Accommodation: Service or support related to a student’s disability that allows her or him to fully access a given subject matter and to accurately demonstrate knowledge without requiring a fundamental alteration to the assignment’s or test’s standard or expectation.
(Retrieved from the online dictionary, Iris Center, Vanderbilt University:

Adaptation: A generalized term that describes a change made in the presentation, setting, response, timing or scheduling of an activity or assessment that may or may not change the construct of the activity or assessment.
(Based upon definition from the Council of Chief State School Officers (2006). Assessing Students with Disabilities: A Glossary of Assessment Terms in Everyday Language. Retrieved from

Adapting instruction: To make changes to classroom instruction in order to allow students equal access to the curriculum and to give students the opportunity to both process and demonstrate what has been taught; instructional adaptations can include both accommodations and modifications.
(Retrieved from the online dictionary, Iris Center, Vanderbilt University:

Adaptive equipment: See ‘Assistive technology device’

Alternative and augmentative communication: A term used to describe the different methods that can be used to help people with disabilities communicate with others. These methods can be used as an alternative to speech or to supplement it and can include individual methods of sign and gestures, standardized signing, symbol systems, and complex electronic devices.
(Retrieved from the Council of Chief State School Officers (2006). Assessing Students with Disabilities: A Glossary of Assessment Terms in Everyday Language:

Assistive technology device: As defined in Section 602 of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (1997), an assistive technology device is any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain or improve the functional capabilities of a child with a disability.
(Retrieved from the Council of Chief State School Officers (2006). Assessing Students with Disabilities: A Glossary of Assessment Terms in Everyday Language:

Augmentative communication system: One of a family of alternative methods of communication, which includes communication boards, communication books, sign language, and computerized voices; used by individuals unable to communicate readily through speech.
(Retrieved from the online dictionary, Iris Center, Vanderbilt University:

Authentic experiences: Experiences are ‘authentic’ in the sense that they take place in the real-life contexts where young children naturally find themselves, and are embedded in tasks that children see as significant, meaningful and worthwhile. Authentic experiences are situated in meaningful contexts that reflect the way tasks might be found and approached in real life.

Benchmarks: Benchmarks are preferred points within the design of a document that describe the knowledge and skills that all children should know and be able to do, in relation to specific development and learning goals, by the time they reach a certain age
(Based upon a definition retrieved from the Council of Chief State School Officers (2006). Assessing Students with Disabilities: A Glossary of Assessment Terms in Everyday Language:

Best practices: Term used to describe instructional techniques, scientifically based practices, or methods found through research or experience to be the “best” ways to achieve desired outcomes.

Codeswitch: The use of both home language and English to convey a message.
(from Alex Figueras, NIEER)

Constructive play: Play in which children engage in active inquiry and construct knowledge through creative exploration with materials.
(Retrieved from: on March 20, 2013.)

Conventions of print: The understanding that when language is written down, it is transcribed in a standard, uniform manner so that words and ideas communicated through writing are consistently and easily understood by all readers.
Conventions of print include the following:

  • Directionality: language is written and in a standard format (e.g. English is read and written from left to right and from top to bottom)
  • Punctuation: communicates meaning and expression to readers
  • Space: Writers use space to separate ideas, indicate when readers should pause for thought, and to separate words so that they are easily read
  • Case: Letters come in two forms, uppercase and lower case. Case can provide additional meaning to readers about the beginning of new ideas and indicates to the reader whether a noun is describing a specific person, place, or thing
  • Grammar: Written language subscribes to the rules affecting the form words can take including verb tense, plurals, possessives, and modifiers like adverbs and adjectives.
  • Usage: Writers understand how incomplete sentences, run-on sentences, and improper use of pronouns can impede effective communication of ideas.
  • Spelling: Words are spelled according to convention so that they are easily read by others to facilitate effective communication.

(Retrieved from the online dictionary, Literacy Builders:

Curriculum: An evidence-based written plan that describes program practices for supporting the learning of each child based on their individual developmental levels, learning styles and interests, and is informed by the RI Early Learning and Development Standards and/or Common Core State Standards/Grade Level Expectations for kindergarten.

Developmental delay: Term used to encompass a variety of disabilities in infants and young children indicating that they are significantly behind the norm for development in one or more areas, including motor development, socialization, independent functioning, cognitive development, or communication.
(Retrieved from the online dictionary, Iris Center, Vanderbilt University:

Developmental milestone: Significant cognitive, physical, social emotional changes in children’s abilities and are used as guidelines for determining whether children are developing as expected in relation to other children at the same age (e.g., rolling over, sitting up without support, crawling, pointing to get an adult’s attention, walking, and talking).

Developmentally Appropriate Practice: Developmentally appropriate practice, often shortened to DAP, is an approach to teaching grounded both in the research on how young children develop and learn and in what is known about effective early education. Its framework is designed to promote young children’s optimal learning and development.
(Retrieved from:

Digital texts: Digitized content including text, graphics, audio, and video that can be transmitted over the internet or computer networks.

Domains (of early learning): Domains are general areas of child development

Dual language learner: Children who are Dual Language Learners acquire two or more languages simultaneously, as well as learn a second language while continuing to develop their first language. The term “dual language learners” encompasses other terms frequently used, such as Limited English Proficient (LEP), bilingual, English language learners (ELL), English learners, and children who speak a language other than English (LOTE).
(Retrieved from the Glossary of Terms, Head Start National Center on Cultural and Linguistic Responsiveness:

Environmental print: Words and symbols of everyday life: the symbols, signs, numerals, and colors found in road signs (e.g. stop, crosswalk, or school signs).Also includes print used for a purpose, such as classroom rules, attendance, charts, and posters.

Executive functioning: Executive function is an umbrella term used to refer to a variety of interdependent skills that are necessary for purposeful, goal-directed activity, such as when stringing beads – the child must have a plan, regulate their movements, sequence the steps, problem solve, modifying plans about which beads will fit, which are too hard to string, and finding one with a bigger hole. Executive functions entail: self-regulation, sequencing of behavior, flexibility, response inhibition, planning, and organization of behavior. (From Neurons to Neighborhoods, 2000, p. 116)

Expressive play: Play in which children develop the ability to express their own emotions and feelings, while also providing opportunities to interpret the emotions of others.

Family: 1. a unit of love and nurturing; 2. a child’s primary caregiver; a parent, a relative, or someone outside the biological family who has assumed the primary responsibility for caring for and raising a child.

Fantasy play: Play in which children assume the roles of characters and act out story lines. Through fantasy play children develop flexible thinking; learn to create beyond the here and now; stretch their imaginations; use new words and word combinations in a risk-free environment; and use numbers and words to express ideas, concepts, dreams, and histories.
(Based upon a definition from Early Childhood News:

Fine (small) motor skills: Skills which require the coordinated use of small muscle groups such as hands and fingers and frequently involve eye-hand coordination. Fine motor skills are necessary to engage in smaller, more precise movements of the hands and fingers.

Formulaic speech: Speech characterized by formulas or chunks and phrases that the child uses without completely understanding how they function in the language (expressions that are learned as a whole, e.g., “I don’t know”)
(Retrieved from the State of California Dual Language Learners Glossary:

Grammar: The system of rules by which words are formed and put together to make sentences.
(Retrieved from the State of California Dual Language Learners Glossary:

Gross (large) motor skills: Skills which require the use and coordination of large muscle groups, such as those in the arms, legs and trunk for movement activities.

Home language: The language that is used primarily by the child’s family in the home environment. For some children, there may be more than one home language (e.g., when the mother speaks Chinese and the father speaks English).
(Retrieved from the State of California Dual Language Learners Glossary:

Intentional teaching: “To be ‘intentional’ is to act purposefully, with a goal in mind and a plan for accomplishing it. Intentional acts originate from careful thought and are accompanied by consideration of their potential effects. Thus teachers who are acting intentionally have clearly defined learning objectives for children, employ instructional strategies likely to help children achieve the objectives, and continually assess progress and adjusts the strategies based on that assessment. The teacher who can explain just why she is doing what she is doing is acting intentionally— whether she is using a strategy tentatively for the first time or automatically from long practice, as part of an elaborate set up or spontaneously in a teachable moment.”
(Definition from: Epstein, A.S. (2007). The Intentional Teacher: Choosing the Best Strategies for Young Children’s Learning, National Association for the Education of Young Children)

Manipulatives: Concrete objects used by children to explore, experiment, and make meaning

Motor / Physical Play: Motor play provides critical opportunities for children to develop both individual gross and fine muscle strength and an overall integration of muscles, nerves, and brain functions.
(Based upon a definition from Early Childhood News:

Phoneme: The basic sounds of a language or the smallest units of sound that make a difference in a word’s meaning. The exact number of phonemes depends on the language itself. In English for example, there are 44 phonemes. Phonemes outnumber the letters of the English alphabet because combinations of letters represent different phonemes such as ch and th.
(Retrieved from Glossary, Rhode Island’s Comprehensive Literacy Plan:
(Definition from: Caulfield, R.A.(2001). Infant and Toddlers. Prentice-Hall Inc.: Upper Saddle River, New Jersey)

Play: Any freely sought activity that is pleasing to the “player.” It can be physical (bouncing up and down or riding a tricycle), imaginative (playing “peek-a-boo” or “dress-up”), creative (building with blocks or drawing pictures), social, or mental. And it can be any combination of these. Paradoxically, play is the most important work of childhood; it is the primary means by which children demonstrate early learning accomplishments.

Play-based learning: A context for learning through which children organize and make sense of their social worlds, as they engage actively with people, objects and representations.
(Retrieved from

Pragmatics: The effective use of language to communicate with others in a variety of conversational and social situations (e.g. points and gestures, waves bye-bye, uses words to communicate needs)
(Retrieved from Glossary, Rhode Island’s Comprehensive Literacy Plan:

Print concepts: ”Children’s understanding of letters, words, sentences, punctuation, and directionality of reading.”
(Paris, S. G. (2011). Developmental differences in early reading skills. In S. B. Neuman and D. K. Dickinson (Eds.), Handbook of early literacy research (Vol. 3, pp. 232). New York: Guilford Press.)

Scientific skills and methods: Process used to observe, plan, investigate test hypotheses (ideas), solve problems, and report on findings.
(Retrieved from Glossary of Terms, Oregon Early Childhood Foundations:

Seriate: The ability to arrange objects in a specific order by gradual changes in attributes. (Definition taken from RIELS text)

Social play: Interacting with others in play settings. Through social play children learn social rules such as, give and take, reciprocity, cooperation, and sharing; and learn to use moral reasoning to develop a mature sense of values.
(Based upon a definition from Early Childhood News:

Special Education: Special Education is specially designed instruction (adaptation of content, methodology or delivery of instruction) which meets the unique needs of a child with a disability while ensuring access to the general education curriculum. (Retrieved from Research Connections, Child Care & Early Education Glossary

Syllable: A syllable is a word part that contains a vowel or, in spoken language, a vowel sound (e-vent, news-pa-per).
(Retrieved from Literacy Information and Communication System, Glossary of Reading Terms:

Synonym: A word having the same or nearly the same meaning as another in the language.

Syntax: The ordering of and the relationship between the words and other structural elements in phrases and sentences.
(Retrieved from The English Learning for Preschoolers Project, Glossary:

Telegraphic speech: Speech characterized by the use of a few content words without functional words or certain grammatical markers, as in telegraphs. (e.g. Daddy, car)
(Retrieved from the State of California Dual Language Learners Glossary:

Temperament: Traits that are biologically based and that remain consistent over time. Influences the quality and intensity of a person’s emotional reactions to different situations
(Definition from: Caulfield, R.A. (2001). Infant and Toddlers. Prentice-Hall Inc.: Upper Saddle River, New Jersey)

Travelling skills: Motor skills in which the feet move the body from one place to another. They are (roughly in order of how children learn them): walking, running, hopping, jumping, skipping, galloping, sliding (a sideways gallop), leaping.

Universal Design for Learning (UDL): A research-based framework for teachers to incorporate flexible materials, techniques, and strategies for delivering instruction and for students to demonstrate their knowledge in a variety of ways.
(Retrieved from the online dictionary, Iris Center, Vanderbilt University:

Writing conventions: The rules and guidelines taught to students for the development of their writing skills. The conventions are divided into three categories: grammar, punctuation, and usage.
(Retrieved from

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