Link to our Early Learning Guidelines (0-3)

Link to our Early Learning Guidelines (0-3)
For Children Birth to Age Three
Illinois Early Learning
Guidelines
Contents
Introductory Letter & Acknowledgments.....................v
Introduction..................................................................................1
Development of the Guidelines...................................................... 5
How to Use the Guidelines............................................................ 6
The Newborn Period................................................................ 8
Self-Regulation:
Foundation of Development...............................................11
Physiological Regulation.............................................................. 13
Emotional Regulation..................................................................17
Attention Regulation....................................................................21
Behavior Regulation.................................................................... 25
developmental domain 1:
Social & Emotional Development................................... 29
Attachment Relationships............................................................. 31
Emotional Expression................................................................. 35
Relationship with Adults............................................................. 39
Self-Concept............................................................................... 43
Relationship with Peers................................................................47
Empathy......................................................................................51
iii
developmental domain 2:
Physical Development & Health...................................... 55
Logic & Reasoning.....................................................................113
Gross Motor................................................................................57
Quantity & Numbers................................................................. 117
Fine Motor...................................................................................61
Science Concepts & Exploration.................................................121
Perceptual................................................................................... 65
Safety & Well-Being.................................................................. 125
Self-Care.................................................................................... 69
developmental domain 3:
Language Development, Communication,
& Literacy.................................................................................... 73
Approaches to Learning..................................................... 129
Curiosity & Initiative................................................................. 131
Problem Solving.........................................................................135
Confidence & Risk-Taking......................................................... 139
Social Communication................................................................ 75
Persistence, Effort, & Attentiveness.............................................143
Receptive Communication.......................................................... 79
Creativity, Inventiveness, & Imagination.....................................147
Expressive Communication......................................................... 83
Early Literacy...............................................................................87
developmental domain 4:
Cognitive Development.........................................................91
Concept Development................................................................. 93
Memory.. .....................................................................................97
Spatial Relationships.................................................................. 101
Symbolic Thought..................................................................... 105
iv
Creative Expression................................................................... 109
Appendices
Horizontal Alignment..........................Appendices Tab, overleaf
Vertical Alignment.................................................................... 152
Glossary................................................................................... 154
Endnotes.................................................................................. 156
For Children Birth to Age Three
Illinois Early Learning
Guidelines
Dear Reader,
It is with great pleasure that we present you with the Illinois Early Learning Guidelines for children
from birth to three years of age. These Guidelines are the product of two years of intensive labor by
many individuals and organizations. We have all focused on building comprehensive developmental
learning standards for our youngest learners that form the foundation for all learning and development that is to follow. The myriad stakeholders involved in this project were driven by the following
intentions for the use of the Guidelines:
We hope the Guidelines speak to you, putting into words the development you see occurring
each day with children from birth to three
We hope the Guidelines support you in understanding and discussing child development
We hope the Guidelines make you better equipped to plan for intentional interactions with
children from birth to three
We hope the Guidelines strengthen your commitment to responsive, developmentally appropriate
practice with young children
We hope the Guidelines enhance your belief system around the individual nature of the
developmental trajectory and the crucial role that family and context play in each child’s
development
We have had the honor of guiding a process to develop Early Learning Guidelines for birth to three
that embody an approach that is responsive to our state early childhood infrastructure’s work and
current needs in this area. In this project guidance and management role embedded within the
Illinois Early Learning Council, we were able to draw out the best of our colleagues and stakeholders
v
Acknowledgments
in the areas of knowledge, practice, and cross-system strategizing. Through this work we were establishing a shared set of beliefs around what children from birth to three should know and be able to
do and what our responsibility is to seeing these outcomes for children. Over the course of the two
year project term, we asked a lot of everyone involved, and ourselves, and found that a shared commitment to young children drove us to push for the highest quality set of developmental guidelines.
Inherent to our definition of quality was the need for this work to cut across all the service systems
and sectors serving children from birth to three and their families. Each of these systems and sectors
Thank you to Robert R. McCormick Foundation
Board and staff for their generous support of the
project with a commitment that demonstrates
respect for the process and for the Illinois stakeholders, and, most significantly, a reverence for
the importance of supporting children from
birth to three years. The McCormick Foundation continues to be a valued partner in furthering development of a high quality early learning
system for our youngest children.
has had a hand in the creation of the Early Learning Guidelines with a careful consideration of the
role of this content in their work with children and families. We are eager to continue to learn from
one another and support each other in implementing the Guidelines to improve the quality of services delivered to children and families.
With our sincerest thanks,
vi
Jeanna M. Capito
Karen Yarbrough
Executive Director
Director, Policy Planning and Knowledge
Positive Parenting DuPage
Ounce of Prevention Fund
Thank you to the Early Learning Guidelines
Workgroup members for their substantial contribution of time to guide a process that never
lost sight of children from birth to three, and
to the Writing Team members for their tireless
commitment to getting the content just right.
Barbara Abel, University of Illinois at Chicago
Jennifer Alexander, Metropolitan Family
Services
Vincent Allocco, El Valor
Casey Amayun, Positive Parenting DuPage
Jeanne M. Anderson, Nurse Family Partnership
– National Office
Gonzalo Arroyo, Family Focus – Aurora
Anita Berry, Advocate Health Care
Jill Bradley, Illinois Action for Children
Sharonda Brown, Illinois State Board of
Education
Ted Burke, Illinois EI Training
Stephanie Bynum, Erikson Institute
Jennett D. Caldwell, Peoria Citizens Committee
for Economic Opportunity, Inc.
Jill Calkins, Tri-County Opportunities Council
Alexis Carlisle, Department of Children and
Family Services
Lindsay Cochrane, Robert R. McCormick
Foundation
Kimberly Dadisman, Chapin Hall Center for
Children
Kathy Davis, Springfield SD 186
Elva DeLuna, Illinois Department of Human
Services
Claire Dunham, Ounce of Prevention Fund
Bridget English, Jacksonville SD 117
Mary English, Jacksonville SD 117
Jana E. Fleming, Erikson Institute
Mary Jane Forney, Illinois Department of
Human Services
Phyllis Glink, The Irving Harris Foundation
Julia Goldberg, Childcare Network of Evanston
Pat Gomez, La Voz Latina
Marsha Hawley, Kendall College
Theresa Hawley, Educare of West DuPage
Lynda Hazen, Head Start DuPage
Artishia Hunter, Postive Parenting DuPage
Jean Jackson, Community Child Care
Connection, Inc.
Raydeane James, Illinois State Board of
Education
Leslie Janes, Carole Robertson Center for
Learning
Jamilah R. Jor’dan, Jor’dan Consulting Group, Inc.
Susan Kaplan, Illinois Association for Infant
Mental Health
Leslie Katch, National-Louis University
Joanne Kelly, Illinois Department of Human
Services
Kathy Kern, Parenthesis, Inc.
Ashleigh Kirk, Voices for Illinois Children
Rebecca Klein, Ounce of Prevention Fund –
Hayes Center
Jon Korfmacher, Erikson Institute
Linda Langosch, Community & Economic
Development Association of Cook County
Rima Malhotra, Chicago Public Schools
Janet Maruna, Illinois Network of Child Care
Resource & Referral Agencies
Jean Mendoza, Early Childhood and Parenting
Collaborative
Paulette Mercurius, Chicago Department of
Family and Support Services
Susan R. Miller, Consultant
Lauri Morrison-Frichtl, Illinois Head Start
Association
Heather Moyer, Teen Parent Connection
Christina Nation, Parents as Teachers –
Springfield School District
Nara Nayar, Advance Illinois
Kristie Norwood, Chicago Commons
Sessy Nyman, Illinois Action for Children
Gregory O’Donnell, Ounce of Prevention Fund
Marcia Orr, Before and After School
Enrichment, Inc.
Patricia Perez, City Colleges of Chicago
Christy Poli, Bensenville Birth to Three
Program
Rosaura Realegeno, Family Focus – Aurora
Susan Reynolds, Chicago Public Schools
Vanessa Rich, Chicago Department of Family
and Support Services
Kate Ritter, Illinois Action for Children
Jessica Roberts, Voices for Illinois Children
Celena Roldan, Erie Neighborhood House
John Roope, Chaddock Child and Family Center
Allen Rosales, Christopher House
Gina Ruther, Illinois Department of Human
Services
Christine Ryan, Chicago Public Schools
Andrea Sass, YWCA of Metropolitan Chicago
Linda Saterfield, Illinois Department of Human
Services
Joni Scritchlow, Illinois Network of Child Care
Resource & Referral Agencies
Mary Self, Make A Difference – Bradley
Elementary School District
Cherlynn Shelby, Department of Children and
Family Services
Kathleen M. Sheridan, National-Louis
University
Heather Shull, Early Explorations, Inc.
Julie Spielberger, Chapin Hall Center for
Children
Lauren Stern, El Valor
Mary Lee Swiatowiec, Childcare Network of
Evanston
Barbara Terhall, Easter Seals Joliet Region, Inc.
Dawn V. Thomas, University of Illinois at
Urbana-Champaign
Victoria Thompson, Children’s Home
Association of Illinois
Marsha Townsend, Illinois Department of
Children and Family Services
Sharifa Townsend, Illinois Action for Children
Melissa Veljasevic, 4-C: Community
Coordinateed Child Care
Rebecca Waterstone, SGA Youth and Family
Services
vii
Xiaoli Wen, National-Louis University
Deb Widenhofer, Baby TALK, Inc.
Candace Williams, Positive Parenting DuPage
Katie Williams, U.S. Department of Health and
Human Services
Cass Wolfe, Infant Welfare Society of Evanston
Janice Woods, Chicago Commons – New City
Tweety Yates, University of Illinois at UrbanaChampaign
Over the course of this process, the Work
Group has relied upon the input and lessons
learned from numerous stakeholders within
Illinois and from peers in other states. Thank
you all for taking the time to guide us with
your extensive feedback during interviews and
conversations.
A total of 24 interviews were conducted; thank
you to representatives from the following Illinois
entities for their time and expertise:
Advocate Healthy Steps for Young Children
Chicago Department of Family and Support
Services
Erikson Institute
Illinois Birth to Three Training Institute
Illinois Chapter of the American Association of
Pediatrics
Illinois Children’s Mental Health Partnership
viii
Illinois Department of Children and Family
Services Child Care Licensing
Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS),
including the Bureaus of Child Care and
Development, Child and Adolescent Health,
and Early Intervention; the Head Start
Collaboration Office; the Healthy Families
Program; and Migrant and Seasonal Head Start
Illinois Early Intervention Training Program
Illinois Head Start Association
Illinois Home Visiting Task Force
Illinois Infant Mental Health Association
Illinois Network of Child Care Resource and
Referral Agencies
IIllinois State Board of Education’s Early
Childhood Division
Kendall College
Professional Development Advisory Council
Western Illinois University
Thank you to the following states, representatives
of which participated in in-depth interviews:
California
Kentucky
Maine
Nebraska
North Carolina
Pennsylvania
South Carolina
Washington
To our Illinois state agency partners, thank
you for committing not only to the work of the
creation of ELGs for birth to three but also to
the longer term impact that will come from
the implementation of this content across all
programs in Illinois.
Illinois Department of Child and Family
Services
Illinois Department of Human Services
Illinois State Board of Education
Project management from the Ounce of
Prevention and Positive Parenting DuPage
thank the following individuals for being part
of the team: Samantha Aigner-Treworgy, for
project coordination and staffing; Barbara
Dufford, our communications designer;
Jessica Rodriguez Duggan, our technical writer;
and Catherine Scott Little, national expert on
early learning guidelines and processes to
create them, for guidance on process design
and review of the complete content.
Introduction
Children’s experiences in the
first three years of life influence
how they develop, learn, and
interact with their world. This
period is marked by an extraordinary amount of growth,
and sets the foundation for
children’s future learning and
ongoing development.
The Illinois Early Learning Guidelines are
designed to provide early childhood professionals and policy makers a framework for understanding development through information on
what children know and should do, and what
development looks like in everyday instances.
These Guidelines also provide suggestions and
ideas on how to create early experiences that
benefit all children’s learning and development.
The main goal of the Guidelines is to offer early
childhood professionals a cohesive analysis of
children’s development with common expectations and common language.
1
Children are actually growing and learning in
all areas of development at all times.
During the process of developing these
Guidelines, core principles were taken into consideration. All of these principles are integrated
into the Guidelines, providing a comprehensive
and appropriate look at children’s development.
The core principles are:
•Early relationships are most important and
central to young children’s development.
•Development occurs across multiple and
interdependent domains, in a simultaneous
manner.
•Children develop and learn at their own
unique pace and in the context of their family,
culture, and community.
•Play is the most meaningful way children
learn and master new skills.
Relationships
Early learning occurs in the context of relationships. Positive and secure relationships are
the foundation for children’s healthy development in all areas and provide models for future
relationships they will establish. These nurturing relationships give children the security and
support they need to confidently explore their
environment, attempt new skills, and accomplish tasks. Children who have strong, positive
2
attachments with important adults in their lives
use these relationships to communicate, guide
behavior, and share emotions and accomplishments. These meaningful interactions and
relationships are essential for children’s development as they help them realize they have
a meaningful impact on their world and the
people around them.
Domains of Development
Children’s development is looked at through
four core developmental domains: social and
emotional, physical, language, and cognitive.
Children develop across these four domains
at the same time, with each area of development dependent on growth in all the other
areas. There may be times when children seem
to focus on one particular area of development,
while having little growth in another area. For
example, a 12-month-old child who is concentrating on language may not display any interest
in walking on his or her own. Then, a few weeks
later, the child suddenly starts to walk. This
is an example of how development flows, and
while it may seem that they may “stall” at certain times, children are actually growing and
learning in all of the areas at all times.
Influences on Development and
Learning
Children follow a general continuum as they
develop, and each child will reach his developmental milestones at his own individual pace, and
through his own experiences and relationships.
Development is influenced by various factors:
Culture
Culture plays a significant role in how children
develop, as it influences families’ practices, beliefs,
and values for young children. Goals for children’s
learning and development differ across cultures.
Therefore, it is important for early childhood
professionals to know, recognize, and respond
sensitively to the multitude of cultural and
linguistic variations that families and children
exhibit. In order to support healthy development,
it is important to provide culturally appropriate
activities and experiences that are responsive to
children from diverse backgrounds.
Differences in abilities, language, culture, personality, and experiences
should not be seen as deficits, but instead, be recognized as the unique
characteristics that define who children are.
Differences in children’s learning
abilities
Children have varying developmental abilities and different learning styles that influence
when and how they reach their developmental
milestones. All children are unique and these
differences are to be taken into consideration
when caring for them. The structure of the
learning environment should be tailored to
varying abilities, and interactions between
children and caregivers should be meaningful
and appropriate. It is important to encourage
acceptance and appreciation of differences in
learning abilities and to partner with caregivers
to align individual goals for children.
Temperament
Temperament refers to the unique personality
traits that children are born with. Temperament
influences how children respond to the world
around them, and how others will interact with
them.1 Some children are outgoing and assertive and love to try new things. Other children
are slower to warm up and need time and
support from adults to engage in new activities.
Adults need to be sensitive to children’s temperament and interact with children in a manner
that supports their temperament to foster feelings of security and nurturing.
Birth order
Birth order can influence children’s personality
and how they relate with their family. Children
each have their own unique personality traits;
yet, birth order may have an impact on how
children’s personality traits are expressed. For
example, middle children may be more outgoing and social because they have experience
interacting with an older sibling. Or, youngest
children may be more persistent because they
may have to work harder for uninterrupted
attention.2 These examples may not be consistent across all children, but it is important to
note that all children have unique personalities
that influence how they interact and develop.
Birth order also impacts the caregiver’s role and
how they parent and interact with each child.
For example, there may be differences in how
a caregiver approaches their youngest child,
compared to their oldest child, due to increased
confidence in their parenting skills.
Differences in abilities, language, culture,
personality, and experiences should not be seen
as deficits, but instead, be recognized as the
unique characteristics that define who children
are. The important goal early childhood professionals are tasked with during this age period is
how to best support children’s diverse needs.
Toxic Stress
Stress is a common experience for all
children. While positive and tolerable stress – such as moving to a new
neighborhood, or parental separation or
divorce – is all part of healthy development, toxic stress is detrimental to the
developing child. Toxic stress includes
physical or emotional abuse, chronic
neglect, extreme poverty, constant
parental substance abuse, and family
and community violence.3 Toxic stress
is attributed to prolonged activation
of children’s stress systems, without
support or protection from caregivers.4
Extended and repeated exposure to
these stressors disrupts children’s brain
development and impacts their overall
development, with the possibility of
lifelong negative health issues. However,
because the brain is still growing during
the first three years of life, the effects
of toxic stress can be buffered and even
reversed through supportive and responsive relationships with nurturing adults.5
3
“Play is the means by which the child
discovers the world.”
– Unknown
Play
Play is often described as “a child’s work”; it is
central to how children learn and make sense
of the world around them. Play is often spontaneous, chosen by the child, and enjoyable. Play
consists of active engagement and has no extrinsic reward.6 It is very important to highlight that
play does NOT include television watching or
games played on the computer or other technology devices.
Children use play to learn about their physical world, themselves, and others. Children use
play to sort out their feelings and explore relationships, events, and roles
that are meaningful to them.
Play changes drastically in
the first three years. For
example, a six-month-old
plays with an object simply
by touching and mouthing
it, an 18-month-old purposefully makes an object move in a certain way,
and a 34-month-old uses language and actions
while playing with an object. This example
demonstrates how
play becomes more
complex to match and
meet children’s developing abilities.
4
Who, me? A professional brain developer?
Absolutely! Parenting children is the most important job and one of the most challenging. All caregivers are tasked with developing and shaping the brain of society’s youngest
scientists. Brain development in the first three years is extraordinary. While children’s
brains are not fully developed at birth, the early experiences in their lives influence the rapid
growth and development of their brain. Positive and nurturing interactions and experiences
promote neural connections in the brain, which are essential for healthy development and
growth.7 Caregivers are not only forming how children think through consistent, nurturing, and responsive care; they are also building the foundation for how children learn and
interact with their world.
Who are the professional brain developers? Any person who is responsible for
the care of children!
Within the Guidelines, there are varying references to caregivers, familiar others, attachment figures, and primary caregiver(s). All of these people impact children’s brain development. Below is a brief description of each:
Caregivers and Primary Caregivers include those who are primarily responsible for
the care of the child. Caregivers can include parents, grandparents, relatives, and childcare
providers.
Attachment figures, a term used in the Social and Emotional domain, refer to a few, select
caregivers with whom children have an attachment relationship. Attachment figures can
include parents, grandparents, relatives, and childcare providers.
Familiar others are people who are a common presence in the life of the child. These may
include family members, additional childcare providers, other birth-to-three professionals
working with the family, family friends, occasional caregivers, and neighbors.
Within the Real World Stories and Strategies for Interactions, there are examples and
suggestions for how caregivers can promote healthy brain development in young children.
• Illinois Early Learning Council
Structure of collaboration
for the creation of the
Illinois Early Learning Guidelines
• Infant Toddler Committee
Development of the
Guidelines
The Illinois Early Learning Guidelines were
developed in collaboration with key Illinois
stakeholders in the infant-toddler field. Early
childhood leaders, educators, practitioners,
and policy experts came together to ensure
the creation of an accessible and user-friendly
document, presenting evidence-based and upto-date information on infant-toddler development for parents, caregivers, early childhood
professionals, and policy makers. The structure
of the group stemmed from the Illinois Early
Learning Council – Infant Toddler Committee.
Within this committee, a Workgroup formed to
create the vision for the Guidelines. The vision
of the group was to ensure a document that
could align with and integrate into the complex
system of services for children birth to three
in the state, and fulfill the ultimate goals of
improving program quality, growing provider
capacity, and strengthening the current systems.
• IELG Workgroup
3. Develop a more qualified workforce.
4. Enhance the current system of early
• IELG Domain
Writing Teams
The leadership group of the Workgroup then
began coordinating the development of the
Guidelines, with input from the Workgroup
and from the six writing teams, which were
small sub-groups of the Workgroup. The writing teams were tasked with providing input
and review of developmentally appropriate
content. This collaborative approach in writing
the Guidelines allowed for important decisions
to be made by a diverse range of professionals
representing different areas of the field. This
collaboration resulted in the creation of Guidelines that:
1. Create a foundational understanding
for families, providers, and professionals in the
field of what children from birth to age three
are expected to know and do across multiple
developmental domains.
2. Improve the quality of care and
learning through more intentional and appro-
priate practices to support development from
birth to three.
childhood services by aligning birth-to-
three developmental standards with existing
standards and practices for older children and
across system components.
5. Serve as a resource for those informing
decision makers involved with developing and
implementing policies for children from birth
to three.
The Guidelines are NOT intended to replace
any existing resources that are currently used in
birth-to-three programs and are not an exhaustive resource or checklist for children’s development. The Guidelines are NOT a:
•Curriculum
•Program model
•Developmental Screening Tool
•Developmental Assessment Tool
•Professional Development Curriculum
The Guidelines are designed to complement
these educational tools and provide a cohesive
analysis of children’s development with common expectations and common language.
5
Birth to 9 months
7 to 18 months
16 to 24 months
21 to 36 months
Birth
12 mo.
24 mo.
Figure 1
How to Use the
Guidelines
The Guidelines begin with The Newborn
Period, which discusses the first four months
of children’s lives and the experiences that are
unique to this time. The first of the six tabbed
sections, Self-Regulation: A Foundation of
Development, focuses on children’s development of self-regulation, which is essential for
overall healthy development and learning. SelfRegulation refers to children’s emerging ability
to regulate or control their attention, thoughts,
emotions and behaviors.8 Next, Domains of
Development are specific areas of growth and
development. The Guidelines consist of four
developmental domains: Social and Emotional
Development; Language Development, Communication, and Literacy; Physical and Motor
Development; and Cognitive Development.
The final section, Approaches to Learning,
focuses on specific methods by which children
engage with the world around them in order
to make meaning and build understanding of
their experiences. These six tabbed sections
are each structured in the same manner, and
are further broken down into Sub-Domains/
Sub-Sections, Standards, Age Descriptors,
6
36 mo.
Indicators for Children, and Strategies for
Interaction.
These components map accordingly onto
Figure 2:
1 Sub-Domains/Sub-Sections are detailed
components of each developmental domain or
section.
2 Standards are the general statement of what
children should know and be expected to do by
the time they reach 36 months of age.
3 Age Descriptors describe the progression
of development for each of four particular age
groups across the birth-to-three age range.
These four distinct and overlapping groups
are: Birth to 9 months, 7 to 18 months, 16
to 24 months, and 21 to 36 months. These
age groupings are used in order to reflect children’s bio-behavioral shifts, which are changes
in behavior triggered by biological changes in
the brain. These shifts allow children to grow
and gain new skills (see Figure 1).
4 Indicators for Children are some of the
observable skills, behaviors, and knowledge
that children demonstrate to “indicate” progress toward achieving the standard.
Figure 2: Sample spread showing detailed standards represented in the 32 Sub-Sections/Sub-Domains of the guidelines.
developmental domain 1: SoCIAl & EMotIonAl DEvEloPMEnt Emotional Expression
developmental domain 1: SoCIAl & EMotIonAl DEvEloPMEnt Emotional Expression
1
Standard: Children demonstrate an awareness of and the ability to identify and express emotions.
During this
age period:
Standard: Children demonstrate an awareness of and the ability to identify and express emotions.
2
Birth to 9 months: Children begin to express a wide
7 months to 18 months: Children begin to express
16 months to 24 months: Children continue to
21 months to 36 months: Children begin to convey
range of feelings through verbal and nonverbal communication,
and begin to develop emotional expression with the assistance of
their caregiver(s).
some emotions with intention , and with the help of their
caregiver(s) children can increase their range of emotional
expression.
experience a wide range of emotions (e.g., affection, frustration,
fear, anger, sadness). At this point in development, children will
express and act on impulses, but begin to learn skills from their
caregiver(s) on how to control their emotional expression.
and express emotions through the use of nonverbal and verbal
communication. Children also begin to apply learned strategies
from their caregiver(s) to better regulate these emotions.
Indicators for children include:
Indicators for children include:
Indicators for children include:
Indicators for children include:
•Uses facial expressions and sounds to get needs met, e.g., cries,
smiles, gazes, coos
•Expresses wants with intentionality, e.g., pushes an unwanted
object out of the way, reaches for a familiar adult when wanting
to be carried
•Demonstrates anger and frustration through a wide range of
physical, vocal, and facial expressions, e.g., temper tantrums
•Attempts to use words to describe feelings and names emotions
3
the emergence of
the social smile
and interactions
with caregiver(s)
are the first
intentional or
goal-directed
behaviors that
children display.
Intentional
behaviors become
increasingly
complex and
purposeful as
children grow.
2
•Expresses emotions through sounds and gestures, e.g., squeals,
laughs, claps
•Demonstrates discomfort, stress, or unhappiness through body
language and sounds, e.g., arches back, moves head, cries
•Expresses fear by crying or turning toward caregiver(s) for
comfort
•Shows anger and frustration, e.g., cries when a toy is taken away
•Recognizes and expresses emotion toward a familiar person,
e.g., shows emotion by hugging a sibling
•Expresses pride, e.g., smiles, claps, or says, “I did it” after completing a task
•Attempts to use a word to describe feelings to a familiar adult
•Expresses wonder and delight while exploring the environment
and engaging others
4
6
3
•Acts out different emotions while engaged in pretend play,
e.g., cries when pretending to be sad, jumps up and down for
excitement
•Begins to express complex emotions such as pride, embarrassment, shame, and guilt
•Engages in play to express emotion, e.g., draws a picture for a
caregiver because he or she misses them, hides a “monster” in a
box due to a fear
4
Strategies for interaction:
Strategies for interaction:
Strategies for interaction:
Strategies for interaction:
•Respond and comfort the child in order to meet needs; act as
a co-regulator for the child, e.g., feed the child when hungry,
rock the child when tired
•Respond to child’s display of fear or distress; reassure and comfort the child
•Use words to describe the emotion; this helps the child associate
the feeling with the name
•Discuss feelings with the child; reassure him or her that it is
okay to feel different emotions
•Model emotional expression for the child by making facial
expressions and using words to name the emotion
•Pay close attention to the cues the child is expressing
•Recognize that the child may need some assistance in expressing feelings
•Describe the emotion the child is expressing, e.g., “I can see you
are so excited about reaching that toy!”
•Model facial expressions to match emotions, e.g., widen eyes
and open mouth to express surprise
•Reciprocate actions and gestures the child initiates, e.g., wave
hello, blow kisses, give hugs
•Model appropriate ways to express different feelings
•Acknowledge and validate the emotions the child is feeling, e.g.,
“I can see you are so excited by the way you are jumping up and
down.”
5
5
During this
age period:
Co-regulator
refers to the
child’s primary
caregiver(s) who
assists the child
in achieving regulation through
responses,
interactions, and
communication.
6
•Allow other channels in which children can express their emotions, e.g., art, dance, imaginary play
•Respect cultural differences when it comes to expressing emotions; never discount what the child is sharing and expressing
•Ensure to continue reading the child’s cues even as the child
begins to use words to describe feelings
36
37
5 Strategies for Interaction are specific
activities, practices, and interactions in which
caregivers can engage with children to support
healthy development.
6 Call-Out Boxes are definitions of specific
words and complex concepts essential for
understanding the progression of development
outlined within the sub-domain.
Real World Stories are real-life examples
that demonstrate the specific concepts of development in action.
Keep in Mind lists behaviors that can be
used to identify possible concerns for development and are found at the end of the SelfRegulation section, and the four developmental
domains section.
Interconnections
Since development occurs across multiple, interrelated areas, readers will see a short list of other,
closely related sub-domains/sub-sections in every
sub-domain/sub-section introduction and in each
real world story. While every sub-domain and
sub-section can relate to the others, the Guidelines highlight those most relevant to each particular one. Below is a sample of these references:
self-regulation
Emotional Regulation, p. 17
domain 4: Cognitive
Memory, p. 97
7
There is no possible way
to spoil an infant.
The Newborn
Period:
A Developmental
Perspective on the
First Four Months
The first few months of an
infant’s life can be both
very exciting and very overwhelming for caregivers. The
newborn infant exclusively
relies on his or her parents
and/or caregivers for survival.
The newborn period, birth to four months, is a
period when parents and caregivers are working very hard to learn their infant’s signals and
respond appropriately to their needs. Infants
depend exclusively on soothing and appropriate responses from their caregivers in order to
thrive and develop. In fact, there is no possi8
ble way to spoil an infant.9 On the contrary, when adults respond to newborns
and meet their needs consistently and
promptly, children learn to trust their caregivers and realize that they have a positive impact on their world. Children use
this trust and these positive experiences
to build upon for future development and
learning.
The transition from womb to world can be
pretty harsh on a newborn. Therefore, caregivers need to be sensitive and patient in soothing and caring for their infants. The first four
months of life are sometimes referred to as
the “fourth trimester.” 10 In these first four
months, infants mainly work on maturing their
brain and nervous system. They sleep in short
stretches, without much focus on whether it is
night or day. They are unable to settle themselves and go back to sleep on their own.11
During this time, children need to eat very
frequently, at least every two to three hours.
Infants cannot soothe themselves and rely on
their caregivers to calm them. If infants are
born prematurely, this fourth trimester transition is even longer, as premature infants work
extremely hard to first reach a healthy state
where they can maintain their body temperature, eat successfully, and gain weight.
During the first four months, infants rely
on their caregivers to keep them organized,
calm, and content. This is described as achieving homeostasis, and is where the infant is
most comfortable. Homeostasis is not easy
to achieve, and caregivers find themselves
attempting many different strategies to soothe
their infants.12 This may include rocking an
infant who is sleepy, or feeding an infant who is
hungry. Infants are also using all of their senses
to take in stimulation from their environment.
However, just as with adults, there is always
the possibility of overstimulation, when infants
become uncomfortable with the stimuli in
their environment. Infants demonstrate overstimulation through behaviors such as gaze
aversion, crying, spitting up, or hiccupping.
Both the quiet alert and active alert states are the best time for
Caregivers need to closely read these signals,
and change the environment as needed. This
may include reducing noise such as the television or radio, dimming the lights, or wrapping
a cold infant in a thicker blanket.
Infants are born with unique personality
traits, known as their temperament. The
temperament of the infant will influence how
caregivers will interact with him or her. In the
early months, these traits are visible in how
infants sleep, how easy or difficult they are to
soothe, how intense their movements are, and
how alert they become. The main goal is to
understand and recognize the unique traits of
infants and respond consistently and thoughtfully. This may mean standing and rocking an
infant who has difficulty remaining asleep; or
simply laying down an infant who is content in
observing his or her surroundings. The more
appropriate the response, the calmer the infant.
Nine characteristics of temperament:13
•Activity level refers to the level of children’s
physical energy
•Regularity refers to children’s level of predict-
ability in their biological functions (sleep,
wake, eat, eliminate)
•Approach or withdrawal refers to how children
respond to new people and/or environments
play and interactions that support learning and development.
•Adaptability refers to how long it takes chil-
dren to adjust over time in different situations
•Threshold of responsiveness refers to how
easily a child is disturbed or distracted by
sensory changes in the environment.
•Intensity of reaction refers to the intensity of a
positive or a negative response.
•Quality of mood refers to children’s general
disposition: happy or unhappy.
•Distractibility refers to children’s tendencies
to either retain or lose focus when interruptions occur in the environment.
•Attention span and persistence refers to the
length of time children can stay engaged and
follow through while engaged in tasks.
As caregivers become more accustomed to
the signals, patterns, and temperament of their
infants, they will notice that there are times of
the day when the infant is sleepy, alert, or fussy.
These behaviors are described as states of consciousness.14 There are a total of six states that
infants cycle through during the day. While
these states may appear to be somewhat consistent, they will most certainly change in the first
month of life and for months afterward. The six
states of consciousness are:15
Deep sleep – able to shut out
Deep sleep
disturbing stimuli from the
environment; breathes deeply,
regularly, and heavily
Light sleep – sleep is lighter;
moves; breathing is shallower
and irregular; startles at noises
Light sleep
Drowsiness – eyes start to
close; may start to doze
Quiet alert – bright face,
movements are smooth; breathing, face, and body posture all
demonstrate interest and
attention
Drowsiness
Active alert – actively moves
body and face
Crying – cries, becomes disor-
ganized; relies on parent’s attention and intervention.
It is important for caregivers
to carefully read the cues that
infants are displaying during
these states in order to respond
thoughtfully. For example,
shaking a rattle at an infant
who is in the drowsiness state
may make him or her increasingly fussy. Both the quiet alert
Quiet alert
Active alert
Crying
Infants are born ready to be social; love, laugh,
and interact with them as much as possible.
and active alert states are the best time for play
and interactions that support learning and
development.
Between two and four months, infants
undergo many changes. They become more
social and interactive. This is first marked by
the emergence of the social smile, around six
to eight weeks. In addition to smiling, infants
begin to coo and gurgle to communicate with
caregivers. Reflexes are fading and voluntary
movements are more common.
By four months infants will be able to:
•Raise their head and chest when lying on their
stomachs
•Open and shut hands
•Take swipes with hands at dangling objects
•Grasp and shake objects
•Continue to have an increasing interest in
human faces
•Begin to engage in social interactions
•Recognize familiar objects and people at a
distance.
These first four months are a very special
time. Infants are born ready to be social; love,
laugh, and interact with them as much as pos-
10
sible. Take advantage of the times when they
are alert and ready to engage. Diapering and
bathing times are great examples of times when
you can engage in social interactions. Sing, hug,
rock, coo, smile – all of these are loving interactions that help infants feel secure enough to
learn. These early experiences are so important
and meaningful; they help encourage bonding, and are the beginning of the important
relationship(s) that children need to build strong
attachments and thrive in their development.
Reflexes
Children do not come into the world
defenseless. They are born with
instinctive reflexes designed for basic
survival.16 Below is a list of the most
common reflexes:
Hand-to-mouth reflex: brings fist
up to mouth; important for soothing
and eating
Palmar reflex: closes hand and
“grips” a caregiver’s finger when there
is a light touch to the palm
Protective reflex: turns head from
side to side and squirms if an object is
coming straight on, e.g., looks away
to disrupt eye contact with a caregiver
when feeling overwhelmed
Rooting reflex: turns head toward
the direction of a touched cheek,
searches for source of food
Sucking reflex: begins to suck when
a nipple (either breast or bottle) or
finger is placed in the mouth and
touches the roof of the mouth
SelfRegulation:
A Foundation of
Development
The Guidelines view selfregulation as a foundation
of development because
children’s emerging ability
or inability to self-regulate
directly impacts growth
in the four developmental
domains. Self-regulation
refers to how children take in
information from both their
bodies and their environment, and how they respond
to that information.17
Self-regulation also refers to children’s emerging ability to regulate or control their attention, thoughts, emotions and behaviors. Since
self-regulation includes how children cope with
situations that produce either change or stress,
children who have a difficult time managing
stressors may not be able to reach a calm state
where growth and learning can occur, even with
the help of their caregiver. Therefore it is important that caregivers pay attention to children’s
self-regulation skills and help them learn how
to regulate their emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. Just as with development in other domains,
children’s self-regulation capacities progress as
they develop, and heavily rely on sensitive and
nurturing relationships with caregivers.
Children’s capacity to self-regulate in the first
three years is not fully developed. Children’s
development accommodates for this maturing ability by relying on caregivers to act as the
external regulators, or co-regulators.18 Central
to the development of healthy self-regulation is
children learning to read their bodies’ signals.
At first, caregivers are the ones who respond to
these signals. For example, when young children feel hunger, they must depend on their
caregivers to recognize their cues and appropriately meet that need. If there is a loud noise
that is causing the child to feel stressed and
overwhelmed, the caregiver must modify the
environment for that child to regain a calm state.
Children rely on attentive caregivers to read their
11
cues and meet their needs. Children’s needs
include everything from maintaining a normal
body temperature to managing their physiology
and behavior, and learning to soothe themselves.
As they develop children also depend on their
caregivers to help them manage emotions and
behavior, and build attention.19
Self-regulation is a lifelong process that
depends on children’s social and cultural contexts, and the child and caregiver relationship.
Cultures differ in both the physical and emotional expectations they have of young children
and how they respond to children’s behaviors
and signals. Therefore, how children react and
what they do about feelings or occurrences will
differ depending on their unique experiences.
When caregivers properly meet children’s
needs in a consistent manner, they help them
feel safe, content, and organized. After having
these needs met over and over, children learn
that feelings of stress or discomfort will quickly
pass, building their internal capacity to respond
to these feelings and become less reactive and
impulsive. As young children learn to read and
respond appropriately to their own cues, they
become capable of managing their own self-regulatory processes. “This transition from external regulation to self-regulation is one of the
most important tasks of growing up.” 20 In the
following sub-sections, the four types of selfregulation are further explained. Additionally,
the concepts of self-regulation are integrated
throughout the Guidelines.
In this section:
•Physiological Regulation, p. 13
•Emotional Regulation, p. 17
•Attention Regulation, p. 21
•Behavior Regulation, p. 25
[The] transition from external regulation to self-regulation
is one of the most important tasks of growing up.
—Dr. Bruce Perry
12
SELF-REGULATION
Physiological Regulation
Physiological regulation refers to children’s capacity to regulate their
bodily processes. Very early on, children are working on organizing
their sleep-wake and elimination cycles and body temperature.
While these processes first start off as involuntary actions, they eventually transition to tasks
that children gain control over. Caregivers help
children with the organization of their day and
night wake-sleep rhythms.21 During the first
eight weeks of life, children sleep in shorter
stretches, without focus on whether it is night
or day. However, by three months there is an
increase in the length of their sleep periods. For
most children, these increased stretches occur
at night.
Children’s sleep continues to become more
organized and consolidated. The number of
naps decreases, as children take one or two
naps that increase in length, and night-time
sleeping stretches longer and longer. These
consolidated patterns also occur in children’s
feeding schedules. At first, children need to eat
every two to three hours; as they grow, their eating schedule becomes similar to that of an adult.
Elimination patterns also form during these
years, and depending on children’s cultural
expectations and physical and cognitive abilities,
potty training may be conquered by the end of
36 months. While not all children will be potty
trained by this time, most will have an awareness of using the bathroom and recognizing
their bodies’ cues. Expectations for children’s
physiological abilities depend on cultural beliefs
and practices, and will influence when and how
children master these regulatory tasks.
Standard: Children
demonstrate the emerging
ability to regulate their physical
processes in order to meet
both their internal needs
and external demands in
accordance with social and
cultural contexts.
Discover how Physiological Regulation
is related to:
domain 1: Social & Emotional
Attachment Relationships, p. 31
domain 2: Physical
Self-Care, p. 69
13
self-regulation Physiological Regulation
Standard: Children demonstrate the emerging ability to regulate their physical processes in order to meet both their internal
needs and external demands in accordance with social and cultural contexts.
During this
age period:
Biological
rhythms are
patterns that
occur within
people’s bodies.
These include
sleeping, waking,
eliminating, and
maintaining
normal body
temperature.
Birth to 9 months: Children’s biological rhythms are
supported and impacted by their caregiver(s) in order to establish
their sleep/wake, feeding, and elimination patterns. Children also
begin to develop awareness of stimuli in their environment.
7 months to 18 months: Children, through the
Indicators for children include:
Indicators for children include:
•Begins to demonstrate a pattern in sleep-wake and feeding
cycles
•Demonstrates consistent sleeping and feeding times throughout
the day
•Signals for needs, e.g., cries when hungry, arches back in discomfort
•Increasingly organized and consolidated internal schedule for
sleep/wake, elimination, and feeding, e.g., decreases the number
of naps but extends the length of the naps
•Disengages when overstimulated, e.g., turns head, glances away,
falls asleep, spits up
•Uses sucking to assist in sleeping
responses and support of their caregiver(s), become increasingly
organized in and begin to adapt their sleep/wake, feeding, and
elimination patterns. Children are also beginning to organize and
habituate to stimuli in their environment.
•Communicates with a wide range of signals as crying diminishes, e.g., smiles, gestures, uses words
•Begins to exhibit certain behaviors when overstimulated and/or
unfocused, e.g., becomes aggressive, lashes out, bites
•Increased desire for independence and control
Stimuli are
sounds, textures,
tastes, sights,
and temperatures
found in children’s
environments.
Strategies for interaction:
Strategies for interaction:
•Provide consistent routines in caring for the child
•Establish a routine for sleeping, eating, and diapering
•Follow the child’s cues and respond thoughtfully
•Recognize the child’s sensitivity to sensory exposure and adjust
accordingly
•Use touch to help the child regulate, e.g., swaddle, hold, cuddle,
rock to help soothe the child
•Minimize stimuli in the child’s environment, e.g., limit colors,
sounds, and objects
•Minimize stimuli in the child’s environment, e.g., limit colors,
sounds, and objects
•Provide redirection and be consistent in helping the child regulate in overwhelming situations, e.g., use distraction by sharing
a different toy or object
•Allow the child to express emotions through newfound movements, e.g., jumping for joy
•Provide the child with some responsibility and choices, e.g., ask
the child for help building a tower with blocks
14
self-regulation Physiological Regulation
Standard: Children demonstrate the emerging ability to regulate their physical processes in order to meet both their internal
needs and external demands in accordance with social and cultural contexts.
16 months to 24 months: Children have established
basic, consolidated patterns in sleep/wake, feeding, and
elimination functions. Children use nonverbal and verbal
communication to signal needs to caregiver(s) for support in
regulating. Children also begin to manage internal and external
stimuli.
21 months to 36 months: Children begin to
Indicators for children include:
Indicators for children include:
•Uses gestures and symbolic actions to demonstrate feelings and
needs, e.g., lays head on caregiver’s lap when tired
•Calms down in order to sit and read a book with a caregiver
•Becomes frustrated and displays regressive behaviors when
overstimulated, e.g., temper tantrums
•Communicates needs with one or two words, e.g., says or
gestures “milk” for “I want milk”
•Begins to have an awareness of bodily functions and begins to
demonstrate an interest in toileting, e.g., recognizes a “potty”
independently manage functions of feeding, sleeping, waking,
and eliminating with some support from their caregiver(s).
Children can now manage and begin to discriminate internal and
external stimuli.
•Uses movement to express an emotion, e.g., jumps up and down
when excited, stomps feet when upset
•Recognizes patterns throughout the day, e.g., grabs a pillow and
blanket after lunch, when it is nap time
•Communicates needs more thoroughly, e.g., “I am hungry”
•Manages overstimulation in a more organized manner, e.g.,
disengages, walks away
During this
age period:
Overstimulation
refers to excessive
sounds, textures,
temperatures, and
sights that impede
children from
making a meaningful connection
with others or
objects.
•Demonstrates a readiness to begin toilet training
Strategies for interaction:
Strategies for interaction:
•Recognize and respond to the child’s communication efforts
•Provide words to the child’s feelings and physical actions
•Establish a schedule throughout the day that includes sufficient
time for feeding and resting
•Teach the child about respecting personal space and provide
objects to help them define this space, e.g., individual seat
cushions during circle time
•Provide sensory play for the child who is having difficulty
remaining regulated due to lack of sensory input, e.g., play
dough, water play
•Read the child’s cues to determine how to support the child
during challenging instances, e.g., use of a soothing voice or
gentle touch; or ensure the child is safe and allow them to
express their emotions through a more physical manner (lying
on the floor, stomping feet)
•Continue using soothing and calming behaviors when helping a
child regulate
•Listen to child when expressing needs and wants; watch for
verbal cues carefully
•Slow down and be present for the child; limit overstimulation
and provide support for the child as needed
•Approach toilet training within the context of the home culture
and the primary caregiver’s guidance
15
self-regulation Physiological Regulation
Toilet Training
The ability of children to learn how to
control their bladder and bowel movements is an important developmental
milestone. However, when it is achieved
varies across different cultures.22 Toilet
training is a very personal process for
families and rooted in both cultural
and societal expectations. Caregivers
can experience conflicting advice from
friends, doctors, and family members
who may not understand different childrearing practices. It can be a stressful
time for children and the caregivers
who are supporting them in learning
this big skill. The most important aspect
of toilet training is that both the child
and caregiver are ready to attempt this
process. Children need to be emotionally
ready and have the cognitive and physical abilities to begin the process. When
and how to take on this developmental
task are decisions that should be made
by the primary caregivers, with support
from those they feel they can benefit
from. Most importantly, caregivers
should remember that there is not a right
answer when it comes to toilet training.
16
Real World Story
Stella is 20 months old and attends childcare a
few days a week. The class is getting ready to sit
down and have a snack. Stella’s primary caregiver, Jean, places bowls of yogurt and crackers
on the table for each child. She signals Stella to
sit down. Stella sits down and grabs her spoon.
Jean sits between her and another child. Stella
slowly feeds herself yogurt, with very little
spilling. She continues to feed herself, and then
begins to drop some yogurt on her chin, shirt,
and the table. Jean reaches to help her and Stella
pushes her hand away. Jean offers Stella a napkin, and Stella grabs it and begins to wipe her
mouth. Again, Jean makes a move to help her
and Stella shakes her head and says, “No.” Stella
slowly moves the spoon from her bowl to her
mouth and leans toward the spoon slowly. She
continues to eat in this manner, and often stops
to wipe her mouth. With yogurt still in the
bowl, she hands her bowl to Jean and says “All
done.” She grabs her napkin and starts to smear
the yogurt that she has dropped on the table.
Stella continues to do this until Jean stops her
and hands her a clean napkin. Jean says, “Help
me clean the table.” Stella follows Jean around
the table, moving the napkin over the table in a
sweeping manner.
IN THIS EXAMPLE, Stella is building her abilities in feeding herself. She refuses help from
Jean and lets her know with both verbal and
nonverbal communication. Even though Stella
has not mastered this skill, she realizes that
if she moves her head forward she may spill
less. She does not seem bothered by the spilling that she is doing, and again refuses help
from Jean to wipe her mouth. Stella uses her
developing abilities to feed herself and wipe
her mouth. She does not give up, nor does
she become frustrated with the spilling. Stella
recognizes her body’s signals as she lets Jean
know she is full by simply saying “All done.”
Stella also uses imitation and observation as
she helps Jean clean the table. Jean recognizes,
encourages, and supports Stella’s development
of these tasks and her growing independence.
This story also relates to:
domain 2: Physical
Perceptual, p. 65
Self-Care, p. 69
approaches to learning
Persistence, Effort, & Attentiveness, p. 143
SELF-REGULATION
Emotional Regulation
Emotional regulation refers to children’s abilities to identify and
manage their feelings. As in every aspect of development, emotional
regulation begins with caregiver relationships. Attentive caregivers
who consistently meet the needs of children set
the foundation for healthy emotional regulation.
In early infancy, children need their caregivers
to soothe them when distressed. If these needs
are met consistently and promptly, children
develop a sense of trust and security with those
around them. Children use these positive experiences to build upon their own self-soothing
strategies to remain organized, and they begin
to learn to manage their emotions.
Children feel a range of emotions and will
express and react to them without thinking.
This range includes everything from joy to
frustration to fear. In the first three years of life,
children are working on building the foundation for this skill. Children use their caregivers,
play, and private speech to help them manage
their emotions. As the co-regulators, caregivers
model for and support children in learning to
pause between what they are feeling and taking
action. Children learn to take time to think,
plan, and eventually come up with an appropriate response in situations in which they experience intense emotions.23 If these interactions
go well, children build the capacity to regulate
their emotions in appropriate ways, defined by
their cultural and social contexts. Emotional
regulation is extremely important as it influences how children interact with adults and
each other, build empathy, master new skills,
and work through frustrations and conflicts.
Standard: Children
demonstrate the emerging
ability to identify and manage
the expression of emotion in
accordance with social and
cultural contexts.
Discover how Emotional Regulation
is related to:
domain 1: Social & Emotional
Emotional Expression, p. 35
Empathy, p. 51
domain 3: Language
Social Communication, p. 75
Expressive Communication, p. 83
domain 4: Cognitive
Memory, p. 97
Safety & Well-Being, p. 125
17
self-regulation Emotional Regulation
Standard: Children demonstrate the emerging ability to identify and manage the expression of emotion in accordance with social
and cultural contexts.
During this
age period:
Overstimulation
refers to excessive
sounds, textures,
temperatures, and
sights that impede
children from
making a meaningful connection
with others or
objects.
Social
referencing
is the term for
the way young
children take their
cues from familiar
others in deciding
what emotions
and actions are
appropriate.
Birth to 9 months: Children are developing the ability to
7 months to 18 months: As children continue to
manage their own emotional experiences through co-regulation,
as they communicate needs to caregivers.
depend on and learn from caregivers, they begin to use more
purposeful and complex skills in managing their emotions.
Indicators for children include:
Indicators for children include:
•Signals needs by sounds and movement
•Communicates needs to an adult, e.g., points, shakes head
•Able to use cues to signal overstimulation , e.g., turns head,
gaze aversion
•Able to self-soothe more effectively, e.g., sucks thumb, holds on
to stuffed toy
•Begins to use self-soothing strategies, e.g., sucks on hands,
grasps an object in order to calm self
•Uses social referencing in uncertain situations, e.g., looks at a
caregiver’s face for reassurance in the presence of a new person
•Vocalizes and uses facial cues to get caregiver’s attention, e.g.,
cries, gazes, initiates eye contact
•Prefers physical proximity to familiar adults in unknown situations, e.g., follows caregiver when he or she leaves the room
•Seeks out caregiver through physical actions, e.g., reaches for
the caregiver’s hand or moves closer to them when frightened
•Uses comfort objects, e.g., a stuffed animal or blanket, to help
calm down
Strategies for interaction:
Strategies for interaction:
•Remain emotionally available for the child; respond thoughtfully to their needs, e.g., hold, rock, and cuddle the child when
distressed
•Respond thoughtfully to child’s needs, e.g., reassure child who is
feeling uncertain through facial expressions, voice, and touch
•Respond to the child’s signals in order to meet their needs
•Pay attention to subtle cues from the child in order to prevent
overstimulation and discomfort
•Recognize and control own emotions in challenging instances,
e.g., a crying child who will not calm down
•Model appropriate expression of emotions for the child
•Be aware and responsive to the child’s needs; read the child’s facial
cues and body language to help gauge what he/she may be feeling
•Match the child’s emotional state through facial expressions and
body language, e.g., widen eyes and move up and down when
the child starts to laugh and clap
•Provide child with comfort objects when upset, or during difficult
times such as transitions, e.g., a blanket, favorite stuffed animal
•Ensure to always say good-bye when separating from the child
18
self-regulation Emotional Regulation
Standard: Children demonstrate the emerging ability to identify and manage the expression of emotion in accordance with social
and cultural contexts.
16 months to 24 months: Children begin to recognize
a specific range of emotions and manage their emotions through
both the use of advanced soothing strategies and the use of their
caregiver.
21 months to 36 months: While children still need
Indicators for children include:
Indicators for children include:
•Uses caregiver’s facial cues and body language to assist in novel
and uncertain situations, e.g., sees a dog for the first time and
uses the adult’s smile as a cue to cautiously pat the dog
•Communicates wants and needs verbally, e.g. “pick me up”
•Uses play to sort out feelings and gain control over them, e.g.,
projects feeling onto an object, grasps a ball and hugs it tightly
to chest when excited
•Seeks caregiver support when feeling overwhelmed by emotion;
may reject support as well
•Uses verbal and nonverbal communication to signal the need for
their caregiver, e.g., calls by name, crawls into a familiar adult’s lap
•Names some emotions, e.g., “me sad”
support from a caregiver, they are able to better manage their
emotions and can sustain regulation as they begin to discriminate
which skills and strategies to apply in different situations.
During this
age period:
•Engages in pretend play to manage uncertainty and fear, e.g.,
plays doctor and gives someone a “shot”
•Expresses emotions through the use of play
•Holds on to a special object during certain times of the day, e.g.,
blanket, picture, book, stuffed toy
•Begins to use “private speech” in order to assist in regulating
their emotions, e.g., utters “bear, where is bear” to self
Strategies for interaction:
Strategies for interaction:
•Remain physically and emotionally available for the child;
respond thoughtfully to their requests
•Remain physically and emotionally available for the child, e.g.,
share in the child’s expressions and feelings of joy and excitement through touch and sound
•Describe feelings when interacting with children
•Use books that illustrate different emotions that children may
experience
•Provide sensitive guidance and reassurance to the child when he
or she is having difficulty managing and expressing emotions
•Continue to use books that illustrate different emotions that
children may experience
•Validate the child’s feelings and let them know it is okay to feel
the emotions they are experiencing
•Provide balance in both supporting the child and allowing the
child space to work through situations independently; use the
child’s cues to decide what he or she needs
•Prompt and provide words for what the child may be feeling for
more complex emotions
19
self-regulation Emotional Regulation
Range of Tantrums
Tantrums refer to extreme anger or frustration and are characterized by crying
and screaming. Tantrums are common
and developmentally appropriate behavior in young children. Since children
have neither the language nor the capacity to control their emotions and behavior, stress and frustration overcome their
little bodies. These powerful feelings are
felt by their whole being, and they will
often thrash their arms and legs and
throw themselves on the floor. Children
are mastering new skills, and when they
aren’t able to accomplish a task, they tantrum to express frustration. Tantrums
are common during the second year
of life, when children are beginning to
verbally communicate. As communications skills improve, tantrums decrease.
Young children want a sense of independence and control; therefore, caregivers can provide children with limits and
choices to help them feel in control.
20
SELF-REGULATION
Attention Regulation
The ability to think, retrieve, and remember information, and to solve
problems is dependent on the development of attention, or the ability
to focus on something in the environment.24 Attention regulation is
closely related to children’s culture, cognitive abilities, and the caregiver-child relationship. Children build their
capacity to attend and focus through interactions with their caregivers. Therefore, caregivers
should interact in ways that are meaningful
for each particular child. The way caregivers
interact with children depends on their cultural
context. For example, some cultures respond
to children’s behaviors by following their lead,
while other cultures direct children’s attention
to a particular activity or object.25 Children will
increase their ability to stay focused through
these interactions, and this ability will continue
to improve as they get older.
Children also build the capacity to attend as
their ability to habituate matures. Habituation
refers to becoming accustomed to the stimuli
occurring in the environment. For example, a
two-month-old may become uncomfortable
and cry if the lights are too bright, and the
noise level is too high. An older toddler may be
able to ignore the surrounding noises and stay
engaged in a self-directed activity. Caregivers
can modify the environment to provide the
best setting possible for interaction and play.
Usually less stimulation with different objects,
sounds, and sights leads to better concentration and learning. It is important to remember
that young children cannot attend for very long
periods of time and caregivers should adjust
their own expectations according to children’s
developing abilities.
Standard: Children
demonstrate the emerging
ability to process stimuli,
focus and sustain attention,
and maintain engagement in
accordance with social and
cultural contexts.
Discover how Attention Regulation
is related to:
domain 3: Language
Receptive Communication, p. 79
domain 4: Cognitive
Memory, p. 97
Logic & Reasoning, p. 113
approaches to learning
Problem Solving, p. 135
Persistence, Effort, & Attentiveness,
p. 143
21
self-regulation Attention Regulation
Standard: Children demonstrate the emerging ability to process stimuli, focus and sustain attention, and maintain engagement in
accordance with social and cultural contexts.
During this
age period:
Attending
refers to children’s
ability to remain
focused on objects
and people for
brief periods of
time. As they get
older, children can
attend by remaining engaged for
longer periods of
time.
Habituation
refers to becoming
accustomed to
and not distracted
by stimuli that
occur in the
environment.
Birth to 9 months: Children are attempting to process an
7 months to 18 months: Children begin to have
abundance of new stimuli every day. Children are also building
their internal capacity for sustained attention and regulation
through interactions with their co-regulating other.
shared interests with others and are building a capacity for
purposefully attending to objects and people. Children also
begin to hold sustained attention for increasing amounts of time
as they are quicker to organize and habituate to stimuli in their
environment.
Indicators for children include:
Indicators for children include:
•Focuses on objects in the environment during alert states
•Engages in joint attention with a caregiver, e.g. joins in looking
at the same object or shifts gaze to where someone is pointing
•Initiates and briefly maintains social interactions with adults,
e.g., establishes eye contact, coos to receive attention
•Explores environment through senses, e.g., touches and mouths
objects
•Focuses attention on novel objects and familiar caregiver(s)
•Plays with one object for a few minutes before focusing on a
different object
•Focuses on one object or activity for a brief period of time, even
with other objects close in proximity; still easily distracted
•Shifts attention from adults to peers
•Relies on routines and patterns to maintain an organized state in
order to focus
Strategies for interaction:
Strategies for interaction:
•Engage face to face with the child during the day; smile, coo,
and laugh
•Spend quality time with the child sharing in activities such as
reading and playing with toys
•Ensure the child is in a relaxed and alert state when interacting
•Support and extend interactions, e.g., demonstrate different
ways an object can be used; limit distractions
•Provide interesting toys, books, and other objects for the child
to explore
•Always provide a variety of options during exploration, e.g.,
three or four different toys on the blanket
•Join child in exploration to help expand and sustain attention
22
•Maintains more advanced levels of engagement, e.g., repeats
actions over and over when enjoying the reaction and result of
the experience
•Provide uninterrupted time for the child to play and explore his
or her surroundings
•Create an environment that does not overwhelm the child with
too many colors, sounds, and objects; limit choices
•Provide predictable routines within the day, e.g., story time right
after lunch
self-regulation Attention Regulation
Standard: Children demonstrate the emerging ability to process stimuli, focus and sustain attention, and maintain engagement in
accordance with social and cultural contexts.
16 months to 24 months: Children begin to focus and
attend for longer periods of time, in particular while engaged
in self-created and goal-directed play. Children also have an
increased internal capacity to organize and plan while attending
and focusing.
21 months to 36 months: Children begin to attend
Indicators for children include:
Indicators for children include:
•Works to find solutions to simple problems and/or obstacles,
e.g., attempts to climb onto a piece of furniture in order to
retrieve a toy
•Attention expands and stays focused on an activity or object
even when distractions are present
•Works on solving increasingly difficult activities, e.g., attempts
to solve a simple, three-piece puzzle
•Remains focused for longer periods of time while engaged in
self-initiated play
to, engage in, and transition between multiple activities or
interactions at a time. Children also have an increased internal
capacity to discriminate and strategize while focusing and
attending, and can remain focused for longer periods of time.
•Uses self-talk to extend play, e.g., says “now sleepy” to the baby
doll after feeding it a bottle
•Plays independently before moving on to a new activity, e.g.,
engages in block play, reads a book
•Wait time increases, e.g., participates in turn-taking activities
•Attends and stays engaged to often reach a goal, e.g., places all
the shapes in the shape sorter
•Transitions between what he or she is engaged in and what is
happening in the background, e.g., makes a comment in regard
to a conversation happening between another child and adult,
while engaged in completing a puzzle
Strategies for interaction:
Strategies for interaction:
•Provide uninterrupted time for the child to work on activities
that interest him or her, e.g., avoid interrupting or intervening
when the child actively engages with an object, person, or
activity
•Observe the child during play and limit adult-directed interruptions while engaged
•Remain available for the child and respond promptly if he or she
asks for help
•Create an environment that does not overwhelm the child with
too many colors, sounds, and objects; limit choices
•Help expand attention through extending interactions that are
interesting to the child
During this
age period:
Joint attention
is the shared
experience of
looking at an
object, person, or
event together,
established by
pointing, gesturing, or the use of
language and/or
vocalizations.
•Engage in play with the child; create games that encourage the
child to find certain objects in the environment
•Provide independence for the child to problem-solve and discover while engaged in play
•Create a quiet space and limit distractions for children to attend
and focus
•Focus on extending the child’s experiences through the interaction between adult and child instead of focusing solely on
objects
23
self-regulation Attention Regulation
Real World Story
Luke is an 18-month-old toddler who is engaged in attempting to place shapes in the
shape sorter. Suddenly, he hears another object
on the other side of the room start to play music. He moves away from the shape sorter and
walks toward the music object. He pushes the
buttons on the new object and observes them
for a brief period. His caregiver, Sarah, walks
into the room and gestures for him to join her.
Luke walks to the other side of the room and
first picks up the shape sorter before walking
back over to Sarah. He hands it over to Sarah.
Sarah says, “Oh, you want me to play with you?”
Sarah sits down on the floor, as Luke does the
same. Sarah empties the shape sorter and grabs
one shape and drops it into the bucket. Luke
then begins to do the same, one shape at a time.
When he is done, he hands the shape sorter
to Sarah. She empties it out and begins again.
Luke finishes placing all the shapes in the sorter
and then stands up. He walks away and begins
to play with a toy car. Sarah watches him, but
does not engage with him.
THIS EXAMPLE HIGHLIGHTS how young
children use objects to engage and maintain
engagement with their caregivers, and how
caregivers can structure interactions to support children in attending to items. Luke plays
independently, but is interrupted by another
object that catches his attention. When he
sees his caregiver, Sarah, he walks back to the
shape sorter and hands it to her. Clearly, Luke
is still interested in the shape sorter but may
need more interaction to remain interested.
He is easily distracted by other objects in the
room. However, once Sarah sits with him, he
This story also relates to:
is completely engaged, and is able to maintain
this engagement by handing Sarah the shape
domain 1: Social and Emotional
sorter again. Once he is done, he simply dis-
Relationship with Adults, p. 39
engages from the interaction by walking away.
domain 2: Physical
Gross Motor, p. 57
Fine Motor, p. 61
Sarah supports Luke’s play by following his
lead. She waits for Luke to initiate and lead the
interaction, and he does. Sarah also knows that
if he wants her to share in the interaction with
approaches to learning
Persistence, Effort, & Attentiveness, p. 143
24
the toy car, he will reach out to her once again.
Attention and Play
Play is how young children learn. In
order to build their attention skills,
children benefit from a balance of
exploration, choices, and meaningful
interactions. Allowing children to freely
explore their environment gives them
the opportunity to discover new objects
and experiences. Children then begin
to build attention skills as they figure
out what they are seeing and touching. Providing children with choices
also helps them learn to attend. For
example, caregivers can set out a few
objects during play time, which the
child can choose to engage with. Providing a limited number of choices allows
them to attend and focus on one or two
objects, instead of trying to block out
distractions. Finally, the interactions,
not the objects, are what meaningfully
help children in furthering their attention building. Caregivers have to find
the right balance between supporting
and interacting with children in order
for them to explore, discover, and learn
from their play.
SELF-REGULATION
Behavior Regulation
In the first three years of life, children’s behavior is often described as
tantrums and impulsive. These behaviors are developmentally appropriate and normal! The role of the caregiver is extremely important
during this period in order to support children
in managing their behavior and actions. As in
all of development, behavior regulation occurs
within children’s cultural and social contexts.
Culture expectations set up what is acceptable
and what is non-acceptable. Caregivers are
responsible for communicating these expectations and providing support children need to
guide their behavior. Children learn these rules
and begin to adapt their behavior depending
on individual situations. For example, children
may be able to recognize what behaviors they
can display at home versus what they can display at a childcare center or at a relative’s home.
Behavior regulation starts with attentive
caregivers meeting children’s needs. If caregiv-
ers are consistent in meeting children’s needs,
they build trust. In infancy, children look to
these trusted adults for cues in different situations. This is called social referencing and helps
children guide their behavior. They pay very
close attention to the facial cues of these adults
before acting. In toddlerhood, children continue to use social referencing, but will also use
language or private speech to help guide their
behavior and actions. While children are developing their capacity in managing their impulses
and learning self-control, they still will be able
to recognize when they need their co-regulator
instead of just relying on their own abilities to
control, manage, and adapt their behavior.
Standard: Children
demonstrate the emerging
ability to manage and adjust
behaviors in accordance with
social and cultural contexts.
Discover how Behavior Regulation
is related to:
domain 1: Social & Emotional
Relationship with Peers, p. 47
Self-Concept, p. 43
domain 3: Language
Social Communication, p. 75
Receptive Communication, p. 79
domain 4: Cognitive
Logic & Reasoning, p. 113
approaches to learning
Confidence & Risk-Taking, p. 139
25
self-regulation Behavior Regulation
Standard: Children demonstrate the emerging ability to manage and adjust behaviors in accordance with social and cultural
contexts.
During this
age period:
Internal states
refer to what the
body needs,
such as hunger,
discomfort, or
tiredness.
External states
refer to what
the environment
demands, such as
sounds, actions,
touch, or objects.
Co-regulator
refers to the
child’s primary
caregiver(s), who
assists the child in
achieving regulation through
responses,
interactions, and
communication.
Birth to 9 months: Children respond to internal and
7 months to 18 months: The use of social referencing
external states and have little or no self-control over their
behavior. Children depend on caregivers to co-regulate their
behavior.
emerges and supports children in developing an internal capacity
to modify some of their behaviors. Children still depend heavily
on the use of their caregiver to help co-regulate their behaviors.
Indicators for children include:
Indicators for children include:
•Cries when hungry, tired, uncomfortable, or bored
•Explores environment while unaware of boundaries and limits,
e.g., crawls toward a shelf and attempts to climb it
•Uses physical movements to disengage from interaction, turns
head, averts gaze
•Physically explores environment through touch, e.g., sucking,
gnawing, hitting, pulling, banging
•Shows curiosity and limited restraint when exploring the environment, e.g., reaches for objects that adults or other children
are holding
•Demonstrates frustration, e.g., cries, bites
•Has difficulty channeling excitement, e.g., screams, jumps,
squeezes, bites
•Chooses between two options, e.g., “You can have the red ball
or the blue ball”
•Completes a forbidden action regardless of referencing a
caregiver’s reaction, e.g., looks toward their caregiver before
touching the forbidden object and then touches it anyway
Strategies for interaction:
Strategies for interaction:
•Be emotionally available and sensitive to the child’s needs
•Provide the child with plenty of warning in between transitions;
use picture cards to help
•Provide consistency and routines for sleeping, eating, and diapering
•Respond promptly and thoughtfully to the child’s cues
•Manage own expectations with the understanding that the child
cannot control his behavior
•Create a safe environment for the child to actively explore
26
•Reads cues and body language of caregiver(s) and familiar
others to guide reactions and behaviors in novel and uncertain
situations
•Guide the child with both nonverbal and verbal communication,
e.g., use facial expressions that match what is being said
•Establish routines for everyday activities
•Manage own expectations with the understanding that the child
cannot control his behavior
•Use redirection and distraction to avoid power struggles
self-regulation Behavior Regulation
Standard: Children demonstrate the emerging ability to manage and adjust behaviors in accordance with social and cultural
contexts.
16 months to 24 months: Children may be able to
demonstrate limited self-control over behavior by responding to
cues found in the environment. Children also begin to use more
complex strategies to help manage feelings of impulsivity.
21 months to 36 months: Children demonstrate some
Indicators for children include:
Indicators for children include:
•Communicates “mine” when another child takes a toy away
•Increases the use of private speech in everyday play and interactions
•Communicates “no” to self when reaching for forbidden objects
•Begins to respond to caregiver’s cues and modifies behavior,
e.g., does not touch the forbidden object, once recognizing the
caregiver is discouraging the action
limited self-control over their behavior without adult intervention or
prompting. Children have knowledge of a wide range of expected
behaviors and can manage some of those expectations. Children also
have an increased capacity to recognize when they need their caregiver
to help regulate instead of relying on their own self-regulation strategies.
•Increasingly reacts appropriately to adults’ facial expressions,
tone, and affect, before acting on an impulse
•Identifies situations where he or she needs the caregiver to
support in controlling behavior, e.g., holds caregiver’s hand
when crossing the street
• Transitions smoothly if is prepared ahead of time
•Checks in with caregiver through nonverbal and verbal communication, e.g., glances, waves, points, says name, asks a question, all without having to be in close proximity
•Demonstrates an awareness of expectations, e.g., approaches
and gently touches a baby, waits for brief periods of time when
turn-taking
Strategies for interaction:
Strategies for interaction:
•Provide the child with clear limits and provide reminders of them
through the day
•Prepare the child for changes in routines and transitions by
providing them plenty of time to anticipate and plan for change
•Model thoughtful and respectful behavior when interacting with
the child
•Acknowledge and praise desirable behavior by saying what the
child did and why it is important
•Encourage the child to express what he or she is feeling, e.g.,
stomp feet if mad
•Be consistent in limit-setting and responses
•Briefly revisit behavior after the child has reached a calm state,
e.g., “You were so upset, I am so sorry you felt that way. It’s
important to remember that we do not hit our friends.”
During this
age period:
Private speech
is children’s use
of self-directed
language to
guide, communicate, and regulate
their behavior
and emotions.
While this selfdirected language
can be heard, it is
not intended for
others.
Transitions
are changes in
children’s activities or locations.
Transitions are
hard for young
children, as
they may feel
out of control.
Therefore, it is
essential caregivers prepare
children for
transitions.
27
self-regulation Behavior Regulation
Behavior Regulation and
Experiences
Behavior regulation is often challenging
because it is based on children’s experiences, which may differ from one child
to another, yet, there are certain societal
expectations that children must adhere
to, especially when these expectations
are safety-related. However, if children
have not been exposed to “common”
expectations, children may not act in the
“expected” manner. For example, children who live in high-rise buildings may
see windows as dangerous and refuse to
get close to any window, even at ground
level. Or, children who live in one-story
homes may attempt to climb a set of
stairs without an idea that they can fall
down. Both these examples highlight
the important role context plays in
behavior regulation. These children are
not purposefully “misbehaving” or having difficulty with their impulses; they
are exploring the world based on what is
familiar and comfortable to them.
28
Keep In Mind
Children do not master self-regulatory tasks
in the first three years of life. Below are some
of children’s behaviors that demonstrate the
beginning signs of self-regulation. By 36
months, children:
Can recover from stressful situations with
support of caregivers
Have limited self-control over behavior, with
support from caregivers
Can attend for increasing amounts of time
Can manage some of their eating, sleeping,
and eliminating processes with support from
caregivers
developmental domain 1
Social &
Emotional
Development
Healthy social and emotional
development in young children
depends on positive and nurturing relationships with the
important adults in their lives.
Relationships are the foundation
for children’s social and emotional development and support
and influence how they learn
about the world around them.
Positive relationships also help build secure
attachments between children and their primary caregivers. Children learn through
everyday interactions with their caregivers, and
it is these early experiences that help them build
trust, security, compassion, and empathy. These
important interactions are described as the
“social dance” between children and caregivers,
and provide them with the first experiences in
communication and emotional expression.26
These early experiences help children establish
relationships with adults and peers, and help
them learn about identifying, expressing, and
managing emotions.
Children need to build trust in their caregivers in order to explore and learn. Caregivers
help build this trust by being responsive and
consistent in meeting children’s needs. These
sensitive responses and interactions help children bond with and form secure attachments
with their primary caregivers. In early infancy,
children rely entirely on these caregivers to
meet their basic emotional and physical needs.
Emotionally available and responsive caregivers
provide young children with feelings of security
and predictability, and support children in coregulating their emotions. This co-regulation is
important in helping children learn to identify
and manage their own emotions in the future.
Therefore, it is important for caregivers to be
sensitive to children’s needs when responding,
and engage in genuine interactions that are
affectionate and nurturing.
Children begin to recognize that they are
separate from their caregivers between six and
nine months of age.27 This new self-awareness is
the very beginning of self-concept and empathy,
as children start to recognize their own feelings. Children, in the context of their attachment relationships, express their emotions in
a more appropriate and effective manner. As
children get older, they are able to understand
and respond to the feelings of others, a skill
that is needed for positive social relationships.
Children continue to rely on caregivers to
29
have their basic needs met and to help regulate
their emotions. They also use their caregivers
for reassurance, guidance, and cues on how
they should act and feel within their social and
cultural contexts. Children practice these new
social skills through communication, creative
expression, and play.
The early relationships between children
and primary caregivers are very special, but
they are not always perfect. Children are born
with their own temperament, which is their
unique way of thinking, behaving, and react-
ing. Children’s temperament may be different
from their caregivers’; therefore it is important
that children have a “goodness of fit” with
their caregivers to support healthy emotional
development.28 Not all needs and interactions
will be met or handled smoothly; this is often
described as a mismatch between children and
caregivers. Children can emotionally recover
and reconnect with their caregivers when these
mismatches are repaired in a positive manner.
Mismatch and repair is common and part of
normal social and emotional development.29
In this section:
•Attachment Relationships, p. 31
•Emotional Expression, p. 35
•Relationship with Adults, p. 39
•Self-Concept, p. 43
•Relationship with Peers, p. 47
•Empathy, p. 51
Children are born with their own temperament, which is their
30
unique way of thinking, behaving, and reacting.
developmental domain 1: SOCIAL & EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT
Attachment Relationships
Secure attachment relationships are the foundation for healthy social
and emotional development. Children create special bonds with one
or a few adults who are warm, sensitive, responsive, and dependable
in meeting their needs. These relationships help
children gain trust, confidence, and security,
all important in order for children to explore,
learn, interact, and build relationships with
others.
Attachment relationships first consist of
meeting children’s basic needs through sensitive
caregiving and synchrony. If these needs are
consistently met, trust develops. Once children
begin to crawl and walk, they use their attachment figures as a secure base for exploration.30 Children demonstrate proximityseeking behaviors to connect and reconnect
to their attachment figures during exploration.
They may crawl away for a short time, stop, and
crawl back toward their attachment figure in
order to “check in.” Once children feel safe and
secure, they resume exploring their environment. A normal part of attachment relationships is separation anxiety. Separation anxiety occurs when there is a physical separation
between children and their attachment figure.
Securely attached children miss their caregiver
when separated and welcome their reappearance.
Children’s need for physical proximity lessens as they grow; instead, they use other skills
such as language, eye contact, and gestures
to stay connected to their attachment figures.
Even with these new social skills, children will
continue to seek physical closeness to their
attachment figures. Secure attachment relationships provide children with feelings of selfworth and confidence. Children feel they are
important and special in the lives of others.
Standard: Children form
secure attachment relationships
with caregivers who are
emotionally available, responsive,
and consistent in meeting their
needs.
Discover how Attachment Relationships
is related to:
self-regulation
Emotional Regulation, p. 17
Behavior Regulation, p. 25
domain 2: Physical
Gross Motor, p. 57
Self-Care, p. 69
domain 4: Cognitive
Memory, p. 97
approaches to learning
Confidence & Risk-Taking, p. 139
31
developmental domain 1: SOCIAL & EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT Attachment Relationships
Standard: Children form secure attachment relationships with caregivers who are emotionally available, responsive, and
consistent in meeting their needs.
During this
age period:
Separation
anxiety begins
to occur between
nine and fourteen months and
is expressed in
tears, sadness,
or anger when a
child is physically
separated from
his/her primary
caregiver(s).
Stranger
anxiety is a
normal part of
development in
which children
may cling to a
familiar adult, cry,
or look frightened
when an unfamiliar person appears
too soon or too
close.
Birth to 9 months: Children begin to build trust, initiate
7 months to 18 months: Children trust in, engage with,
interaction, and seek proximity with one (or a few) primary
caregiver(s).
and seek reassurance from their primary caregiver(s). Children
can confidently explore their environment when in close physical
proximity to an attachment figure.
Indicators for children include:
Indicators for children include:
•Establishes, maintains, and disengages eye contact
•Distinguishes between primary caregivers and others
•Responds to caregiver(s) by smiling and cooing
•Attempts to change the situation when separation anxiety occurs,
e.g., follows caregiver(s) when he or she leaves the room
•Seeks comfort from a familiar caregiver
•Imitates familiar adults’ gestures and sounds
•Demonstrates preference for familiar adults
•Exhibits separation anxiety , e.g., does not want to be held by
another person when being held by primary caregiver
•Uses social referencing with caregiver(s) when in uncertain situations, e.g., will glance at caregiver’s face for cues on how to respond
to an unfamiliar person or new situation
•Uses key adults as a “secure base” when exploring the environment
•Exhibits stranger anxiety and concern in presence of an
unknown person or a new situation
•Seeks comfort from caregiver(s) and/or a familiar object, e.g.,
blanket, stuffed animal
•Initiates and maintains interactions with caregiver(s)
Strategies for interaction:
Strategies for interaction:
•Provide prompt, responsive, and sensitive care to the child’s
needs
•Talk and sing to the child often; use opportunities such as diaper
changes and feeding time
•Hold, cuddle, smile, and interact with the child
•Comfort and reassure the child as needed
•Follow the child’s cues; allow the child to socially disengage
when ready
•Follow the child’s lead and read the child’s cues when engaged
in interactions
•Provide a loving and nurturing environment with trustworthy
adults, and assign a primary caregiver to consistently take care
of the child’s needs
•When separating from a child, gesture and say good-bye, reassuring the child that you will be returning; in childcare settings, comfort and reassure the child once the primary caregiver has left
•When reuniting with a child after separation has occurred, allow
the child the necessary time to reconnect
32
developmental domain 1: SOCIAL & EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT Attachment Relationships
Standard: Children form secure attachment relationships with caregivers who are emotionally available, responsive, and
consistent in meeting their needs.
16 months to 24 months: Children begin to use
nonverbal and verbal communication to connect and reconnect
with their attachment figure.
21 months to 36 months: Children demonstrate
Indicators for children include:
Indicators for children include:
•Shows an emotional connection with familiar adults other than
the primary caregiver
•Uses glances and words to stay connected, without having to be
physically near or touching the caregiver
•Uses imitation and pretend play to make sense of relationships,
e.g., uses a toy to “brush” hair, or feeds and rocks a doll
•Initiates activities that are meaningful in the relationship, e.g.,
brings over a favorite book to be read together
•Plays physically farther away from primary caregiver with
increasing confidence; moves closer as needed
•Communicates thoughts, feelings, and plans to familiar adults
•Seeks physical closeness when distressed
•Separates with assistance from attachment figure with minimal
anxiety
•Actively seeks emotional responses from caregiver(s) by waving,
hugging, and crying
a desire for their attachment figure to share in their feelings,
responses, and experiences. Behaviors that demonstrate a need
for physical proximity with the primary caregiver decrease, while
in certain instances of distress, some children seek to be close to
their attachment figure.
•Seeks adult assistance with challenges
Strategies for interaction:
Strategies for interaction:
•Comfort and acknowledge the child’s feelings of distress; provide words for the emotions the toddler is exhibiting
•Show empathy and acknowledge how the child is feeling
•Set appropriate and consistent limits; ensure to take realistic
expectations into account
•Provide ample opportunities for play and interaction with nurturing adults
•Be physically and emotionally available for the child, especially
after reuniting after a separation has occurred
During this
age period:
Secure base
behavior is
described as children’s ability to
use their primary
caregiver(s) as
both a physical
and an emotional
base while exploring their environment.
•Genuinely praise the child as he or she shares accomplishments
•Respond with interest as the child engages in conversation
•Recognize and respond to the child’s verbal and nonverbal
communications
•Prepare the child for separation by telling him or her good-bye
and that you will return
•Respond to the child’s attempts to seek out a response, e.g.,
blow a kiss back after the child blows a kiss
•Model appropriate behaviors, e.g., how to emotionally react in
situations, how to speak to peers
33
developmental domain 1: SOCIAL & EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT Attachment Relationships
Good-enough Parenting
Parenting is influenced by culture,
community, and family history.31 Each
parent or caregiver has different goals
they hope to meet when raising their
children. Therefore, when the question
arises of what good-enough parenting
looks like, there are usually different
answers among parents or caregivers.
What is consistent is the need for children to form secure attachment relationships with primary caregivers who are
emotionally available, responsive, and
consistent in meeting their needs. These
three characteristics are often said to be
“good enough” and contribute to children feeling loved and nurtured.32
A “good-enough parent” also takes
into account the individuality of his or
her children, and parents to complement these attributes, instead of forcing
children to comply with the parent’s
own needs and wants.33 This parenting approach demonstrates sensitivity
toward children and encourages parents
and caregivers to respond thoughtfully
in different situations.
34
developmental domain 1: SOCIAL & EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT
Emotional Expression
In infancy, children express their feelings through both nonverbal
and verbal communication and depend on their caregivers to read
and recognize their cues. Emotional expression is not developed in
isolation; children’s emotional expression is related to their ability
to regulate their emotions, and they heavily
depend on their caregivers to help them. In
addition, emotional expression is closely linked
to the cultural and societal influences of family
and environment. Children’s relationships with
their caregivers help them develop the ability
to identify and express both their negative and
positive emotions in a socially and culturally
acceptable way.34
The emergence of the social smile around
six to eight weeks of age is the first expression
noted by caregivers. However, children communicate their feelings and needs to their caregivers as soon as they are born through signals and
gestures. As they mature, children start to use
language and gestures to express their feelings.
Early on, young children express feelings but
do not have an understanding of what they are
feeling. Therefore, it is important for caregivers
to name feelings that children express as well as
providing culturally appropriate models of how
to react when feeling certain emotions. These
strategies provide children with the support
needed to identify their own feelings and an
idea of how they can express themselves while
learning to better manage their growing range
of emotions. The ability to express and manage
emotions impacts children’s emotional development and also influences how children form
social relationships with others.
Standard: Children demonstrate
an awareness of and the ability to
identify and express emotions.
Discover how Emotional Expression
is related to:
self-regulation
Emotional Regulation, p. 17
Behavior Regulation, p. 25
domain 3: Language
Receptive Language, p. 79
Expressive Language, p. 83
domain 4: Cognitive
Concept Development, p. 93
35
developmental domain 1: SOCIAL & EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT Emotional Expression
Standard: Children demonstrate an awareness of and the ability to identify and express emotions.
During this
age period:
The emergence of
the social smile
and interactions
with caregiver(s)
are the first
intentional or
goal-directed
behaviors that
children display.
Intentional
behaviors become
increasingly
complex and
purposeful as
children grow.
Birth to 9 months: Children begin to express a wide
7 months to 18 months: Children begin to express
range of feelings through verbal and nonverbal communication,
and begin to develop emotional expression with the assistance of
their caregiver(s).
some emotions with intention , and with the help of their
caregiver(s) children can increase their range of emotional
expression.
Indicators for children include:
Indicators for children include:
•Uses facial expressions and sounds to get needs met, e.g., cries,
smiles, gazes, coos
•Expresses wants with intentionality, e.g., pushes an unwanted
object out of the way, reaches for a familiar adult when wanting
to be carried
•Expresses emotions through sounds and gestures, e.g., squeals,
laughs, claps
•Demonstrates discomfort, stress, or unhappiness through body
language and sounds, e.g., arches back, moves head, cries
•Shows anger and frustration, e.g., cries when a toy is taken away
•Recognizes and expresses emotion toward a familiar person,
e.g., shows emotion by hugging a sibling
Strategies for interaction:
Strategies for interaction:
•Respond and comfort the child in order to meet needs; act as
a co-regulator for the child, e.g., feed the child when hungry,
rock the child when tired
•Respond to child’s display of fear or distress; reassure and comfort the child
•Describe the emotion the child is expressing, e.g., “I can see you
are so excited about reaching that toy!”
•Model facial expressions to match emotions, e.g., widen eyes
and open mouth to express surprise
36
•Expresses fear by crying or turning toward caregiver(s) for
comfort
•Model emotional expression for the child by making facial
expressions and using words to name the emotion
•Reciprocate actions and gestures the child initiates, e.g., wave
hello, blow kisses, give hugs
developmental domain 1: SOCIAL & EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT Emotional Expression
Standard: Children demonstrate an awareness of and the ability to identify and express emotions.
16 months to 24 months: Children continue to
experience a wide range of emotions (e.g., affection, frustration,
fear, anger, sadness). At this point in development, children will
express and act on impulses, but begin to learn skills from their
caregiver(s) on how to control their emotional expression.
21 months to 36 months: Children begin to convey
Indicators for children include:
Indicators for children include:
•Demonstrates anger and frustration through a wide range of
physical, vocal, and facial expressions, e.g., temper tantrums
•Attempts to use words to describe feelings and names emotions
•Expresses pride, e.g., smiles, claps, or says, “I did it” after completing a task
•Attempts to use a word to describe feelings to a familiar adult
•Expresses wonder and delight while exploring the environment
and engaging others
and express emotions through the use of nonverbal and verbal
communication. Children also begin to apply learned strategies
from their caregiver(s) to better regulate these emotions.
•Acts out different emotions while engaged in pretend play,
e.g., cries when pretending to be sad, jumps up and down for
excitement
•Begins to express complex emotions such as pride, embarrassment, shame, and guilt
•Engages in play to express emotion, e.g., draws a picture for a
caregiver because he or she misses them, hides a “monster” in a
box due to a fear
Strategies for interaction:
Strategies for interaction:
•Use words to describe the emotion; this helps the child associate
the feeling with the name
•Discuss feelings with the child; reassure him or her that it is
okay to feel different emotions
•Pay close attention to the cues the child is expressing
•Recognize that the child may need some assistance in expressing feelings
•Model appropriate ways to express different feelings
•Acknowledge and validate the emotions the child is feeling, e.g.,
“I can see you are so excited by the way you are jumping up and
down.”
During this
age period:
Co-regulator
refers to the
child’s primary
caregiver(s) who
assists the child
in achieving regulation through
responses,
interactions, and
communication.
•Allow other channels in which children can express their emotions, e.g., art, dance, imaginary play
•Respect cultural differences when it comes to expressing emotions; never discount what the child is sharing and expressing
•Ensure to continue reading the child’s cues even as the child
begins to use words to describe feelings
37
developmental domain 1: SOCIAL & EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT Emotional Expression
Role of the Co-regulator
The role of the co-regulator in the
lives of infants and toddlers is to help
children build emotional expression
and competence. As with many of the
developmental milestones in young children’s lives, emotional expression and
competence are culturally defined.35 The
ability of children to express emotion in
a positive manner is closely tied to their
cultural expectations, their emotional
regulation, and the role of their co-regulator. At first, the role of the co-regulator
is to recognize children’s signals and
cues when they are expressing their
feelings and to respond in a manner
that thoughtfully meets their needs. The
role of the co-regulator later includes
modeling positive emotional expression
and providing words to label feelings.
These strategies help children build the
ability to recognize what they are feeling
and begin to manage their emotions in a
healthy manner.
Real World Story
Reena is 30 months old and is of Indian descent.
She attends childcare during the week while
both her parents work full time. She is a happy
little girl, who enjoys reading books and singing
songs. Her childcare provider is Lisa. Lisa has
set up a few different activities for children to
choose from. There is a table with play dough, a
pretend kitchen with pretend fruits and vegetables, and a water table with different floating
objects in it. Reena gets up from sitting on the
floor where she had been working on a puzzle and makes her way to the table with the
play dough. She sits down and begins to roll a
piece of play dough against the table. Across
from Reena is Michael, who is 35 months old.
Michael grabs Reena’s play dough and pulls a
big chunk off for himself. Reena remains quiet
and looks down without saying anything. As
Lisa walks around the room she notices Reena
is not playing with the play dough. She kneels
down next to Reena and asks her if everything is all right. Reena looks up, and a tear
rolls down her cheek. She looks at Michael
and points toward the play dough in front of
him. Lisa asks, “Did he take some of your play
dough?” Reena nods. Lisa looks at Reena and
says, “I can see why you are feeling sad, it does
not feel good when friends take things from us.”
Reena nods in agreement.
IN THIS EXAMPLE we see a common interaction among children. While Michael knows
that it is not okay to take things away from
peers, he does not have the impulse control
to stop his behavior. Reena is sad and angry
but reacts to Michael’s action in a passive way.
This passive manner of expressing emotions is
more common in Eastern cultures.36 Children
from Western cultures often express negative
emotions in an active manner that includes
facial expressions and gestures.37 Reena has
learned from observing family that the expression of negative emotions is not highly encouraged. Lisa plays the role of the co-regulator
in helping Reena identify what she is feeling
and validates that it is okay for her to feel that
way. This helps Reena name her emotions and
builds understanding of why she feels the
emotions she does.
This story also relates to:
self-regulation
Emotional Regulation, p. 17
domain 1: Social & Emotional
38
Relationship with Peers, p. 47
developmental domain 1: SOCIAL & EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT
Relationship with Adults
Social interactions and relationships are extremely important for
healthy social and emotional development. The first relationships
children establish are with their attachment figure(s). While they are
developing these attachment relationships,
children also begin to interact and respond to
other adults who are often present in their lives.
Children use their attachment relationships as
a springboard to develop these relationships
with familiar adults. However, children still
prefer their attachment figures in the majority
of instances, especially when they are distressed
or in new situations.
Children seek out relationships with adults
for a variety of reasons. They use these relationships to feel safe, learn about their world, and
socially interact with others.38 In early infancy,
children engage in social interactions through
eye contact and sounds with both unfamil-
iar and familiar adults. As they near one year
of age, stranger anxiety sets in and children
become selective of familiar adults. Children
purposefully engage familiar adults in playful
two-way interactions and seek out these adults
when needing guidance and help. As children’s
cognitive and play skills improve, they begin
to take on a distinct interest in adult roles and
often actively explore these roles through play.39
Older toddlers use language to connect with
adults and share their thoughts, feelings, and
ideas with them. The ability to form positive
relationships with adults directly supports children in developing healthy relationships with
peers, and helps build children’s self-concept.
Standard: Children
demonstrate the desire and
develop the ability to engage,
interact, and build relationships
with familiar adults.
Discover how Relationship with Adults
is related to:
self-regulation
Emotional Regulation, p. 17
Attention Regulation, p. 21
domain 3: Language
Social Communication, p. 75
domain 4: Cognitive
Memory, p. 97
approaches to learning
Curiosity & Initiative, p. 131
39
developmental domain 1: SOCIAL & EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT Relationship with Adults
Standard: Children demonstrate the desire and develop the ability to engage, interact, and build relationships with familiar adults.
During this
age period:
Birth to 9 months: Children develop the ability to signal
7 months to 18 months: Children use familiar adults
for caregivers. By the end of this age period, children begin to
engage in playful communication with familiar adults.
for guidance and reassurance. Children also initiate and engage in
back-and-forth interactions with familiar adults.
Indicators for children include:
Indicators for children include:
•Uses signals to communicate needs, e.g., crying, body language,
and facial expressions
•Looks for caregiver’s response in uncertain situations
•Attempts to engage both unfamiliar and familiar adults
•Engages with adults during play, e.g., bangs on a toy drum and
repeats action after an adult completes the same action
•Engages in social interactions with adults through smiles, coos,
and eye contact
•Uses key adults as a “secure base” when exploring the environment
•Demonstrates preference for familiar adults, e.g., reaches hands
out to signal for caregiver(s)
•Uses “social referencing” when encountering new experiences,
e.g., glances at a caregiver’s face for cues on how to respond to
an unfamiliar person or unknown object
•Cautious of unfamiliar adults
•Begins to engage in simple, back-and-forth interactions with a
familiar adult, e.g., plays “peek-a-boo,” babbles in response to an
adult speaking and repeats this interaction
Strategies for interaction:
Strategies for interaction:
•Provide prompt, responsive, and sensitive care to the child’s
needs
•Follow the child’s lead in play; respond genuinely while
interacting
•Provide a loving and nurturing environment with trustworthy
adults, and assign a primary caregiver to consistently take care
of the child’s needs
•Respond to the child consistently; this helps build trust
•Engage with the child through everyday, loving interactions
•Comfort the child when upset, frightened, or overwhelmed, e.g.,
gentle hugs or using a soothing voice
•Follow the child’s lead when interacting and playing
40
•Draws a familiar adult into an interaction, e.g., hands a book or
toy to engage in together
•Offer support through reassuring behaviors such as smiles,
hugs, and cuddles
•Provide dedicated periods of time to play and engage with the
child with limited interruptions
developmental domain 1: SOCIAL & EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT Relationship with Adults
Standard: Children demonstrate the desire and develop the ability to engage, interact, and build relationships with familiar adults.
16 months to 24 months: Children actively seek out
familiar adults and begin to show an interest in adult tasks and
roles.
21 months to 36 months: Children interact with
Indicators for children include:
Indicators for children include:
•Builds emotional connections with other familiar adults, in addition to primary caregiver(s)
•Imitates adult roles and activities through pretend play, e.g.,
goes grocery shopping, or prepares a meal
•Seeks adult assistance with challenges but may refuse help and
say “no”
•Initiates activities that are meaningful in the relationship, e.g.,
brings over a favorite book to be read together
•Responds to guidance, e.g., places the shape into the shape
sorter after caregiver demonstrates how to
•Communicates thoughts, feelings, questions, and plans to both
familiar and unfamiliar adults
•Imitates a familiar adult‘s actions, e.g., waves hands around
while pretending to talk on the phone after seeing caregiver
make those same actions
•Demonstrates desire to control or make decisions independent
from adults
Strategies for interaction:
Strategies for interaction:
•Comfort child and acknowledge her or his feelings of distress;
provide words for emotions the child is exhibiting
•Play and spend quality time with the child on a daily basis
•Set appropriate and consistent limits; ensure to take realistic
expectations into account
•Provide choices for the child, e.g., “Would you like the blue cup
or the yellow cup?”
•Establish everyday routines and rituals
adults to communicate ideas, share feelings, and solve problems.
Children also actively explore adult roles and tasks.
During this
age period:
•Respond with interest as the child engages in conversation
•Provide materials with which the child can play, e.g., toy kitchen,
phone, baby doll
•Provide choices for the child to help him or her feel more in
control, e.g., “You may have milk or juice.”
•Allow ample time for pretend play
41
developmental domain 1: SOCIAL & EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT Relationship with Adults
This story also relates to:
domain 3: Language
Social Communication, p. 75
domain 4: Cognitive
Memory, p. 97
42
Real World Story
Brandon is a happy, 10-month-old, social baby
who has a secure attachment with his mother.
He is beginning to actively engage with other
familiar adults through interactions and simple
play. For the last five months, Brandon has
accompanied his mother to their neighborhood dry cleaner, once a week. The owner of
the dry cleaner is a warm and loving woman
named Grace. Every time Brandon and his
mother have entered the dry cleaner, Grace has
been very consistent in always saying “hello”
to Brandon, gently squeezing his tummy, and
demonstrating enthusiasm during her interactions with him. Brandon has also observed his
mother’s facial expressions and interactions
with Grace, which always consist of smiles and
relaxed and positive conversation. Brandon,
who has by now developed a sense of awareness
of strangers versus familiar adults, squeals with
delight the minute his mother opens the door
of the dry cleaner. While he will shy away from
unfamiliar adults who reach out their arms to
hold him, he comfortably leans in toward Grace
as she gestures for him to come into her arms.
He laughs and moves his body up and down
to express his enjoyment of being carried by
her, often attempting to pull her glasses off her
face. Grace gently redirects his hands with her
hands and moves them up and down. When it
is time to say good-bye, Brandon leans toward
his mom, and waves “bye-bye” to Grace as he
leaves.
IN THIS EXAMPLE, Brandon is building relationships with other adults who consistently
appear in his life. His strong attachment to his
mother has provided the foundation for meaningful social interactions, and he is able to rely
on his mother to provide security in different and/or new situations. Grace’s consistent
interactions with Brandon have contributed to
their relationship as Brandon connects Grace
with enjoyable experiences, and he now anticipates seeing Grace when his mother opens the
door of the dry cleaner. Even though Brandon
has begun to exhibit stranger anxiety, the
use of social referencing helps him recognize
that Grace is someone whom his mother is
comfortable with, and this makes him less
hesitant around her. This example highlights
how social emotional development, language
development, and cognitive development all
work together to support children in forming
special relationships with others.
developmental domain 1: SOCIAL & EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT
Self-Concept
Self-concept involves children’s thoughts and feelings about themselves. Children are not born with the ability to recognize their own
feelings and thoughts, and depend on their early relationships and
experiences with caregivers to shape and influence the development of their self-concept.
Children’s emerging awareness of themselves
as separate people with thoughts and feelings
is crucial in forming positive relationships with
others while helping build self-confidence in
their own abilities.
Self-concept is first marked by a physical
realization that children are separate from their
primary caregivers.40 In the first few months of
life, children see themselves as part of their primary caregiver, usually their mother. Around
five months of age, children realize they may
be separate individuals and spend the next few
months developing a sense of self-awareness.41
Older infants can respond to their names, and
around 18 months of age, children demonstrate
self-recognition as they are able to identify
themselves in mirrors and photographs.
The social development of children in these
years also supports the idea that children are
building their mental self-concept. This is first
seen in children’s ability to identify their body
parts when asked, and to refer to themselves in
the first person. Around the same time children
demonstrate self-recognition, they begin to
use words such as “I” and “mine.” 42 Children
continue to develop self-concept as they demonstrate an awareness of their own characteristics and begin to identify their own feelings and
preferences in everyday interactions.
Standard: Children develop
identity of self.
Discover how Self-Concept is related to:
self-regulation
Physiological Regulation, p. 13
Emotional Regulation, p. 17
domain 3: Language
Receptive Communication, p. 79
Expressive Communication, p. 83
domain 4: Cognitive
Concept Development, p. 93
43
developmental domain 1: SOCIAL & EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT Self-Concept
Standard: Children develop identity of self.
During this
age period:
Self-concept
refers to the
child’s developing
ability to realize
that one’s body,
mind, and actions
are separate from
those of others.
Birth to 9 months: Children begin to recognize
7 months to 18 months: Children begin to have a
themselves as individuals, separate from others. At first, young
infants are not aware that they are separate beings. However,
between six and nine months of age, the realization that they are
separate people emerges.
greater awareness of their own characteristics and begin to
express themselves with their own thoughts and feelings.
Indicators for children include:
Indicators for children include:
•Demonstrates interest in faces and voices of others
•Shows awareness of significant people by calling them by name,
e.g., “papa”
•Explores his or her own hands and feet
•Recognizes own name, e.g., looks up, or turns head toward a
person who is saying his/her name
•Recognizes and prefers familiar adults and siblings, e.g., leans
toward caregiver when being held by someone else
•Engages in joint attention with familiar others, e.g., shares in
looking and engaging with objects and people
•Responds with vocalizations or gestures when hears name
•Demonstrates interest in looking in mirror
•Initiates interactions with others, e.g., imitates actions, plays
peek-a-boo
•Uses gestures and some words to express feelings, e.g., “no”
•Begins to display the beginning of joint attention, e.g., points to
objects and people
•Points to and identifies body parts on him or herself, e.g., points
to eyes when asked, “Where are your eyes?”
•Uses social referencing to guide actions and begins to test limits
•Demonstrates separation anxiety, e.g., cries when caregiver
leaves the room
Strategies for interaction:
Strategies for interaction:
•Cuddle, nurture, and respond thoughtfully to the child’s signals
•Use names when referring to significant people in the child’s life
•Use the child’s name during interactions
•Use affective attunement to match the feelings of the child, e.g.,
use facial expressions and body language to express the same
emotions the child is vocalizing
•Provide mirrors for the child to look at self
•Read books together that reflect the child’s culture
•Acknowledge the child’s efforts to initiate and engage, e.g., look
toward where the child is pointing and name what he or she is
pointing at
44
•Allow child to express wants and desires; provide choices in
order to allow him or her some control
•Provide limits and boundaries for the child
•Use songs and finger plays that help the child identify the names
of different body parts
developmental domain 1: SOCIAL & EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT Self-Concept
Standard: Children develop identity of self.
16 months to 24 months: Children become aware
of themselves as distinct from others both physically and
emotionally. During this period, children often struggle with the
balance of being independent and needing nurturing from their
caregiver(s).
21 months to 36 months: Children begin to identify
Indicators for children include:
Indicators for children include:
•Demonstrates awareness of self, e.g., touches own nose in the
mirror
•Names people in his/her family and shares stories about them
and discuss their connections to other people and things.
Children can also identify their feelings and interests and
communicate them to others.
•Able to express his or her name
•Asks for help from familiar adults but pushes away and refuses
help
•Refers to self with gestures and language
•Incorporates roles of family members in play
•Demonstrates understanding and use of concepts through words
such as “mine,” “me,” and “you”
•Begins to show an interest in describing physical characteristics,
e.g., “I have blue eyes”
•Points to self in images and other types of media
•Demonstrates preferences, e.g., “I want the green cup”
•Frequently tests limits
•Communicates feelings, e.g., may say “I’m sad,” or stomps feet
when mad
•Asks for help from familiar adults but may begin to attempt to
complete tasks autonomously
•Begins to understand concept of possession, e.g., “yours,” “hers,”
“his”
Strategies for interaction:
Strategies for interaction:
•Provide words to the emotion the child is expressing; validate
his or her feelings
•Listen and respond with interest as the child shares meaningful
information about his/her life
•Provide nurturing care, especially when the child is seeking comfort
•Ask the child about his/her day, friends, and favorite things
•Engage in conversations with the child often; provide opportunities for child to talk about him- or herself in a meaningful
context
•Acknowledge the child’s efforts in sharing stories, thoughts, and
questions, e.g., comment and answer promptly and genuinely
•Set boundaries with the child and provide the child with choices
throughout the day.
•Use redirection, e.g., hand an object to a child who is about to
start crying because another child has an object he or she wants
During this
age period:
•Be aware and respectful of cultural differences in regard to independence
•Encourage the child to bring in a picture of his or her family;
keep it in a place where the child can access it
45
developmental domain 1: SOCIAL & EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT Self-Concept
Why the Terrible Twos
Aren’t So Terrible
Children begin to visibly exert their
independence during the toddler years.
Often, this struggle between the desires
of children and the desires of their
caregivers leads to screams, tears, and
frustration. This age period is commonly described as the “terrible twos.”
In understanding how children develop,
we know that expectations of behavior
are determined by societal and cultural
contexts. The “terrible twos” are not terrible in every society, as the expectations
adults have for young children differ.43
In the Western culture, we encourage
independence and expect very young
children to control behavior and emotions that they cannot manage at their
age. Realistic expectations, patience,
and sensitive guidance on the part of
caregivers are important for young
children and can help make the “terrible
twos” pretty terrific!
46
developmental domain 1: SOCIAL & EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT
Relationship with Peers
Positive experiences and relationships with adults help children
establish meaningful and special relationships with peers. Children
experience interactions and behaviors with
adults that help develop the social and emotional skills needed to positively interact with
peers. Children begin to gain self-awareness
and demonstrate an interest in other children
by simply observing or touching them. Observation and interest lead to imitation and simple
interactions, such as handing over a toy or
rolling a ball. Older toddlers engage in more
complex interactions and social exchanges
during play while building social connections.
Children this age mainly act on impulses and
have difficulty controlling their emotions and
behaviors, yet begin to learn appropriate social
behaviors through the cues and information
that their caregivers model for them.
Peer relationships also play an important
role in both the development of children’s
self-concept, and the emergence of empathy.
Children’s ability to positively engage and play
with other children relies on their awareness of
others’ feelings and viewpoints.44 As children
grow, they gain a basic awareness of what other
children are expressing. This awareness eventually grows into understanding and behaving
in a manner that is sensitive to what others
are feeling. These successful interactions and
experiences with others help children build
self-confidence and a sense of self-worth. This
confidence is important in supporting children’s ability to build and maintain meaningful
relationships with their peers.
Standard: Children
demonstrate the desire and
develop the ability to engage and
interact with other children.
Discover how Relationship with Peers
is related to:
self-regulation
Emotional Regulation, p. 17
Behavior Regulation, p. 25
domain 3: Language
Social Communication, p. 75
approaches to learning
Confidence and Risk-Taking, p. 139
47
developmental domain 1: SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT Relationship with Peers
Standard: Children demonstrate the desire and develop the ability to engage and interact with other children.
During this
age period:
Play is integral
to how children
learn about and
make sense of
their world. Play
is enjoyable and
spontaneous,
and children use
play to discover,
pretend, and
problem-solve.
Birth to 9 months: Children begin to interact with their
7 months to 18 months: Children will begin to observe
environment and people around them; an interest in other young
children emerges.
and imitate other children’s behaviors.
Indicators for children include:
Indicators for children include:
•Demonstrates effort to interact and engage, e.g., uses eye
contact, coos, smiles
•Shows interest in another child by moving closer, e.g., rolls,
crawls, or walks toward the child
•Observes other children in the environment
•Imitates actions of another child, e.g., rolling a car
•Shows interest in both familiar and unfamiliar peers
•Engages in a simple, reciprocal game such as “pat-a-cake”
•Cries when hearing another child cry
•Begins to engage in parallel play, in closer proximity to other
children but no interaction is attempted
•Reaches out to touch another child
•Attempts to imitate actions, e.g., bangs a toy
Strategies for interaction:
Strategies for interaction:
•Respond positively to the child’s coos and vocalizations with
both verbal and facial expressions
•Provide opportunities for the child to play and interact with
other children
•Hold, cuddle, smile, and interact with the child
•Model positive interaction while playing and spending time with
the child
•Imitate the child’s sounds and actions in a positive manner
•Read and play with the child often; if possible, use books that
reflect the home culture
•Engage with the child in exploration and play; follow the child’s
lead
48
•Provide activities that can be done in a group setting, such as
singing, movement activities, or reading a story
•Provide a variety of toys for children to explore and play with
developmental domain 1: SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT Relationship with Peers
Standard: Children demonstrate the desire and develop the ability to engage and interact with other children.
16 months to 24 months: As play and communication
matures, children begin to seek out interactions with peers.
21 months to 36 months: Children engage and
Indicators for children include:
Indicators for children include:
•Gestures in order to communicate a desire to play near a peer
•Demonstrates a preference toward select peers
•Demonstrates enthusiasm around other children
•Becomes frustrated with peers, e.g., yells “no” if a peer tries to
interfere in something he or she is engaged in
•Expresses frustration when another child takes something away
from him or her, e.g., a toy
maintain interactions with their peers, through the use of
developing social and play skills.
During this
age period:
•Participates in sharing, when prompted
•Begins to engage in simple reciprocal interactions, e.g., rolls a
ball back and forth
•Communicates with other children in different settings, e.g.,
talks to a peer during snack time, or hands a peer a book
•Demonstrates a preference for parallel play, e.g., plays next to
other children with similar toys with little or no interaction
•Begins to engage in more complex play with two or three children
Strategies for interaction:
Strategies for interaction:
•Recognize and respond thoughtfully to the child’s verbal and
nonverbal communication
•Create small groups, each with a caregiver, to share some quality time with particular children
•Create a special time when two or three children read a book
with a caregiver
•Provide toys that can be played with by two or more children at
a time
•Acknowledge sharing and thoughtful behaviors, e.g., a child
who pats another child who is upset, or when a child hands over
a toy to another child
•Provide activities that encourage sharing, while limiting the risk
for frustration, e.g., for art projects, make more than enough art
materials available for the children participating
•Provide more than one of the same toy for the child and his or
her peers to play with
•Use distraction and redirection to help limit conflicts among
children
49
developmental domain 1: SOCIAL & EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT Relationship with Peers
Stages of Play for Infants
and Toddlers
Play is the work of children, a tool that
allows them to learn about and explore
their world. As children meet developmental milestones, their style of play
changes to reflect their growing abilities.
Young infants engage in independent
play as they explore objects and toys
alone. Parallel play starts in the toddler
years and is characterized by side-byside play with similar objects and toys,
but seldom involves interaction among
children. Associative play is most common in the toddler stage, where children
engage in a similar activity but have
very little organization or rules.45 All of
these different types of interactions in
play support children in the development of social skills such as respecting
boundaries, turn-taking, sharing, and
waiting. All of these skills are important
in establishing healthy relationships
with peers as children begin to engage
in cooperative play with others in the
pre-school years.
50
developmental domain 1: SOCIAL & EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT
Empathy
Young children develop empathy over time. Young infants do not
have the ability to understand and share in the feelings of others,
yet there are certain behaviors and experiences that support the development of empathy.
Through special and meaningful relationships
with primary caregivers, children observe and
learn about social behaviors that support an
awareness of feelings in others and, eventually,
an understanding of them.46
Familiar adults in children’s lives are the
first models for empathetic behavior. Children
observe and learn through the actions and
responses of their caregivers. Children use
social cues to guide their behaviors and make
sense of what is occurring around them.47
Children begin to apply these learned behaviors
through their social interactions. Therefore, it
is important for adults to create a warm, caring,
and loving environment for very young children and communicate about feelings that both
children and others may experience.
Very early on, children first demonstrate an
awareness of others by simply observing and
reacting to their environment. This may include
looking at a crying child or smiling at a familiar
adult. Children then use intentional behaviors
to draw out certain responses and emotions
from others and begin to identify certain emotions in themselves and others. Closer to age
three, children demonstrate a simple understanding of feelings in others. This awareness
and understanding of feelings of others is
crucial for children in establishing successful
relationships with peers.
Standard: Children
demonstrate an emerging ability
to understand someone else’s
feelings and to share in the
emotional experiences of others.
Discover how Empathy is related to:
self-regulation
Emotional Regulation, p. 17
Behavior Regulation, p. 25
domain 3: Language
Social Communication, p. 75
Receptive Communication, p. 79
domain 4: Cognitive
Symbolic Thought, p. 105
Logic & Reasoning, p. 113
51
developmental domain 1: SOCIAL & EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT Empathy
Standard: Children demonstrate an emerging ability to understand someone else’s feelings and to share in the emotional
experiences of others.
During this
age period:
Birth to 9 months: Children begin to build awareness of
7 months to 18 months: Children have more
others’ feelings by observing and reacting to sounds that others
make. Toward the end of this age period, infants understand that
they are individuals and separate from their caregiver(s), a crucial
milestone in interpreting the feelings of others.
experience with a wide range of emotions, as they begin
to recognize and respond to different facial and emotional
expressions. Children also begin to demonstrate the
understanding of how behavior brings out reactions and
emotions from others.
Indicators for children include:
Indicators for children include:
•Watches and observes adults and other children
•Smiles with intention to draw out a smile from a familiar other
•Cries when hearing another infant cry
•Uses social referencing with caregiver(s) when in uncertain
situations, e.g., glances at a caregiver’s face for cues on how to
respond to an unfamiliar person or new situation
•Responds to interactions from caregiver(s), e.g., smiles when
caregiver smiles, looks toward a caregiver when he or she
shakes a rattle
•Shows signs of separation anxiety, e.g., protests when a caregiver leaves the room
•Begins to share in simple emotions by reading facial and gestural
cues, e.g., repeats activities that make others laugh
•Shares in both positive and negative emotions with caregiver(s),
e.g., shares in wonders, amazement, delight, and disappointment
•Begins to have a greater awareness of own emotions, e.g., says
or gestures “no” to refuse, squeals and continues to laugh when
happy
Strategies for interaction:
Strategies for interaction:
•Provide emotional caring and consistency; respond quickly and
thoughtfully to the child’s sounds and cries
•Respond to the child’s attempts to seek emotional responses;
try to use facial expressions to match the child’s tone of voice,
sounds, and body language
•Describe what the child may be feeling with words; label the
child’s sounds and coos
•Provide opportunities for the child to see different facial expressions: baby board books with pictures of other infants, or the
use of a mirror during play
•Use more than one manner to express and share in feelings with
the child, e.g., body movement, words, facial expressions, and
voice inflection
52
•Reacts to a child who is upset by observing or moving physically
closer to the child
•Model empathetic behavior and control own emotions, e.g.,
avoid over-control and power struggles; instead, use redirection
•Name emotions and recognize behaviors that the child is exhibiting, e.g., saying, “I can see you are mad by the way you are
stomping your feet!”
•Respond thoughtfully and genuinely to the child’s attempts to
socially engage and interact
developmental domain 1: SOCIAL & EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT Empathy
Standard: Children demonstrate an emerging ability to understand someone else’s feelings and to share in the emotional
experiences of others.
16 months to 24 months: Children begin to notice
different emotions that other children are expressing and may
begin to respond to these emotions.
21 months to 36 months: Children begin to exhibit an
Indicators for children include:
Indicators for children include:
•Imitates comforting behaviors from caregiver(s), e.g., pats or
hugs a child when upset
•Communicates how other children may be feeling and why, e.g.,
states that a peer is sad because his or her toy was taken away
•Recognizes some of his or her own emotions, e.g., grabs a comfort object when sad
•Responds to a child in distress in an attempted manner to make
that child feel better, e.g., gives a crying child a hug, uses soothing words, or uses distraction
•Demonstrates awareness of different emotions and feelings
during play, e.g., rocks a baby doll and whispers “shhh”
•Shares in and communicates simple emotions of others, e.g.,
“mama sad”, “papa happy”
understanding that other people have feelings different from their
own.
•Shares in and shows an emotional response for peers’ feelings,
e.g., may show concern for a child who is hurt, or smile for a
child who is happy and jumping up and down
Strategies for interaction:
Strategies for interaction:
•Provide words for feelings as often as possible throughout the
day
•Model thoughtful and sensitive practices when listening and
responding to the child’s description of his or her feelings
•Recognize and respect individual and cultural emotional
responses, e.g., a child who does not want to be hugged when
upset
•Continue to name and discuss feelings, e.g., state why the child
may be feeling certain emotions
•Help the child recognize certain emotions by describing and
naming what the child is feeling
•Help the child to develop an understanding of feelings of others
by using pictures, posters, books, and mirrors
During this
age period:
•Genuinely praise the child when he or she responds in a sensitive manner to another child
•Gently guide the children’s play to encourage empathy, e.g.,
“Michael is hungry, too. He needs some pretend snack on his
plate.”
•Allow plenty of time for pretend play and interact with the child
while modeling empathy
53
developmental domain 1: SOCIAL & EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT Empathy
Commonalities and
Differences in Emotional
Expression
In order for children to build their ability to empathize, they need to be able
to recognize their own feelings and the
emotional expressions of others. The
expression of emotions is closely linked
to the cultural and societal influences
of children’s family and environment.
Emotions are reinforced by caregivers
depending on which emotions they feel
will best prepare children for success in
their particular culture and society.48
For example, the Western culture often
encourages pride in young children,
while Asian families focus on encouraging modesty.49 Yet, across cultures, there
is agreement that there is a set of emotions that are experienced by all, regardless of culture or experience. These six
emotions are happiness, sadness,
fear, surprise, anger, and disgust.
They are considered to be basic, universal emotions due to the idea that they
are instinctive.50
54
Keep In Mind
Child development does not occur in isolation;
children reach their developmental milestones
within their social and cultural contexts.
However, while “how the child develops” may
look different, “what the child develops” can
be observed in a more universal fashion. Below
are some indicators that may warrant a discussion with child’s healthcare provider for closer
examination.
Does not smile by four months of age
Does not exhibit any hesitation or anxiety
around strangers after nine months of age
Does not babble, point, or make meaningful
gestures by 12 months of age
Does not respond to his or her name
developmental domain 2:
Physical
Development
& Health
Physical development is supported by the remarkable
brain growth that children
undergo in the first three
years. Children will grow
more during this time than at
any other point in their lives.
They often triple their birth
weight by one year of age, and
will have quadrupled it by age
two.51 The size of their brain
grows to about 80 percent of adult size by
three years of age.52 One of the most important
milestones children reach in their first year is
learning about and experiencing gravity.53 They
learn to control their movements and use their
bodies in different ways. Movement, physical
actions, and use of their senses are the primary
ways that children explore their surroundings
during these first three years. Therefore, children
need to feel safe and nurtured. This is achieved
through loving and attentive relationships. These
positive relationships encourage healthy development, build confidence in children to try new
skills, and provide them with a sense of security.
Physical development includes mastering
movement, balance, and fine-motor skills. Chil-
dren are born with an intense need to explore
and learn about their world. The ability to move
expands their ability to explore, discover, and
problem-solve. Part of physical development
also includes the development of perceptual
abilities, which consists of taking in sensory
experiences through hearing, seeing, smelling, and touching, and responding to these
experiences.54 One example of this process is
how children take in sensory information and
respond with movement and actions. For example, an 11-month-old claps his hands after hearing music, or a 24-month-old uses his hands
and fingers to squeeze clay in order to change
its shape. Children’s perceptual development
is important because it helps them learn and
55
make sense of their world. Perceptual development is closely related to physical development
as it helps children learn where their body is
in space and allows them to respond and move
accordingly.
Along with these new physical and sensory
skills, children also develop their self-care skills.
In infancy, children tend to their self-care needs
by communicating them to attentive caregivers.
As they grow, children begin to attempt some
of these tasks on their own because of increasing control of their muscles, along with new
cognitive abilities. The development of self-help
skills depends greatly on cultural expectations and experiences. For example, in cultures
where children are carried in slings or wraps for
longer periods of time, walking and self-help
skills tend to emerge later in the developmental
trajectory.
Realistic expectations in the first three years
of life are extremely important, as children all
develop their physical abilities and skills at their
own pace. Some children will begin to crawl as
early as seven months, while others wait until
nine months to begin using this particular skill.
In addition, culture and experiences also play
an important part in children’s physical and
health development. Children will usually focus
on skills that are necessary and familiar to
them based on their everyday experiences.
In this section:
•Gross Motor, p. 57
•Fine Motor, p. 61
•Perceptual, p. 65
•Self-Care, p. 69
Realistic expectations in the first three years of life are
extremely important, as children all develop their
physical abilities and skills at their own pace.
56
developmental domain 2: PHYSICAL DEVELOPMENT & HEALTH
Gross Motor
Gross motor development includes the control and movement of
large muscle groups such as the torso, head, legs, and arms. Children
begin working on their gross motor skills as soon as they are born.
These skills develop from top to bottom. Children who do not have any developmental or
health challenges first gain control of their
head. Next, children gain control of their torso
and begin to learn balance, evidenced by their
ability to roll over and sit up. Eventually, a child
can use the lower half of his or her body when
beginning to crawl, cruise, and walk.
Children need time and space to work on
these very important skills. Even when they
are newborns, children can be placed on their
tummies to gain strength in their necks, which
is essential for head control. Tummy time also
helps develop children’s torsos and eventually
will contribute to their ability to roll over and
push up. Once children can sit up, they have a
whole new way of observing and exploring their
world. This new position supports children in
scooting, crawling, climbing, and, eventually,
walking.
Physical development is one area that is
greatly impacted by physical disabilities or
health issues. Children with disabilities may not
master all gross motor skills. Instead, individual growth will vary and depend on children’s
own unique abilities. For example, a developmental milestone for a child with a physical
disability may be learning to walk with a walker
by the age of three.
Standard: Children
demonstrate strength,
coordination, and controlled
use of large muscles.
Discover how Gross Motor is related to:
self-regulation
Physiological Regulation, p. 13
domain 1: Social & Emotional
Attachment Relationships, p. 31
domain 4: Cognitive
Spatial Relationships, p. 101
approaches to learning
Persistence, Effort, & Attentiveness, p. 143
57
developmental domain 2: PHYSICAL DEVELOPMENT & HEALTH Gross Motor
Standard: Children demonstrate strength, coordination, and controlled use of large muscles .
During this
age period:
Large muscles
refer to the muscles found in the
arms and legs.
Large muscle
movements include
crawling, kicking,
walking, running,
and throwing.
Tummy time is
the time babies
spend lying and
playing on their
stomachs while
awake. This time is
important for the
development of
head control and
neck strength.
Birth to 9 months: Children are beginning to develop and
7 months to 18 months: Children develop mobility, as
coordinate the large muscles needed to purposefully move their
bodies.
they purposefully move from one place to another with limited
control and coordination.
Indicators for children include:
Indicators for children include:
•Lifts head while on tummy
•Moves from hands and knees to a sitting position
•Brings feet to mouth while lying on back
•Rocks back and forth on knees
•Rolls from back to stomach and from stomach to back
•Crawls from one point to another
•Brings both hands to midline, i.e., center of the body
•Pulls to a stand using help from furniture or caregiver
•Begins to gain balance, e.g., sits with and without support
•Moves objects with large muscles, e.g., pushes a toy car with
legs, rolls a ball
•Scoots body to attempt to move from one point to another
•Briefly maintains balance when placed in a non-supported standing position
•Takes steps independently
•Gets into a standing position without support
Strategies for interaction:
Strategies for interaction:
•Provide plenty of tummy time when the child is awake and alert
•Create a safe environment for the child to move around in
•Provide a dedicated area on the floor where the child can safely
explore, roll, and work on additional skills
•Encourage the child to move by placing novel objects out of reach
•Support the child when mastering a new skill, e.g., keeping arms
out to the side for a child who is working on keeping balance
while sitting
•Place objects so that they are visible but out of reach for the
child, to encourage movement; watch the child’s cues carefully
to prevent frustration
58
•Cruises while holding on to furniture, e.g., walks around crib,
holding on to railing
•Introduce objects that the child can crawl or walk through
•Encourage new skills by demonstrating enthusiasm and pride as
the child begins to attempt the skill
•Play interactive games with the child, e.g., roll a ball back and forth
•Support the child as he or she masters new skills, e.g., provide
physical support by lightly holding child who is attempting to
take his or her first steps
developmental domain 2: PHYSICAL DEVELOPMENT & HEALTH Gross Motor
Standard: Children demonstrate strength, coordination, and controlled use of large muscles.
16 months to 24 months: Children now have gained
more control over their movements and begin to explore different
ways they can move their bodies.
21 months to 36 months: Children begin to master
Indicators for children include:
Indicators for children include:
•Attempts to climb objects, e.g., furniture, steps, simple climbing
structures
•Stands on one foot with support and maintains balance for a
brief period of time
•Holds objects or toys while walking, e.g., pulls a car by a string
while walking around the room
•Jumps forward a few inches; jumps from slightly elevated surface onto the ground
•Kicks and attempts to catch a ball
•Walks up and down the stairs by placing both feet on each step
•Rides a toy by using his or her hands or feet
•Throws a ball
more complex movements as coordination of different types of
muscles continues to develop.
During this
age period:
•Walks on tiptoes, walks backward, and runs
•Pedals a tricycle with both feet
Strategies for interaction:
Strategies for interaction:
•Provide opportunities for the child to run, climb, and jump
outside
•Incorporate outdoor games where the child has to jump and run
•Create safe places for the child to climb; remain with the child in
order to prevent falling and injury
•Use movement games to promote balance, jumping, and hopping, e.g., “follow the leader”
•Engage in games with the child that encourage the use of large
muscles, e.g., roll a ball with the child, create simple obstacle
courses to maneuver
•Provide safe climbing structures and other materials such as
tricycles and low balance beams
•Use dance and movement activities to encourage the child to
move his/her body in different ways
•Engage in activities that promote throwing a ball
59
developmental domain 2: PHYSICAL DEVELOPMENT & HEALTH Gross Motor
This story also relates to:
self-regulation
Physiological Regulation, p. 13
domain 2: Physical
Fine Motor, p. 61
Perceptual, p. 65
domain 4: Cognitive
Spatial Relationships, p. 101
60
Real World Story
Jacob is 18 months old and was born with
Agenesis of the Corpus Callosum (ACC). ACC
refers to the absence of the corpus callosum, the
band that connects the two sides of the brain.
Because of this impairment, the right and left
sides of Jacob’s brain do not communicate
properly. Jacob has vision impairment, low
muscle tone, and poor motor coordination. He
is enrolled in Early Intervention, and a physical
therapist, speech pathologist, child-development specialist, and occupational therapist all
work with him in developing his skills. Jacob
recently met his goal of crawling. While crawling is often accomplished by age seven to 10
months, Jacob is developing this skill later than
what is typical because of his disability. For
the next six months, Jacob’s physical therapist
will work with him on reaching the following
milestones: climbing, taking steps with a walker,
and standing unassisted for three seconds. A
major goal for Jacob is to take two to three steps
unassisted by age two.
Jacob’s disability has also impacted his
fine motor development. Currently, skills he
is working on include feeding himself finger
foods and stacking one block on top of another.
He is also focusing on engaging with different
types of sensory materials such as play dough,
water, and sand. These activities help with his
sensory input and help him build tolerance
for different types of textures. Again, these are
all developmental skills that are often mastered
and experienced earlier, but Jacob is developing
at his own unique pace.
THIS EXAMPLE HIGHLIGHTS how a disability
can impact all areas of development and how
it changes the developmental trajectory for
children. Jacob may not ever be able to do all
the things that typically developing children
can, but he is nevertheless working to reach
his milestones at his own pace and in his
own way. Jacob may not walk unassisted for
years, but he is achieving milestones that
will support him to eventually reach that skill
when he is ready.
Since Jacob has global delays, he is receiving therapy for all areas of development. This
approach is important because all areas of
development impact each other. Early intervention in the first three years is so important
for children with developmental delays; it is
a critical period for learning and can provide
children and families with a much-needed support system.
developmental domain 2: PHYSICAL DEVELOPMENT & HEALTH
Fine Motor
Fine motor refers to the movement and coordination of small muscles,
such as those in the hands, wrists, fingers, toes, and feet.55 Young
children begin to develop their fine motor skills during the first year.
They bring their fingers and toes to their mouths,
grasp objects, and, eventually, learn to twist
and turn objects. Around 10 to 12 months of
age, children transition from using a raking
motion with their fingers to using their thumb
and forefinger grasp when picking up small
objects. Their hand-eye coordination improves
and children start to manipulate small objects,
exploring all the ways objects can be combined
or changed.56
Children’s everyday activities help support
the development of their fine motor skills. These
skills include feeding, reading books, and playing with a variety of different objects. With
improving skills, children change the way they
explore their surroundings. They begin to push
a toy car, instead of just holding and moving
it around their hands. They may also pick up
objects and place them inside containers. They
begin to stack blocks, instead of just knocking
them down. Children are not only improving
their fine motor skills, but are also improving their physical coordination. They begin to
turn pages of a book and scribble. Close to 36
months of age, children may be able to hold
a writing utensil in writing position, and can
screw and unscrew objects, such as lids.57
Standard: Children
demonstrate the ability to
coordinate their small muscles
in order to move and control
objects.
Discover how Fine Motor is related to:
self-regulation
Physiological Regulation, p. 13
Attention Regulation, p. 21
domain 1: Social & Emotional
Self-Concept, p. 43
domain 3: Language
Expressive Communication, p. 83
domain 4: Cognitive
Spatial Relationships, p. 101
61
developmental domain 2: PHYSICAL DEVELOPMENT & HEALTH Fine Motor
Standard: Children demonstrate the ability to coordinate their small muscles in order to move and control objects.
During this
age period:
Small muscles
refer to the muscles found in the
hands, fingers,
feet, and toes.
The coordination
of these small
muscles is known
as fine motor
development.
Birth to 9 months: Children begin to reach for, grasp, and
7 months to 18 months: Children begin to gain control
move objects.
of their small muscles and purposefully manipulate objects.
Indicators for children include:
Indicators for children include:
•Opens hands when in a relaxed state
•Picks up objects
•Reaches for objects
•Uses pincer grasp, e.g., picks up a Cheerio with thumb and forefinger
•Grasps, holds, and shakes objects
•Transfers an object from one hand to the other
•Uses raking motion with hands to bring objects closer, e.g., uses
all fingers to bring small objects closer to body
•Holds a small object in each hand; bangs them together
•Begins to use simple baby signs (if exposed to baby sign language), e.g., moves hands toward each other to signal more
•Uses hands in a purposeful manner, e.g., turns the pages of a
board book, drops objects into a bucket
•Coordinates increasingly complex hand movements to manipulate objects, e.g., crumples paper, connects and disconnects toy
links, flips light switch on and off
•Participates in finger plays, e.g., moves hands to imitate caregiver’s hands when singing “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”
Strategies for interaction:
Strategies for interaction:
•Strategically place objects around the child where he or she will
have to reach for them
•Provide art materials, e.g., crayons and paper, for the child to
scribble on
•Provide opportunities for the child to grasp toys and other small
objects
•Allow the child to explore books on his or her own
•Model different ways of how to use objects, e.g., bang two
objects together, shake a sensory ball, stack blocks
•Provide the child with finger foods they can grasp and bring to
mouth, e.g., dry cereal
•Encourage the child to participate in finger plays, e.g., “Itsy, Bitsy
Spider”
•Provide different materials for child to explore, e.g., books and
toys with different textures, cloth toys, water play
62
developmental domain 2: PHYSICAL DEVELOPMENT & HEALTH Fine Motor
Standard: Children demonstrate the ability to coordinate their small muscles in order to move and control objects.
16 months to 24 months: Children begin to coordinate
their movements when using their small muscles and begin to
manipulate various types of objects.
21 months to 36 months: Children effectively
Indicators for children include:
Indicators for children include:
•Attempts to fold various types of materials, e.g., paper, baby
blanket
•Begins to use more complicated hand movements, e.g., uses eating utensils independently, stacks blocks
•Uses baby sign to communicate various concepts, e.g., “all
done,” “more,” “water”
•Attempts to help with dressing self, e.g., snaps buttons, pulls
zipper, puts socks and shoes on
•Uses simple tools, e.g., scooper to scoop sand or water, crayon
for scribbling
•Scribbles with intent and begins to draw circles and lines on own
•Begins to imitate lines and circles when drawing
coordinate their small muscles to manipulate a wide array of
objects, toys, and materials in different ways.
During this
age period:
•Uses hand-eye coordination in a more controlled manner, e.g.,
completes puzzles, strings beads together
•Controls placement of objects in a more effective manner, e.g.,
stacks blocks in a more orderly fashion
Strategies for interaction:
Strategies for interaction:
•Provide the child opportunities to scribble with crayons, or use
chalk on sidewalk
•Model how to use writing and feeding utensils through everyday
activities
•Encourage the child to experiment with tearing paper, popping
bubbles (bubble wrap), and completing puzzles
•Provide experiences and objects that promote fine motor development, e.g., stringing manipulatives, play dough, using plastic
tweezers to pick up objects, and peg boards
•Use sensory experiences for children to engage in, e.g., water
table with objects to pour, move, and squeeze water; play dough
•Allow the child to help in dressing him- or herself; be patient and
provide guidance as needed to limit frustration
•Introduce more complex puzzles for the child to attempt, e.g.,
puzzles with more pieces
63
developmental domain 2: PHYSICAL DEVELOPMENT & HEALTH Fine Motor
Evolving Hand Movements
In the first year of life, children work on
holding objects in a controlled manner.
In the first two months of age, children’s
hand movements are reflexive. At three
months of age, these reflexes begin to
fade as children bat at objects and soon
will be able to pick up large objects.
Between four and eight months, children are perfecting their grasp. They are
able to intentionally pick up objects and
bring them to their mouths in order to
explore. Children start to manipulate
objects while holding them in one hand.
Around nine months of age children
start to pick up small objects with their
thumb and forefinger. This movement
is known as the pincer grasp. As they
perfect this skill, they will soon be able
to pick up very small objects. The pincer
grasp is important for self-feeding and
also is the precursor skill to holding
feeding and writing utensils.
64
developmental domain 2: PHYSICAL DEVELOPMENT & HEALTH
Perceptual
Perceptual development refers to how children start taking in, interpreting, and understanding sensory input.58 Perception allows children
to adapt and interact with their environment through the use of their
senses. Children are born with the ability to
see, hear, smell, taste, and touch. While these
senses are not fully developed by birth, they
quickly improve in the first few months of life.
For example, a newborn’s vision is limited to
eight to 12 inches.59 In a few short months, their
vision has greatly improved as children can see
objects from the other side of the room, and
make out patterns and colors.60 Children can
hear sounds even before birth, and as infants
they begin to distinguish among these sounds.
The ability to do this directly influences children’s language development.
Perceptual development is closely linked
to physical development because children’s
growing motor abilities allow them to explore
their environments in new ways. Children can
use their mobility to reach for objects, or play
with objects in different ways. As they get older,
they will be able to use sensory input to change
an action or behavior. For example, children
may be able to perceive how to move their body
around obstacles, or know how to hold in their
hands objects that they perceive to be fragile.
Children learn about their world by engaging
their senses with their surroundings. This is
why appropriately stimulating environments
and meaningful engagement and interactions
are encouraged for young children.
Standard: Children
demonstrate the ability to
distinguish, process, and
respond to sensory stimuli in
their environment.
Discover how Perceptual is related to:
self-regulation
Physiological Regulation, p. 13
domain 4: Cognitive
Spatial Relationships, p. 101
Science Concepts & Exploration, p. 121
approaches to learning
Creativity, Inventiveness, & Imagination,
p. 147
65
developmental domain 2: PHYSICAL DEVELOPMENT & HEALTH Perceptual
Standard: Children demonstrate the ability to distinguish, process, and respond to sensory stimuli in their environment.
During this
age period:
Sensory stimuli
are sounds,
textures, tastes,
sights, and
temperatures
found in children’s
environments.
Perceptual
development
refers to taking in
and interpreting
sensory stimuli. It
is through these
stimuli that children learn about
and interact with
their environment.
Birth to 9 months: Children begin to use their senses to
7 months to 18 months: Children begin to use sensory
explore and become aware of their environment.
information received from their environment to alter the way they
interact and explore.
Indicators for children include:
Indicators for children include:
•Responds to changes in the environment, e.g., startles when
hearing a loud noise, turns head toward light
•Begins to manipulate materials, e.g., pounds at play dough,
squeezes finger foods
•Explores objects through senses, e.g., mouths, touches objects
•Begins to show a preference for or aversion to particular sensory activities, e.g., pulls hand away from unfamiliar objects or
unpleasant textures
•Attempts to mimic sounds heard in the environment
•Has a range of vision that extends to several feet, which in turn
leads to seeing colors and seeing objects from a distance
•Feels the sensation of being touched and looks around to identify the source of the touch, e.g., person or object
•Recognizes familiar objects and begins to demonstrate favoritism for certain toys
•Adjusts manner of walking depending on the surface, e.g., walks
carefully across gravel
Strategies for interaction:
Strategies for interaction:
•Provide an environment where the child can observe and
explore
•Provide the child with choices for experimenting with sensory
objects
•Place mirrors and attractive toys in the child’s line of sight, e.g.,
a mobile over the crib
•Observe the child’s reactions to objects and experiences in order
to note what he or she enjoys
•Interact with the child by singing songs and manipulating toys
together
•Expose the child to different textures, smells, sounds, and sights
•Provide objects and experiences that encompass different
colors, sounds, textures, e.g., music box, a toy that lights up, a
book with different textures
66
•Becomes aware of obstacles in the environment, e.g., crawls
around the table to get the ball
developmental domain 2: PHYSICAL DEVELOPMENT & HEALTH Perceptual
Standard: Children demonstrate the ability to distinguish, process, and respond to sensory stimuli in their environment.
16 months to 24 months: Children continue to work
on using perceived sensory information to decide how to interact
with their environment.
21 months to 36 months: Children begin to process
Indicators for children include:
Indicators for children include:
•Plays with water and sand tables; explores by pouring, digging,
and filling
•Imitates familiar adults when coloring; draws lines and/or circles
•Enjoys physical play, e.g., wrestling, tickling
•Recognizes situations that need to be approached cautiously,
e.g., walks slowly with a cup of water, or with food on a plate
•Adjusts approach to environment, e.g., changes volume of voice
to adjust to noise level in the environment
sensory information in a more efficient manner and use the
information to modify behavior while interacting with the
environment.
•Adjusts approach to unknown objects, e.g., presses harder on a
lump of clay
•Perceives and acts accordingly when holding a fragile object,
both in the actual environment and in play, e.g., walks carefully
when holding a pretend tea cup
Strategies for interaction:
Strategies for interaction:
•Provide opportunities for the child to experience sensory play,
e.g., play dough, water, sand
•Spend time with the child; draw, paint, and color together
•Follow the child’s lead during play; ensure to proceed cautiously
with a child who needs time before getting involved
•Engage in activities that encourage using different sounds and
movements, e.g., read a book that incorporates both whispering
and loud voices
During this
age period:
•Prompt the child to discuss what he or she is feeling during sensory play, e.g., “How does that finger paint feel on your hands?”
•Allow the child to explore freely and have fun while learning,
e.g., child uses finger paint to paint their face and squeals with
delight
67
developmental domain 2: PHYSICAL DEVELOPMENT & HEALTH Perceptual
Developing Preferences
Each child is unique when it comes
to sensory likes and dislikes. Some
children enjoy splashing in the bath or
getting their hands dirty while exploring
different textures. Other children may
shy away from touching different materials, instead preferring to simply observe.
Just as adults have preferences, young
children are developing preferences
for what they see, hear, feel, smell, and
taste. Caregivers should pay attention to
what children enjoy and what they steer
clear of. Caregivers need to be sensitive
to these differences and set up various
types of activities to accommodate children’s sensory preferences. For example,
children who do not enjoy getting their
hands dirty should not be forced to
play with sand, water, or other types of
sensory materials that may make them
uncomfortable. Children who are overwhelmed by too many sounds and sights
should be watched closely for signs of
overstimulation while playing. Positive
early experiences tailored to children’s
comfort levels and needs are important
for healthy development.
68
developmental domain 2: PHYSICAL DEVELOPMENT & HEALTH
Self-Care
Children are completely dependent on their caregivers during their
first year of life. However, with newfound mobility, they become
more independent in reaching objects and in moving from one place
to another. Children’s ability to indicate needs
with gestures develops around nine to 12
months of age, as children point to what they
may want. Children’s first words also support
their ability to communicate needs and wants
to caregivers. However, during the first three
years of life, children heavily depend on their
caregivers to meet their emotional and physical
needs. Through the child-caregiver relationship, children learn how to recognize their own
signals and how to meet those needs, and they
may begin to attempt some of these self-help
tasks on their own. Some examples of children’s
self-help skills in the first three years include:
•Hold bottle or cup when drinking
•Hold a spoon and try to feed themselves
While they are growing and developing new
skills, children demand more independence
than they may actually be capable of. Therefore,
caregivers play an important role in balancing
this desire for independence and actual ability.
The development of self-care also depends heavily on cultural expectations and experiences.
Some cultures value independence, while others value interdependence.61 One is not better
than the other and children’s development of
self-care abilities will reflect these differences
in culture. One example of a self-care task that
is heavily culturally influenced is toilet training. Not all children reach this milestone by the
same age or in the same way because cultures
and families have differing views and values
related to toilet training.
Standard: Children
demonstrate the desire and
ability to participate in and
practice self-care routines.
Discover how Self-Care is related to:
self-regulation
Physiological Regulation, p. 13
Behavior Regulation, p. 25
•Hold toothbrush and attempt to brush teeth
domain 1: Social & Emotional
•Snap buttons or try to pull zippers found on
Attachment Relationships, p. 31
Relationship with Adults, p. 39
clothing
domain 4: Cognitive
Logic & Reasoning, p. 113
Safety & Well-Being, p. 125
69
developmental domain 2: PHYSICAL DEVELOPMENT & HEALTH Self-Care
Standard: Children demonstrate the desire and ability to participate in and practice self-care routines.
During this
age period:
Birth to 9 months: Children have a growing awareness
7 months to 18 months: Children signal caregivers
and interest in their own needs.
about their needs through nonverbal and verbal communication
and increase their ability to complete some self-care tasks on
their own.
Indicators for children include:
Indicators for children include:
•Signals to indicate needs, e.g., cries when hungry, arches back
when in pain or uncomfortable, turns head to disengage from
object or person
•Grasps and drinks from a cup
•Starts to develop self-soothing skills, e.g., sucks fingers for comfort and regulation
•Shakes head to demonstrate no; pushes objects away
•Feeds self with foods that he or she can pick up
•Improves ability to calm self, may fall asleep on own
•Attempts to feed self with a bottle
Strategies for interaction:
Strategies for interaction:
•Provide sensitive and responsive care giving
•Establish routines throughout the day and create a nighttime
routine
•Watch for the child’s cues and respond accordingly
•Nurture and cuddle the child
70
•Provide consistent and predicable care for the child
•Provide opportunities for the child to feed self, e.g., use finger
foods, allow the child to hold a spoon
developmental domain 2: PHYSICAL DEVELOPMENT & HEALTH Self-Care
Standard: Children demonstrate the desire and ability to participate in and practice self-care routines.
16 months to 24 months: Children become active
participants in addressing their own self-care needs with the
support of the caregiver.
21 months to 36 months: Children attempt to attend
Indicators for children include:
Indicators for children include:
•Feeds self with assistance
•Undresses independently but still needs assistance with dressing
•Starts to indicate needs with gestures or a word, e.g., tugs diaper when wet, says “milk” when thirsty
•Performs some self-care tasks regularly and mostly independently, e.g., brushes teeth, washes hands, places cup in sink
•Assists in undressing and dressing
•Makes choices pertaining to dressing and eating
•Attempts to brush teeth with support
•Uses nonverbal and/or verbal communication to specify needs
to their self-care needs independently with less support from
their caregivers.
During this
age period:
•Begins to demonstrate an interest in using the bathroom, e.g.,
wants to sit on “potty”
•Attempts to put on shoes and socks without help
Strategies for interaction:
Strategies for interaction:
•Provide support and independence as the child learns new skills
•Provide the child with choices, e.g., “Would you like to wear the
blue shirt or red shirt?”
•Provide the child with opportunities to work through mastering
self-help skills
•Allow the child time to begin to master some self-help skills,
e.g., do not rush the child who is trying to put on a t-shirt
•Remain patient and supportive as the child attempts to master
self-help skills; provide the child with encouragement and support as needed
•Respond promptly to the child’s signals when he/she needs
assistance
•Recognize that cultural expectations and practices impact the
child’s understanding and self-initiation of self-care routines
71
developmental domain 2: PHYSICAL DEVELOPMENT & HEALTH Self-Care
Real World Story
Michelle is a home visitor who sees Eric, a
26-month-old, and his family on a weekly basis.
Michelle has been visiting the family for over a
month and is still building a relationship with
Eric’s mother, Diana. During her home visits,
Michelle provides parent education along with
developmentally appropriate activities for Eric.
For this particular visit, Michelle has brought
pretend play objects for Eric and Diana to
engage with. There are play silverware, plates,
vegetables, and cups. Michelle sits on the floor,
and Diana does the same. Eric begins to rummage around in Michelle’s bag, and begins to
take out all of the kitchen toys. Michelle picks
up a play plate and spoon and pretends to eat.
She says, “This is so yummy!” She then attempts to hand Eric the plate and spoon. Eric
grabs them and then hands them over to Diana.
He gestures to his mouth and then sits in front
of her. Diana then begins to pretend feed him.
Eric opens his mouth and says, “Mmmm.”
Michelle observes, and then says, “Eric, can
you try by yourself?” Eric shakes his head and
gestures toward his mother to feed him again.
Diana follows his lead and again pretends to
72
feed him food off the play plate. Diana looks at
Michelle and says, “I like to feed him his food,
and he prefers it that way. He does not know
how to really use a spoon.” Michelle nods and
says, “I understand.” Eric takes this opportunity to disengage with his mother and begins to
rummage in Michelle’s bag once again.
This story also relates to:
self-regulation
Physiological Regulation, p. 13
Attention Regulation, p. 21
domain 1: Social & Emotional
Relationship with Adults, p. 39
domain 4: Cognitive
THIS EXAMPLE HIGHLIGHTS how culture and
experiences play important roles in develop-
Memory, p. 97
Symbolic Thought, p. 105
ment. Eric has his own expectations for how
he eats based on the routine he has established with his mother. Eric is still fed by his
mother, and he makes that obvious during
his interaction with the play meal. Even after
Michelle encourages him to try on his own,
Eric still gestures toward his mother to continue the interaction. Michelle is sensitive to
what she is observing and simply nods to
Diana’s explanation. Michelle demonstrates
respect toward Diana and Eric’s routine as she
does not ask why, nor does she push Eric to
try on his own. While some children at this age
may attempt to use a spoon to feed themselves, Michelle is aware that this self-help skill
is not a particular goal for this family at the
moment.
Keep In Mind
Child development does not occur in isolation;
children reach their developmental milestones
within their social and cultural contexts. However, while “how the child develops” may look
different, “what the child develops” can
be observed in a more universal fashion.
Below are some indicators that may warrant a
discussion with the child’s healthcare provider
for closer examination.
Does not roll over by six months
Does not walk by 18 months
Appears to have low muscle tone (loose,
floppy muscles)
Does not pick up small objects using thumb
and finger/fingers by 12 months
developmental domain 3:
Language
Development,
Communication,
& Literacy
Learning language and communication is a universal
experience for children across
cultures. Children develop
communication and language
skills in the context of their
own culture and through
meaningful relationships.
Children spend the first year
of life building the foundation for language, as they
absorb what they see and hear
through interactions with their caregivers
and their environment. During this time the
brain is preprogrammed to learn language. The
process of learning language involves nonverbal
communication, processing and understanding
sounds, and producing sounds.62 Even with the
complexities of language, children’s abilities to
communicate and acquire language are remarkable. Children learn language through their
interpersonal, social interactions with their caregivers. Throughout the Guidelines, language
development, communication, and literacy
are referencing children’s development in
their home, or primary, language, regardless
of whether or not this language is that of the
majority.
Language is part of communication. At first,
children do not have language but they have the
ability to communicate. Children use nonverbal and verbal communication to express their
needs. They cry, grunt, and use body language.
As they get a bit older, children use strategies
such as sign language and gestures to communicate their needs before they are able to
verbally express them. These communication
strategies also support children who have language delays or hearing impairments. Children
depend on attentive caregivers to understand
and respond to these communication attempts
in order to have their needs met.
Caregivers who respond thoughtfully and
promptly provide a positive model for shared
73
Children’s capacity
In this section:
to learn language
•Social Communication, p. 75
in the first three
years is remarkable.
•Reception Communication, p. 79
They have the ability
to learn more than one
communication that
language at a time, and
all children can build
it is easier for children
upon. These early
to learn an additional
reciprocal interactions
language than it is
for adults. Research
provide the model for
highlights that there
back-and-forth patis a critical period for
terns that are imporacquiring more than
tant for social comone language; that
munication. In infancy,
critical period is the
children may respond
first five years of life.63
to a caregiver’s voice
Children who learn
by making eye contact,
different languages in
smiling, or cooing.
the first five years are
Verbal children will
often viewed as native
engage in this same
speakers because they
pattern, except they
acquire the languages
now use some words to
by the same process as
communicate. These
their first language, and
experiences provide the
are more likely to be fluent and accent-free.64
foundation for understanding the rules of
turn-taking in conversations that children will
use when communicating with others.
Children build their vocabulary and understanding through interactive experiences. They
are not able to verbally express everything they
are thinking, but they can understand more
than they can say. They demonstrate their
understanding by pointing, gesturing, or following simple directions. Older children under74
stand more complex requests, such as two-step
directions, with less prompting. Their ability
to verbally communicate also improves. In the
first year, children are practicing their expressive language through babbling, which takes on
the sound of their home language. Around 12
months of age, first words emerge. Children’s
first words are embedded in their cultural
context and are usually names of meaningful
objects and people. Eventually these singleword utterances transition to two-word combinations, and at 36 months, children are able to
form short, simple sentences.
An important part of language and communication development is early literacy. Early
•Expressive Communication, p. 83
•Early Literacy, p. 87
literacy is the foundation for reading and writing. Children learn about early literacy through
everyday experiences with literacy tools such
as books, paper, and crayons. Reading, singing,
and drawing are all meaningful activities that
caregivers can engage in with young children to
help support early literacy development. While
children are not expected to read or write by 36
months, these positive, interactive experiences
will serve as building blocks to develop literacy
skills in the future.
developmental domain 3: LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT, COMMUNICATION, & LITERACY
Social Communication
Children are born with the ability and need to be social. Social communication begins at birth through interactions between caregivers
and children. Social interaction occurs with children expressing their
needs through sounds, cries, and body language. Caregivers, in turn, respond to these
signals. These simple interactions provide the
first model for back-and-forth communication
used in conversations. At two months of age,
there is an important shift with the emergence
of the social smile. The social smile marks the
beginning of a very intense social period for
children. This period is often referred as the
“social baby.” 65 While children are communicating their needs prior to the social smile, it is the
first behavior up to this point that is socially
intentional.
In infancy, children use their social smile,
eye contact, sounds, and facial expressions to
initiate communication with caregivers. They
participate in back-and-forth communication
by babbling in response to something a caregiver has said, or engage in interactions that
follow-turn taking, such as “peek-a-boo.” These
interactions become more complex as children
acquire language and an increased understanding of words. Children use words or signs
to express ideas in order to engage in short
back-and-forth communication with caregivers. Eventually, children will be able to answer
adult-directed questions. By 36 months of age,
children ask their own questions, use repetition to maintain and extend conversations, and
initiate their own conversations.
Standard: Children
demonstrate the ability to
engage with and maintain
communication with others.
Discover how Social Communication
is related to:
self-regulation
Attention Regulation, p. 21
domain 1: Social & Emotional
Relationship with Adults, p. 39
Relationship with Peers, p. 47
domain 4: Cognitive
Concept Development, p. 93
Symbolic Thought, p. 105
75
developmental domain 3: LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT, COMMUNICATION, & LITERACY Social Communication
Standard: Children demonstrate the ability to engage with and maintain communication with others.
During this
age period:
Birth to 9 months: Children demonstrate effort in
7 months to 18 months: Children are participating
engaging others in both verbal and nonverbal communication
and interactions.
in interactions with familiar others. Children also begin to
demonstrate simple turn-taking skills while interacting.
Indicators for children include:
Indicators for children include:
•Uses sounds, cries, facial expressions, and body language to
convey needs
•Communicates and responds by grunting, nodding, and pointing
•Attempts to engage in early forms of turn-taking with caregiver,
e.g., coos and stares at caregiver
•Smiles and uses other facial expressions to initiate interactions
with caregiver
•Participates in back-and-forth communication, e.g., babbles back
and forth and/or plays peek-a-boo with caregiver
•Responds with “yes” or “no,” using sounds, words, and/or
gestures to answer simple questions
•Uses facial expressions, vocalizations, and gestures to initiate
interactions with others
•Participates in simple back-and-forth communication, using
words and/or gestures
Strategies for interaction:
Strategies for interaction:
•Communicate with the child from the very beginning, e.g.,
narrate what is happening throughout the day
•Name objects in the child’s environment
•Pay close attention to the child’s nonverbal cues and respond
thoughtfully
76
•Demonstrates understanding of a familiar sound or word, e.g.,
looks toward a caregiver after hearing name
•Use words that are found in the child’s context and culture
•Provide opportunities for uninterrupted play with the child
•Respond thoughtfully to the child’s attempts to interact, e.g.,
physically move closer to a child who is holding out his arms,
smile and nod to the child who is smiling and clapping
•Acknowledge and respond to the child’s communication
attempts
•Provide opportunities for the child to communicate with other
children and adults
developmental domain 3: LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT, COMMUNICATION, & LITERACY Social Communication
Standard: Children demonstrate the ability to engage with and maintain communication with others.
16 months to 24 months: Children increase their
capacity for complex interactions as they use a greater number of
words and actions, in addition to better understanding the rules
of conversational turn-taking.
21 months to 36 months: Children maintain social
Indicators for children include:
Indicators for children include:
•Engages in short back-and-forth interactions with familiar
others using verbal and nonverbal communication, e.g., says or
signs “more” after each time a caregiver completes an action the
child is enjoying
•Responds verbally to an adult’s questions or comments
•Initiates and engages in social interaction with simple words and
actions
•Connects gestures and/or sounds to comment about a familiar
object, e.g., makes a crying sound after the caregiver hugs a
baby doll and says, “Hush, baby”
•Pays attention to the person communicating for a brief period of
time
•Demonstrates an understanding of turn-taking in conversations,
e.g., asks and answers simple questions
interactions through the pattern of turn-taking, and are able to
build upon ideas and thoughts conveyed.
•Begins to make formal requests or responses based on his or her
context and culture
•Uses repetition to maintain the conversation and obtain
responses from familiar others
•Communicates related ideas when in interactions with others
•Uses “w” questions to initiate and expand conversations, e.g.,
“who,” “what,” “why”
•Initiates and engages others using meaningful objects or ideas,
e.g., points out his/her artwork or favorite toy to a caregiver to
begin conversing
Strategies for interaction:
Strategies for interaction:
•Engage in conversations with the child during the day; follow the
child’s lead in order to inform the conversations
•Engage in conversations with the child every day; model appropriate turn-taking
•Describe the child’s play, e.g., “You are pushing that car so fast!”
•Listen carefully to the child and follow his/her lead when communicating
•Respond thoughtfully while interacting and communicating with
child, e.g., say “You did it” and clap after the child shares an
accomplishment
•Listen and respond to what the child is communicating
During this
age period:
•Pick conversation topics that are meaningful to the child
•Use open-ended questions to build upon what the child is saying
•Model turn-taking through everyday interactions
77
developmental domain 3: LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT, COMMUNICATION, & LITERACY Social Communication
The Two-Month Shift
Smiles that children express in the first
few weeks of life are often spontaneous
and reflexive.66 At approximately two
months of age, children begin to intentionally smile. For caregivers who have
been spending all their time feeding,
changing, and rocking their new bundle
of joy, this is a momentous occasion!
The emergence of the social smile marks
the start of an intense, social period.67
Children are now interactively communicating and become more responsive
and purposeful in their interactions
with their caregivers. Eventually, coos,
smiles, and giggles are common in their
everyday interactions. These pleasant
and loving interactions positively influence children’s attachment relationships
and further build children’s language
and communication skills.
78
Real World Story
Connor is 28 months old and attends full-time
childcare while his mom and dad are at work.
He is a bright, energetic little boy who loves to
play wrestle with his dad. At school, Connor approaches a young peer and begins to tickle him.
The other child, Kyle, stands up quickly and
moves away from Connor. Connor looks up, disappointed, and attempts to hug and tackle Kyle
once again. Kyle calls for their caregiver, Allie.
Allie separates the boys and kneels in front of
Connor. “Connor, you must respect Kyle’s space.
He does not want to be tickled. You must keep
your hands to yourself.” Connor walks away,
upset, and sits down in the reading corner.
At the end of the day, Connor’s father arrives
to pick him up. Allie pulls Connor’s father aside
and tells him what occurred with Kyle earlier in
the day. Connor’s father listens and says, “I
believe he was doing what we do at home.
Tickling and playfully wrestling are some of the
things he loves to do when I am home.” Allie
smiles and nods. They continue to discuss;
once they are finished, Connor’s father kneels
in front of Connor and says, “Connor, I am sad
to hear you had a hard day. I know you love to
tickle Daddy and play. That is something that
we can do at home when Daddy and Mommy
are home, but not when we are with Ms. Allie.”
Connor frowns, but nods his head and takes his
father’s hand to leave.
THIS EXAMPLE HIGHLIGHTS how children
begin to learn what behaviors are socially
acceptable in different settings. In Connor’s
home, he is encouraged to engage in physical play with his father. It is a special time for
them, when they can express joy. However, at
school, it is not allowed. Connor is not intentionally misbehaving; instead he is trying to
engage with his peer in what he perceives as a
fun manner, as it is for him when he is home.
Connor is learning how to interact within two
different cultural contexts: home and school. At
age two it may be difficult for Connor to control the impulse to engage in this kind of play.
With the support of his parents and caregivers,
Connor will learn to modify his behavior based
on which social and cultural setting he is in.
This story also relates to:
self-regulation
Behavior Regulation, p. 25
domain 1: Social & Emotional
Emotional Expression, p. 35
Relationship with Peers, p. 47
domain 4: Cognitive
Memory, p. 97
Logic & Reasoning, p. 113
developmental domain 3: LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT, COMMUNICATION, & LITERACY
Receptive Communication
Receptive language refers to how well children understand language.
Children spend their first year listening to the sounds around them.
Newborns can make out all the distinctive sounds used in all languages and can hear differences that adults cannot.68 However, after
six months of age, children concentrate on
discriminating sounds and patterns in their
primary language. Therefore, their ear becomes
more finely tuned to their primary language,
and they lose the ability to discriminate speech
sounds in other languages.69 These speech
sounds and patterns are the first tools for building vocabulary and an understanding of what is
being communicated.
Children understand a lot more than they
can express. Children demonstrate understanding through both nonverbal and verbal communication. At one year of age, children understand familiar requests in known situations. For
example, a 10-month-old waves his hand after
his caregiver says, “Wave bye-bye.” As they get
older, children can understand more complex
commands, including multi-step directions.
For example, a 30-month-old follows directions
when his caregiver says, “Pick up the ball and
bring it to me.” The number of words children
understand also grows on a daily basis. At the
end of 12 months, children can understand
approximately 50 words. By 36 months, children have the capacity to understand about
1000 words.70 Receptive language development
is important because the ability to understand
and interpret language influences how successful children are in socially interacting with
others.
Standard: Children
demonstrate the ability to
comprehend both verbal and
nonverbal communication.
Discover how Receptive Communication
is related to:
self-regulation
Attention Regulation, p. 21
Behavior Regulation, p. 25
domain 1: Social & Emotional
Empathy, p. 51
domain 4: Cognitive
Memory, p. 97
Logic & Reasoning, p. 113
approaches to learning
Problem Solving, p. 135
79
developmental domain 3: LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT, COMMUNICATION, & LITERACY Receptive Communication
Standard: Children demonstrate the ability to comprehend both verbal and nonverbal communication.
During this
age period:
Joint attention is
the shared experience of looking at
an object, person,
or event together,
established by
pointing, gesturing, or the use of
language and/or
vocalizations.
Birth to 9 months: Children begin to respond to verbal
7 months to 18 months: Children begin to understand
and nonverbal communication through the use of sounds and
physical movements.
and respond to the meaning of actions and sounds.
Indicators for children include:
Indicators for children include:
•Responds to sounds found in the environment, e.g., cries if
hears a loud bang, will turn toward a familiar voice
•Engages in joint attention with a caregiver, e.g., joins in looking
at the same object or shifts gaze to where someone is pointing
•Calms down when crying after hearing a soothing and familiar
voice or receiving physical reassurance, e.g., a hug or gentle
pats on back
•Follows a one-step, simple request when a gesture is used
•Looks or turns toward the familiar person who says his or her
name
•Understands approximately 100 words relevant to their experiences and cultural context
•Responds appropriately to familiar words, e.g., hears the words
“so big,” and puts arms in air
•Responds to gestures, e.g., waves hello after a familiar person
waves to him or her
Strategies for interaction:
Strategies for interaction:
•Narrate what is happening in the child’s environment, e.g., “I am
going to pick you up and then we will go change your diaper”
•Spend quality time with the child sharing in activities such as
reading and playing with toys
•Consistently respond to the child’s verbal and nonverbal cues in
a thoughtful manner
•Play games where the child can point to objects, e.g., “Where is
the cup?”
•Name familiar people and everyday objects found in the child’s
environment through verbal and nonverbal communication, e.g.,
verbally label, point to, touch, and gesture
•Sing songs that are culturally meaningful to the child and
encourage him or her to follow along, e.g., “Twinkle, Twinkle,
Little Star”
•Continue to name objects that the child is familiar with, e.g.,
family members, favorite toys and books
80
developmental domain 3: LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT, COMMUNICATION, & LITERACY Receptive Communication
Standard: Children demonstrate the ability to comprehend both verbal and nonverbal communication.
16 months to 24 months: Children begin to
demonstrate a complex understanding of meaning in words,
facial expressions, gestures, and pictures.
21 months to 36 months: Children continue to expand
Indicators for children include:
Indicators for children include:
•Recognizes and demonstrates understanding of familiar pictures,
people, and objects, e.g., says “mama” while pointing to mother
•Names most objects and people in a familiar environment
•Understands simple commands and questions and can follow
two-step requests with the support of gestures and prompting
•Demonstrates understanding of familiar words or phrases by
responding appropriately, e.g., sits in chair after hearing it is
snack time
•Points to body parts when prompted
their comprehension across a variety of contexts through the use
of words, actions, and symbols.
•Comprehends compound statements and can follow multi-step
directions
•Demonstrates understanding of a story by reacting with sounds,
facial expressions, and physical movement, e.g., laughing, widening eyes, or clapping
•Understands simple sentences or directions with prepositions,
e.g., “Put cup in sink”
•Responds to personal pronouns, e.g., me, her, him
•Responds verbally and/or nonverbally to comments or questions
while engaged in conversations with both peers and adults
Strategies for interaction:
Strategies for interaction:
•Continue labeling the child’s environment for him or her; name
or use sign language when introducing new objects or people
•Continue to label the child’s environment for him or her; name
or use sign language when introducing new objects or people
•Use gestures while asking the child to complete actions, e.g.,
point to the car and point to the toy basket while saying, “Put
the car in the basket.”
•Ask the child to complete two-step actions, e.g., “Please put the
cup in the sink and then wash your hands.”
•Ask the child questions while engaged in interactions and activities, e.g., “Can you point to the picture of the kitty?”
•Engage in movement activities that have the child follow directions
During this
age period:
•Read with the child often; ask them questions about what just
happened in the story or what will happen next
•Ask the child about their favorite toy or friend; gently prompt
them to expand their answer
•Use books and pictures to engage the child in conversations
81
developmental domain 3: LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT, COMMUNICATION, & LITERACY Receptive Communication
Nonverbal Communication
vs. Verbal Communication
Language includes nonverbal and verbal
forms of communication. Early forms
of nonverbal communication consist
of reflexes, eye contact, gaze aversion,
and body language. Children later use
gestures, such as pointing and shaking their heads to convey feelings and
wants. Verbal communication begins
with cries, sounds, and coos. Eventually, children use single words to name
objects and people. Between 24 months
and 36 months of age, children combine
words and begin to form short, clear
sentences. Children who have a speech
or hearing impairment, or are developmentally delayed, can also use nonverbal
strategies to understand language and
express themselves. Sign language can
be used to communicate, and helps ease
frustrations in young children when
they lack the ability to use words. Pictures and drawings are also good tools
for both caregivers and children to use
when communicating and expressing
themselves.
82
developmental domain 3: LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT, COMMUNICATION, & LITERACY
Expressive Communication
Expressive language refers to how children express their needs, wants,
and feelings to others through nonverbal and verbal communication.
Communication begins at birth and includes
reflexive cries, gaze aversion, and body language.71 After four months of age, children
transition to using additional sounds as they
build the capacity for verbal language. They
produce different types of cries and experiment
with sounds such as cooing, laughing, babbling,
and even yelling. Around nine to 12 months,
children begin to point in order to communicate purposefully. They use combinations of
gestures and vocalizations to indicate interest
in objects and people.72 These are all precursors
to the words that will emerge between 12 and
15 months.
In the second year of life, children go from
using first words to combining words. First
words are usually two-syllable utterances
such as “baba” for bottle. These are words
for people and objects that are meaningful in
children’s lives. Often, caregivers are the only
people who can make out these words as they
emerge within children’s context. Children also
utter two-word sentences to convey meanings
such as, “Daddy gone,” or “Me cookie.” By 36
months, children produce short, clear sentences
to make statements, ask questions, and engage
in back-and-forth exchanges.73
Standard: Children
demonstrate the ability to
understand and convey thoughts
through both nonverbal and
verbal expression.
Discover how Expressive Communication
is related to:
self-regulation
Emotional Regulation, p. 17
Attention Regulation, p. 21
domain 1: Social & Emotional
Emotional Expression, p. 35
Relationship with Peers, p. 47
domain 4: Cognitive
Memory, p. 97
Logic & Reasoning, p. 113
83
developmental domain 3: LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT, COMMUNICATION, & LITERACY Expressive Communication
Standard: Children demonstrate the ability to understand and convey thoughts through both nonverbal and verbal expression.
During this
age period:
Telegraphic
speech, or the
“two-word” stage,
refers to the use
of combining two
words to convey
meaning. These
two-word sentences consist of
a noun and verb
and lack transitional phrases,
e.g., “Mommy go.”
Birth to 9 months: Children begin to experiment with
7 months to 18 months: Children’s language
sounds and other various forms of communication to show
interest in and exert influence on their environment.
progresses from babbling to utterances and to first words.
Toward the end of this age period, babbling decreases as children
begin to build their vocabulary.
Indicators for children include:
Indicators for children include:
•Cries to signal hunger, pain, or distress
•Babbles using the sounds of the home language
•Uses smiles and other facial expressions to initiate social contact
•Creates long, babbled sentences
•Coos and uses physical movements to engage familiar others
•Uses nonverbal communication to express ideas, e.g., waves
bye-bye, signs “more” when eating
•Babbles and experiments with all types of sounds (two-lip
sounds: “p,” “b,” “m”)
•Combines different types of babbles
•Begins to point to objects in his/her environment
•Utters first words; these words are for familiar objects and
people, e.g., “mama,” “bottle”
•Names a few familiar objects in his/her environment
•Uses one word to convey a message, e.g., “milk” for “I want milk”
Strategies for interaction:
Strategies for interaction:
•Engage in simple turn-taking, e.g., make a cooing sound after
the child has made a similar noise
•Acknowledge and respond to the child’s communication
attempts
•Repeat the babbling sounds that the child makes; encourage the
child to make more sounds
•Expand on what the child is saying, e.g., “Milk? You want to
drink milk?”
•Create a language-rich environment; communicate with the child
throughout the day about what is happening
•Show appreciation when the child is attempting to use new
words
•Take into account the home language of the child and try to use
familiar words in that particular language
•Talk and read with the child often; use words and books that
reflect the home culture
•Narrate what is occurring throughout the child’s day, e.g., “Let’s
sit down and have lunch”
84
developmental domain 3: LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT, COMMUNICATION, & LITERACY Expressive Communication
Standard: Children demonstrate the ability to understand and convey thoughts through both nonverbal and verbal expression.
16 months to 24 months: Children continue to
experiment with language and expand their vocabulary as they
begin to speak in two-word utterances.
21 months to 36 months: Children communicate about
Indicators for children include:
Indicators for children include:
•Uses more words than gestures when speaking
•Speaks in three-word utterances, e.g., “I want ball”
•Repeats overheard words
•Begins to use pronouns and prepositions, e.g., “He took my toy”
and “on the table”
•Has a vocabulary of approximately 80 words
•Begins to use telegraphic speech , consisting of phrases with
words left out, e.g., “baby sleep” for “The baby is sleeping”
present themes and begin to combine a few words into minisentences to express needs and wants.
During this
age period:
•Makes mistakes, which signal that he or she is working out
complex grammar rules
•Uses adjectives in speech, e.g., “blue car”
•Uses simple sentences, e.g., “I want the yellow cup”
•Has a vocabulary of more than 300 words
Strategies for interaction:
Strategies for interaction:
•Continue to engage in conversations with the child about topics
meaningful to him or her
•Model but do not correct when the child is speaking, e.g., “Oh,
Mommy went to work?” after the child expresses “Mommy goed
work”
•Encourage the child when speaking and elaborate on what the
child is saying
•Acknowledge and extend what the child is expressing, e.g., “Yes,
I see the baby; the baby is sleeping”
•Speak in simple sentences when communicating with the child
•Allow children to play and experiment with language through
songs and word rhymes
•Expand on what the child is saying, e.g., “The baby is crying;
maybe she is hungry?” after the child expresses, “The baby is
crying.”
85
developmental domain 3: LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT, COMMUNICATION, & LITERACY Expressive Communication
Real World Story
Christina is 36 months of age and is learning
both English and Spanish. Currently, she is
playing with a doll in the pretend play area. She
is rocking a doll, whispering, “Shhh, no cry.”
Her caregiver, Jennifer,
is sitting next to her
Private speech is
observing while she
children’s use of selfdirected language to
plays. Jennifer asks,
guide, communicate,
“Why is the baby cryand regulate their
ing?” Christina replies,
behavior and emotions.
“She hungry.” Jennifer
While this self-directed
language can be heard,
then says, “What can
it is not intended for
you give her so she
others.
is not hungry anymore?” Christina walks
Code-switching
over to the pretend
is the practice of
moving back and
kitchen and grabs a
forth between two
toy bottle and holds
languages within the
it up, “Leche. Quiero
same dialogue or
milk.” Christina
conversation.
pretends to give the
baby a bottle and
continues to rock the doll for a short time. She
pretends to burp the doll and then hugs and
kisses it. Christina stands up and removes the
blanket and exclaims, “Baby needs diaper.” She
86
undresses the doll and says, “Shirt off.” She
pretends to change the diaper and puts the play
clothes back on. Jennifer continues to observe
Christina play and a few minutes later says,
“Christina, in five minutes we are going to clean
up and get ready to wash our hands.” Christina
looks up, and then continues to play with the
doll. “Three minutes left and then we will clean
up,” Jennifer says. Christina mutters, “Clean
up.” After time is up and Jennifer lets Christina
know, Christina begins to put toys away and
continues to say, “Clean up.” Once she is done
cleaning up, Christina runs over to the sink,
pushes her sleeves up, and washes her hands.
Jennifer supports Christina’s language
development by asking her open-ended questions in order to extend interactions. Jennifer’s
advance warning before transitions supports
Christina’s emotional regulation because she
now has time to prepare for a change in activity. Christina demonstrates the use of logic
both when she follows the appropriate steps
to change the doll’s diaper and when she
grabs the milk bottle to feed the (hungry) doll.
Finally, Christina demonstrates cultural and
social conventions by kissing and hugging the
doll, in order to communicate feelings.
THIS EXAMPLE ILLUSTRATES different forms
of language use, and caregiver strategies to
further develop skills. Christina uses private
This story also relates to:
speech, or self-directed talk, in two instances,
self-regulation
both when she is undressing the doll and
Emotional Regulation, p. 17
when she is cleaning up. Private speech helps
her walk through the task that she is engaged
in. In addition to private speech, Christina
domain 1: Social & Emotional
Emotional Expression, p. 35
demonstrates an example of code-switching
domain 3: Language
when she says, “Leche. Quiero milk.” (Milk.
Social Communication, p. 75
Receptive Communication, p. 79
Want milk.) She combines English and Spanish
in one sentence, without losing the consist-
domain 4: Cognitive
ency of the grammatical structure.
Logic & Reasoning, p. 113
developmental domain 3: LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT, COMMUNICATION, & LITERACY
Early Literacy
Early Literacy includes both spoken components and written forms of
language.74 Children develop early literacy skills through their everyday interactions with their caregivers. These include singing, rhyming,
and reading books together. Young children
explore books though looking, mouthing, and
touching them. They “read” books by simply
moving books around or turning pages. These
early experiences are the beginning of reading
and writing for young children and influence
the development of their literacy skills.
During the second year of life, children show
an increased interest in books. They point to
certain pictures, and initiate reading together
by gesturing to a particular book. Children
identify pictures of certain objects that they are
familiar with and name them. Children also
become aware of print that is found in their
environment. This includes magazines, newspa-
pers, signs, and symbols. Scribbling and drawing also happen during the end of the second
and throughout the third year. Opportunities
to hold writing utensils, scribble, and draw help
children develop their pre-writing skills.
New technology provides children with
different opportunities to engage with print
and language. For children over the age of two,
limited use of electronic media, such as touch
electronic readers, tablets, or smart phones,
can be enriching, as long as there is interaction
with adults.75 As in every aspect of development,
meaningful interactions between children and
caregivers are most beneficial for healthy development.76
Standard: Children
demonstrate interest in and
comprehension of printed
materials.
Discover how Early Literacy is related to:
self-regulation
Attention Regulation, p. 21
domain 1: Social & Emotional
Relationship with Adults, p. 39
domain 4: Cognitive
Concept Development, p. 93
Creative Expression, p. 109
87
developmental domain 3: LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT, COMMUNICATION, & LITERACY Early Literacy
Standard: Children demonstrate interest in and comprehension of printed materials.
During this
age period:
Birth to 9 months: Children begin to build the foundation
7 months to 18 months: Children become participants
for early literacy by exploring printed materials and building a
capacity for reading printed materials.
as they actively engage in literacy activities with printed
materials.
Indicators for children include:
Indicators for children include:
•Shows awareness of printed materials, e.g., stares at a picture in
a book
•Points to pictures in a book and reacts, e.g., smiles when sees a
picture of a dog
•Reaches out to grasp and mouth books
•Initiates literacy activities, e.g., gestures toward a book or
attempts to turn pages of a paper book or magazine
•Uses multiple senses to explore books, e.g., explores books with
different textures
•Uses hands to manipulate printed materials, e.g., attempts to
turn pages of a board book, grasps objects in hands
•Points or makes sounds while looking at picture books
•Focuses attention while looking at printed materials for brief
periods of time
•Increases ability to focus for longer periods of time on printed
materials
•Grasps objects and attempts to scribble, e.g., makes a slight
mark with a crayon on a piece of paper
Strategies for interaction:
Strategies for interaction:
•Introduce books from diverse cultures and incorporate them into
the child’s daily routine
•Use songs and word rhymes; sing finger-play songs such as “pata-cake”
•Allow the child to explore books by mouthing and turning the
pages
•Point and name pictures in books
•Share different types of printed materials with the child, e.g.,
board books, magazines, cereal boxes
•Name and point to objects in the child’s environment
•Spend time with the child reading and looking at books together
88
•Imitates gestures and sounds during activities, e.g., hand actions
during singing, babbles as caregiver reads book
•Read or sign stories that repeat words or phrases; ensure to say
or sign these words or phrases in the child’s primary language if
possible
•Create designated areas in the classroom or at home where
books are easily accessible to the child
•Provide the child with opportunities to hold different types of
writing utensils in his/her hands, e.g., large crayon or thick paint
brushes
developmental domain 3: LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT, COMMUNICATION, & LITERACY Early Literacy
Standard: Children demonstrate interest in and comprehension of printed materials.
16 months to 24 months: Children begin to
demonstrate an understanding of printed words and materials.
21 months to 36 months: Children engage others
Indicators for children include:
Indicators for children include:
•Turns the pages of a board book, one by one
•Imitates adult role when engages with printed materials, e.g.,
pretends to read a book or newspaper to stuffed animals or dolls
•Points to familiar pictures and actions in books
•Repeats familiar words in a book when being read to
•Begins to anticipate what may happen next in a familiar book,
e.g., generates sounds and movements and/or uses words for
pictures
•Randomly scribbles
•Identifies a favorite book and signals familiar others to read with
him or her, e.g., brings the book over, or points and gestures
in literacy activities, and have an increased awareness and
understanding of the variety of different types of print found in
their environment
During this
age period:
•Participates in early literacy activities independently, e.g., sits in
a reading nook and browses through the pages
•Recites parts of a book from memory
•Scribbles in a more orderly fashion and begins to name what he
or she has drawn
•Expresses what happens next when reading a familiar book with
a caregiver, e.g., uses gestures, words, and/or sounds
Strategies for interaction:
Strategies for interaction:
•Provide access to magazines and books throughout the child’s
day
•Provide the child with books that he or she can connect to, e.g.,
a book about different foods, or about family
•Encourage the child to repeat words and point to objects that
are found in magazines and books
•Encourage the child to guess what is happening in the book or
what will happen next in a story by using pictures as a guide
•Name objects in the child’s environment, e.g., bed, window,
table, bottle
•Provide opportunities for the child to use art materials such as
paper, paint, and crayons
•Spend quality time with the child during which reading is the
focus; follow the child’s lead during this time
•Create a special book with the child’s picture and ensure that
it reflects the child as a unique individual; read this book often
with the child
89
developmental domain 3: LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT, COMMUNICATION, & LITERACY Early Literacy
Real World Story
aside, and begins to crawl on all fours with Sam.
Sam laughs and chases Steve around the room.
Sam is 32 months old. He is sitting in his Uncle
THIS EXAMPLE ILLUSTRATES an interaction
Steve’s lap and together they are looking at an
with technology between a child and a careelectronic reader. Steve is reading an electronic
giver. As previously mentioned, for children over
book to Sam, while Sam follows along, looking
the age of two, limited use of electronic media,
at the images on the screen. Steve says, “Look,
such as touch electronic readers,
Sam, do you see the turtle?” Sam
The American
tablets, or smart phones, can be
nods his head, points to the image,
Academy of
enriching, as long as there is interacand says, “Turtle!” Steve moves
Pediatrics (AAP)
tion with adults.77 As in every aspect
his fingers over the screen to turn
recommends that
of development, meaningful interacchildren under
to the next page. Sam begins to
two years of age
tions between children and caregivattempt the same action over the
not engage in any
ers are most beneficial for healthy
screen. Steve stops reading and
screen time and that
development.78
asks, “Do you want to try to turn
those older than two
Sam and Steve are engaged in
the page?” Sam nods his head and
watch or engage
the same manner as they would
with no more than
attempts again. He is successful and
one to two hours a
be if reading a regular book. Steve
claps his hands when he is finished.
day of quality
makes sure to allow Sam to lead
Steve exclaims, “Yay! You did it!”
programming.
the interaction, and follows his lead
matching Sam’s enthusiasm.
throughout. He supports Sam’s fine
They continue to read the story and Sam turns
motor development and eye-hand coordination
all the pages on the screen for Steve. Sam interby letting him flip the pages, using his finger and
rupts Steve a few times to point to an image and
wrist in a specific way, and genuinely praises
names what he is pointing to. When they reach
Sam when he is successful. Steve is also aware of
the end of the story, Sam says, “More book” to
when to stop the interaction with the electronic
Steve. Steve nods and begins to read another
reader and does, once Sam disengages. They
brief story. Sam sits back in Steve’s lap and listens.
then transition to a different interaction in which
Steve gets to a point in the story where there is a
they are engaged in creative movement and prelion’s roar. Sam leaps up and begins to crawl on
tend play, building upon the story they just read.
the floor, roaring. Steve puts the electronic reader
90
This story also relates to:
domain 1: Social & Emotional
Emotional Expression, p. 35
Relationship with Adults, p. 39
domain 2: Physical
Gross Motor, p. 57
Fine Motor, p. 61
domain 4: Cognitive
Symbolic Thought, p. 105
Creative Expression, p. 109
Keep In Mind
Child development does not occur in isolation; children reach their developmental milestones within their social and cultural contexts.
However, while “how the child develops” may
look different, “what the child develops” can
be observed in a more universal fashion. Below
are some indicators that may warrant a discussion with child’s healthcare provider for closer
examination.
Does not smile by four months of age
Does not babble, point, or make meaningful
gestures by 12 months of age
���������������������������������������������
Does not verbally imitate the names of familiar objects by 18 months of age
Does not use three-word phrases by age three
developmental domain 4:
Cognitive
Development
The rate at which children
learn during the first three
years is remarkable; they will
learn more in these first three
years than at any other point
in their lives.79 Cognitive
development in young children refers to their process
of learning and the development of intelligence and other
mental capabilities, such as
memory, reasoning, problem
solving, and thinking.
As with every aspect of development, cognitive
development occurs within the context of positive and nurturing relationships. Play is also a
vital tool in cognitive development. Play is used
to problem-solve and is the manner in which
children learn about their world and build the
confidence to master new skills.
Cognitive development is observed through
specific behaviors. In early infancy, children
have limited capability to outwardly express
mental understanding. This does not mean
that they are not learning, or that they are not
able to gather and process sensory information
that they are receiving. Children use all of their
senses to take in information and begin to form
simple concepts. During the first six weeks of
life, children use reflexes to learn about and
impact their environment. Eventually, these
involuntary skills start to become voluntary.
For example, by four months, children’s grasping reflex transitions to intentional grasping.
After four months of age, children become more
object-oriented, and use intentional movements
such as reaching, grasping, and mouthing to
explore and learn about objects in their environment.80 After eight months of age, children
explore simple goal-oriented behavior, imitate
simple actions of others, and start to develop
logic in order to plan and meet simple objectives.81 For example, children will repeat certain
actions, such as banging the table, or pushing
objects off a high chair.
91
Executive function in
In this section:
the first three years of
•Concept Development, p. 93
life refers to the emerging ability to organize
•Memory, p. 97
and manage conscious
thoughts, actions, and
emotions.82 Executive
function is a process
that both involves and
impacts regulatory
capacities and cognitive function in young
children. Executive
function helps children
build attention, manage their impulses,
think logically, reason,
and problem-solve.
The development of
executive function in
children is fostered
by nurturing relationships and meaningful interactions with
responsive caregivers. The Strategies for
Interactions throughout
the Guidelines provide
examples of enriching
experiences that promote the development
of executive function.
92
An important cognitive shift that develops
around eight months
is the understanding
that objects and people
exist even when they
are out of sight, or not
heard. This is known
as object permanence
and provides children
with understanding
that objects have a
separate and permanent existence.83
Object permanence is
necessary for children
to develop symbolic
thought, which begins
at approximately 18 to
24 months of age. Children also use mobility
to expand their exploration of their environment. During the second year of life, children
begin to retrieve hidden objects, recognize
patterns, fill and empty containers, and have
a basic understanding of shapes. All of these
achievements are examples of skill development
in the following cognitive areas: logic and reason, memory, spatial relationships, quantity and
numbers, and science concepts and exploration.
Part of cognitive development includes
children’s use of creative expression. They use
art, music, movement, and play to discover
and master new skills. Caregivers can provide
opportunities for creative expression through
•Spatial Relationships, p. 101
•Symbolic Thought, p. 105
•Creative Expression, p. 109
•Logic & Reasoning, p. 113
•Quantity & Numbers, p. 117
•Science Concepts & Exploration, p. 121
•Safety & Well-Being, p. 125
exposure to singing, dancing, drawing, and
pretend play. Children also have increasing
capacity to understand basic concepts regarding
safety and well-being. While children are growing in their mental capacities, they still rely on
their caregivers to structure safe and learningrich environments. Caregivers should provide
consistent and predictable daily routines in
order to best support children in their exploration and play.
developmental domain 4: COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT
Concept Development
Children use their everyday interactions to build understanding and
attribute meaning to people and objects in their environment.
In infancy, children use their senses to receive
information about their physical environment.
They learn about object properties through
physical exploration and through their interactions with their caregivers. Children begin
to build schemas, or organized patterns of
thought, for information they receive; these
schemas soon develop into actual mental representations or concepts of objects and people.84
Once children develop object permanence, they
understand that objects and people are separate and permanent, and they have a mental,
abstract representation of them. Children now
can use familiar objects in the manner they are
intended to be used and can identify and name
familiar people and objects.
Around 18 months of age, there is a shift in
children’s cognitive development that enables
them to think symbolically. This is marked
by children’s ability to use objects to represent
other objects and to engage in simple pretend
play. For example, children will pretend to
drink milk from an empty cup, or use a toy
hammer as a pretend phone. At 24 months of
age, children can identify characteristics of
objects and people, and are able to distinguish
their different properties. Children’s pretend
play becomes more complex as they are able
to incorporate more sophisticated aspects of
symbolic thought. By 36 months, children use
language and actions during play in order to
explore adult roles and relationships and sort
emotions. Children also begin to categorize
familiar objects by their properties, such as
color or type.
Standard: Children
demonstrate the ability to
connect pieces of information in
understanding objects, ideas, and
relationships.
Discover how Concept Development
is related to:
self-regulation
Attention Regulation, p. 21
domain 1: Social & Emotional
Attachment Relationships, p. 31
Self-Concept, p. 43
domain 2: Physical
Perceptual, p. 65
domain 3: Language
Receptive Communication, p. 79
Expressive Communication, p. 83
93
developmental domain 4: COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT Concept Development
Standard: Children demonstrate the ability to connect pieces of information in understanding objects, ideas, and relationships.
During this
age period:
Concept refers to
a general notion
or an abstract
idea formed in
the mind, derived
from specific
occurrences.
Early experiences
form schemes,
which form into
concepts.
Schemes are
early patterns
and processes
that organize
information and
help infants make
sense of their
environment.
Birth to 9 months: Children begin to receive and organize
7 months to 18 months: Children begin to recognize
information through social interactions and sensory exploration.
object characteristics, and build awareness of simple concepts
through interactions and exploration.
Indicators for children include:
Indicators for children include:
•Turns head toward sounds
•Develops object permanence, aware that an object still exists
even when it is not physically visible, e.g., pulls the blanket off
the pacifier, cries when caregiver leaves the room
•Begins to focus on objects, sounds, and people
•Actively explores the environment through the five senses
•Attempts to repeat an action, e.g., pats the table and tries to pat
it again
•Uses physical actions while exploring objects, e.g., rolls a ball
back and forth on the floor, purposefully throws object repeatedly onto floor to be picked up
•Focuses and begins to distinguish between familiar and unfamiliar objects, sounds, and people
•Identifies and indicates objects and people in pictures, e.g.,
points
•Focuses attention on objects, people, and sounds for increasing
amounts of time
Strategies for interaction:
Strategies for interaction:
•Provide responsive and nurturing care; read infant’s cues
•Use play to hide objects from the child, and encourage the child
to find them
•Provide objects that the child can manipulate, mouth, and grasp
•Imitate actions the child attempts to make
•Engage in play with the child; follow the child’s lead
•Demonstrate how to make different objects move, e.g., roll a
ball gently toward the child
•Name objects found in the child’s environment
•Talk to the child about objects and their characteristics, e.g.,
“Both of these are red”
•Name objects and pictures the child points to
94
developmental domain 4: COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT Concept Development
Standard: Children demonstrate the ability to connect pieces of information in understanding objects, ideas, and relationships.
16 months to 24 months: Children begin to
understand object representation and begin to use verbal and
nonverbal communication with object use.
21 months to 36 months: Children begin to
Indicators for children include:
Indicators for children include:
•Pretends to use objects in their intended manner, e.g., holds a
play phone to ear and engages in a conversation by babbling
•Identifies characteristics of objects and people when named,
e.g., colors
•Begins to identify and name objects and people
•Begins to arrange objects in a line, e.g., lines up toy cars, one
after the other
•Uses an object to represent another during play, e.g., uses block
as a phone
•Begins to identify characteristics of the object, e.g., “red ball”
•With assistance, groups a few objects by similar characteristics,
e.g., color, shape, or size
demonstrate the ability to classify objects based on common
characteristics, and begin to apply knowledge of simple concepts
to new situations.
•Uses symbolic representation during play, e.g., grabs a hair
brush and uses it as a telephone
•Purposefully arranges similar objects, e.g., divides plastic blocks
into a red group, a blue group, and a yellow group
•Identifies categories, e.g., able to point out all the animals within
a picture even with different types of objects represented
Strategies for interaction:
Strategies for interaction:
•Continue labeling the child’s environment for him or her; introduce new objects to the child by naming them
•Incorporate learning about colors into songs, reading, and
sensory play
•Engage in play with the child; follow the child’s lead
•Provide different materials and objects of the same shape and
color, e.g., blocks
•Create a simple game where the child can try to sort objects by
one attribute
•Encourage the child to identify objects that are the same, e.g.,
matching activities
During this
age period:
•Play simple matching games with the child; provide guidance
as needed
•Expand on the child’s play by introducing new ways to use
familiar objects
•Create a simple game where the child can try to sort objects by
two or three attributes
95
developmental domain 4: COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT Concept Development
Symbolic Representation
Delayed imitation, language, and
symbolic play indicate the emergence of
symbolic representation in children.85
Symbolic representation occurs when
children use symbols to represent a
concept that is not present or visible.
Symbols include language, images, and
different concrete objects. For example,
children engage in symbolic representation during play. They may pretend to
brush their hair with their hand, or hold
up a block to their ear and pretend it’s
a telephone. Children may see a picture
of a man and say, “daddy.” As children
develop, their use of symbolic representation becomes more complex. They
use symbolic representation in play to
explore relationships and adults’ roles,
in addition to managing emotions. Children may designate a “mommy” and
“baby” while playing, and act out some
of the behaviors attributed to those
particular roles.
96
developmental domain 4: COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT
Memory
Early experiences help children understand basic concepts and categories, thereby helping them make sense of the world around them.86
Children begin to form memories through everyday interactions with
their caregivers and their environment. Prior to
the development of object permanence, children become familiar with people, objects, and
actions. For example, children turn their head
toward a familiar voice and begin to anticipate
certain patterns within their routines, such as
holding a bottle, or opening their mouth when
they see a spoon. Once children acquire object
permanence, they have the capacity to remember that people and objects still exist even when
they are out of sight. Object permanence allows
children to realize that their caregivers have left
the room, and provides them the ability to find
hidden objects.
Children progress from anticipating the
function of objects, for example, shaking a rattle
with the expectation it will produce sound, to
anticipating routines throughout the day. Chil-
dren may demonstrate this by walking over to
their chair after hearing a caregiver say, “Snack
time.” Children also demonstrate awareness
of people or objects that are not present. Children may ask for their parents or their siblings
throughout the day while in the care of others.
Around 24 months of age, children have
the capacity to remember a certain sequence
of events. For example, children who attend a
childcare center may remember that dimming
the lights, lying in their cot, and listening to a
story, in that particular order, are what constitute naptime. Near 36 months of age, children
can demonstrate more complex examples of
sequencing as they communicate with others
or while engaged in pretend play. As children
continue to develop, their ability to retain longterm memories also improves.
Standard: Children
demonstrate the ability to
acquire, store, recall, and apply
past experiences.
Discover how Memory is related to:
self-regulation
Attention Regulation, p. 21
domain 1: Social & Emotional
Attachment Relationships, p. 31
domain 2: Physical
Perceptual, p. 65
domain 3: Language
Receptive Communication, p. 79
Expressive Communication, p. 83
97
developmental domain 4: COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT Memory
Standard: Children demonstrate the ability to acquire, store, recall, and apply past experiences.
During this
age period:
Birth to 9 months: Children begin to form memories from
7 months to 18 months: Children remember familiar
their experiences and will begin to anticipate certain patterns for
occurrences.
people, routines, actions, places, and objects.
Indicators for children include:
Indicators for children include:
•Turns toward familiar voices, sounds, and/or objects
•Finds hidden objects, e.g., lifts a blanket to uncover a toy after
seeing the caregiver hide it
•Anticipates familiar events, e.g., reaches for bottle and brings to
mouth
•Finds an object that it is partially hidden
•Remembers that objects and people still exist even when they
are no longer physically present, e.g., looks around for parent
when parent leaves the room
98
•Shows awareness of non-present, familiar adults, e.g., while in
childcare, asks for mom and dad throughout the day
•Searches for objects in their usual location, e.g., finds their
favorite book on the bookshelf
•Anticipates what event comes next in his or her daily routine,
e.g., sits down for a morning snack after a music activity
Strategies for interaction:
Strategies for interaction:
•Provide interesting and age-appropriate toys and objects for
exploration
•Play with the child using various objects which they can explore
•Engage and interact with the child frequently during the day
•Set routines; create picture cards with the daily routine so the
child can begin to understand what his or her day will consist of
•Hide toys under blankets and wait for the child to respond
•Play simple games that include hiding a toy in a nearby location
•Play games such as peek-a-boo, or play with a jack-in-the-box
•Respond to the child in a sensitive manner when he or she asks
for someone who is not currently there, e.g., “I know you miss
your Mommy; she will be back soon to pick you up.”
developmental domain 4: COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT Memory
Standard: Children demonstrate the ability to acquire, store, recall, and apply past experiences.
16 months to 24 months: Children recognize and
anticipate the series of steps in familiar activities.
21 months to 36 months: Children anticipate the
Indicators for children include:
Indicators for children include:
•Remembers several steps in familiar routines and carries out
these routines with little or no prompting
•Shares with adult what happened in school that day
•Recalls an event in the past, e.g., a special visitor, or a friend’s
birthday party
•Searches for objects in different places
steps in experiences and activities, and understand the sequence
of events. They may also remember and recall past events and
translate knowledge of past experiences to new experiences.
During this
age period:
•Carries out routines independently without being reminded what
comes next in the daily routine.
•Uses play to communicate about previous events or experiences,
including the sequence of events that took place, e.g., a friend’s
birthday party
•Translates past knowledge to new experiences, e.g., recalls a
trip to the dentist, and narrates and acts out each step of the
experience on a peer during play
Strategies for interaction:
Strategies for interaction:
•Engage in conversations with the child pertaining to past experiences; ask questions
•Listen to the child’s stories; ask open-ended questions
•Notify the child when there will be a change in the daily routine
•Ask the child what he or she thinks may happen next when reading a familiar story
•Model sequencing during play, e.g., “First we will put on these
hats, then we will go to the tea party, we will drink tea, and
finally we will go back home”
•Read a story with the child; ask the child if he or she can remember what happened at a certain part
•Encourage the child to create a story around a picture he or she
has drawn
99
developmental domain 4: COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT Memory
Sharing Memories
When children near 36 months of age,
they begin to recall experiences that are
emotionally significant. For example,
children can recall a birthday party
or a special day with their family, or
an experience that was frightening or
traumatic. Children recall the sequence
of these events and can communicate
these experiences to others. Caregivers
can encourage children to share these
memories by asking them open-ended
questions, therefore prompting them
to expand on what they are saying, or
having them draw out their experiences.
Not only does this support children’s
memory development and language
development, it also supports their
emotional regulation and expression. In
cases where children are sharing fears
and negative experiences, the same sensitive approach is encouraged. Caregivers demonstrate empathy and understanding by validating the emotions
that children express when recalling a
fearful or traumatic event and should
always follow the child’s lead during
these conversations.
100
developmental domain 4: COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT
Spatial Relationships
Spatial relationships refer to children’s understanding of how objects
and people move in relation to each other. In infancy, children use
their senses to observe and receive information about objects and
people in their environment. They can see and
follow people and objects with their eyes. They
focus on mouthing and grasping objects to learn
about their physical properties. As they grow,
children use trial and error to experiment with
movement. They attempt to fit objects in space,
such as dropping objects into containers. With
newfound mobility, children learn about their
own body and its relationship to the physical
environment around them. They may crawl
around obstacles and over people, or move objects
out of their way, to reach their intended goal.
With growing language and cognitive abilities, children understand words that characterize and describe objects in their environment.
They know what a large object is versus a small
one, and can understand simple prepositions.
Their improving hand-eye coordination and
fine motor skills allow them to use trial and
error in solving more complex challenges, such
as fitting puzzle pieces in their corresponding slot, or successfully dropping shapes into
a shape sorter. Children are able to move their
bodies in different ways to accomplish goals,
such as squeezing their bodies into a small
space, or bending down to retrieve an object
that has rolled under the table. By 36 months,
children use words to describe both people and
object properties and can recognize where their
bodies are in relation to others without physical
trial and error.
Standard: Children
demonstrate an awareness of
how objects and people move
and fit in space.
Discover how Spatial Relationships
is related to:
self-regulation
Attention Regulation, p. 21
domain 2: Physical
Gross Motor, p. 57
Fine Motor, p. 61
Perceptual, p. 65
domain 3: Language
Receptive Communication, p. 79
Expressive Communication, p. 83
approaches to learning
Problem Solving, p. 135
Persistence, Effort, & Attentiveness, p. 143
101
developmental domain 4: COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT Spatial Relationships
Standard: Children demonstrate an awareness of how objects and people move and fit in space.
During this
age period:
Spatial
relationships
refer to how
objects and people are located in
space in relation
to other objects
and people.
Birth to 9 months: Children use observation and sensory
7 months to 18 months: Children begin to use trial
exploration to begin building an understanding of how objects
and people move in relationship to each other.
and error in discovering how objects and people move and fit in
relationship to each other.
Indicators for children include:
Indicators for children include:
•Observes objects and people in the immediate environment,
e.g., looks at own hands and feet, tracks caregiver with eyes,
turns head toward sounds
•Puts objects in a bucket and then dumps them out; repeats this
action
•Reaches and grasps for objects
•Explores through the use of different senses, e.g., begins to
mouth and/or pat objects
•Begins to identify physical obstacles and possible solutions
when moving around, e.g., crawls around a chair instead of
under it
•Drops objects such as toys and watches them move
•Focuses attention on an object in motion and follows it, e.g.,
watches a toy roll away after it falls
•Discriminates between small and large objects, e.g., uses one
hand or two hands in a variety of ways
Strategies for interaction:
Strategies for interaction:
•Provide interesting and age-appropriate toys and objects for
exploration
•Provide different types of objects that the child can move
around, e.g., toy cars, balls, nesting cups
•Engage and interact with the child frequently during the day;
follow the child’s lead during play
•Create safe play spaces in which the child can crawl, climb, and
move around
•Provide time outside for the child to explore and interact
102
developmental domain 4: COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT Spatial Relationships
Standard: Children demonstrate an awareness of how objects and people move and fit in space.
16 months to 24 months: Children have a clearer
sense of size and direction and use this knowledge to expand
their understanding of how objects move and fit in relationship to
each other.
21 months to 36 months: Children can better predict
Indicators for children include:
Indicators for children include:
•Understands words that characterize size, e.g., big, small
•Uses words and gestures to describe size of objects
•Uses simple trial and error to complete simple puzzles, e.g.,
matches piece, orients and attempts to turn to make a puzzle
piece fit
•Recognizes where his or her body is in relation to objects, e.g.,
squeezing in behind a chair
•Recognizes the proper direction of objects, e.g., will turn over an
upside-down cup
how objects and people will fit and move in relationship to each
other. Children have knowledge of object properties and apply
this knowledge without having to rely on physical trial and error.
•Completes simple puzzles with less trial and error, e.g., can
match a puzzle piece to its correct slot by identifying the size
and shape by simply looking at it.
•Begins to understand simple prepositions, e.g., under, in, behind
•Actively uses body to change where he or she is in relation to
objects, e.g., climbs to sit on the couch
Strategies for interaction:
Strategies for interaction:
•Narrate while assisting the child in figuring out a solution, e.g.,
“Let’s try to turn the puzzle piece this way”
•Provide puzzles and other fine-motor activities for the child to
engage in
•Provide the child with opportunities to problem-solve with
and without your help; minimize the possibility for the child to
become frustrated
•Engage in movement activities that promote balance skills
•Start to ask the child to do complete simple actions that include
a preposition, e.g., “Can you put the book on the table?”
During this
age period:
Object
properties are
observable
characteristics of objects.
Examples of
object properties include: size,
weight, shape,
color, and
temperature.
•Describe everyday objects by size, shape, and other characteristics.
•Create a safe obstacle course where the child can run, climb,
crawl, scoot, and maneuver his or her body
103
developmental domain 4: COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT Spatial Relationships
Everyday Explorations
Children experiment with object properties from very early on. At first, they
use observation to take in information
from their environment. They notice
contrasts in colors and patterns. They
are able to make out human faces and
begin to distinguish among them. As
children grow, they use physical exploration to learn about object properties.
Children go from simply mouthing or
patting an object to turning, twisting, or
shaking it in order to learn and explore.
They learn to identify which objects
produce specific results. For example,
they can flip on and off a light switch,
or press buttons on different objects to
produce music or different color lights.
Children continue to become more and
more aware of object properties as their
cognition develops. They will soon be
able to name and distinguish between
colors and shapes. Children will also
be able to identify differences in weight
and quantity. Sensory experiences, such
as water and sand play, also support
children in distinguishing between different textures.
104
developmental domain 4: COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT
Symbolic Thought
Children learn about objects, actions, and people through observations,
interaction, and exploration. They take information in through all of
their senses to build a basic understanding of the world around them.
By eight months of age, children develop object
permanence – they know that objects and people continue to exist even though the objects
and people can no longer be seen or heard.
This realization is why children cry when their
caregiver leaves the room, or why they look
under a blanket to uncover a toy. Children need
object permanence in order to develop symbolic
thought.
As they grow, children continue to explore
their environment and play with objects the
way they are intended to be used. Children will
push a toy car around the room, or hold a toy
phone up to their ear. Language development is
closely related to this cognitive skill, as children
use words to represent meaningful people and
objects in their lives, for example, “baba” for
bottle, or “dahee” for the family dog.
True symbolic thought emerges around 18
months of age with children’s ability to think
in images and symbols.87 Children represent
concrete objects by using images, words, gestures, or play. For example, children may use a
wooden block as a phone during play. Or, they
may pretend to cook food in the toy kitchen.
Play becomes increasingly symbolic, as children
use pretend play to make sense of the world. By
36 months, children can use symbolic play to
problem-solve, sort out feelings, and explore
roles and relationships.
Standard: Children
demonstrate the understanding
of concepts, experiences,
and ideas through symbolic
representation.
Discover how Symbolic Thought
is related to:
self-regulation
Attention Regulation, p. 21
domain 1: Social & Emotional
Emotional Expression, p. 35
Relationship with Adults, p. 39
domain 3: Language
Social Communication, p. 75
Expressive Communication, p. 83
105
developmental domain 4: COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT Symbolic Thought
Standard: Children demonstrate the understanding of concepts, experiences, and ideas through symbolic representation .
During this
age period:
Symbolic
representation
refers to children’s
understanding of
how an image or
different objects
can represent
familiar objects.
Object
permanence
refers to children’s
understanding
that objects continue to exist even
though they can
no longer be seen
or heard.
Birth to 9 months: Children use observation, exploration,
7 months to 18 months: Children use social interaction
and social interaction to learn about objects, actions, and people.
to continue to gather meaning from objects, actions, and people.
Children move from exploring objects to learning how to play
with objects in ways they are intended to be used. Toward
the end of this age period, children begin to use one object to
represent another object.
Indicators for children include:
Indicators for children include:
•Uses senses to explore objects, e.g., observes, mouths, touches
•Demonstrates object permanence , e.g., realizes objects and
people still exist, even when they are not physically visible
•Interacts with caregiver(s) and the environment
•Physically manipulates objects, e.g., twists and turns toys, drops
items
•Combines objects in play
•Locates an object that has been partially hidden
•Engages in simple pretend play, e.g., pretends to drink tea from
a pretend tea cup, pretends to feed baby doll with toy bottle,
uses a toy block as a phone, pretends to talk to mama
•Recognizes familiar people and/or objects in photographs
Strategies for interaction:
Strategies for interaction:
•Create an inviting environment for the child to explore; change
materials and toys in the child’s environment on a regular basis
•Respond enthusiastically when the child demonstrates new uses
for objects he or she has discovered
•Interact and socially engage the child often throughout the day,
e.g., use diapering and feeding times to playfully communicate
with the child
•Play with the child often; follow his or her lead
•Follow the child’s lead during play
•Provide toys and experiences that have a variety of colors, textures, sounds, and smells
106
•Imitates adult’s actions, e.g., bangs a drum with a rattle, after
observing an adult complete the action
•Imitate the child during play, e.g., hold up a pretend phone to
ear
•Name objects and people found in the child’s environment
developmental domain 4: COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT Symbolic Thought
Standard: Children demonstrate the understanding of concepts, experiences, and ideas through symbolic representation.
16 months to 24 months: Children demonstrate the
beginning of symbolic thinking as they start to label objects in
everyday life. Children also use more complex social interactions
and engage in imaginary play to make sense of the world around
them.
21 months to 36 months: Children use their ability to
Indicators for children include:
Indicators for children include:
•Pretends one object is really another by using substitution, e.g.,
a napkin for a baby’s diaper
•Assigns roles to peers while engaged in imaginary play
label and think symbolically to engage in increasingly complex
social interactions, exploration, and play. Children use these skills
to recreate experiences, problem-solve, and explore relationships
and roles.
•Finds objects after they are hidden in close proximity
•Builds in sequencing while engaged in play, e.g., beginning,
middle, and end
•Engages in pretend play with familiar objects and experiences,
e.g., places baby doll in stroller and pushes the stroller
•Communicates descriptors of people or objects that are not
present, e.g., says “My mommy has blue eyes”
•Identifies or names his or her drawings, e.g., points to scribble
and says, “mama and dada”
•Projects feelings and words onto stuffed animals, e.g., “The
horse is sad”
•Communicates labels to familiar objects and/or people, e.g.,
says “dog” when seeing four-legged animals
•Takes on different adult roles during play and uses appropriate
mannerisms, e.g., pretends to be the teacher and speaks in a
more adult-like voice, while pretending to read a book to
students
Strategies for interaction:
Strategies for interaction:
•Engage and play with the child; follow the child’s lead
•Interact with the child during pretend play and follow his or her
lead
•Narrate the child’s play, e.g., “Are you taking the baby for a walk
to the store?”
•Repeat words that child is attempting to attach meaning to, e.g.,
say, “yes, baby,” as the child points to a picture of a baby
•Encourage and praise the child as he or she shares accomplishments
During this
age period:
•Ask open-ended questions while playing with the child in order
to expand on thoughts and language
•Continue to label and narrate actions, objects, and experiences
for the child
•Encourage the child to use objects in creative ways to help
problem-solve, e.g., using a blanket as an apron, when aprons
are all being used by other children
107
developmental domain 4: COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT Symbolic Thought
Real World Story
Jocelyn, 34 months old, is playing with a doll
house. Her caregiver, Lauren, sits near her but
does not engage with her. Jocelyn picks up a doll
and moves her around in the play kitchen. She
says, “Come eat!” Jocelyn puts down the doll,
and grabs a smaller doll from the upstairs part
of the dollhouse. She moves the doll into the
kitchen and says, “Here, Mommy.” Jocelyn picks
up the “Mommy” doll and places them both on
the table. She turns toward Lauren, and hands
her a third doll. Jocelyn points to that doll and
says, “Daddy.” Lauren says, “Do you want me
to be the Daddy?” Jocelyn nods her head and
turns her attention back to the doll house. She
points to the play living room and says, “Daddy
sit.” Lauren places the doll on the miniature
couch. Jocelyn grabs both her dolls and places
them next to the “Daddy” doll. She then leaves
the dollhouse and walks over to the table right
next to the dollhouse where there is a play cash
register. She presses a few buttons, and then it
opens. Jocelyn takes out a few pretend bills and
hands one to Lauren. Lauren says, “Thank you!
I am going to buy a piece of fruit.” Jocelyn bends
down, and reaches toward the basket that is under the table. She picks out a pretend apple and
hands it to Lauren. She then takes the bill out of
Lauren’s hand and puts it back into the register.
108
THIS EXAMPLE HIGHLIGHTS Jocelyn’s developing cognitive skills. Jocelyn first uses the dolls
as a representation of her family and has them
take on specific roles. She is able to demon-
This story also relates to:
domain 1: Social & Emotional
Relationship with Adults, p. 39
strate delayed imitation and symbolic thought
domain 3: Language
by performing two sequences that she is famil-
Social Communication, p. 75
iar with: dinner and sitting together as a family.
She uses language to indicate what is being
represented and to engage her caregiver in
play, when she hands Lauren the “Daddy” doll
and again when she hands Lauren the pretend
bills. Jocelyn also demonstrates her memory
skills as she bends down automatically to get
Lauren a piece of pretend fruit without having
to look around. Finally,
Jocelyn shows a basic
understanding of
quantity as she hands
Lauren one piece of
fruit, after Lauren communicates that is what
she wants.
domain 4: Cognitive
Concept Development, p. 93
Memory, p. 97
Quantity & Numbers, p. 117
approaches to learning
Creativity, Inventiveness, & Imagination,
p. 147
developmental domain 4: COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT
Creative Expression
Creative expression refers to how children use music, movement,
building, and play to express themselves. From a very early age,
children demonstrate an interest in sounds,
colors, objects, and textures. In infancy, children engage in sensory exploration; they mouth
different objects to learn about them, and use
their hands to feel and move them. During this
period, children are aware of different sounds
and are often heard cooing and babbling. Near
one year of age, children are able to clap their
hands and move their bodies to music and
rhythm. Children also engage in interactive
play such as peek-a-boo, and can imitate simple
finger plays. They may also finger paint and play
with different sensory materials such as water,
sand, or play dough.
During their second year, children creatively
express their thoughts and feelings through
symbolic play, also known as pretend play.
Children will imitate a familiar role, such as
pretending to be the mommy by feeding and
rocking a baby doll. Children engage in movement activities that incorporate whole body
movements to express emotion. For example,
children will roll around on the floor if they
are being playful, or squeeze caregivers when
excited. Increased hand-eye coordination and
attention help them engage in art activities such
as scribbling and brush painting for longer periods of time.
Children also take an eager interest in building things. Younger children will simply stack
a few objects; as they near 36 months of age,
children will have been building increasingly
complex structures, and these activities are
often intertwined with pretend play.
Standard: Children
demonstrate the ability to convey
ideas and emotions through
creative expression.
Discover how Creative Expression
is related to:
self-regulation
Attention Regulation, p. 21
domain 1: Social & Emotional
Emotional Expression, p. 35
domain 3: Language
Expressive Communication, p. 83
approaches to learning
Creativity, Inventiveness, & Imagination,
p. 147
109
developmental domain 4: COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT Creative Expression
Standard: Children demonstrate the ability to convey ideas and emotions through creative expression.
During this
age period:
Birth to 9 months: Children build the beginnings of
7 months to 18 months: Children increasingly engage
creative expression through everyday interactions with their
caregivers.
with their caregiver(s) and show enjoyment in activities and
interactions that focus on music, movement, building, and play.
Indicators for children include:
Indicators for children include:
•Actively explores sensory objects in the environment
•Enjoys familiar songs and word rhymes
•Participates in interactions with caregiver(s), e.g., observes,
smiles, coos
•Begins to use symbolic play while interacting, e.g., holds a play
phone to ear and has a “conversation” with grandma
•Demonstrates interest in sounds, songs, music, and colors
•Begins to stack large blocks with or without support
•Listens and moves to music
•Participates in music activities by performing some accompanying hand movements
•Manipulates objects, e.g., turns, shakes, bangs
Strategies for interaction:
Strategies for interaction:
•Provide the child with choices for exploration; follow his or her
lead
•Sing songs with the child and model any accompanying gestures
•Interact in a meaningful manner with the child throughout the
day
•Make music part of every day; sing songs with the child
•Provide toys and activities that encourage movement, e.g., a toy
drum, a tunnel to crawl through
110
•Engages in art activities such as coloring or finger painting
•Provide the child with different options for creating artwork
•Demonstrate enjoyment of music and actively participate with
the child as he or she sings
•Encourage the child to explore different materials while playing
developmental domain 4: COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT Creative Expression
Standard: Children demonstrate the ability to convey ideas and emotions through creative expression.
16 months to 24 months: Children continue to show
increasing ability as they engage with their caregiver(s) in music,
movement, building, and play activities.
21 months to 36 months: Children initiate and engage
Indicators for children include:
Indicators for children include:
•Imitates basic movements during an activity, e.g., places beanbag on head
•Selects movements that reflect mood, e.g., jumps up and down
when excited
•Engages in more intricate pretend play, e.g., uses a toy banana
as a phone
•Identifies and discusses characters that are meaningful to him
and her
•Enjoys using instruments while listening to music
•Builds increasingly complex structures and expands upon them,
e.g., uses smaller blocks to build taller towers, lines up materials
and adds other components to create a “road” leading up to the
tower
•Builds by using different objects and materials, e.g., lines up
cars, stacks small boxes
•Enjoys breaking down what he or she has built, e.g., knocking
over a stack of blocks with his or her arm
•Creates artwork; focuses and enjoys the process rather than the
final product
in music, movement, building, and play activities to interact with
others and express ideas, feelings, and emotions.
•Uses imaginary play to cope with fears, e.g., puts monster in a
closet
•Plays dress-up and invites caregiver(s) to play along
Strategies for interaction:
Strategies for interaction:
•Provide props and instruments that the child can use during
music and movement
•Expose the child to music and dance from different cultures and
backgrounds
•Engage in conversations about what the child is creating during
art activities
•Provide opportunities for pretend play in which the child can
dress up as various characters, e.g., a cowboy, firefighter, or
princess
•Display the child’s artwork where he or she can see it and show
it off
•Provide play experiences both outdoors and indoors
During this
age period:
•Encourage the child’s creative expression by genuinely praising
his or her efforts
•Participate in the child’s play; dress up, pretend, and play with
the child
111
developmental domain 4: COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT Creative Expression
Real World Story
Melissa is 36 months old and is sitting with
her peers during circle time. Joy, their childcare provider, is reading them a story they are
familiar with, “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt.”
Melissa is moving her hands to match the movements of the children in the book. Each time
Joy stands up to act out a part of the book, all
the children scramble to their feet to copy the
actions. Melissa squeals with excitement and
moves her body to represent crawling through
grass, wading through a river, stomping in mud,
and crawling through a cave. Once Joy gets to
the part of the story that encounters the bear,
Melissa and the children automatically move
from a crawling position to a full stand, and
begin to run in place as fast as they can. Melissa
makes the pretend movement of running up the
stairs, and then flops herself to the ground to
act out the part where the children crawl under
their bedcovers. As Melissa lies on the floor, giggling, one of her peers has tripped over another
child. Melissa stops laughing and observes Joy
comfort the child. Joy then returns to her spot
and places the book behind her and says, “Okay,
boys and girls, show me how you can stand on
your feet.” Melissa and the older children stand
up; some children are still giggling and moving
around. Melissa is standing quietly, waiting for
112
Joy. Joys says, “It is time to whisper and walk
quietly over to the table; we don’t want to wake
the sleeping bear.” The children then follow Joy
as she tiptoes and keeps one finger over her lips.
Melissa follows along, whispering “hush,” and
works hard to keep her balance as she tiptoes.
THIS EXAMPLE HIGHLIGHTS how language,
This story also relates to:
domain 1: Social and Emotional
Relationship with Peers, p. 47
Empathy, p. 51
domain 2: Physical
Gross Motor, p. 57,
Perceptual, p. 65
cognitive, and physical development can
domain 3: Language
all come together in one activity. Melissa is
working on her receptive language and early
Receptive Communication, p. 79
Early Literacy, p. 87
literacy development as she follows the story
approaches to learning
and completes the accompanying movements.
Creativity, Inventiveness, & Imagination,
p. 147
She is learning to express feelings and actions
with her body, thereby
developing creative expression. Melissa is also working
on her spatial-awareness,
gross-motor, and perceptual
development as she moves
her body in different ways,
while having to remain
aware of others around her.
Melissa also demonstrates
behaviors that indicate the
awareness of feelings in others, as she stops laughing
to observe a peer who has
gotten hurt.
developmental domain 4: COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT
Logic & Reasoning
Children use imitation, cause and effect, and trial and error to build
their logic and reasoning skills. Children learn these skills through
everyday interactions with their caregivers. From very early on,
children discover that their own actions and
behaviors have an impact on the behaviors
and actions of people and objects. For example,
children cry to signal needs and their caregivers
respond to meet these needs. Once they are able
to grasp and manipulate objects, children use
imitation to interact with objects. For example,
children may bang a toy drum immediately
after observing their caregivers perform the
same action. They learn about cause and effect
by repeating the same actions over and over in
order to produce the same results. For example,
they repeatedly drop an object off an elevated
surface to engage their caregivers in picking it
up, as well as to hear the sound it makes when
it falls.
During the second year, children’s logic and
reasoning skills improve as they use trial and
error to solve problems. They have a better
understanding of patterns of, and relationships
between, the impacts of certain behaviors on
objects and people, and begin to use these patterns in different ways. For example, children
may use different ways to move objects; at first,
they may use their hands, and then attempt
to use another body part, such as their feet or
head. At 24 months of age, children know that
selective actions affect different objects and
people in different ways. They understand the
intended function of objects and, by 36 months
of age, can communicate cause and effect, and
problem-solve more effectively.
Standard: Children
demonstrate the ability to use
knowledge, previous experiences,
and trial and error to make sense
of and impact their world.
Discover how Logic & Reasoning
is related to:
self-regulation
Attention Regulation, p. 21
domain 1: Social & Emotional
Relationship with Adults, p. 39
Self-Concept, p. 43
domain 3: Language
Receptive Communication, p. 79
Expressive Communication, p. 83
approaches to learning
Problem Solving, p. 135
Persistence, Effort, & Attentiveness, p. 143
113
developmental domain 4: COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT Logic & Reasoning
Standard: Children demonstrate the ability to use knowledge, previous experiences, and trial and error to make sense of and
impact their world.
During this
age period:
Birth to 9 months: Children begin to build awareness and
7 months to 18 months: Children combine specific
use simple actions to have an impact on objects and people in
their environment.
actions to have an effect on people and objects, and interact
with people and objects in different ways to discover what will
happen.
Indicators for children include:
Indicators for children include:
•Uses nonverbal and verbal communication to generate
responses from caregiver(s), e.g., coos, reaches, laughs
•Uses objects as they are intended, e.g., pretends to drink milk
out of a toy bottle
• Repeats similar actions on different objects, e.g., shakes stuffed
animal in the same manner as a rattle to hear noise
•Attempts different ways to move an object to see what happens,
e.g., rolls a ball gently at first and then hard to see how fast and
far it will move
•Looks for and finds an object that has fallen
•Uses different actions for an intended result, e.g., builds tower
with blocks and then knocks it down with his or her hand,
repeats the activity and uses his/her head to make the tower
tumble
•Imitates adult’s body language and simple actions, e.g., puts
hands on hips or pretends to brush crumbs off table
Strategies for interaction:
Strategies for interaction:
•Participate in social interactions the child initiates
•Allow the child to explore a variety of toys.
•Provide interesting toys that can be easily manipulated, e.g.,
squeezed, shaken, rattled
•Narrate the child’s play: “Look how hard you rolled that ball”
•Play turn-taking games with the child, e.g., peek-a-boo
114
•Allow the child freedom to try new things with some support
•Demonstrate and explain the relationship between objects and/
or people
developmental domain 4: COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT Logic & Reasoning
Standard: Children demonstrate the ability to use knowledge, previous experiences, and trial and error to make sense of and
impact their world.
16 months to 24 months: Children understand how
purposeful and select actions can affect different objects and
people. Children also begin to connect objects and ideas based
on repetition and experience.
21 months to 36 months: Children have a greater
Indicators for children include:
Indicators for children include:
•Repeats actions over and over to cause desired effect, e.g.,
dumps out a bucket and refills it with objects
•Recognizes actions and objects and can generalize meaning,
e.g., sees someone opening an umbrella and can attribute that
to the fact that it may be raining
•Starts to predict the consequence of simple and familiar actions,
e.g., knows that flipping the light switch will either turn on or
turn off the light
•Understands functionality of objects, e.g., mop is used to clean
the floor
•Begins to understand certain behaviors are related to certain
contexts, e.g., behaves differently at childcare than at home
understanding of causation and can predict and choose specific
actions to attain a desired result. Children also begin to apply
past experiences and knowledge to form ideas.
•Makes a prediction of what will happen next in a sequence of
events
•Applies past experiences to new situations
•Expresses cause and effect in certain situations, e.g., “I fell down
and now I have a boo-boo.”
Strategies for interaction:
Strategies for interaction:
•Provide the child with experiences that demonstrate cause and
effect, e.g., objects that produce sounds after performing a
specific action
•Use stories and everyday conversations to ask the child to predict what may happen next
•Show and explain what objects do and what they are used for
during everyday interactions
•Narrate sequencing found in everyday interactions, e.g., “First
we will fill the tray with water, then we will put toys in it.”
During this
age period:
Causation
refers to the relationship between
cause and
effect. Children
understand that
specific actions
and words affect
objects and
people in their
environment in
predictable ways.
•Use child’s past experiences to bridge to new experiences, e.g.,
using chalk on the sidewalk to scribble instead of crayon and
paper
•Discuss and experience cause and effect in everyday interactions, e.g., add food coloring to the water table and show the
child what happens
115
developmental domain 4: COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT Logic & Reasoning
Real World Story
Quinn is 13 months old and is playing in his
playroom. He is standing against a small table,
playing with a toy kitchen. He is attempting to
place a plastic cup inside the pretend kitchen’s
oven, but he is not able to shut the oven door. He
becomes frustrated and throws the plastic cup
on the ground. His mother, Kate, is sitting close
by. She leans forward and picks up the plastic
cup. She scoots closer to Quinn and says, “I can
see you are frustrated; let me see if I can help
you.” She looks in the oven, points inside, and
says, “Quinn, there is a plate in there. Can you
hand me the plate?” Quinn looks at Kate, then
looks at where she is pointing. He leans in and
grabs the plate. He hands it to Kate, who says,
“Now try,” and hands him the plastic cup. Quinn
moves the cup around and eventually gets it to fit
inside the oven. Kate smiles, claps, and says, “You
did it!” Quinn smiles, bounces up and down, and
then claps his hands. He squeals with delight and
opens the oven again. He grabs the cup and attempts to put it back in. He moves the cup around
a few times until he gets it to go back in the oven.
Once again he is successful. Kate claps and says,
“Again! You did it again!” Quinn squeals, bounces
up and down, and claps his hands.
116
THIS EXAMPLE DEMONSTRATES how logic and
reasoning begins in the first year. Quinn is having a hard time figuring out how to get the cup
into the oven. He is persistent but easily frustrated. Quinn does not have the expressive language to say “help,” but demonstrates this need
by throwing the cup. His mother reads this
signal and helps him regulate by acknowledging
This story also relates to:
self-regulation
Emotional Regulation, p. 17
Attention Regulation, p. 21
domain 1: Social & Emotional
Attachment Relationships, p. 31
Self-Concept, p. 43
his feelings and helping him solve the problem.
domain 3: Language
Quinn demonstrates his receptive language
Receptive Communication, p. 79
skills by finding the plate and handing it over
approaches to learning
to his mother. He uses trial and error to accom-
Persistence, Effort, & Attentiveness, p. 143
plish his goal, as he moves the cup around until
he gets it to fit. Kate supports Quinn’s selfconcept development, as she encourages him
and genuinely shares in his accomplishment.
Quinn’s positive reaction demonstrates his
enthusiasm and joy in reaching his goal.
developmental domain 4: COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT
Quantity & Numbers
Children have an early awareness of number concepts. In infancy,
children begin to learn about quantity through interactions with
their environment and their caregivers. They begin to demonstrate
the understanding of “more” through body language. For example,
children may lean their head forward during
mealtimes to indicate they want more food. Or,
they may use body language and gestures to
communicate to a caregiver to repeat an enjoyable action. Young children are also aware that
more than one object exists in their environment. This is indicated when children release
one object to reach for another. While they are
not able to determine the number of objects,
they have established the foundation for the
concept of “more.”
Once children have the ability to verbally
express themselves, they have the ability to
communicate the concept of more. They may
sign or say “more” during interactions. Children
also use imitation and language to explore number concepts. For example, children may imitate
their caregivers and say, “one, two,” when
engaged in play. They will not be able to match
the correct quantity of objects with their words
until closer to 36 months, but use imitation and
play skills to build number sense. Around
24 months of age, children have the ability to
identify very small quantities without having to
count them. They can look at a small number of
objects and determine if there are “one,” “two,”
or “three” of them. By 36 months, children use
language to demonstrate an understanding
of progressive number order and can identify
“more” when comparing groups of objects.
Standard: Children
demonstrate awareness of
quantity, counting, and numeric
competencies.
Discover how Quantity & Numbers
is related to:
self-regulation
Attention Regulation, p. 21
domain 2: Physical
Perceptual, p. 65
domain 3: Language
Social Communication, p. 75
Expressive Communication, p. 83
117
developmental domain 4: COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT Quantity & Numbers
Standard: Children demonstrate awareness of quantity, counting, and numeric competencies.
During this
age period:
Attributes are
characteristics
or properties of
objects, such as
shape, color, or
size.
Birth to 9 months: Children are developing an
7 months to 18 months: Children begin to identify
understanding of quantity and number concepts as they
explore and interact with objects and people in their everyday
environment.
that there are different quantities of objects and people, and may
attempt to match quantities with numbers through the use of
words, symbols, and gestures.
Indicators for children include:
Indicators for children include:
•Uses sounds and body language to signal for more, e.g., begins
to cry when finishing a bottle of milk and is still hungry
•Understands the concept of “more” in regard to food and play;
signs or says, “more”
•Explores objects one at a time, e.g., mouths one toy and drops it
to grab hold of another, or drops toys in a container
•Imitates counting, e.g., climbs stairs and mimics “one, two”
•Expresses desire for more through facial cues, sounds, gestures,
and actions, e.g., bangs, opens mouth, points, reaches
•Holds on to more than one object at a time, e.g., grasps a rattle
in one hand, and reaches for block
•Begins to understand descriptive words and apply attributes to people, e.g., points to himself when asked, “Who’s a big boy?”
•Begins to use number words to label quantities, even though
incorrect
Strategies for interaction:
Strategies for interaction:
•Respond promptly and thoughtfully to the child when he or she
signals needs
•Model counting and sequencing for the child through everyday
interactions, e.g., “First, we are going to sit you in your chair,
and then we are going to put your bib on.”
•Provide multiple objects and/or materials for the child to explore
•Encourage the child to explore objects one by one, e.g., hand
them one block and say “one”
•Play with the child; count out loud as you hand him or her
objects
•Engage in simple finger plays with the child
118
•Uses nonverbal and verbal communication to express more
complex concepts, e.g., “some,” “again,” “all done”
•Narrate as the child gestures, e.g., “so big” as he or she raises
arms in air
•Sing songs that incorporate numbers
developmental domain 4: COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT Quantity & Numbers
Standard: Children demonstrate awareness of quantity, counting, and numeric competencies.
16 months to 24 months: Children recognize various
quantities of objects and people, and begin to accurately match
number words to the correct amount.
21 months to 36 months: Children use language to
Indicators for children include:
Indicators for children include:
•Communicates amount of familiar objects, e.g., sees two apples
and says, “two”
•Understands progressive number order, e.g., recites the number
series to ten
•Uses nonverbal gestures to demonstrate understanding of quantities, e.g., holds up two fingers to express two of something
•Begins to count objects; may count objects twice and/or skip
numbers
•Begins to use “one,” “two,” and “three” to identify very small
quantities without counting them
•Begins to identify quantity comparison, e.g., “Which group has
more blocks?”
•Begins to use descriptive words for people in a more complex
fashion, e.g., “he big,” “she baby”
•Assigns meaning to numbers; understands the concept of a
small number or big number, e.g., communicates “wow” when a
caregiver shares that he or she is 35 years old
demonstrate a basic understanding of number representation and
quantity identification.
During this
age period:
•Uses descriptive words when communicating about others, e.g.,
“She ran fast,” “He is short,” “Look how far away I am”
Strategies for interaction:
Strategies for interaction:
•Use numerical concepts in everyday activities, e.g., “Would you
like one cracker or two?”
•Recognize that experience and exposure are factors that influence whether or not the child is familiar with numbers
•Use teachable moments, e.g., ask the child to pass you one
crayon from the pile during art
•Engage the child in participating in word rhymes that incorporate numbers and math
•Acknowledge the child’s attempts to use numerical concepts
in everyday interactions, e.g., “Yes, you are right, you are two
years old!”
•Use descriptive words when interacting with the child, e.g.,
“You are so tall!”
119
developmental domain 4: COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT Quantity & Numbers
“More” and “Enough”
While quantity and numbers are complex concepts in the school-age period,
children build the foundation for these
in the first three years. Children begin
to experience quantity and numbers
through everyday interactions with
caregivers. The first mathematics-related
concept that children seem to learn is
that of “more.” They are able to communicate that they need more of something,
such as more milk, more food, more
cuddles, or repetition of certain experiences, such as singing, or winding up
the jack-in-the-box. Children are also
learning the concept of “enough.” They
communicate no, or stop, to express
when they want caregivers to end what
they are doing, or when they are done
with their milk or meal. At times, children adamantly communicate these
concepts within their interactions. They
may cry, shake their head, grab, push
away, or pull caregivers toward them.
Caregivers should respond accordingly
to best meet children’s needs.
120
developmental domain 4: COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT
Science Concepts & Exploration
Children learn about science concepts through the exploration of
both their indoor and outdoor environment. They use all of their five
senses to take in new information and actively learn about their world.
Standard: Children
demonstrate a basic awareness of
and use scientific concepts.
As newborns, children use observation to
make sense of their surroundings. They track
objects with their eyes, enjoy looking at faces,
and notice high-contrast patterns. When they
begin to grasp objects, children explore object
properties. They may mouth, shake, drop, bang,
or manipulate the objects in order to learn
about them. They soon discover that they enjoy
an action they have performed upon the object
and take great delight in repeating it over and
over. For example, they drop objects onto the
ground and hear a loud bang. They repeat this
to continue hearing the banging noise. In this
example, children are learning about cause and
effect and trial and error.
Discover how Science Concepts &
Exploration is related to:
By 24 months, children are active scientists,
trying to discover as many new things as possible. They are interested and curious about
living things, and begin to ask simple questions
about nature. They enjoy spending time outside,
and pick up objects to observe, such as leaves,
pebbles, or flowers. They are also capable of
identifying characteristics of living things they
are familiar with. For example, they may share
that their cat “meows.” Children are also engaging in the beginning processes of classification
as they can identify similar properties among
objects and people. Children begin to apply past
experiences to new ones, and begin to predict
outcomes of certain actions.
self-regulation
Attention Regulation, p. 21
domain 2: Physical
Gross Motor, p. 57
Perceptual, p. 65
approaches to learning
Curiosity & Initiative, p. 131
Problem Solving, p. 135
121
developmental domain 4: COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT Science Concepts & Exploration
Standard: Children demonstrate a basic awareness of and use scientific concepts.
During this
age period:
Birth to 9 months: Children use social interactions along
7 months to 18 months: Children use all of their five
with their five senses to discover and explore the world around
them.
senses to purposefully collect and act on information received
through interactions with their environment.
Indicators for children include:
Indicators for children include:
•Observes people and objects in his or her environment
•Actively explores objects and experiences their properties
through the different senses, e.g., color, texture, weight, taste
•Engages in social interactions with familiar adults
•Actively explores new objects found in the environment, e.g.,
mouths, pats, grasps
•Uses all of his or her senses to explore and discover new things,
e.g., reaches out to touch rain or snow
•Experiments with different textures found in the outside environment, e.g., runs fingers through dirt, crumbles dry leaves
Strategies for interaction:
Strategies for interaction:
•Create an inviting environment for the child to explore; change
materials and toys in the child’s environment on a regular basis
•Provide opportunities for the child to explore and play outside
•Follow the child’s lead during play
•Engage in conversations with the child about nature, animals,
and other living things; introduce books that cover those topics
•Provide toys and experiences that have a variety of colors,
textures, sounds, and smells
•Provide the child plenty of opportunities for sensory play, e.g.,
pudding, shaving cream, water, sand
•Allow the child to explore his or her outdoor environment, e.g.,
go on stroller walks, have the child crawl on grass
122
•Repeats actions that attracts his or her attention, e.g., drops
object onto floor to hear the sound it makes
developmental domain 4: COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT Science Concepts & Exploration
Standard: Children demonstrate a basic awareness of and use scientific concepts.
16 months to 24 months: Children begin to use
experimentation to interact and engage with their environment
in different ways. In addition, a new, distinct interest in living
things emerges.
21 months to 36 months: Children use their
Indicators for children include:
Indicators for children include:
•Shows interest in own body; may know names for certain body
parts
•Begins to identify characteristics of animals, e.g., “The dog
barks”
•Begins simple categorizing, e.g., cats and dogs are animals
•Identifies various attributes of objects, food, and materials, e.g.,
color, shapes, size
•Asks simple questions about nature
•Attempts new tasks during familiar activities, e.g., plays at the
water table, and instead of using hands, tries to use head to
make the water move
•Uses motion and sound to represent an observation, e.g.,
“snake, ssssss!”
communication skills to indicate interests in observations,
experiences, and engagement with the world around them.
Children actively experiment with their environment to make
new discoveries happen.
•Draws on past experience to describe and communicate about
observations and experiences, e.g., knows what happens when
one blows on a candle, discusses what happens to snow when
the temperature is warmer
•Engages in processes to reach an outcome, e.g., mixes three
different colors of paint to see what color emerges
Strategies for interaction:
Strategies for interaction:
•Provide opportunities for the child to engage in sensory play
•Begin to ask the child “w” questions: what, where, when, and
why
•Talk to the child about different animals, their size, where they
live, and what sounds they make
•Allow the child to explore flowers, insects, and other living
things while outside
During this
age period:
•Incorporate science and inquiry questions in the child’s daily
routine
•Provide activities and experiences that allow the child to problem-solve and reach conclusions, e.g., building, experimenting
with changes from solids to liquids
•Create themes and activities that focus on nature, e.g., share
with the child the life cycle of a butterfly through both books
and real-life experiences
123
developmental domain 4: COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT Science Concepts & Exploration
The great outdoors!
Children learn through all of their
senses, and what better place to engage
all of those senses than the outdoors.
There are many opportunities for children to see different animals, colors, and
people. Children can experience different textures as they explore puddles,
dried leaves, and flowers. They can feel
raindrops and wind, and hear cars and
trucks. These early experiences provide
children with exciting and meaningful ways to learn about nature, science,
and the community they live in. The
outdoors is also a place where children
are able to practice and master physical
skills such as walking, running, jumping, and climbing. They experiment
with throwing objects, such as a ball,
and moving their bodies in different
ways, such as spinning while they chase
bubbles. Outdoor experiences provide
children with positive outlets to expend
energy, get messy, and learn about the
world around them.
124
developmental domain 4: COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT
Safety & Well-Being
In the first few years of life, children depend on their caregivers to
keep them safe and healthy for proper development. Children are
beginning to grow in their capacity to recognize potentially unsafe
or unhealthy situations, but will need a lot of
caregiver support. Children build this capacity
by establishing trust in responsive and nurturing
caregivers who are consistent in meeting their
needs. Children also look to their caregivers to
establish what is acceptable and what is not.
At birth, children are not completely
defenseless. They enter the world with a set of
reflexes designed to signal basic survival needs
to caregivers.88 As they grow, children become
aware of their own bodies and their environment. They become purposeful in how they
interact with their environment and actively
practice all the new skills they develop. The
challenging aspect is finding the right balance
of active exploration and learning, and keeping
children safe in their environment.
With new skills come risky behaviors that
are developmentally appropriate. Children
lunge forward with no regard for anything in
their way, or pick up everything possible off the
floor and place it in their mouths. Children do
not have the ability to control their impulses,
and will test safety limits that have been put in
place by caregivers. Children’s growing cognitive abilities help them process why safety rules
are in place, along with building memory for
what is allowed and what is not. While they
may pay attention to safety rules, children still
need constant supervision to stay safe.
Standard: Children
demonstrate the emerging ability
to recognize risky situations and
respond accordingly.
Discover how Safety & Well-Being
is related to:
self-regulation
Attention Regulation, p. 21
Behavior Regulation, p. 25
domain 1: Social & Emotional
Attachment Relationships, p. 31
domain 2: Physical
Self-Care, p. 69
approaches to learning
Confidence & Risk-Taking, p. 139
125
developmental domain 4: COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT Safety & Well-Being
Standard: Children demonstrate the emerging ability to recognize risky situations and respond accordingly.
During this
age period:
Social
Referencing is
the term used
to describe how
young children
take their cues
from familiar others in deciding
what emotions
and actions are
appropriate.
Birth to 9 months: Children first rely on their natural
7 months to 18 months: Children’s increasing physical
reflexes to signal basic survival needs to their caregiver(s).
Toward the end of this age period, an emerging awareness in
their own bodies and trust in their caregiver(s) support children in
meeting needs and protecting them in uncertain and potentially
unsafe situations.
abilities allow them to explore new ways of interacting with
the environment around them. Motivated by these new skills,
children take risks to explore and learn, and demonstrate through
nonverbal and verbal communication trust in their caregiver(s) to
keep them safe.
Indicators for children include:
Indicators for children include:
•Signals needs through reflexes and sounds, e.g., demonstrates
rooting reflex when hungry, cries when uncomfortable
•Uses social referencing to assess uncertain situations, e.g.,
looks at a caregiver for social cues as to whether or not to
proceed
•Actively observes and explores environment
•Demonstrates interest in own body, e.g., stares at hands,
mouths feet, pokes at belly button
•Uses physical movements to explore environment, e.g., reaching, sitting, rolling
•Demonstrates trust in caregiver(s), e.g., reaches for adult, comforted when soothed, looks for caregiver in novel situations
•Responds to cues from caregiver in uncertain and unsafe situations
•Hesitates and demonstrates caution in new and/or changing
situations, e.g., stops crawling when reaches the edge of an
uneven surface
•Responds to warnings and changes in tone of voice; needs
assistance and redirection to stop unsafe behavior, e.g., looks
up after hearing a stern “no” but does not necessarily stop the
behavior or action
Strategies for interaction:
Strategies for interaction:
•Meet the child’s needs in a prompt and sensitive manner
•Use facial clues and gestures to communicate to the child in
uncertain situations, e.g., nod head yes, and smile to encourage
the child to crawl toward the new toy
•Respond thoughtfully when interacting with the child
•Provide a safe, child-proof environment, while providing constant supervision
•Soothe and comfort the child as needed, e.g., hold, cuddle, rock
•Interact with the child; sit on the floor with the child and engage
in exploration and play
126
•Actively climbs to reach for wanted objects during play
•Establish boundaries and limits; remain consistent and firm
•Provide a safe, child-proof environment, while providing constant supervision
•Explain to children why certain rules are in place
developmental domain 4: COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT Safety & Well-Being
Standard: Children demonstrate the emerging ability to recognize risky situations and respond accordingly.
16 months to 24 months: Children begin to build
a basic understanding of their physical limits and unsafe
situations. Children are still motivated to interact and explore the
environment with little regard to risks, and continue to rely on
caregiver(s) to help manage their impulses
21 months to 36 months: Children will begin to
Indicators for children include:
Indicators for children include:
•Understands when “no” and “stop” is communicated through
either words or gestures
•Pays attention to safety rules but still needs supervision to keep
self safe
•Responds to warnings and begins to change behavior accordingly, e.g., moves away from the outlet after caregiver communicates “no”
•Communicates to an adult if something is wrong, e.g., a peer is
hurt or missing
•Seeks comfort when fearful
•Imitates adults’ actions during play, e.g., tells baby doll “no
touch” when walking by the pretend stove
demonstrate a limited ability to internalize what caregiver(s)
communicates in relation to safety, rules, and well-being. Children
continue to act upon impulses but begin to develop strategies to
protect themselves in uncertain and potentially unsafe situations.
•Remembers and begins to apply past experiences to future
situations, e.g., walks carefully and slowly when there is snow
on the ground
•Reminds younger peers of rules, e.g., holds hands with a
younger peer while walking outside
Strategies for interaction:
Strategies for interaction:
•Provide a safe, child-proof environment, while providing constant supervision
•Provide constant supervision and guidance
•Model safe practices and behaviors for the child, e.g., do not
stand on chairs when attempting to reach for objects
•Support the child in new situations; allow him or her time to
warm up to new people, objects, and activities
During this
age period:
•Talk with the child about unsafe situations and what he or she
should do to get help
•Respect the child’s expressed fears
•Establish boundaries and limits; remain consistent and firm
127
developmental domain 4: COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT Safety & Well-Being
Keep In Mind
Child development does not occur in isolation;
children reach their developmental milestones
within their social and cultural contexts.
However, while “how the child develops” may
look different, “what the child develops” can be
observed in a more universal fashion. Below are
some indicators that may warrant a discussion
with the child’s healthcare provider for closer
examination.
Does not display object permanence by 12
months of age
Does not babble, point, or make meaningful
gestures by 12 months of age
Keeping Children Safe
The concept of “No” is used often by caregivers in the first three years. “Don’t touch,” “Stop,”
“No hitting,” are all part of daily interactions with toddlers. Young children are unable to
control their impulses; therefore it is important for caregivers to have realistic expectations of
children when it comes their understanding what is safe or what is unsafe. Safety in the first
three years is very important, and caregivers work tirelessly to ensure that children are well
taken care of and safe. During this period, constant supervision, consistent care, and redirection are what support children in staying safe. While children are building their cognitive capacities to understand what they can and cannot do, they are not able to control their
actions. Caregivers often find themselves repeating the same words and actions over and over,
and while it may be frustrating, young children need those constant reminders. Children’s
ability to remember is still developing, and they rely heavily on structure, routines, and consistency to build their understanding of safety and well-being.
Does not know the simple functions of common objects, e.g., a cup, telephone, by 24
months of age
Does not engage in symbolic play by 36
months
Approaches
to Learning
Children are born ready to
learn, and the first three
years are the time when
children develop the habits
in how they approach and
explore their world.89
Depending on the quality of
their early experiences,
children either form healthy
or unhealthy attitudes
toward learning.
Children’s earliest relationships, cultural and
societal contexts, and individual influences
directly impact their approach and feelings
about learning. Children who have nurturing
and secure relationships with meaningful people in their lives demonstrate a positive attitude
toward learning. They tend to be interested in
exploring the world around them and share
delight in discovering new things. These positive “approaches” set the foundation for children’s learning styles and better prepare them
to learn when they enter school.90
Healthy and secure relationships are the
foundation for all areas of development, and
children’s approaches toward learning are
no different. Children who feel safe and trust
in their world can explore their world with
increasing confidence. They feel supported by
their caregivers and are more willing to try new
things and take appropriate risks while they
explore. Caregivers who engage with children
and support them in discovering their world
and solving tasks foster positive feelings of mastery and self-esteem. These positive feelings are
important to how children engage with peers,
handle new tasks, build attention, and form
their own self-concept.
Culture influences how children learn, and
shapes what learning qualities and experiences
are encouraged and appreciated. Some cultures
may prefer persistence and attentiveness over
curiosity or risk-taking. Some children may not
129
be encouraged to get messy while exploring
their outdoor environment. Their caregivers
may believe that children who are neat reflect
positive parenting. Different cultures may
encourage children to experience activities
through all of their senses, and are accepting
if children do get messy.91 These differences
are important to keep in mind. All children
can benefit from environments that promote
learning in positive and meaningful ways. Most
important, however, is to nurture the qualities
that children are most comfortable with and
respect the cultural wishes of their families.
Individual influences such as temperament
and developmental abilities also contribute to
how children learn.92 Some children learn by
observing their surroundings. They seem to
“take in” all the information they are receiving.
Other children will jump right in and physically
explore everything. Neither approach is right
or wrong. Instead, they highlight the unique
personality traits of each child. Caregivers
should be sensitive to children’s temperament
130
and ensure that they interact and encourage
children in ways that best match their unique
style. Developmental abilities also influence the
ways children learn. For example, some children may not have the ability to physically walk
around their environment but can still benefit
from the same experiences as children who can.
Caregivers can modify the environment to meet
the needs of all children. Therefore, it is important to recognize children’s natural abilities and
provide support when needed.
All children are naturally interested in
the world around them. The attitudes or
“approaches” children have toward learning
are dependent on their everyday experiences.
Caregivers can support the development of
healthy learning attitudes by providing enriching environments, encouraging and supporting
children in problem solving, and genuinely
sharing in their achievements. Caregivers are
children’s first and most important teachers as
they set the foundation for future learning and
development.
In this section:
•Curiosity & Initiative, p. 131
•Problem Solving, p. 135
•Confidence & Risk-Taking, p. 139
•Persistence, Effort, & Attentiveness, p. 143
•Creativity, Inventiveness, & Imagination,
p. 147
APPROACHES TO LEARNING
Curiosity & Initiative
Children are born with a natural interest in the people and objects
found in their environment. After all, they are seeing things for the first
time! Children use all of their senses to take in all this new information
and use their developing skills to make sense of
what they are seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling,
and touching. Secure relationships build the
trust that children need to exercise their curiosity. Caregivers who consistently respond to
children’s signals model positive and responsive
interaction. Children use these early models to
build the self-confidence they need to initiate exploration, attempt new experiences, and
engage with objects and people.
As children develop new skills, exploration
becomes increasingly purposeful and meaningful. When children are able to sit up, they have
a different perspective on their world. They can
look around in different directions and reach
for objects. Their developing fine motor skills
help children satisfy their curiosity through
mouthing, grasping, and manipulating objects.
Mobile children begin to choose what objects
they want to engage with, and can move near
caregivers to initiate contact. With the emergence of language, children are able to express
their preferences and can use simple words to
initiate, engage, and maintain social interactions in order to learn about their world. By
36 months, children will ask questions during
interactions. They appear to be curious about
everything and need to understand how the
world works. Children also become increasingly
interested in and curious about their peers, and
continue to broaden out their participation in
new experiences.
Standard: Children
demonstrate interest and
eagerness in learning about
their world.
Discover how Curiosity & Initiative
is related to:
self-regulation
Attention Regulation, p. 21
domain 1: Social & Emotional
Attachment Relationships, p. 31
Relationships with Peers, p. 47
domain 3: Language
Social Communication, p. 75
domain 4: Cognitive
Concept Development, p. 93
Science Concepts & Exploration, p. 121
131
approaches to learning Curiosity & Initiative
Standard: Children demonstrate interest and eagerness in learning about their world.
During this
age period:
Curiosity is an
instinctive drive
to learn about the
world. Children
are naturally
inquisitive, and
use exploration to
learn.
Birth to 9 months: Children are discovering the world
7 months to 18 months: Children’s newly acquired
through exploration and social interaction. Children react with
special interest to new objects, people, and experiences.
physical control allows them to explore and initiate interactions
in a more purposeful and meaningful manner.
Indicators for children include:
Indicators for children include:
•Observes the environment and people; tracks a toy as it moves
from one point to another
•Demonstrates an interest in new objects by manipulating and
turning the object
•Shows interest in him- or herself, e.g., gazes at hands, places
feet in mouth
•Uses familiar objects in new ways, e.g., places a toy basket on
head
•Actively explores new objects found in the environment, e.g.,
touches, pats, and mouths
•Moves toward a new activity by crawling or walking
•Attempts to initiate interaction with others, e.g., smiles, reaches
for a caregiver
•Participates in joint attention with caregiver(s), e.g., focuses on
the same object
•Engages familiar adults in meaningful interactions, e.g., points
to favorite toy, brings a book over to be read
Strategies for interaction:
Strategies for interaction:
•Create an inviting environment for the child to explore; change
materials and toys in the child’s environment on a regular basis
•Provide an environment that allows the child to pick and choose
what activity or toys he or she would like to play with
•Create opportunities in which the child can explore his or
her outside environment; talk with the child about what is
happening
•Provide materials and objects that can be used in more than
one way
•Provide a variety of sensory materials, e.g., books that incorporates different textures, toys that shake or rattle
•Respond thoughtfully and promptly to the child’s attempts for
interaction
132
•Begins to demonstrate preferences for objects and/or materials,
e.g., selects a book to read when given options
•Encourage activities that are meaningful to the child, e.g., a
favorite book or a favorite song
approaches to learning Curiosity & Initiative
Standard: Children demonstrate interest and eagerness in learning about their world.
16 months to 24 months: Children become
increasingly curious about new experiences and activities
that include peers and adults; they begin to interact and seek
involvement with others.
21 months to 36 months: Children demonstrate
Indicators for children include:
Indicators for children include:
•Demonstrates an interest in new activities and a willingness to
try out new experiences
•Observes other children in play
•Engages in active exploration in new environments, e.g., walks
over to a toy shelf in an unfamiliar home or classroom
•Initiates play with others, e.g., a grandparent, sibling, or teacher
initiative by participating and maintaining engagement in novel
experiences. Children use observation, communication, and
inquiry to make sense of these experiences.
•Enjoys accomplishing simple goals, e.g., completing a puzzle,
blowing a bubble
•Asks questions while interacting with others, e.g., “why,” “what,”
“how”
•Experiments with different ways to use materials and objects
•Participates in a broader array of experiences, e.g., outdoor jungle gyms, art projects
Strategies for interaction:
Strategies for interaction:
•Provide the child with different choices for play and activities
throughout the day
•Encourage the child when he or she is trying something new
and/or taking reasonable risks; remain sensitive to the child’s
temperament and provide support as needed
•Encourage the child to participate in a new activity but do not
force
•Model positive interaction with the child throughout the day
•Encourage the child to notice what other children are doing, e.g.,
“Annie and Steve are making a pizza out of their play dough”
During this
age period:
•Engage in conversations with the child and answer their questions clearly and honestly
•Build upon the child’s interest by introducing books and other
activities
•Extend interactions by introducing novel or alternate ways to
use materials, objects, or toys
133
approaches to learning Curiosity & Initiative
More About Curiosity
Curiosity can be described as a natural
interest that humans have in the world
around them. Cultural context plays a
large part in nurturing children’s curiosity. The term “curiosity” is not universal, and cultures vary in the degree to
which they value and promote curiosity.
However, what is universal is children’s
inquisitive nature.93 They use all of their
senses to take in information, and enjoy
discovering new objects and actions.
This interest in the world provides
children with opportunities to interact
and engage in meaningful experiences.
They use communication to inquire and
seek answers. Children point, gesture,
and use sounds to indicate questioning.
Once verbal language emerges, they start
to combine words to ask simple questions. Caregivers nurture this natural
emotion; however, depending on cultural beliefs, how they nurture and support curiosity looks different. The most
important take-away is that children’s
interest should be acknowledged and
encouraged to support future learning.
134
APPROACHES TO LEARNING
Problem Solving
Children build the foundation for problem-solving skills through
nurturing relationships, active exploration, and social interactions.
In infancy, children learn that their actions and
behaviors have an effect on others. For example,
children cry to signal hunger to their caregivers;
in turn, their caregivers feed them. Caregivers’
consistent responses to children’s communication attempts teach children the earliest forms
of problem solving. Children learn that they
have the ability to solve a problem by completing certain actions. Children build this knowledge and translate it into how they interact and
problem-solve in future situations.
Children discover that their actions and
behaviors also have an impact on objects. They
learn that certain actions produce certain
results. For example, children may bang a toy
over and over as they notice the sound that it
makes. This behavior is intentional and purposeful; children learn that they have the ability
to make something happen. As they get older,
children will experiment with different ways to
solve problems, such as moving puzzle pieces in
different ways to place them correctly. They will
use trial and error to find solutions to the tasks
they are working on, and use communication
skills to ask or gesture for help from caregivers.
By 36 months, children are able to decrease
the amount of trial and error they use when
solving problems. Their cognitive skills are
maturing and they are able to use logic and
reasoning when working through challenges.
Increased attention allows children to focus for
longer periods of time when working through
challenges. Children still depend on their
caregivers for help, but are likely to attempt
problem solving on their own before asking
someone for help.
Standard: Children attempt
a variety of strategies to
accomplish tasks, overcome
obstacles, and find solutions to
tasks, questions, and challenges.
Discover how Problem Solving
is related to:
self-regulation
Emotional Regulation, p. 17
Attention Regulation, p. 21
domain 1: Social & Emotional
Relationship with Adults, p. 39
Self-Concept, p. 43
domain 3: Language
Memory, p. 97
Logic & Reasoning, p. 113
135
approaches to learning Problem Solving
Standard: Children attempt a variety of strategies to accomplish tasks, overcome obstacles, and find solutions to tasks, questions,
and challenges.
During this
age period:
Birth to 9 months: Children are building the foundation
7 months to 18 months: Children begin to discover
for problem solving through active exploration and social
interaction.
that certain actions and behaviors can be solutions to challenges
and obstacles they encounter. Children also recognize how to
engage their caregiver(s) to assist in managing these challenges.
Indicators for children include:
Indicators for children include:
•Focuses on getting a caregiver’s attention through the use of
sounds, cries, gestures, and facial expressions
•Repeats actions over and over again to figure out how an object
works
•Enjoys repeating actions, e.g., continues to drop toy from highchair after it is picked up by a caregiver or sibling
•Begins to recognize that certain actions will draw out certain
responses, e.g., laughing and smiling will often result in an adult
responding in the same manner
•Communicates the need for assistance through verbal and/or
nonverbal cues, e.g., pointing, reaching, vocalizing
136
•Attempts a variety of physical strategies to reach simple goals,
e.g., pulls the string of a toy train to move it closer or crawls to
get a ball that has rolled away
Strategies for interaction:
Strategies for interaction:
•Respond thoughtfully and promptly to the child’s attempts for
attention
•Demonstrate how to try things in different ways and encourage
the child to do the same, e.g., using a plastic bucket as a drum
•Provide interesting and age-appropriate toys and objects for
exploration
•Gently guide the child in discovering and exploring, while allowing him or her enough independence to try new things
•Engage and interact with the child frequently during the day
•Respond thoughtfully and promptly to the child’s communication attempts
approaches to learning Problem Solving
Standard: Children attempt a variety of strategies to accomplish tasks, overcome obstacles, and find solutions to tasks, questions,
and challenges.
16 months to 24 months: Children have an enhanced
capacity to solve challenges they encounter through the use of
objects and imitation. Children may take on a more autonomous
role during this stage, yet, reach out to caregiver(s) in most
instances.
21 months to 36 months: Children begin to
Indicators for children include:
Indicators for children include:
•Imitates a caregiver’s behavior to accomplish a task, e.g.,
attempts to turn a doorknob
•Asks for help from a caregiver when needed
•Increases ability to recognize and solve problems through active
exploration, play, and trial and error, e.g., tries inserting a shape
at different angles to make it fit in a sorter
•Refuses assistance, e.g., calls for help but then pushes a hand
away
•Uses objects in the environment to solve problems, e.g., uses a
pail to move numerous books to the other side of the room
•Uses communication to solve problems, e.g., runs out of glue
during an art project and gestures to a caregiver for more
discriminate which solutions work, with fewer trials. Children
increasingly become more autonomous and will attempt to first
overcome obstacles on their own or with limited support from
caregiver(s).
• Begins to solve problems with less trial and error
•Shows pride when accomplishing a task
•Uses increasingly refined skills while solving problems, e.g.,
uses own napkin to clean up a spill without asking an adult for
help
Strategies for interaction:
Strategies for interaction:
•Validate and praise the child’s attempts to find solutions to challenges
•Follow the child’s lead and pay attention to his or her cues when
assisting in a task
•Narrate while assisting the child in figuring out a solution, e.g.,
“Let’s try to turn the puzzle piece this way”
•Share in the child’s joy and accomplishments
•Provide the child with opportunities to solve problems with
and without your help; minimize the possibility for the child to
become frustrated
•Respond to the child’s communication efforts
During this
age period:
•Model and narrate problem-solving skills through play
•Provide the child with blocks of uninterrupted time to work on
activities
•Be available for the child and recognize when he or she needs
guidance
137
approaches to learning Problem Solving
Real World Story
Sebastian, who is 25 months old, is engaged in
a fine-motor activity provided by his caregiver.
He is holding large, plastic tweezers and is attempting to use them to pick up big, fuzzy balls
off a plastic plate and move them into a plastic
cup. He is holding the plastic tweezers in one
hand, and holds the plate steady on the table.
He repeatedly tries to use one hand, but cannot
pinch the tweezers tightly enough to pick up one
of the balls. Sebastian pauses, looks around, and
picks up the balls with his thumb and forefinger.
Holding the plastic tweezers in one hand and the
ball in the other, Sebastian places the ball in the
tweezers and then pinches it closed. He moves
it over to the plastic cup and drops it inside. He
then grabs another fuzzy ball and places it in
the tweezers. Again, he pinches it tightly and
transfers it to the cup. Sebastian engages in the
same method until all the fuzzy balls on his
plate are now inside his cup. Once he is done, he
empties out the cup onto the plate and starts all
over. After successfully completing the process
again, he holds out his full cup toward his caregiver, Maria. She sees him, smiles, and gives two
thumbs up. Sebastian grabs his cup and walks
138
over to her. He hands Maria the cup and walks
away from the table.
THIS EXAMPLE HIGHLIGHTS how children
This story also relates to:
self-regulation
Attention Regulation, p. 21
use physical trial and error to solve prob-
domain 1: Social & Emotional
lems. Sebastian is not successful in his initial
Self-Concept, p. 43
attempts to pick up the small objects with his
tweezers. However, he pauses to think about
possible ways to work on this problem, and
domain 2: Physical
Fine Motor, p. 61
Perceptual, p. 65
then changes his process. Instead of pinching
the tweezers to grab the ball, he places the
ball in between the tweezers and then pinches
it closed. This is easier for him, as he is still
developing the fine motor skills necessary to
be able to complete this task. Once he realizes
he is successful in accomplishing his goal, he
engages in this task until he has finished placing every ball on his plate into the cup. He then
repeats the activity all over again. Sebastian’s
ability to successfully problem solve builds his
self-confidence. Maria’s positive acknowledgment of his accomplishment further supports
his social and emotional development. A positive self-concept and increasing self-confidence
is very important for Sebastian’s future learning and overall healthy development.
domain 4: Cognitive
Logic & Reasoning, p. 113
APPROACHES TO LEARNING
Confidence & Risk-Taking
Children build their confidence through their relationships with nurturing and responsive caregivers. Caregivers who are attuned to children’s needs and respond consistently and promptly, nurture feelings
of self-worth in children. Children learn to feel that they are
important, and they learn to trust. This builds
the self-confidence that is needed for them
to take on developmentally appropriate risks.
These risks include developmental tasks such as
crawling, walking, playing, trying new experiences, and building relationships with peers.
At first, children use their confidence to
take on physical risks. Between nine and 12
months of age, children experiment with moving objects in different ways, such as pushing
and throwing. They also master skills such as
crawling and walking. They attempt and work
on these skills in the context of secure relationships. Once children accomplish skills, caregivers can share in children’s excitement, further
building their confidence and sense of mastery
for new skills to come. Around 18 to 24 months
of age, they begin to take on emotional risks.
They begin to play farther and farther away
from their caregivers, but will still check in as
needed. Between 24 and 36 months, children
initiate interaction with peers, and attempt to
tackle challenges on their own before reaching
out to caregivers.
Caregivers play an important role in fostering confidence in children. They need to be sensitive to children’s temperament and comfort
levels in new situations. Children can become
overwhelmed with their growing abilities and
may display frustration or fear at times. When
caregivers are sensitive to children’s temperament, feelings, and comfort level, children feel
safe and supported, and confidently engage in
new experiences at their own pace.
Standard: Children
demonstrate a willingness to
participate in new experiences
and confidently engage in risktaking.
Discover how Confidence &
Risk-Taking is related to:
self-regulation
Emotional Regulation, p. 17
Behavior Regulation, p. 25
domain 1: Social & Emotional
Attachment Relationships, p. 31
Self-Concept, p. 43
domain 2: Physical
Gross Motor, p. 57
Fine Motor, p. 61
domain 3: Cognitive
Spatial Relationships, p. 101
Safety & Well-Being, p. 125
139
approaches to learning Confidence and Risk-Taking
Standard: Children demonstrate a willingness to participate in new experiences and confidently engage in risk-taking.
During this
age period:
Secure base
behavior is
described as children’s ability to
use their primary
caregiver(s), as
both a physical
and emotional
base while
exploring their
environment. This
behavior emerges
between seven
and 18 months of
age.
Birth to 9 months: Children begin to build confidence
7 months to 18 months: Children begin to use their
through the everyday interactions they experience with their
caregivers. These interactions form special relationships, which in
turn build the “secure base” for children to take risks and try new
experiences.
developing confidence to engage in simple risk-taking behavior
as they physically explore their environment in the context of a
secure relationship.
Indicators for children include:
Indicators for children include:
•Cries and/or uses body language to signal and get needs met,
e.g., averts gaze, arches back
•Begins to take great risks with little regard for danger, e.g., lunging off a couch to reach for an object
•Explores new objects with eagerness, e.g., squeals and/or
squeezes a toy
•Becomes more intentional and confident when playing and interacting, e.g., grabs, pushes, throws
•Uses different approaches for accomplishing a simple task, e.g.,
reaching, kicking, vocalizing
•Uses trial and error to solve a problem, e.g., tries different
angles when attempting to place a shape in a shape sorter
•Attempts new skills on his or her own while “checking in” with
a familiar adult, e.g., a new crawler begins to move, then turns
toward the caregiver for reassurance before crawling away
Strategies for interaction:
Strategies for interaction:
•Provide nurturing and consistent care in order to build the
child’s self-confidence
•Provide an interesting and safe environment for the child to
explore; remain watchful and intervene when needed to keep
the child safe
•Create an environment where the child has access to age-appropriate toys
•Use nonverbal and verbal cues to encourage and support the
child as he or she engages in a new activity, e.g., smile, nod,
clap
•Provide support in new situations, while allowing the child room
to explore new objects
140
•Recognize that the child needs time to adjust to new skills, e.g.,
the child can suddenly become frightened by his or her expanding capabilities
•Encourage the child to try new ways of doing things
approaches to learning Confidence and Risk-Taking
Standard: Children demonstrate a willingness to participate in new experiences and confidently engage in risk-taking.
16 months to 24 months: Children increase their
confidence in the context of a secure relationship, and begin to
engage in more complex tasks and seek out new situations.
21 months to 36 months: Children use their
Indicators for children include:
Indicators for children include:
•Plays and explores farther away from attachment figure; continues to “check in” for reassurance, e.g., plays across the room
and glances toward caregiver, then re-engages in playing
•Attempts to independently resolve social conflicts without
automatically running to the caregiver, e.g., tries to retrieve an
object that was taken away by a peer
•Seeks out assistance and reassurance from familiar others
•Demonstrates eagerness and determination when problemsolving during new tasks, e.g., the child who pushes the
caregiver’s hand away and refuses help until he or she is
ready to ask for it
•Demonstrates confidence in abilities and achievements, e.g.,
cheers or claps when accomplishing a goal such as completing a
simple puzzle
confidence to begin taking emotional risks in addition to physical
risks, with support from their caregiver(s).
During this
age period:
•Joins in a new activity after cautiously observing at first
Strategies for interaction:
Strategies for interaction:
•Remain available for the child during play; use reassuring cues
to encourage the child to explore, e.g., smile, nod, and clap
•Validate the emotions the child is feeling, e.g., “I can see you are
upset that your toy was taken away from you.”
•Provide materials and activities that are challenging but not frustrating, e.g., large blocks, a simple puzzle
•Model thoughtful and polite behavior through everyday interactions
•Be sensitive to the child’s temperament; recognize that the child
may need some time to engage in a new experience; allow the
child to observe until he or she is ready to take part
•Provide the child with opportunities to problem-solve on their
own, intervening only when the child appears to become frustrated and/or asks for help
141
approaches to learning Confidence and Risk-Taking
A Perspective on
Risk-Taking
The term “risk-taking” can be a bit
unsettling for caregivers. Caregivers
work hard to ensure that children
always remain safe and secure. However,
developmentally appropriate risk-taking
is a positive and natural behavior in
children. When children feel trust in
their caregivers and feel confident in
their own abilities, they take on the
necessary risks to learn new skills. With
caregivers’ support and encouragement, children attempt to master new
skills and, when they are successful,
build feelings of pride and self-worth.
Risk-taking refers not only to physical risks such as crawling and walking.
Risk-taking also refers to the emotional
risks that children take through their
relationships with others. For example,
a 12-month-old takes on an emotional
risk when he or she relies on another
person, different from their caregiver, to
provide care. These are important risks
children need to take to develop healthy
social relationships in the future.
142
APPROACHES TO LEARNING
Persistence, Effort, & Attentiveness
Children use sensory exploration and social interaction to learn
about their world. While young children do not have the capacity
to attend to objects or people for very long periods of time, they are
building this skill with early experiences. Children demonstrate an
initial interest in their world by simply observing. They focus on faces, high-contrast patterns, sounds, and eventually, specific objects.
As they get older, children start to physically
explore their environment. They use their
hands to twist, shake, and move objects. They
find delight in repeating actions that they enjoy,
such as shaking a rattle or banging a toy drum.
Engagement in these experiences promotes the
development of persistence, effort, and attentiveness.
After 12 months of age, children become
increasingly focused on completing simple
tasks. For example, they may sit for brief periods of time, drop objects into a bucket, dump
them out, and then repeat the entire process
over and over again. Children also start to
become very persistent when trying to accomplish a goal. They do not have the language or
the regulatory capacity to control their emotions and will act out in frustration when they
encounter challenges. Caregivers are there to
support children through this process and
encourage them to keep trying, while helping them problem-solve along the way. While
children’s ability to remain focused is increasing, they are still easily distracted. Caregivers
can support children’s learning by setting up an
enriching learning environment that promotes
interaction and minimizes disruptions.
Standard: Children
demonstrate the ability to
remain engaged in experiences
and develop a sense of purpose
and follow-through.
Discover how Persistence, Effort,
& Attentiveness is related to:
self-regulation
Attention Regulation, p. 21
domain 1: Social & Emotional
Relationship with Adults, p. 39
Self-Concept, p. 43
domain 4: Cognitive
Logic & Reasoning, p. 113
Quantity & Numbers, p. 117
143
approaches to learning Persistence, Effort, & Attentiveness
Standard: Children demonstrate the ability to remain engaged in experiences and develop a sense of purpose and follow-through.
During this
age period:
Persistence is
the ability to see
a process through
in order to accomplish a particular
goal. Children
demonstrate
persistence when
they work through
challenges to
complete tasks
and/or actions.
Birth to 9 months: Children observe, explore, attend and
7 months to 18 months: Children begin to become
interact with the world around them.
more persistent in interacting with people, exploring objects,
and accomplishing tasks. While their ability to sustain attention
increases, they are still easily distracted by other objects and
events in the environment.
Indicators for children include:
Indicators for children include:
•Establishes and sustains eye contact with caregiver(s)
•Participates in back-and-forth interactions, e.g., plays peek-a-boo
with an adult
•Focuses attention on sounds, people, and objects
•Repeats interesting actions over and over
•Indicates preferences by using nonverbal cues, e.g., turning
head, kicking feet
•Repeats activities over and over, e.g., successfully inserts all the
shape sorter’s pieces, dumps them out, and starts again
•Begins to attempt assisting in self-help activities, e.g., feeding,
grooming
•Demonstrates preferences, e.g., gestures to the bean bag and
says “no” when presented with something else
Strategies for interaction:
Strategies for interaction:
•Engage and play with the child often
•Share in the accomplishments of the child; encourage him or her
throughout the process of working through tasks
•Provide interesting and age-appropriate toys and objects for
exploration without overstimulating the child; limit the number
of toys, colors, and sounds found in the environment
•Acknowledge and respond thoughtfully to the child’s communication efforts
•Engage and play with the child on a daily basis
•Follow the child’s lead when engaging in activities
•Allow the child to help in self-help activities when he or she
demonstrates an interest
•Acknowledge when the child demonstrates a preference, e.g.,
“You want the blue cup, here it is.” Or “I can see that you want to
read a book, but now it is time to eat.”
144
approaches to learning Persistence, Effort, & Attentiveness
Standard: Children demonstrate the ability to remain engaged in experiences and develop a sense of purpose and follow-through.
16 months to 24 months: Children increase their
ability to remain focused on goal-oriented tasks. At this stage,
persistence is evidenced by the process the child engages in to
discover how to accomplish the goal, instead of by the end result.
21 months to 36 months: Children can attend to
Indicators for children include:
Indicators for children include:
•Focuses for longer periods of time on activities
•Makes choices based on preferences, and at times, in opposition
to adult choices, e.g., “No milk, want juice”
•Engages for longer periods of time when trying to work through
tasks, e.g., fits puzzle pieces together
tasks for longer periods of time, and their ability to persist in
increasingly difficult tasks increases. In addition, children are
now able to attend to more than one event in their environment;
this skill enables them to stay focused even when there are
distractions.
During this
age period:
•Attempts to try a difficult task for an increasing amount of time
•Repeats experiences he or she enjoys, e.g., says “more” after
reading his or her favorite book
•Practices an activity many times in order to master it, even if
setbacks occur
•Demonstrates preferences for activities, e.g., reads with a
caregiver, plays at the sand table, prefers to sit by certain
caregivers
•Shows interest in completing routine tasks independently, e.g.,
zips up coat, puts on shoes
Strategies for interaction:
Strategies for interaction:
•Provide the child with different manipulatives that he or she can
explore independently, e.g., puzzles, peg boards, books
•Allow the child to make certain choices throughout the day
•Celebrate the child’s accomplishment in a genuine manner
•Provide the child with blocks of uninterrupted time to work on
activities
•Offer support and guidance if the child becomes frustrated when
playing; respond promptly if the child calls for assistance
•Support the child in building attention by extending interactions,
e.g., adding a new experience to the current interaction
•Recognize the child’s favorite activities and use them to identify
other toys and materials that he or she will be interested in
•Assess how to best support the child in completing complex
tasks; take into account varying abilities of each child
•Provide the child with a small amount of responsibility, e.g., setting the cups out for snack time or holding the door for peers
145
approaches to learning Persistence, Effort, & Attentiveness
Real World Story
Ava is 13 months old. She is sitting in her play
room, placing blocks, one by one, back into a
basket. She remains engaged in this particular
activity until she puts all of the blocks back in
where they belong. After she is done, she walks
over to the corner of the playroom and attempts
to move her push toy away from the wall. Her
mom, Liz, is sitting on the floor, observing her.
Ava pushes the cart forward; unfortunately,
this action just moves the cart into the wall.
She tries the same action and gets the same
result. Ava stops, kneels down, and looks at the
buttons on the cart. She stands up and again
attempts to move the cart by pushing it forward.
After hitting the wall once again, Ava shakes
the cart and grunts. She looks at her mom and
points at the cart. Liz moves close to Ava and
says, “Let’s try moving it this way.” Liz places
her hands over Ava’s and guides her in moving
the cart backward. Ava is not yet steady on her
feet, so walking backward is extremely challenging. Ava falls. Liz stops and says, “Mommy
is going to turn it around for you.” Liz turns
the cart around, and Ava stands up. Ava walks
146
behind the cart and places herself in the correct
position to push the cart forward. She moves
the cart and smiles. Liz claps her hands and
says, “You did it, my big girl!” Ava continues to
walk forward, successfully pushing the cart as
she moves.
This story also relates to:
self-regulation
Attention Regulation, p. 21
domain 1: Social & Emotional
Attachment Relationships, p. 31
Self-Concept, p. 43
IN THIS EXAMPLE Ava demonstrates her abil-
domain 2: Physical
ity to accomplish two tasks. As Ava places all
she is able to attend for a brief period of time
Gross Motor, p. 57
Fine Motor, p. 61
Perceptual, p. 65
by putting all of the blocks away. Ava dem-
domain 4: Cognitive
onstrates the beginning of number concept
Quantity & Numbers, p. 117
the blocks back in the basket, she shows how
and quantity as she reaches back each time
for another block until there are no more. The
second task that Ava engages in highlights
how she attempts to solve a challenge repeatedly to achieve her goal. While she is not able
to turn the push cart on her own, she tries a
few times before communicating for help. Liz
supports Ava’s emerging abilities by placing
her hands over Ava’s to guide her. However,
she recognizes that Ava is not quite ready, and
moves the cart around so Ava can push it successfully. Once Ava is successful, Liz shares in
her accomplishment.
APPROACHES TO LEARNING
Creativity, Inventiveness, & Imagination
Children are active learners when exploring their environment. They
first observe the world around them. They pay attention to sounds,
colors, movement, and engage in interactions with their caregivers.
As they grow, children become more purposeful when engaging with their environment.
They mouth and manipulate objects in order to
learn about them. Children repeat actions in
order to produce outcomes they enjoy, such as
smiling at a caregiver to get a smile in return.
Around one year of age, children become more
creative in how they interact with people and
objects. They start to experiment with new ways
of doing things, and expand how they interact
with objects and people. For example, at six
months, children will hold a toy car in their
hands and play by mouthing the object. At 13
months, children will hold the car and push it
around the floor. This demonstrates growth in
children’s cognitive development, as they use
objects the way they are intended to be used.
While this knowledge is not translated into
innovative actions, it does set the stage for the
development of creativity in the future.
Once children develop symbolic thought,
their play becomes increasingly creative and
inventive. Children will use objects in new and
unexpected ways. They might place a basket on
their head, or use their feet to move an object.
Children begin to imitate adult actions and use
objects to represent things they are familiar
with. For example, children may pretend to
drink milk out of a cup, or pretend to brush
their hair with their hands. Children’s developing language abilities also provide new ways to
explore creativity. Children use language to pretend play, engage others in playful interaction,
and express feelings and inventive ideas.
Standard: Children
demonstrate the ability to use
creativity, inventiveness, and
imagination to increase their
understanding and knowledge
of the world.
Discover how Creativity,
Inventiveness, & Imagination
is related to:
self-regulation
Attention Regulation, p. 21
domain 1: Social & Emotional
Emotional Expression, p. 35
Relationship with Adults, p. 39
domain 3: Language
Social Communication, p. 75
Expressive Communication, p. 83
domain 4: Cognitive
Symbolic Thought, p. 105
Creative Expression, p. 109
147
approaches to learning Creativity, Inventiveness, & Imagination
Standard: Children demonstrate the ability to use creativity, inventiveness, and imagination to increase their understanding and
knowledge of the world.
During this
age period:
Symbolic
representation
refers to children’s
understanding of
how an image or
different objects
can represent
familiar objects.
Birth to 9 months: Children observe and interact with
7 months to 18 months: Children first begin using
their surrounding environment, and begin to build the skills
needed to manipulate objects and materials in different ways.
most objects and materials for their intended use. As they
develop, children begin to experiment with using these objects
and materials in new and unexpected ways.
Indicators for children include:
Indicators for children include:
•Observes materials, objects, and people with curiosity
•Imitates a peer’s actions, e.g., bangs on table with cup
•Actively explores new objects found in the environment by
touching, patting, and mouthing
•Uses objects as they’re intended to be used, e.g., rolls a toy car
•Reaches for objects in close proximity
•Imitates sounds, movements, and facial expressions, e.g., moves
body up and down after caregiver initially moves in that manner
•Spends increasing amounts of time exploring and learning about
objects, e.g., will attend to a new toy for longer periods of time
in order to make sense of it
•Begins to use objects in new and unexpected ways, e.g., places a
basket on head
•Imitates actions of other people in a playful manner, e.g., wags
finger at baby doll and says, “no, no, no”
Strategies for interaction:
Strategies for interaction:
•Create an inviting environment for the child to explore; change
materials and toys in the child’s environment on a regular basis
•Respond enthusiastically when the child demonstrates new uses
for objects he or she has discovered
•Follow the child’s lead during play
•Provide materials that can be used in more than one way
•Engage with the child while he or she is exploring, e.g. demonstrate what the object or toy does
•Change objects and toys frequently for the child
•Provide toys and experiences that have a variety of colors, textures, sounds, and smells
148
•Play with the child often and encourage creativity
•Imitate the child in a genuine manner during play
approaches to learning Creativity, Inventiveness, & Imagination
Standard: Children demonstrate the ability to use creativity, inventiveness, and imagination to increase their understanding and
knowledge of the world.
16 months to 24 months: Children begin to expand
how they use creativity, imagination, and inventiveness through
the use of symbolic representation in play.
21 months to 36 months: Children incorporate their
Indicators for children include:
Indicators for children include:
•Pretends one object is really another by using substitution, e.g.,
using a toy car to brush hair
•Expands use of objects and toys in new and unexpected ways;
makes a road out of a few blocks; or substitutes an object for
another to solve a problem
•Engages in pretend play with familiar objects and experiences,
e.g., places baby doll in stroller and pushes the stroller
•Engages familiar adults in pretend play, e.g., hands the adult a
play cup and pretends to pour “tea” into it
•Communicates in creative ways, e.g., plays with words by rhyming, chanting, or making up songs; uses movement and dance
use of creativity, inventiveness, and imagination in a more
complex manner while they play, communicate, and problemsolve.
•Takes on familiar roles during play, e.g., cooks in the pretend
kitchen
•Expresses inventive ideas to peers while playing; becomes directive, e.g., “You will be the police officer and you have to wear
this.”
•Creates an art project and creates a simple story to accompany
the artwork
Strategies for interaction:
Strategies for interaction:
•Play with the child; follow the child’s lead
•Interact with the child during pretend play and follow his or her
lead
•Narrate the child’s play, e.g., “Are you taking the baby for a walk
to the store?”
•Encourage the child’s creative and inventive attempts
•Actively engage with the child while playing; demonstrate enthusiasm and delight
During this
age period:
•Ask open-ended questions while playing with the child in order
to expand on thoughts and language
•Encourage the child to think of new ideas, e.g., “What do you
think happens after the butterfly flies away?”
149
Appendices
Horizontal Alignment Overleaf
Vertical Alignment Page 152
Glossary Page 154
Endnotes Page 156
Horizontal Alignment
Where do the Illinois Early Learning Guidelines fit into the Fabric of
Birth-to-Three Programs and Service Systems?
Horizontal alignment demonstrates how
developmental guidelines are interconnected
with the implementation of program components across a multitude of service systems.
The Early Learning Guidelines are intended to
support and enhance the ability of professionals
to implement program curriculum, program
standards, and child assessment. This implementation should be appropriate to the given
service delivery type, model, or mechanism,
through programs such as home visiting, child
care, early intervention, and others. Rather than
replace any of the essential components for
implementing high-quality programs for infants
and toddlers, which include curriculum, program standards, and assessments, the Guidelines fit into a coherent framework and are
aligned with these essential components. All the
elements are nested in a system of professional
development. These guidelines were designed to
support infant-toddler practitioners regardless
of program setting. The developmental progression of what children should know and be able
to do within stages outlined in this document
are the same for all children, taking into consideration individual developmental needs and
trajectory, and apply irrespective of the settings
in which children are being cared for. When
all practitioners responsible for this care are
operating from the same base of knowledge and
speaking from the same “play book,” we will be
able to create a more unified language amongst
those practitioners. This will help practitioners
engage with the parents and each other around
developmentally appropriate expectations for
learning and growth in children.
How Supports for Quality
Programming Fit Together:
Early Learning Guidelines describe what
children should know and be able to do along
a continuum, including indicators to help
show how development can be seen in everyday behavior. Guidelines, age descriptors, and
indicators are based in the extensive child
development research literature. The Illinois
Early Learning Guidelines provide practitioners
with a “line of sight” for development in the
first three years of life, describing how children
progress along the developmental trajectory.
Curriculum helps outline how practitioners
go about teaching young children and supporting their development in their practices.
Curriculum is usually designed for the specific
setting or program type (e.g., home visiting,
center-based early care and education, etc.).
Research-based curricula are rooted in the
same developmental science underlying the
growth and learning expectations described in
these guidelines.
Child Assessments are a way to measure and
understand where children are along a developmental continuum and can help to identify
where developmental learning needs to be
further supported. Assessments are also rooted
in the same science describing what children
should know and be able to do that informs this
document. Specific assessments tie into some
curricula, while other assessments can be used
independently across curricula.
Program Standards describe required struc-
tural elements of specific programs that need
to be in place to achieve stated program goals.
These are frequently determined by program
funders or models, and can include requirements such as specific ratios and/or group sizes,
teacher/practitioner qualifications and/or training, and the use of a research-based curriculum.
The Illinois Early Learning Guidelines can be
Curriculum
Framework
t
en
Illinois
Early Learning
Guidelines
op
al Developm
ion
en
s
s
t
fe
Program Standards
and
Guidelines
ional D
ev
fess
el
Pr
o
Implementation of the Illinois Early Learning
Guidelines happens as practitioners become
better acquainted with the knowledge of development in the first three years of life, using it as
they do the work of program implementation,
and ultimately interacting with young children
and their families. To this end, professional
o
Pr
How Implementation Happens:
m
implemented in conjunction with program
standards through requirements such as specific trainings on the guidelines.
preparation and pre- and in-service training and technical assistance systems play
Child & Family
Outcome
Assessment
Systems
Pr
of
es
sio
nal
en
m
p
o
Devel
t
a critical role in quality implementation of
these Guidelines. Training on the Guidelines
must be tailored to professionals based on the
context of the setting in which they are delivering services. The Guidelines must also be
integrated into ongoing professional development and coaching at all levels, so that program
leaders can support staff in embedding developmentally appropriate practices throughout all
their work.
151
Vertical Alignment
Illinois Early Learning Guidelines:
The Foundation for Later Learning
The growth that happens in the first three years
of life lays the foundation for later learning;
therefore it is important to consider the alignment of the Early Learning Guidelines with the
learning standards and guidelines for children
in older age groups. Vertical alignment refers to
the process of ensuring guidelines for one age
period are in sync with guidelines from the age
periods that come before it and/or those periods that follow after. An understanding of the
learning and growth from birth to three is fundamental to understanding and supporting the
growth and development expected in all future
age periods. In general, while the Standards
and Guidelines for the younger ages are more
oriented toward a developmental approach to
learning and growth, standards for the K–12
period become more oriented toward academic
or subject matter content.
Ensuring “vertical” alignment was a priority throughout the development of these
Guidelines. This was done through content
configuration and the careful consideration of
age appropriate indicators. The content of the
Early Learning Guidelines outlines growth and
development from birth to age three and is the
essential building block upon which all other
development progresses.
Just as the domains of development cannot be fully detangled from one another, the
152
Set of Standards
Includes:
Illinois Learning
Standards
Fine Arts
Foreign Language
Language Arts (Common Core K–12)
Mathematics (Common Core K–12)
Physical Development and Health
Science
Social Science
Social Emotional Learning
Illinois
Early Learning
Standards for
Kindergarten
(Age 5 to 6)
Fine Arts
Foreign Language
Language Arts
Mathematics
Physical Development and Health
Science
Social/Emotional Development
Social Science
Head Start
Child Outcome
Framework
(Age 3 to 5)
Approaches to Learning
Creative Arts
Language Development
Literacy
Mathematics
Physical Health and Development
Science
Social and Emotional Development
Illinois Early
Learning
Standards for
3- to 4-Year-Olds
(Age 3 to 4)
Fine Arts
Foreign Language
Language Arts
Mathematics
Physical Development and Health
Science
Social/Emotional Development
Social Science
Illinois
Early Learning
Guidelines
for Children
Birth to Age 3
(Birth to age 3)
Approaches to Learning
Cognitive Development
Language Development,
Communication, & Literacy
Physical Development & Health
Self-Regulation
Social & Emotional Development
including new
Common Core
Standards
(Early Elementary
through High
School)
Career and
College Readiness
Illinois Learning Standards
(includes Common Core)
Early Elementary through High School
Illinois Early Learning Standards for
Kindergarten
Age 5 to 6
Illinois Early
Learning Standards
Age 3 to 4
Head Start
Child Outcome
Framework
Ages 3 to 5
learning that happens within a specific domain of the early learning
guidelines for children birth to three informs learning and development beyond any one other specific domain in the learning standards for later ages. For example, while there is a direct correlation
between language development happening from birth to three years
and the fulfillment of the Language Arts benchmarks outlined in the
Illinois State Board of Education’s standards for Kindergarteners, the
acquisition of language that happens in the first three years of life
allows for all learning that happens subsequently far beyond those
specific benchmarks for Language Arts—including, at minimum,
Math, Science, Social Studies, Fine Arts, and Foreign Language.
In Illinois, the guidelines and standards in place for children from
three to four years old include the Illinois Early Learning Standards and the Head Start Child Outcomes Framework. Next, vertical
alignment considers the Illinois Early Learning Standards for Kindergarten and the content areas covered by these standards, which
are designed for children age five and six. Following these standards
are the Illinois Learning Standards that cover elementary through
high school and include Social Emotional Learning, and the Common Core Standards.
Illinois Early Learning Guidelines
Birth to Age 3
153
Glossary
Caregivers are those who are primarily
responsible for the care of the child. Caregivers
include parents, grandparents, other relatives,
and childcare providers.
Causation refers to the relationship between
Alignment refers to how these early learning
standards relate to the sets of standards in place
for older children. It also illustrates the interconnectedness of these standards within state
systems and early childhood programs, producing healthy outcomes.
Attachment figures refer to a few, select
caregivers, with whom children have an attachment relationship. Attachment figures can
include parents, grandparents, relatives, and
childcare providers.
Attachment refers to the bond between a child
and their primary caregiver(s). The secure
attachment relationship provides emotional
and physical security for the child, and is the
foundation for development and learning.
Attending refers to children’s ability to remain
Code-switching is the practice of moving back
Gross motor refers to the control and move-
and forth between two languages within the
same dialogue or conversation.
Concept refers to a general notion or an
Habituation refers to becoming accustomed to
Co-regulator refers to the child’s primary
remain regulated and form basic cycles of sleep,
wakefulness, feeding, and eliminating.
caregiver(s) who assist the child in achieving
regulation through responses, interactions, and
communication.
Cultural variations refer to the differences in
beliefs, practices, and attitudes within the same
cultural group.
Culture consists of the beliefs, behaviors,
trate on something in the environment.
the world.
Attributes are characteristics or properties of
Delayed imitation occurs when a child
imitates an action after a significant amount of
time has passed.
within people’s bodies. These include sleeping,
waking, eliminating, and maintaining normal
body temperature.
ment of large muscle groups such as the torso,
head, legs, and arms.
and not distracted by stimuli occurring in the
environment.
Curiosity is an instinctive drive to learn about
Biological rhythms are patterns that occur
looking away and avoiding eye contact.
abstract idea formed in the mind, derived from
specific occurrences. Early experiences form
schemes, which form into concepts.
Attention is the ability to focus and concen-
ior triggered by biological changes in the brain.
These shifts allow children to grow and gain
new skills.
154
Gaze aversion is the child’s purposefully
objects, and other characteristics common to
the members of a particular group or society.
Bio-behavioral shifts are changes in behav-
Fine motor refers to the movement and coordination of small muscles, such as those in the
hands, wrists, and fingers.
cause and effect. Children understand that specific actions and words affect objects and people
in their environment.
focused on objects and people for brief periods
of time. As they get older, children can attend,
or remain engaged, for longer periods of time.
objects, such as shape, color, or size.
include family members, additional childcare
providers, family friends, occasional caregivers,
and neighbors.
Homeostasis refers to the infant’s ability to
Intentional or goal-directed behaviors are
purposeful and deliberate. Intentional behaviors become increasingly complex as children
grow.
Internal states refer to bodily conditions,
such as hunger, discomfort, or tiredness.
Joint attention is the shared experience of
looking at an object, person, or event, established by pointing, gesturing, or the use of
language and/or vocalizations.
Early literacy encompasses the foundation for
Large muscles refer to the muscles found in
the arms and legs. Large muscle movements
include crawling, kicking, walking, running,
and throwing.
External states refer to what the environment
Linguistic variations are slight differences
within a language and/or dialect.
reading and writing.
demands, such as sounds, actions, touch, or
objects.
Familiar others are people who are a common presence in the life of the child. These may
Object permanence refers to children’s
understanding that objects continue to exist
even though they can no longer be seen or
heard.
Object properties are observable character-
istics that define objects. Examples of object
properties include: size, weight, shape, color,
and temperature.
Overstimulation refers to excessive sounds,
textures, temperatures, and sights that impede
children’s ability to make a meaningful connection with others or objects.
Perceptual development refers to taking in
and interpreting sensory stimuli; it is through
these stimuli that children learn about and
interact with their environment.
Persistence is the ability to see a process
through in order to accomplish a particular
goal. Children demonstrate persistence when
they work through challenges to complete tasks
and/or actions.
Pincer grasp refers to grasping small objects
with the index finger and thumb.
Play is integral in how children learn about
and make sense of their world. Play is enjoyable and spontaneous, and children use play to
discover, pretend, and problem-solve.
Private speech is children’s use of selfdirected language to guide, communicate, and
regulate their behavior and emotions. While
this self-directed language can be heard, it is
not intended for others.
Proximity–seeking behaviors are those that
the child uses to remain physically and emotionally connected to a caregiver, e.g., crawling
over, making eye contact.
Schemes are early frameworks that organize
information and help infants make sense of
their environment.
Secure base behavior is described as the
child’s ability to use their primary caregiver(s)
as both a physical and emotional base while
exploring their environment. This behavior
emerges between seven and 18 months of age.
Stranger anxiety is a normal part of develop-
Self-concept refers to the child’s developing
ment where children may cling to a familiar
adult, cry, or look frightened when an unfamiliar person appears too soon or too close.
Self-regulation is the ability to regulate or
understanding of how an image or different
objects can represent familiar objects.
ability in realizing that one’s body, mind, and
actions are separate from those of others.
control attention, thoughts, emotions, and
behaviors.
Sensory stimuli are sounds, textures, tastes,
sights, and temperatures found in children’s
environments.
Separation anxiety begins to occur between
nine and 14 months and is expressed in tears,
sadness, or anger when a child is physically
separated from his or her primary caregiver(s).
Small muscles refer to the muscles found in
the hands, fingers, feet, and toes.
Symbolic representation refers to children’s
Telegraphic speech is known as the “two-
word” stage and is the use of combining two
words to convey meaning, e.g., “Daddy go.”
Temperament refers to the unique personality
traits that children are born with and that influence how they interact with their environment
and with others.
Textures refer to the different feel, appear-
ance, and/or consistency of objects, surfaces, or
substances.
Toxic stress is detrimental to the developing
Social referencing is the term for the way
child and includes exposure to physical or emotional abuse, chronic neglect, extreme poverty,
constant parental substance abuse, and family
and community violence.
Soothe is the action of providing comfort and
Transitions are changes in children’s activi-
young children take their cues from familiar
others in deciding what emotions and actions
are appropriate.
reassurance.
Spatial relationships refer to where objects
and people are located in space in relation to
other objects and people, and how they move in
relation to each other.
Spontaneous refers to an action that is not
preplanned.
Stimulation refers to any number of sounds,
textures, temperatures, tastes, and sights that
impact a child’s senses or development.
Stimuli are sounds, textures, tastes, sights, and
temperatures found in children’s environments.
ties or locations. Transitions are hard for young
children, as they may feel out of control. Therefore, it is essential caregivers prepare children
for transitions.
Trial and error refers to a child’s use of dif-
ferent strategies while attempting to solve a
problem.
Tummy time is the time babies spend lying
and playing on their stomachs while awake.
This time is important for the development of
head control and neck strength.
155
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159
Photo credit:
March of Dimes Foundation (p.9), by permission
2012
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