Guiding Principles

The principles that guided The Standards are set forth below and divided into two areas.

The first set of principles articulates values that the state holds true for the implementation of all early learning and development standards in early childhood programs. These principles are outlined in the original standards document published in 2003 and repeated here:

  • Respect and the well-being of children and families will be given the highest priority in the organization and planning of community actions.
  • Policymakers will take into consideration and be knowledgeable about the education, care and support of children and families when developing and assessing legislation, regulation, and funding of programs for young children.
  • Families will be respected and supported as partners in the education and development of their child.
  • Teachers, families, and children will use play as a way to develop the whole child, generate knowledge of the larger world, and support the development of qualities for lifelong learning.
  • Educators will base their decisions upon current knowledge of predictable sequences of child development and how children learn, the differences among children and families, and subjects that are related to the interests of children.
  • Child development theory will be the foundation for teaching—recognizing that learning is sequential, dependent upon experience, and based on knowledge of the whole child, including the child’s culture and individual characteristics.
  • All children will be regarded and respected as competent individuals who differ in their learning styles, their home environments, and the ways that they understand and represent their world.
  • Children will learn in an environment where their physical and psychological needs are met so they feel safe, feel valued as unique individuals, and are engaged actively in acquiring new skills and knowledge.
  • A child’s sense of responsibility to self and others will be best supported when teachers shape the learning environment in ways that support the development of an involved citizenry.
  • Educational programs will be developed in partnership with families, teachers, and the community in order to inspire children to acquire knowledge, build new skills, seek challenges, and develop as citizens.

Several additional principles and considerations guided the development of the revised early learning and development standards:

  • While The Standards represent expectations for all children, each child will reach the individual learning goals at his or her own pace and in his or her own way.
  • The Standards are appropriate for all children, birth to 60-months, including children who are dual language learners and children with disabilities.
  • The Standards represent the expectations for children’s learning and development and are to serve as a guide for selecting curriculum and assessment tools.
  • In order to meet The Standards, individual children will require different types and intensities of support across domains.
  • The Standards are aligned with the K–12 Common Core State Standards and the Head Start Child Development and Early Learning Framework.