., during dramatic play, in stories, when greeting visitors).

Preschool Learning Outcomes

1.1 Acknowledges that a language other than his/her own is being spoken.

1.2 Responds appropriately to commands or instructions given in a language other than English.

1.3 Says simple greetings, words and phrases in a language other than his/her own.


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Internet-based Articles (NOTE: These articles were accessible at time of publication)

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White House Conference on Early Childhood Development and Learning. (1997).

Organizations: and Agencies

The American Academy of Pediatrics
141 Northwest Point Boulevard
Elk Grove Village, IL 60007-1098

Association for Childhood Education International (ACEI)
17904 Georgia Ave, Suite 215
Olney, Maryland 20832 http://www.udel.eduibateman/acei/

Association Montessori Internationale Koninginneweg 161
1075 CN Amsterdam
The Netherlands

Association for Childhood Education International (ACEI)
17904 Georgia Ave, Suite 215
Olney, Maryland 20832

Board on Children, Youth, and Families National Research Council/Institute of Medicine
2101 Constitution Avenue N.W., Suite HA 156
Washington, D.C. 20418

The Center for the Child Care Workforce
733 15th Street, NW Suite 1037
Washington, DC 20005-2112

The Center for Early Childhood Leadership, National-Louis University
6310 Capitol Drive
Wheeling, IL 60090

Child Care Bureau

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
The Administration for Children and Families Regional Office
26 Federal Plaza Room 4114
New York, N.Y. 10278

Children's Defense Fund
25 E Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001

The Children's Foundation
725 Fifteenth Street NW, Suite 505
Washington, DC 20005-2109

Children's Resources International, Inc.
5039 Connecticut Ave., NW Suite One
Washington, DC 20008

Children's Rights Council
Suite 401, 300 I Street NE
Washington, DC 20002

Division of Early Childhood Education New Jersey Department of Education
P.O. Box 500
Trenton, NJ 08625-0500

ERIC-EECE Clearinghouse on Elementary and Early Childhood Education University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Children's Research Center
51 Gerty Drive
Champaign, IL 61820-7469

The Future of Children
The David and Lucile Packard Foundation
300 Second Street, Suite 200
Los Altos, CA 94022

Generations United
122 C Street, NW Suite 820
Washington, DC 20001

Head Start Bureau, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
The Administration for Children and Families
330 C Street, SW
Washington, DC 20447

High/Scope Educational Research Foundation
600 North River Street
Ypsilanti, MI

National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)
1509 16th Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20036-1426

National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC)
5202 Pinemont Drive
Salt Lake City, Utah 84123

National Center for Early Development and Learning, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-8185

The National Child Care Information Center (NCCIC) U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
The Administration for Children and Families
243 Church Street, NW 2nd Floor
Vienna, Virginia 22180

National Head Start Association
1651 Prince St.
Alexandria, Virginia 22314

National Institute on Early Childhood Development and Education, Office of Educational Research and Improvement U.S. Department of Education
555 New Jersey Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20208

New Jersey Center for Professional Development for Early Care and Education East Campus, Room 204
Kean University 1000 Morris Ave.
Union, NJ 07083

New Jersey Department of Education
100 River View Plaza
P.O. Box 500, Trenton, NJ 08625-0500

U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20202-0498

Urban Institute
2100 M Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20037

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
200 Independence Avenue, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20201