Component 1: Self, Family, and Community

Learning Goal 1.a: Children gain awareness of how they relate to their family and community, understand social roles and responsibilities, and recognize and respect similarities and differences in people.


By 9 months, most children:

  • Demonstrate an interest in themselves (e.g., observing themselves in a mirror, looking at their own hands and feet)
  • Use gestures to communicate their interest in objects and people
  • Smile when someone familiar smiles at them
  • Focus their attention on others and engage in interactions
  • Kick their legs or reach with their arms when they see a familiar person
  • Demonstrate a preference for familiar versus unfamiliar adults
  • Actively explore the similarities and differences among people by feeling their hair, touching their faces, watching their facial expressions, listening to their voices

By 18 months, most children:

  • Look to caregivers for assistance, guidance, and safety
  • Distinguish between familiar and unfamiliar adults
  • Show an awareness of the unique attributes of people

By 24 months, most children:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of simple rules and prompts, such as “stop,” but often do not follow directions
  • “Chat” with family members, although only half of the words they use may be recognizable
  • Identify known people in pictures
  • Shadow adults in their work by imitating such activities as sweeping or picking up toys, and attempting to help

By 36 months, most children:

  • Follow rules and understand that there may be different rules for different contexts
  • Identify themselves as members of a family or classroom and participate as active members of these communities
  • Engage in pretend play and act out different settings or events that happen at home (e.g., being a doll’s “daddy” and using a spoon to feed the doll)
  • Identify basic similarities and differences between themselves and others

By 48 months, most children:

  • Share information about their family and community
  • Demonstrate an awareness of and appreciation for family and cultural stories
  • Create art that contains realistic elements (e.g., pointing to one of their drawings and saying, “This is our house.”)
  • Demonstrate an awareness of group rules and the outcomes of choices
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the rights and responsibilities in a group (e.g., following simple classroom rules, participating in classroom clean-up)
  • Engage in pretend play using objects as representations of something else (e.g., string as a fireman’s hose or an empty plate that serves “dinner”)
  • Identify and ask questions about similarities and differences between personal, family, and cultural characteristics
  • Demonstrate an awareness of and appreciation for personal characteristics (e.g., saying “That man is nice,” or “She has red hair.”)

By 60 months, most children:

  • Talk about family in more complex ways (e.g., explaining the importance of unique family traditions beyond common holiday customs)
  • Engage in sociodramatic play (i.e., complex pretend play involving assigned roles and an general plot), for example, by acting out family or community roles and events
  • Demonstrate an understanding that “fairness” involves taking turns and sharing roles
  • Engage in peer conflict resolution with increasing independence
  • Make comparisons about similarities and differences among people and use themselves as a reference (e.g., saying “That boy is bigger than me!”)