Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Washington State Early Learning and Development Guidelines - a resource for parents, providers

The Washington Department of Early Learning (DEL) has published the Early Learning and Development Guidelines (guidelines) for children from birth through third grade. The guidelines replace the Early Learning and Development Benchmarks, which were first created in 2005 to outline what children know and are able to do at different stages of their development.

DEL, the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) and Thrive by Five Washington led the recent revision of the guidelines in close partnership with a 51-member workgroup that included statewide representatives from Head Start, the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP), parents, Tribes, child care providers, special needs experts, K-12 staff and our state's ethnic commissions.

The guidelines are a resource for child care providers and families to help recognize what children ages birth through third grade should be doing and learning at different stages of their development. The guidelines have pages for each age group to use as a quick reference and are written in a clear, easy-to-understand way.

For example:
  • Page 16 has suggestions for the ways parents, child care providers and kingergarten through third grade teachers can use the guidelines.
  • Each section starts with "What families already know about their children: five questions to reflect on."
  • At the end of each section is a page called "Differences in development" that outlines areas of potential concerns for that age group.
Thrive by Five Washington, one of the partners for this project, blogged about the guidelines today: "The new Early Learning and Development Guidelines, though, are something more basic, and just as important. The resource is designed to be used by families and educators in every day parenting and care. Instead of describing an important but technical public policy, the guidelines explain to parents in clear terms the milestones in their children’s development, such as how their child may interact with other children, eat and communicate. Broken down by nine age groups, it also provides strategies to encourage healthy development at each stage."

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