CA Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1

CA Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1
California
Preschool
Learning
Foundations
Volume 1
Social-Emotional Development
Language and Literacy
English-Language Development
Mathematics
Publishing Information
The California Preschool Learning Foundations (Volume 1) was
developed by the Child Development Division, California Department of Education through a contract with WestEd. It was edited
by Dixie Abbott, Janet Lundin, and Faye Ong, working in cooperation with Desiree Soto, Consultant, Child Development Division. It
was prepared for printing by the staff of CDE Press: the cover and
interior design were created and prepared by Cheryl McDonald;
typesetting was done by Jeannette Reyes. It was published by the
Department, 1430 N Street, Sacramento, CA 95814-5901. It was
distributed under the provisions of the Library Distribution Act
and Government Code Section 11096.
© 2008 by the California Department of Education
All rights reserved
ISBN 978-0-8011-1681-0
Ordering Information
Copies of this publication are available for sale from the California
Department of Education. For prices and ordering information,
please visit the Department Web site at http://www.cde.ca.gov/
re/pn or call the CDE Press Sales Office at (800) 995-4099. An
illustrated Educational Resources Catalog describing publications,
videos, and other instructional media available from the Department can be obtained without charge by writing to the CDE Press
Sales Office, California Department of Education, 1430 N Street,
Suite 3207, Sacramento, CA 95814-5901; FAX (916) 323-0823
or by calling the CDE Press Sales Office at the telephone number
shown above.
Notice
The guidance in California Preschool Learning Foundations is not
binding on local educational agencies or other entities. Except for
the statutes, regulations, and court decisions that are referenced
herein, the document is exemplary, and compliance with it is not
mandatory. (See Education Code Section 33308.5.)
Contents
A Message from the State Superintendent
of Public Instruction
v
Acknowledgments
vii
Introduction
xi
Foundations in
Social-Emotional Development
1
Foundations in
Language and Literacy
47
Foundations in
English-Language Development
103
Foundations in
Mathematics
143
Appendix: The Foundations
173
California Department of Education • Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1
iii
A Message from the
State Superintendent of Public
Instruction
I
am delighted to present the California
Preschool Learning Foundations
(Volume 1), a publication that I believe
will be instrumental in improving early
learning and development for California’s
preschool children.
Young children are naturally eager to
learn. However, not all of them are ready
for school. All too often, children entering
school for the first time as kindergarteners are already lagging behind their classmates, and this disadvantage can affect
them socially and academically long past
kindergarten. Children who have had the
benefit of attending high-quality preschools
are more comfortable in their surroundings, have been exposed to books, have
learned how to play cooperatively, and are
accustomed to learning with others.
Research shows that all children
can benefit from participating in highquality preschool programs. And a recent
study by the RAND Corporation shows that
closing the school “readiness” gap will help
to close the achievement gap, in which far
too many socioeconomically disadvantaged
students and far too many African American and Latino children are lagging behind
and achieving below their abilities. Not all
preschool programs are equally effective,
however. Those that strengthen children’s
school readiness operate with an in-depth
understanding of what children need to
learn before they start school.
With a goal of ensuring that all
preschools in California offer such highquality programs, the California Depart-
ment of Education, during a three-yearlong collaborative effort with leading
early childhood educators, researchers,
advocates, and parents, developed these
preschool learning foundations.
The foundations outline key knowledge
and skills that most children can achieve
when provided with the kinds of interactions, instruction, and environments
research has shown to promote early
learning and development. The foundations can provide early childhood educators, parents, and the public with a clear
understanding of the wide range of knowledge and skills that preschool children
typically attain when given the benefits
of a high-quality preschool program.
These foundations focus on four
domains: social-emotional development,
language and literacy, English-language
development, and mathematics. They
provide a comprehensive understanding
of what children learn in these four
domains.
It is my hope that these foundations
will help guide and support all California
preschools as they offer developmentally
appropriate activities and instruction that
are both purposeful and playful, instilling
in our young children a love of learning
that will last a lifetime.
JACK O’CONNELL
State Superintendent of Public Instruction
California Department of Education • Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1
v
Acknowledgments
T
he development of the preschool
learning foundations involved many
people. The following groups contributed: (1) project leaders; (2) the Preschool
Learning Foundations Research Consortium; (3) expanded research consortia;
(4) lead researchers; (5) staff from the
California Department of Education (CDE);
(6) early childhood education stakeholder
organizations; and (7) facilitators of public
input sessions.
Project Leaders
The developmental work involved the
tireless work of dedicated staff. The
following staff members are gratefully
acknowledged for their many contributions:
Peter Mangione and Cathy Tsao, WestEd;
Mark Wilson and Stephen Moore, University of California, Berkeley.
Preschool Learning Foundations
Research Consortium
The development of the preschool learning
foundations was guided by a research
consortium composed of the following
members:
Melinda Brookshire, WestEd
Tzur Karelitz, University of California,
Berkeley
Anne Kuschner, Sonoma State University
Peter Mangione, WestEd
Katie Monahan, WestEd
Stephen Moore, University of California,
Berkeley
Maurine Ballard-Rosa, California State
University, Sacramento
Kavita Seeratan, University of California,
Berkeley
Janet Thompson, University of California,
Davis
Ross Thompson, University of California,
Davis
Cathy Tsao, WestEd
Ineko Tsuchida, WestEd
Rebeca Valdivia, WestEd
Ann Wakeley, Sonoma State University
Ann-Marie Wiese, WestEd
Mark Wilson, University of California,
Berkeley
Hiro Yamada, University of California,
Berkeley
Marlene Zepeda, California State
University, Los Angeles
Osnat Zur, WestEd
Lead Researchers
Special thanks are extended to the following lead researchers for their expertise:
Social-Emotional Development
Ross Thompson, University of California,
Davis
Janet Thompson, University of California,
Davis
Language and Literacy*
Anne Cunningham, University of
California, Berkeley
Christopher Lonigan, Florida State
University
English-Language Development
Marlene Zepeda, California State
University, Los Angeles
Mathematics
Doug Clements, State University
of New York
Aki Murata, Mills College and Stanford
University
* Susan Landry and Susan Gunnewig, University of
Texas, Houston, also made valuable contributions
to early drafts.
California Department of Education • Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1
vii
viii
Expanded Research Consortia
Domain experts and their affiliations are
listed as follows:
Social-Emotional Development
Oscar Barbarin, University of North
Carolina, Chapel Hill
Susanne Denham, George Mason
University
Michael Lopez, National Center for Latino
Child & Family Research, Washington
D.C.
Sandra Machida, California State
University, Chico
Ross Thompson, University of California,
Davis
Janet Thompson, University of California,
Davis
Deborah Vandell, University of California,
Irvine
Language and Literacy Development
Sheila Arnold, Orange County
Department of Education
Marilyn Astore, Sacramento County
Office of Education
Janet Barnes, Tehama County Office
of Education
Melinda Brookshire, Sonoma State
University
Larry Champion, Tehama County Office
of Education
Don Corrie, Tehama County Office
of Education
Anne Cunningham, University of
California, Berkeley
Jan Davis, Sonoma State University
Gary DeiRossi, San Joaquin County
Office of Education
Karen Draney, University of California,
Berkeley
Donna Elmore, SETA Head Start
Imelda Foley, Los Angeles Unified School
District
Bertha Franco, United Families, Inc.
Magda Franco, United Families, Inc.
Susan Gunnewig, University of Texas,
Houston
Rena Hallam, University of Tennessee,
Knoxville
Whit Hayslip, Los Angeles Unified School
District
Betsy Hiteshew, University of California,
Los Angeles Extension
Carolyn Huie-Hofstetter, University
of California, Berkeley
Deirdre Jackson, San Bernardino City
Unified School District
Sarah Kania, Tehama County Office
of Education
Linda Kroll, Mills College
Anne Kuschner, Sonoma State University
Susan Landry, University of Texas,
Houston
Amy Lin Tan, Sacramento City Unified
School District
Christopher Lonigan, Florida State
University
Peter Mangione, WestEd
Rick McCallum, University of California,
Berkeley
Daniel Meier, San Francisco State
University
Deborah Montgomery Parrish, American
Institutes for Research
Stephen Moore, University of California,
Berkeley
Roberta Peck, First 5 California
Pat Phipps, California Association for the
Education of Young Children
Eva Ponte, University of California,
Berkeley
Lisa Sandberg, Tehama County Office
of Education
Connie Tate, San Joaquin County Office
of Education
Amy Wagner, WestEd
Mark Whitney, Mira Costa College
Mark Wilson, University of California,
Berkeley
Frank Worrell, University of California,
Berkeley
Joyce Wright, Sacramento County Office
of Education
Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1 • California Department of Education
ix
English-Language Development
Barbara Flores, California State University, San Bernardino
Vera Gutierrez-Clellan, San Diego State
University
Linda Espinosa, University of Missouri,
Columbia
Celia Genishi, Teachers College, Columbia
University
Alison Wishard Guerra, University of
California, San Diego
RaMonda Horton-Ikard, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Gisela Jia, City University of New York
Lisa Lopez, University of South Florida
Marlene Zepeda, California State
University, Los Angeles
Mathematics
Doug Clements, State University of New
York, Stony Brook
Janet Barnes, Tehama County Office of
Education
Melinda Brookshire, Sonoma State
University
Larry Champion, Tehama County Office
of Education
Don Corrie, Tehama County Office of
Education
Jan Davis, Sonoma State University
Gary DeiRossi, San Joaquin County Office
of Education
Karen Draney, University of California,
Berkeley
Donna Elmore, SETA Head Start
Imelda Foley, Los Angeles Unified School
District
Whit Hayslip, Los Angeles Unified School
District
Carolyn Huie-Hofstetter, University of
California, Berkeley
Deirdre Jackson, San Bernardino City
Unified School District
Anne Kuschner, Sonoma State University
Peter Mangione, WestEd
Daniel Meier, San Francisco State
University
Stephen Moore, University of California,
Berkeley
Aki Murata, Mills College and Stanford
University
Deborah Montgomery Parrish, American
Institutes for Research
Roberta Peck, First 5 California
Pat Phipps, California Association for the
Education of Young Children
Eva Ponte, University of California,
Berkeley
Lisa Sandberg, Tehama County Office
of Education
Ann Shannon, University of California,
Berkeley
Eun Soo Shin, University of California,
Berkeley
Amy Wagner, WestEd
Mark Whitney, Mira Costa College
Mark Wilson, University of California,
Berkeley
Frank Worrell, University of California,
Berkeley
Joyce Wright, Sacramento County Office
of Education
California Department
of Education
Thanks are also extended to the
following staff members: Gavin Payne,
Chief Deputy Superintendent; Anthony
Monreal, Deputy Superintendent,
Curriculum and Instruction Branch; and
Michael Jett, Director, Gwen Stephens,
Assistant Director, and Desiree Soto,
Consultant, Child Development Division.
During the lengthy development process,
many CDE staff members were involved
at various levels. Additional thanks are
extended to Sue Stickel,* Meredith
Cathcart, Barbara Metzuk,* Sy Dang
Nguyen, Mary Smithberger, Maria Trejo,
and Charles Vail.
*During the development of the foundations, these
individuals worked for the California Department
of Education.
California Department of Education • Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1
x
Early Childhood Education
Stakeholder Organizations
Representatives from many statewide
organizations provided perspectives
affecting various aspects of the learning
foundations:
Action Alliance for Children
Asian Pacific Islander Community Action
Network
Association of California School
Administrators
California Alliance Concerned with
School-Age Parenting and Pregnancy
Prevention
California Association for Bilingual
Education
California Association for the Education
of Young Children
California Association of Family Child Care
California Association of Latino
Superintendents and Administrators
California Child Care Coordinators
Association
California Child Care Resource and Referral
Network
California Child Development Administrators
Association
California Child Development Corps
California Commission on Teacher
Credentialing
California Community College Early
Childhood Educators
California Community Colleges Chancellor’s
Office
California County Superintendents
Educational Services Association
California Early Reading First Network
California Federation of Teachers
California Head Start Association
California Kindergarten Association
California National Even Start Association
California Preschool Instructional Network
California Professors of Early Childhood
Special Education
California School Boards Association
California State Parent-Teacher Association
California State University Office of the
Chancellor
California Teachers Association
California Tomorrow
Californians Together
Campaign for High Quality Early Learning
Standards in California
Child Development Policy Institute
Child Development Policy Institute
Education Fund
Children Now
Council for Exceptional Children/The
California Division for Early Childhood
Council of CSU Campus Childcare
Curriculum and Instruction Steering
Committee
Fight Crime, Invest in Kids California
First 5 Association of California
First 5 California Children and Families
Commission
Infant Development Association of California
Learning Disabilities Association
of California
Los Angeles Universal Preschool
Mexican American Legal Defense and
Education Fund
Migrant Education Even Start
Migrant Head Start
National Black Child Development Institute
National Council of La Raza
Packard Foundation Children, Families,
and Communities Program
Preschool California
Professional Association for Childhood
Education
Special Education Local Plan Area
Organization
University of California Child Care Directors
University of California, Office of the
President
Voices for African American Students, Inc.
Zero to Three
Public Input Sessions
Special thanks should also be extended to
Joyce Wright, Nancy Herota, the regional
leads of the California Preschool Instructional Network, and to Melinda Brookshire
and Jan Davis, WestEd, for their contributions in facilitating 53 public input
sessions on the draft foundations.
Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1 • California Department of Education
Introduction
T
he preschool learning foundations are a critical step in
the California Department of
Education’s efforts to strengthen preschool education and school readiness
and to close the achievement gap in
California. They describe competencies—knowledge and skills—that most
children can be expected to exhibit in
a high-quality program as they complete their first or second year of preschool. In other words, the foundations
describe what all young children typically learn with appropriate support.
The support young children need to
attain the competencies varies from
child to child. Many children learn
simply by participating in high-quality
preschool programs. Such programs
offer children environments and experiences that encourage active, playful
exploration and experimentation. With
play as an integral part of the curriculum, high-quality programs include
purposeful teaching to help children
gain knowledge and skills. In addition, many children in California’s preschools benefit from specific support in
learning English. Other children may
have a special need that requires particular accommodations and adaptations. To serve all children, preschool
programs must work to provide appropriate conditions for learning and
individually assist each child to move
along a pathway of healthy learning
and development.
All 50 states either have developed
preschool standards documents or are
in the process of doing so. Many of
them have sought to align early learning standards with their kindergarten content standards. In most cases
these alignment efforts have focused
on academic content areas, such as
English–language arts or mathematics.
In California priority has been placed
on aligning expectations for preschool
learning with the state’s kindergarten academic content standards and
complementing the content areas with
attention to social-emotional development and English-language development. Like the learning in such
domains as language and literacy and
mathematics, the concepts in socialemotional development and Englishlanguage development also contribute significantly to young children’s
readiness for school (From Neurons to
Neighborhoods 2000; Eager to Learn
2000; Early Learning Standards 2002).
Because the focus on preschool learning in California includes the full range
California Department of Education • Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1
xi
xii
of domains, the term “foundations”
is used rather than “standards.” This
term is intended to convey that learning in every domain affects young children’s readiness for school.
The preschool learning foundations
presented in this document cover the
following domains:
• Social-Emotional Development
• Language and Literacy
• English-Language Development
(for English learners)
• Mathematics
Together, these domains represent
crucial areas of learning and development for young children. The foundations within a particular domain
provide a thorough overview of development in that domain. Preschool
children can be considered from the
perspective of one domain, such as
language and literacy or socialemotional development. Yet, when
taking an in-depth look at one domain,
one needs to keep in mind that, for
young children, learning is usually an
integrated experience. For example, a
young child may be concentrating on
mathematical reasoning, but at the
same time, there may be linguistic
aspects of the experience.
The foundations written for each of
these domains are based on research
and evidence and are enhanced with
expert practitioners’ suggestions and
examples. Their purpose is to promote
understanding of preschool children’s
learning and to guide instructional
practice. It is anticipated that teachers, administrators, parents, and policymakers will use the foundations as
a springboard to augment efforts to
enable all young children to acquire
the competencies that will prepare
them for success in school.
Overview of the Foundations
The strands for each of the domains
discussed previously are listed in this
section.
Social-Emotional Development
Domain. The social-emotional development domain consists of the following
three strands:
1. Self, which includes self-awareness and self-regulation, social
and emotional understanding,
empathy and caring, and initiative
in learning
2. Social Interaction, which focuses
on interactions with familiar
adults, interactions with peers,
group participation, and cooperation and responsibility
3. Relationships, which addresses
attachments to parents, close
relationships with teachers and
caregivers, and friendships
The competencies covered by the
social-emotional development foundations underscore the multiple ways in
which young children’s development in
this domain influences their ability to
adapt successfully to preschool and,
later on, in school.
Language and Literacy Domain.
The language and literacy foundations address a wide range of specific
competencies that preschool children
will need support to learn. These foundations focus on the following three
strands:
1. Listening and Speaking, which
includes language use and
conventions, vocabulary, and
grammar
2. Reading, which covers concepts
about print, phonological awareness, alphabetics and word/print
Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1 • California Department of Education
xiii
recognition, comprehension and
analysis of age-appropriate text,
and literacy interest and response
3. Writing, which focuses on writing
strategies, including the emergent
use of writing and writing-like
behaviors
The foundations that were written
for this domain reflect the field’s growing interest in and understanding of
the knowledge and skills that foster
children’s language and literacy
learning during the preschool years.
English-Language Development
Domain. The English-language development foundations are specifically
designed for children entering preschool with a home language other
than English. Some English learners
will begin preschool already having
had some experience with English.
For other English learners, preschool
will offer them their first meaningful
exposure to English. No matter how
much background English learners
have with English before they enter
preschool, they will be on a path of
acquiring a second language. As the
English-language development foundations indicate, the learning task
for English learners is sequential and
multifaceted. English learners will
need support in developing knowledge
and skills in the following four strands:
1. Listening, which includes
understanding words, requests
and directions, and basic and
advanced concepts
2. Speaking, which focuses on using
English to communicate needs,
expand vocabulary, become
skillful at engaging in conversations, use increasingly complex
grammatical constructions when
speaking, understand grammar,
ask questions, use social conventions, and tell personal stories
3. Reading, which covers appreciating and enjoying reading,
understanding book reading,
understanding print conventions,
demonstrating awareness that
print conveys meaning, developing awareness and recognition of
letters, demonstrating phonological awareness, and manipulating
sounds, such as rhyming
4. Writing, which includes understanding the communicative
function of writing and engaging
in simple writing and writing-like
behaviors
Unlike the three other sets of foundations, in which the foundations are
linked to age, the English-language
development foundations are defined
by three levels of development—Beginning, Middle, and Later. Depending on
their prior experience with using their
home language and English to communicate with others, preschool English
learners will go through these levels at
different paces. Once children reach
the Later level, they will still need support to continue acquiring English and
to apply their developing linguistic
abilities in every domain.
Mathematics Domain. Young
children’s development of mathematics knowledge and skills is receiving
increasing attention in research and
practice. The mathematics foundations
cover the following five strands:
1. Number Sense, which includes
understanding of counting, number relationships, and operations
2. Algebra and Functions (Classification and Patterning), which focuses
on sorting and classifying objects
California Department of Education • Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1
xiv
and recognizing and understanding simple, repeating patterns
3. Measurement, which includes
comparison and ordering
4. Geometry, which focuses on
properties of objects (shape,
size, position) and the relation
of objects in space
5. Mathematical Reasoning, which
addresses how young children
use mathematical thinking to
solve everyday problems
Preschool programs can promote
young children’s learning in this
domain by encouraging children to
explore and manipulate materials that
engage them in mathematical thinking and by introducing teacher-guided
learning activities that focus on mathematical concepts.
Organization of the
Foundations
In the main body of this document,
each strand is broken out into one or
more substrands, and the foundations
are organized under the substrands.
Foundations are presented for children at around 48 months of age and
at around 60 months of age. In some
cases the difference between the foundations for 48 months and 60 months
is more pronounced than for the other
foundations. Even so, the foundations focus on 48 and 60 months of
age because they correspond to the
end of the first and second years of
preschool. Of course, teachers need to
know where each child is on a continuum of learning throughout the child’s
time in preschool. The Desired Results
Developmental Profile-Revised (DRDPR) is a teacher observation tool that
is being aligned with the foundations.
The DRDP-R gives teachers a means
to observe children’s learning along a
continuum of four developmental
levels.
Finally, the examples listed under
each foundation give a range of possible ways in which children can demonstrate a foundation. The examples
suggest different kinds of contexts in
which children may show the competencies reflected in the foundations.
Examples highlight that children
are learning while they are engaging in imaginative play, exploring the
environment and materials, making
discoveries, being inventive, or interacting with teachers or other adults.
Although often illustrative of the diversity of young children’s learning experiences, the examples listed under a
foundation are not exhaustive. In fact,
teachers often observe other ways in
which young children demonstrate a
foundation.
Note: The Appendix, “The Foundations,” contains a listing of the
foundations in each domain, without
examples.
Universal Design for Learning
The California preschool learning
foundations are guides to support preschool programs in their efforts to foster the learning and development of all
young children in California, including children who have disabilities. In
some cases, children with disabilities
will need to use alternate methods for
demonstrating their development. It
is important to provide opportunities
to follow different pathways to learning in the preschool foundations in
order to make them helpful for all of
California’s children. To that end, the
California preschool learning founda-
Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1 • California Department of Education
xv
tions incorporate a concept known as
universal design for learning.
Developed by the Center for Applied
Special Technology (CAST), universal design for learning is based on
the realization that children learn
in different ways (CAST 2007). In
today’s diverse preschool settings and
programs, the use of a curriculum
accessible to all learners is critical
to successful early learning. Universal design for learning is not a single
approach that will accommodate
everyone; rather, it refers to providing multiple approaches to learning
in order to meet the needs of diverse
learners. Universal design provides
for multiple means of representation,
multiple means of engagement, and
multiple means of expression (CAST
2007). Multiple means of representation refers to providing information in
a variety of ways so the learning needs
of all of the children are met. Multiple
means of expression refers to allowing
children to use alternative methods to
demonstrate what they know or what
they are feeling. Multiple means of
engagement refers to providing choices
for activities within the setting or program that facilitate learning by building on children’s interests.
The examples given in the preschool learning foundations have been
worded in such a way as to incorporate multiple means of receiving and
expressing. This has been accomplished by the inclusion of a variety of
examples for each foundation and the
use of words that are inclusive rather
than exclusive, as follows:
• The terms “communicates” and
“responds” are often used rather
than the term “says.” “Communicates” and “responds” are
inclusive of any language and any
form of communication, including speaking, sign language, finger
spelling, pictures, electronic communication devices, eye-pointing,
gesturing, and so forth.
• The terms “identifies” and “indicates or points to” are often used
to represent multiple means of
indicating objects, people, or
events in the environment. Examples include, among other means
of indicating, the use of gestures,
eye-pointing, nodding, or responding “yes” or “no” when another
points to or touches an object.
Teachers should read each foundation and the accompanying examples,
then consider the means by which
a child with a disability might best
acquire information and demonstrate
competence in these areas. A child’s
special education teacher, parents,
or related service provider may be
contacted for consultation and
suggestions.
The Foundations
and Preschool Learning
in California
The foundations are at the heart
of the CDE’s approach to promoting
preschool learning. Teachers use best
practices, curricular strategies, and
instructional techniques that assist
children in learning the knowledge
and skills described in the preschool
learning foundations. The “how to’s”
of teaching young children include
setting up environments, supporting
children’s self-initiated play, selecting appropriate materials, and planning and implementing teacher-guided
learning activities. Two major considerations underlie the “how to’s” of
California Department of Education • Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1
xvi
teaching. First, teachers can effectively
foster early learning by thoughtfully
considering the preschool learning
foundations as they plan environments
and activities. And second, during
every step in the planning for young
children’s learning, teachers have an
opportunity to tap into the prominent
role of play. Teachers can best support
young children both by encouraging
the rich learning that occurs in children’s self-initiated play and by introducing purposeful instructional activities that playfully engage preschoolers
in learning.
Professional development is a key
component in fostering preschool
learning. The foundations can become
a unifying element for both preservice
and in-service professional development. Preschool program directors
and teachers can use the foundations
to facilitate curriculum planning and
implementation. At the center of the
CDE’s evolving system for supporting
young children during the preschool
years, the foundations are designed to
help teachers be intentional and focus
their efforts on the knowledge and
skills that all young children need to
acquire for success in preschool and,
later on, in school.
References
Center for Applied Special Technology
(CAST). 2007. Universal design for
learning. http://www.cast.org/udl/
(accessed June 8, 2007).
Eager to Learn: Educating Our Preschoolers. 2000. Edited by B. T. Bowman,
M. S. Donovan, and M. S. Burns. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.
Early Learning Standards: Creating the
Conditions for Success. 2002. Washington, DC: National Association for the
Education of Young Children.
From Neurons to Neighborhoods: The
Science of Early Childhood Development.
2000. Edited by J. P. Shonkoff and
D. A. Phillips. Washington, DC:
National Academy Press.
Scott-Little, C.; S. L. Kagan; and V. S.
Frelow. 2006. “Conceptualization of
Readiness and the Content of Early
Learning Standards: The Intersection
of Policy and Research?” Early Childhood Research Quarterly, Vol. 21,
153–73.
Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1 • California Department of Education
FOUNDATIONS IN
Social-Emotional
Development
T
his section describes foundations for the behavior of preschool children in the domain
of social-emotional development. The
goal of the California Department of
Education (CDE) in developing these
foundations was to describe the behaviors that are typical of preschool children who are making good progress
toward readiness for kindergarten. The
research focus was, in particular, on
behavior reflecting age-appropriate
competency for children in the 40- to
47-month age span and children in
the 52- to 59-month age span.
These competencies are included
as foundations for children “at around
48 months of age” and “at around
60 months of age,” respectively. In
focusing on the social and emotional
foundations of school readiness, a
central assumption—well supported
by developmental and educational
research—was that school readiness
consists of social-emotional competencies as well as other cognitive and
motivational competencies required for
success in school. The foundations
of social and emotional development
described here—including the growth
of self-awareness, self-regulation, cooperation and responsibility, social and
emotional understanding, empathy and
caring, interactions with peers, friendship, group participation (such as in
the classroom), initiative in learning,
attachments to parents, close relationships with teachers and caregivers,
and interactions with familiar adults—
are each predictive of children’s adaptation to school and their academic
success. Research literature highlighting the social-emotional foundations
of early school success has been published, and relevant studies from that
literature are cited in the bibliographic
listings at the end of this section.
School readiness consists of
social-emotional competencies as
well as other cognitive and motivational
competencies required for success
in school.
The CDE’s endeavor to describe the
behaviors typical of preschool children
who are on course for school readiness involved three additional assumptions. The first was the assumption
that young children have access to the
appropriate kinds of social interactions, experiences, and environments
that normally support healthy development. Young children growing up in
markedly deprived settings experience
California Department of Education • Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1
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SOCI AL-EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT
2
greater challenges to healthy development because they are more likely to
lack those supports; consequently,
their readiness to begin school is hindered. The second assumption was
that the purpose of these foundations is
to describe typical development rather
than to articulate aspirational expectations for children’s behavior under
the best possible conditions or for the
behaviors to be instilled in children.
In order for these foundations to be
useful, they must describe what can
typically be expected of young children
growing up in conditions appropriate for healthy development. The third
assumption was that these foundations, especially the behavioral examples for each foundation, are not meant
to be assessment items; rather, they are
meant to be guidelines and teaching
tools. Those who use these foundations
should not try to measure the children they observe against the specific
examples included in each domain.
This is because the examples given are
meant to be general illustrations of the
competencies described rather than
essential criteria for age-appropriate
development. Children are different
from one another and will vary in the
extent to which their behaviors match
those given in the examples.
The third assumption was that these
foundations, especially the behavioral
examples for each foundation, are not
meant to be assessment items;
rather, they are meant to be guidelines
and teaching tools.
Educators, early childhood specialists, and others involved in any effort
to describe the behaviors typical of
children at around 48 months of age
compared with children at around
60 months of age will find themselves
humbled by the realization that the
developmental changes apparent over
the course of a single year (albeit a
duration that is one-quarter of the
child’s lifetime to date) can be subtle.
In other words, one should not expect
extensive changes in the behavior of
preschool children during a 12-month
period. Indeed, individual differences
in the characteristics and behavior
of children of any age can be greater
than the average behavioral changes
they will experience over the course
of a year of development. The purpose
of these foundations, however, is to
highlight the developmental differences that are most common between
typical children at around 48 and 60
months of age. Although the differences between children of each age
can be subtle, there are some consistent themes that run throughout the
social-emotional domain. Compared
with younger children, for example,
children at around 60 months of age
are more behaviorally competent and
take greater active initiative in social
interactions and learning; they have
an enhanced psychological awareness
of themselves and others; they have a
greater capacity for self-control; and
their social relationships are more
reciprocal in quality. In general, these
differences should be apparent in various ways across different social and
emotional areas.
Children are a remarkably diverse
population, even when children of
comparable ages are considered. They
vary in their temperamental qualities
and personality, family background,
cultural heritage and values, and other
features that make the application of
these foundations (and the behavioral
examples included in each) a challeng-
Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1 • California Department of Education
ing task. This is another reason the
examples should be used for illustrative purposes only. Indeed, the variability in children’s temperamental
qualities, for instance, means that
different children will display skills
relevant to each social-emotional
foundation in individual ways, thus
requiring care and sensitivity in the
application of these foundations. It is
important that the individual characteristics of a child, the child’s family,
and their background be considered
seriously in determining how the
foundations relate to the child.
Indeed, the variability in children’s
temperamental qualities, for instance,
means that different children will
display skills relevant to each
social-emotional foundation in
individual ways, thus requiring
care and sensitivity in the application
of these foundations.
Children in California are particularly diverse in their culture of origin.
Culture is associated with family values and practices, language, and other
characteristics that are directly related
to the meaning of these foundations
and their application to individual children, especially children who are from
underrepresented groups, English
learners, or from special populations.
Although the developmental research
literature is rich in studies of English-speaking, middle-class EuropeanAmerican children, there is, unfortunately, a dearth of studies focusing on
children who speak other languages
and have other backgrounds. The few
studies that do exist are often so specific to children from particular backgrounds or circumstances as to be of
limited generalizability. With culture
in mind, a number of important studies were enlisted in the preparation of
these foundations (e.g., Cabrera and
Garcia-Coll 2004; Fitzgerald and others 2003; Hughes and Chen 1999;
Hughes and others 2006; Johnson
2005; and Johnson and others 2003).
But it is clear that much more study is
needed.
The lack of adequate research literature on the social-emotional development of preschoolers who are English
learners or from backgrounds other
than European-American should be
considered when using these foundations because they may be of uncertain applicability to such children.
The use of language as an indicator
of social or emotional competency,
for example, may be very different as
applied to English learners, especially
when they are observed in play groups
with predominantly English-speaking
children or are being observed by an
English-speaking teacher. The range of
social relationships on which children
can depend may be influenced by the
cultural context of the child’s development as well as the dominant language
of the adults and children at home.
For some children, language can be
socially isolating. Certain social and
emotional themes in this section, such
as “Initiative in Learning,” may be
limited in application to children from
cultural backgrounds that discourage
the kind of assertiveness typical
of middle-class, English-speaking
children in the same preschool program or setting. It is important, then,
to acknowledge that the research
literature providing a basis for these
foundations draws on populations
of children that vary widely in their
diversity and, thus, must be considered carefully.
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SOCI AL-EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT
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Likewise, these foundations must
be used carefully for children with
special needs. Children who have
physical or mental challenges, neurodevelopmental disorders, or other special needs proceed developmentally in
ways that are similar to, but also different from, more typically developing
children. Again, the research literature
is limited regarding the documentation
of age-related changes in social and
emotional competencies. Furthermore,
because the examples illustrating each
of these competencies are written with
typically developing children in mind,
they may not be consistently relevant
to children with special needs. Caregivers and teachers will be relied on for
the insight needed to understand how
these foundations can be applied to
the children in their care.
It is important, then, to acknowledge
that the research literature providing
a basis for these foundations draws
on populations of children that vary
widely in their diversity and, thus,
must be considered carefully.
Young children acquire social and
emotional competencies in ways that
are often different from how they
acquire competence in the naming of
letters or numbers. As illustrated in
this section, social-emotional skills
emerge through children’s experience
in close relationships and the varied activities that occur in relational
experience, such as shared conversation, warm nurturance, and guided
assistance in learning capacities for
sociability, responsibility, and selfcontrol. Social and emotional skills
also develop through the shared activities of a developmentally appropriate,
well-designed preschool environment.
In such settings (and at home) and
under the guidance of sensitive teachers, young children develop an understanding of other people’s feelings and
needs, are encouraged to feel empathy
and caring, learn to manage their own
behavior as responsible group members, and acquire a variety of other
capabilities that will be directly relevant to their success in managing the
classroom environment of kindergarten
or the primary grades.
Last, but perhaps most important,
play is a central context for social and
emotional development in early childhood. Although these foundations
focus specifically on developmental
changes in only one kind of play (specifically, pretend play), it is apparent
that many kinds of play contribute to
social-emotional competence in preschoolers, including social play with
caregivers and peers, play with toys
and other objects, structured group
activities, and even games with rules.
One conclusion to be derived from this
observation is that play is an essential
cornerstone of healthy social and emotional development in early childhood
and contributes to the skills necessary for adjustment to and success in
school. This conclusion is reflected in
the fact that one-third of the examples
illustrating these competencies are
based on children’s experience in play.
Play is a central context for social
and emotional development
in early childhood.
The preparation of these foundations
enlisted many sources, including
documents from the CDE detailing
developmental expectations in relevant
domains for older and younger children.
Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1 • California Department of Education
In addition, early childhood standards
from a number of other states were
consulted.1 Moreover, general sources
on early childhood development
(e.g., Berk 2006; Hohmann and
Weikart 1995; Shaffer 2004), culture
and development (e.g., Rogoff 1990,
2003), and early learning (Committee
on Early Childhood Pedagogy 2001;
Committee on Developments in the Science of Learning 2000) were consulted.
In addition, a number of well-validated
assessment tools for preschoolers were
relied on, including those developed
by Bricker and others (1999); DichtelEarly childhood standards from the following states
were examined in the preparation of the foundations:
Alaska, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Texas, and Washington.
1
miller and others (2001); High/Scope
Educational Research Foundation
(2003); Meisels and others (2003);
and Squires, Brickner, and Twombly
(2003).
The most important source for
preparing these foundations was the
research literature in developmental
and educational psychology concerning early social and emotional development. A reference list is included at
the end of this section. Detailed bibliographic notes for reference materials
consulted for this domain also appear
later in this section. The bibliographic
notes include useful background information for individuals who may wish
to learn more about the research basis
for these foundations.
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SOCI AL-EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT
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Self
1.0
Self-Awareness
At around 48 months of age
At around 60 months of age
1.1 Describe their physical characteristics, behavior, and abilities
positively.
1.1 Compare their characteristics with
those of others and display a growing awareness of their psychological
characteristics, such as thoughts
and feelings.
Children view their characteristics and abilities
positively, enjoy demonstrating them, and
assert their own preferences and desires.
Children also want to be viewed positively by
adults who matter to them.
Children are confident in their abilities and
characteristics, sometimes (depending on
cultural values) comparing them favorably
with those of others. Children also regard
themselves in terms of their past abilities and
remain sensitive to how they are viewed by
adults, peers, and other people whose opinions
matter to them.
Examples
Examples
• Seeks to do things by himself, sometimes refusing an adult’s assistance, and communicates,
“Do it myself.”
• Communicates, “I can ride a bike, but my baby
sister doesn’t.”
• Communicates, “I like rice!” or “See my picture!”
or “I don’t like getting wet” or “Look what I did!”
• Smiles with delight at accomplishing something
that was difficult to do and looks to the teacher
for acknowledgment.
• Shows a painting or demonstrates an accomplishment to elicit the acknowledgment of the
teacher or parent and smiles when the adult
responds.
• Communicates, “I couldn’t do that when I was
little.”
• Communicates, “My skin is brown,” in a positive
manner.
• Seems disappointed if a drawing or demonstration of physical skill does not elicit the expected
acknowledgement from an adult.
• Seems dismayed and withdraws after her
behavior is disapproved of by an adult.
• Communicates, “I did it!” or “Yea!” after
finishing a puzzle.
• Communicates, “Mine!” when claiming a
preferred toy.
• Expects success in a game or task, even when
he has just failed at the same task.
• Communicates, “Sometimes I just want to be
by myself.”
• Tries new things, even those that may be too
difficult.
• While using her wheelchair, communicates,
“I can go faster than you!”
• Asks for help after several attempts to solve a
problem.
• Communicates, “I can speak Spanish and
English.”
• Watches a peer demonstrate a skill, then tries
to do the same thing.
Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1 • California Department of Education
2.0
Self-Regulation
At around 48 months of age
At around 60 months of age
2.1 Need adult guidance in managing
their attention, feelings, and impulses
and show some effort at self-control.
2.1 Regulate their attention, thoughts,
feelings, and impulses more consistently, although adult guidance
is sometimes necessary.
Children follow simple rules and routines, seek
to cooperate, manage classroom transitions,
and make efforts at self-control (such as
self-soothing and waiting) with adult guidance.
Children also easily lose control of their
attention, feelings, and behavior.
Children anticipate routines, cooperate with
fewer reminders, can focus attention on the
task at hand, and manage transitions. They
are more capable of emotional and behavioral
self-regulation but sometimes require adult
guidance.
Examples
Examples
• Jumps up and down on the couch but stops
when asked to do so by a parent or teacher.
• May anticipate cleanup after play time and begin
cleaning up without being prompted to do so.
• Manages transitions in the classroom routine
(such as moving from play time to cleanup) when
helped to anticipate them or provided some
choice.
• Puts away books where they belong without
being prompted by an adult.
• When asked by a teacher to share with
another child, may initially resist but eventually
cooperates.
• Is more capable of focusing attention on a task in
a busy classroom and is less distractible than a
three-year old.
• Spontaneously tells the teacher she has broken
something.
• Knows to put away his coat and boots after
arriving at the classroom.
• Tells another child about how to treat the
classroom pet.
• Is distracted by other children when working
at a table or easel.
• Suggests that he can share the blocks with
another child.
• Accepts a teacher’s comfort when distressed
and calms readily.
• With a teacher’s prompt, remembers to use
words to convey strong feelings (e.g., “It makes
me mad when you push!”).
• Reacts strongly when a peer takes away a
valued toy.
• Has difficulty following instructions when too
many directions are provided at once.
• Covers her eyes when seeing something that
is upsetting.
• Tries to control her distress after falling off a
tricycle.
• Asks for a teacher’s help when another child will
not share.
• Turns away instead of hitting another child.
• Can be overheard saying when scared by a story,
“It’s just pretend” or “That’s not real, right?”
• Has difficulty waiting an extended period for a
desired object.
• Has strategies for waiting (such as distracting
herself or not looking at the desired object).
• Is learning to act differently in different settings
(e.g., speaking loudly outside rather than in the
classroom), although often has to be reminded
to do so.
• Deliberately slows down her movements in a
game such as “Red Light – Green Light.”
• Explains the reasons for a behavioral rule
(e.g., “We walk inside so we don’t bump into
other people”).
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SOCI AL-EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT
Self | 7
SOCI AL-EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT
8 | Self
3.0
Social and Emotional Understanding
At around 48 months of age
At around 60 months of age
3.1 Seek to understand people’s feelings
and behavior, notice diversity
in human characteristics, and are
interested in how people are similar
and different.
3.1 Begin to comprehend the mental and
psychological reasons people act as
they do and how they contribute to
differences between people.
Children are interested in people’s feelings
and the reasons they feel that way. They can
describe familiar routines, inquire about the
causes and consequences of behavior, and
notice how people are similar and different,
although their understanding is limited.
Children have a better understanding of
people’s thoughts and feelings as well as their
own. They comprehend that another’s ideas
can be mistaken. They are also beginning
to understand differences in personality,
temperament, and background (e.g., culture)
and their importance.
Examples
Examples
• Communicates, “Marco’s crying. He fell down.”
• Tells a teacher, “Jorge was sad because he
thought his mommy wasn’t coming.”
• Conveys a range of feelings, including happy,
sad, and mad and describes simple situations
that evoke them.
• Describes what happens at circle time.
• Shows interest in how another child’s
appearance or eating habits are different
from his own.
• Enacts in pretend play everyday situations
involving people’s emotions and needs
(e.g., the baby doll is crying because she is
hungry).
• Understands that another child might be mad
because she couldn’t do what she desired
(e.g., her block tower keeps falling down).
• Comments on differences in behavior or
appearance between boys and girls.
• Wants to ride in Johnny’s wheelchair or use
Sara’s walker.
• Tries to hide how she is feeling or to “mask” her
feelings with a different emotional expression
(e.g., appearing calm and unafraid when encountering a big dog).
• Communicates about a peer, “Emma’s really shy.”
• Has a growing vocabulary for identifying emotions and can describe more complex emotional
situations that might evoke different feelings.
• Explores more complex feelings, desires, and
concepts in pretend play.
• Deliberately does not communicate truthfully
about inappropriate behavior.
• Describes which peers are friendly, aggressive,
or have other qualities.
• Tends to play in same-sex groups.
• Notices a child with a physical disability and
responds with questions or curiosity.
• Begins to understand how people’s feelings
can be alike and, on other occasions, be very
different.
Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1 • California Department of Education
4.0
Empathy and Caring
At around 48 months of age
At around 60 months of age
4.1 Demonstrate concern for the needs
of others and people in distress.
4.1 Respond to another’s distress and
needs with sympathetic caring
and are more likely to assist.
Children respond with concern when a child
or adult is distressed, strive to understand why,
and may display simple efforts to assist the
other person.
Children respond sympathetically to a distressed person and are more competent at
responding helpfully.
Examples
Examples
• Asks a teacher, “Why is Jessie crying?” and/or
asks the teacher to help.
• Watches another child crying loudly and makes
a sad face.
• Asks a younger child, “Why are you crying?” and
when told that she misses her mommy, communicates, “Don’t worry—your mommy will come
back soon.”
• Communicates about an infant nearby, “Jacob’s
scared of that loud noise.”
• May communicate, “That’s not fair!” in response
to another child being excluded from the group.
• Gets a toy for a distressed peer and may
communicate, “Do you feel better?”
• Helps a friend rebuild a fallen block tower.
• Brings a carrot to school for the class guinea pig.
• Offers a friend her favorite book when she looks
or acts sad.
• May come to the defense of a friend who is
teased by a peer.
• Asks a teacher for bandages after a peer has
fallen and scraped his knee.
• Asks, “Want some water?” of a friend who is
coughing.
California Department of Education • Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1
SOCI AL-EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT
Self | 9
SOCI AL-EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT
10 | Self
5.0
Initiative in Learning
At around 48 months of age
At around 60 months of age
5.1 Enjoy learning and are confident
in their abilities to make new
discoveries although may not
persist at solving difficult problems.
5.1 Take greater initiative in making
new discoveries, identifying new
solutions, and persisting in trying
to figure things out.
Children become engaged in learning
opportunities, approach learning with
enthusiasm, and have confidence in their
capacities to learn more. But they may give
up when facing difficult problem-solving
challenges.
Children are self-confident learners who
become actively involved in formal and informal
learning opportunities by asking questions,
proposing new ways of doing things, and
offering their own ideas and theories.
Examples
Examples
• Shows interest in many different activities in the
classroom.
• Communicates, “Here’s a different way!”
• Responds positively to a teacher’s invitation to
try a new activity.
• Moves away after working on a puzzle that he
has been unable to solve.
• Asks, “Why?” when faced with a perplexing
discovery.
• Notices when a new science display has been
prepared by the teacher.
• Starts many challenging puzzles but may finish
few.
• Asks “why” questions fairly often out of real
curiosity (e.g., “Why is the worm doing that?”).
• Suggests another way of creating a castle at the
sand table.
• Wants to try again when failing in his initial efforts
to solve a problem.
• Offers information about animals that she has
learned at home.
• Initiates a conversation with an adult about a
class activity.
• Works hard on a project that has captured her
interest.
• Communicates, “I’m going to play with blocks
and then go to the science table.”
Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1 • California Department of Education
Social Interaction
1.0
Interactions with Familiar Adults
At around 48 months of age
At around 60 months of age
1.1 Interact with familiar adults comfortably and competently, especially
in familiar settings.
1.1 Participate in longer and more
reciprocal interactions with
familiar adults and take greater
initiative in social interaction.
Children comfortably interact with familiar
adults in play or problem solving, ask questions
or communicate about their experiences,
cooperate with instructions, or demonstrate
skills to the familiar adult, especially in familiar
settings.
Children take increasing initiative in interacting
with familiar adults through conversation,
suggesting a shared activity or asking for the
adult’s assistance, and cooperate readily.
Examples
Examples
• Participates in pretend play or storytelling with
a familiar preschool teacher.
• Asks a specific teacher to help build a road in
the sandbox and interacts cooperatively with the
teacher for a sustained period.
• Shares a brief conversation initiated by a familiar
adult or initiates such a conversation.
• Shows a familiar adult a picture she has drawn.
• Responds appropriately to a request or question
by a teacher, although perhaps with delay.
• Seeks assistance of a familiar adult, often with
nonverbal cues.
• Stays close to a familiar adult when faced with
adult strangers or in an unfamiliar setting.
• Communicates to a weekly volunteer, “Guess
what I did!” and continues conversing with the
visitor about it.
• Answers a teacher’s question, then asks the
teacher another question.
• Communicates, “What?” or “Huh?” when the
teacher asks a question that the child does not
understand.
California Department of Education • Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1
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SOCI AL-EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT
12 | Social Interaction
2.0
Interactions with Peers
At around 48 months of age
At around 60 months of age
2.1 Interact easily with peers in shared
activities that occasionally become
cooperative efforts.
2.1 More actively and intentionally
cooperate with each other.
Children interact comfortably with one or two
playmates, although sociability is still basic.
Children sometimes share materials and
communicate together, occasionally working
cooperatively on a mutual goal or project,
especially with adult support.
Children initiate and participate in more
complex, cooperative activity with peers. This
may involve working together in groups to
achieve a shared goal or communicating about
how to share materials so all can use them.
Examples
Examples
• After watching another child dig in the sandbox,
begins to dig alongside in a similar fashion;
eventually the two children are digging together.
• Invites several children to help dig a hole in the
sandbox.
• Paints with other children on easels side by side,
with the children looking at each other’s pictures,
occasionally conflicting over the sharing of paints,
and commenting about their own painting.
• Responds appropriately to another child’s ideas
about how to build a better car track on the floor.
• Uses rhythm instruments together with several
other children.
• With adult prompting, shares the blocks she is
using or participates in turn-taking with another
child.
• Suggests taking turns riding the tricycle.
• Shares play dough so another child can make
something.
• Talks for several minutes with another child about
how they are dressing up in adult clothes for pretend play.
• Joins several other children to create a train track,
using blocks on the floor.
• Holds the bubble wand for another child so she
can blow bubbles.
• Sets the table with another child, communicating
about what is needed next.
2.2 Participate in simple sequences
of pretend play.*
2.2 Create more complex sequences
of pretend play that involve
planning, coordination of roles,
and cooperation.
Children play imaginative, complementary roles
(such as parent and child) in pretend play but
without much planning or a well-developed
story line.
Children develop longer, more complex pretend
play narratives involving a shared script,
coordination of child-selected roles, and mutual
correction within those roles as they play.
Examples
Examples
• Communicates to another child, “I’ll be the tiger!”
when they are playing outside.
• Creates with a small group of children an
extended imaginary story with a beginning, a
middle, and an end (e.g., a story of sickness and
healing that involves a doctor’s visit, a trip to the
hospital, an operation, and the patient’s recovery).
• Leaps into the air in pretend “flying,” and other
children join in and do the same.
* Children may “play” whether or not they are communicating orally, narrating the play, or motorically engaging in activities.
For example, they may ask an adult or peer to assist in the motor aspects of play.
Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1 • California Department of Education
2.0
Interactions with Peers (Continued)
At around 48 months of age
At around 60 months of age
Examples (Continued)
Examples (Continued)
• Begins roaring like a scary monster; as other
children notice, they run away in mock terror or
become monsters, too.
• Communicates to another child, “You can’t say
that! You’re the baby, remember?”
• Pretends with another child to make a birthday
cake, then the two sing “Happy Birthday.”
• While playing with other children, communicates,
“I’m sick,” to which another child responds,
“Really?” and he responds, “No, just pretend.”
• Acts out a story with peers as a teacher is
reading it to them.
• Communicates to another child, “Let’s say this is
a secret cave, OK?” and the other children in the
group respond, “OK!”
2.3 Seek assistance in resolving peer
conflict, especially when disagreements have escalated into physical
aggression.
2.3 Negotiate with each other, seeking
adult assistance when needed, and
increasingly use words to respond
to conflict. Disagreements may be
expressed with verbal taunting in
addition to physical aggression.
Children seek adult help when experiencing
conflict with another child. Peer disagreements
(such as those regarding the sharing of toys)
can escalate into physical aggression, although
not as readily as happens with children of
younger ages.
Children can suggest simple conflict resolution strategies as well as respond to adult
suggestions for resolving peer disputes.
Children may taunt or tease another child
rather than hitting and may also retaliate when
provoked.
Examples
Examples
• Pulls another child off the tricycle he wants to
ride, then the other child cries and runs to the
teacher for help.
• Communicates at the water table where other
children are playing, “When can it be my turn?”
• At the block area, communicates to the teacher,
“She won’t share!” when another child takes all
the blocks.
• Immediately begins to cry when another child
knocks down the block structure he was building,
then looks for adult assistance.
• Excludes another child from the group, communicating, “You can’t play with us.”
• Communicates to another child in the block area,
“I’m playing with these; you play with those,” or
suggests taking turns.
• Communicates, “I don’t like it when you push
me!” without a prompt from the teacher.
• Pushes another child who shoved her in line, to
which other children respond, “Stop that!”
California Department of Education • Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1
SOCI AL-EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT
Social Interaction | 13
SOCI AL-EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT
14 | Social Interaction
3.0
Group Participation
At around 48 months of age
At around 60 months of age
3.1 Participate in group activities and
are beginning to understand and
cooperate with social expectations,
group rules, and roles.
3.1 Participate positively and cooperatively as group members.
Children enjoy participating in group activities
and are beginning to understand social expectations and group rules and their application.
Children may have difficulty, however, coordinating their interests with those of the group.
Children participate in group activities with
the ability to anticipate familiar routines and
contribute to shared projects more competently
as group members.
Examples
Examples
• Enjoys playing simple games, such as
“Duck-Duck-Goose” or “Follow the Leader,”
with adult help.
• Anticipates the predictable routines of the day,
such as initiating hand washing without being
prompted when snack time arrives.
• Stays with the group for a nature walk.
• Actively explores social roles in imaginative play.
• Notices when other children are missing from
class.
• Is more capable of sustained attention and
remaining engaged in group activities, such as
putting a puzzle together cooperatively.
• Responds appropriately when a teacher
announces circle time or cleanup, although
may need guidance in what to do.
• Is interested in playing games but often deviates
from the rules.
• Attention often wanders after a brief period of
group activity, especially if it is not personally
engaging, which may result in inappropriate
behavior or nonparticipation.
• Begins to explore social roles (e.g., mother,
teacher) in pretend play.
• Applies game rules more consistently for simple
games.
• Knows the procedure for leaving the setting to
go to the bathroom or to another room and
corrects children who do not follow the
procedure.
• Anticipates and begins preparing for an activity,
such as a painting project.
• Sometimes shares spontaneously and thinks
of turn-taking without adult prompting.
• Responds appropriately to verbal prompts in
songs or stories during circle time (e.g., “Hokey
Pokey,” “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes,”
“Itsy Bitsy Spider”).
• Needs help remembering how to prepare for an
activity, such as getting ready to paint at an easel.
• With adult prompting, can share toys or wait
for a turn.
Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1 • California Department of Education
4.0
Cooperation and Responsibility
At around 48 months of age
At around 60 months of age
4.1 Seek to cooperate with adult
instructions but their capacities for
self-control are limited, especially
when they are frustrated or upset.
4.1 Have growing capacities for selfcontrol and are motivated to
cooperate in order to receive adult
approval and think approvingly
of themselves.
Children strive to follow adult instructions to
maintain a good relationship with the parent or
teacher and because of incentives and rules.
Children often become dismayed or distressed
when corrected. Children have more difficulty
complying with instructions when without adult
support or when distressed or frustrated.
Children’s cooperation with adult instructions
is more reliable because of better capacities
for self-control. Children are motivated by adult
approval and by a desire to view themselves
approvingly for their good conduct, reflecting
their acceptance of adult standards for
themselves.
Examples
Examples
• Plays gently with the classroom rabbit when
reminded to do so by the teacher but may play
more roughly on other occasions.
• Tells another child to be gentle with the classroom
guinea pig.
• Seems sad and hides after the teacher comments
on inappropriate behavior.
• Smiles when the teacher comments on the child’s
cooperative behavior while setting the table for
lunch.
• Hits another child when frustrated, then looks at
the teacher.
• Shouts angrily at another child, but looks
confused or upset when the other child begins
to cry.
• Participates in classroom routines, such as
cleanup.
• Suggests taking turns with another child who
wants to ride the tricycle.
• Spontaneously communicates, “I’m a good
helper!”
• Accidentally spills paint on another child’s artwork, then communicates, “I’m sorry,” or gets
another piece of paper for the other child.
• Communicates, “uh-oh,” and begins to pick up
the pieces of a puzzle she has knocked off
a shelf.
• Works cooperatively with a friend to wipe off the
table with sponges after lunch.
• Responds cooperatively when his behavior is
corrected by a teacher.
California Department of Education • Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1
SOCI AL-EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT
Social Interaction | 15
SOCI AL-EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT
16
Relationships
1.0
Attachments to Parents
At around 48 months of age
At around 60 months of age
1.1 Seek security and support from their
primary family attachment figures.
1.1 Take greater initiative in seeking
support from their primary family
attachment figures.
Children use their family caregivers (e.g.,
mother, father, grandparent, other adult raising
the child) as sources of security and support,
especially in challenging circumstances,
by obtaining comfort, requesting help, and
communicating about feelings.
Children seek the support of their family
caregivers, especially in difficult situations,
by requesting help in resolving conflicts with
others, initiating cooperative problem solving,
or seeking comfort when distressed.
Examples
Examples
• Plays comfortably on the other side of the room
or the yard while the parent talks to the teacher,
but cries to the parent to be consoled if hurt or
frustrated and readily calms when comforted.
• With assistance from the parent, describes her
feelings about a recent upsetting experience.
• Asks for the parent’s help with a task (e.g., putting
on shoes) and may cooperate with the parent’s
assistance.
• Seeks the parent’s help in a conflict with a sibling.
• Seeks the parent’s help with a difficult task
(e.g., zipping a coat, folding a note) and
cooperates readily.
• Responds positively to the parent’s arrival after
an absence.
• Runs over to his parent to tell about having
bumped his head and asks for a hug.
1.2 Contribute to maintaining positive
relationships with their primary family
attachment figures.
1.2 Contribute to positive mutual
cooperation with their primary
family attachment figures.
Children prefer interacting with their family
caregivers, choosing them for sharing
activities, providing assistance, and displaying
discoveries or achievements.
Children demonstrate an awareness of the
mutuality of close relationships in their efforts
to be helpful, showing interest in the family
caregiver’s feelings, preferences, or well-being
and sharing activities.
Examples
Examples
• Asks the parent to watch something the child has
learned to do.
• Wants to make a birthday card for the parent
while at school.
• Prefers the parent’s company or assistance to
that of other adults who may be equally available.
• Wants to help the parent care for a baby sibling
or a pet or work together with the parent on a
task at home (as reported by the parent).
• Responds positively when the mother initiates a
conversation about a shared experience, although
will not contribute much to the conversation at
this age.
• Communicates feelings to the mother, sometimes
taking the initiative in doing so.
Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1 • California Department of Education
1.0
Attachments to Parents (Continued)
At around 48 months of age
At around 60 months of age
Examples (Continued)
Examples (Continued)
• Shows the parent a drawing she has made at
school that day.
• Reports to the teacher about helping with a chore
at home.
• Shares information about parents with a teacher
(e.g., “My dad caught a fish!”).
• Shows the attachment figure what she has been
working on at school.
1.3 After experience with out-of-home
care, manage departures and
separations from primary family
attachment figures with the
teacher’s assistance.
1.3 After experience with out-of-home
care, comfortably depart from
primary family attachment figures.
Also maintain well-being while apart
from primary family attachment
figures during the day.
Children show affection to the family caregiver
when the adult departs at the beginning of the
day but may need the assistance of a teacher
in coping with separation.
Children are eager to begin the day in
preschool. They respond affectionately to
the family caregiver as the adult departs
and have little difficulty being separated.
Examples
Examples
• Gives the father a hug and kiss and lingers near
him as he prepares to leave the child at preschool
in the morning.
• Runs into the preschool at arrival to greet friends,
then runs back to the mother for a hug and kiss
as she departs.
• Begins to fuss as the mother departs but soothes
easily with the primary caregiver at school.
• Eagerly waves good-bye to the father as he
leaves, then turns to a favorite activity.
• After a distressing fall, cries for the mother but
is reassured when reminded that the mother will
return at the end of the day.
• Greets the parent with conversation in the home
language at the end of the day.
• Manages his feelings after the parent leaves by
playing with favorite objects, carrying personal
objects around the room, and so forth.
• Switches to the language typically used at home
when the parent arrives.
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SOCI AL-EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT
18 | Relationships
2.0
Close Relationships with Teachers and Caregivers
At around 48 months of age
At around 60 months of age
2.1 Seek security and support from their
primary teachers and caregivers.
2.1 Take greater initiative in seeking the
support of their primary teachers
and caregivers.
Children use their primary teachers and
caregivers as sources of security and support,
especially in challenging circumstances,
by obtaining comfort, requesting help, and
communicating about feelings.
Children seek the support of their primary
teachers and caregivers, especially when they
are in difficult situations, by requesting the
adult’s help in resolving conflicts with others,
initiating cooperative problem solving, or
seeking comfort when distressed.
Examples
Examples
• Plays comfortably at a distance from the teacher,
but cries to the teacher for help if hurt or frustrated and readily calms when comforted.
• Seeks the teacher’s help in a conflict with another
child.
• Prefers a particular teacher’s company or assistance to that of other teachers who may be
equally available.
• Seeks to be near the primary teacher if distressed
by peer conflict or frightened by an unfamiliar
adult.
• Talks about the primary teacher at home (as
reported by the parent).
• Seeks the teacher’s assistance when confronted
with a difficult task (e.g., challenging puzzle, new
skill to master).
• Upon returning from outdoors, looks for the primary teacher and asks to play a game together.
• With assistance from the primary caregiver,
can describe his own feelings about a recent
upsetting experience.
2.2 Contribute to maintaining positive
relationships with primary teachers
and caregivers.
2.2 Contribute to positive mutual
cooperation with primary teachers
and caregivers.
Children prefer interacting with their primary
teachers and caregivers, choosing them
for sharing activities, seeking comfort and
assistance, and displaying discoveries or
achievements.
Children demonstrate an awareness of the
mutuality of close relationships in their efforts
to be helpful, showing interest in the teacher’s
feelings, preferences, or well-being and sharing
personal experiences with the teacher.
Examples
Examples
• Completes a puzzle and proudly shows it to the
primary teacher.
• Responds with interest when the primary teacher
communicates, “Yesterday I got a new dog!” and
continues the conversation about dogs.
• Rebuffs another adult’s attempts to help when
the child is hurt and looks around to locate the
primary teacher or caregiver.
• Responds with pleasure when the primary
teacher talks about a project done together with
the child; may not, however, contribute much to
the conversation at this age.
• Proudly displays a drawing or discovery to the
primary teacher for a positive response.
• Contributes to classroom cleanup at the primary teacher’s request and, sometimes, initiates
the cleanup of her own project, then shows the
teacher what she has done.
• Volunteers to help when the primary teacher is
setting up a new activity.
Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1 • California Department of Education
2.0
Close Relationships with Teachers and Caregivers (Continued)
At around 48 months of age
At around 60 months of age
Examples (Continued)
Examples (Continued)
• Communicates, “Good morning, teacher!”
or uses another term of respect when prompted
by the parent after arriving at preschool.
• Cooperates when asked to do so by the primary
teacher.
• Imitates the behavior of the primary teacher.
• Refers to the primary teacher by the proper
name when doing so is consistent with the
family’s cultural values.
• Physically greets the primary teacher or uses
other culturally appropriate means of greeting.
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SOCI AL-EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT
20 | Relationships
3.0
Friendships
At around 48 months of age
At around 60 months of age
3.1 Choose to play with one or two
special peers whom they identify
as friends.
3.1 Friendships are more reciprocal,
exclusive, and enduring.
Children play with many peers but also seek
the company of one or two specific children
whom they identify as friends. Children are
more cooperative and share more complex
play with friends than with other children.
Children seek to share activities with special
friends who, in return, seek their company.
Friends act more positively toward each other
but may also experience greater conflict.
Children respond with enhanced efforts at
conflict resolution.
Examples
Examples
• Plays with the same friend regularly.
• Sits regularly with one or two special friends
at lunch.
• Plays more complex, imaginative roles with a
friend than with other peers.
• Seeks out a favorite peer when entering the room.
• Sits next to a friend at circle time or mealtime.
• Seeks to play exclusively with one or more
friends, even to the extent of excluding other
children from the play group.
• Notices when a friend is absent.
• Communicates, “We’re friends, right?” when
seeking to play with a special peer.
• Can identify a friend by name (e.g., “Sara is my
friend!”).
• Comes to the defense of a friend who is teased
by a peer.
• Offers a toy to a friend to play with.
• Engages in recurrent, familiar, and cooperative role-play activities with one or more favorite
friends in the setting.
• Shares about experiences in the family with a
special friend.
• Laughs with a friend about an experience they
have shared.
Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1 • California Department of Education
Bibliographic Notes
Self
Self-Awareness
There has been recent, considerable
research interest in the development
of self-awareness in young children,
particularly because of the realization
that older preschoolers are capable of
significantly greater depth and psychological insight into their conceptions of themselves. The period of time
addressed by these foundations is,
therefore, an important transitional
period. This period starts with the very
simple, rudimentary self-awareness of
the younger child, focusing on physical
self-recognition (such as in a mirror
image) and dispositional self-attributions (e.g., “Me big!”) and progressing
to a more fully realized form of the
psychological self-awareness of the
early-grade-schooler. For general
reviews of this research literature,
consult Harter (1999, 2006) and
Thompson (2006), who offer somewhat different portrayals of the emergence of self-awareness during the
preschool period. Self-awareness is an
important component of early school
success because young children’s
self-confidence shapes their interest,
motivation, and persistence in academic work, and their success in the
classroom reciprocally influences their
sense of pride and accomplishment.
Research revealing young children’s
(unrealistically) optimistic self-regard
has often used Harter’s Self-Perception Scale for Children (Harter and
Pike 1984); see also studies by Stipek
(1984; Stipek and Hoffman 1980;
Stipek and Mac Iver 1989; Stipek,
Roberts, and Sanborn 1984). The
sensitivity of preschool children to
adults’ evaluative judgments of their
performance is also well documented
by Stipek’s research (1995; Stipek,
Recchia, and McClintic 1992). A
number of studies have revealed the
emerging awareness of internal, psychological characteristics in the selfawareness of older four-year-olds; see
Eder (1989, 1990), Measelle and others (1998), and the work of Marsh and
his colleagues (Marsh, Craven, and
Debus 1998; Marsh, Ellis, and Craven
2002). This work challenges earlier,
traditional views that preschoolers
are focused exclusively on observable appearance and behavior in their
self-perceptions and shows that when
developmentally appropriate research
methods are used, even four-year-olds
reveal a dawning understanding of
their psychological selves.
Self-awareness is an important
component of early school success
because young children’s
self-confidence shapes their interest,
motivation, and persistence in
academic work . . .
Povinelli’s creative research studies
have shown that older preschoolers are
also capable of perceiving themselves
in a more extended temporal context,
including the past and future (Povinelli
2001; Povinelli, Landau, and Perilloux
1996; Povinelli and others 1999; Povinelli and Simon 1998). That capability
is relevant to both autobiographical
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SOCI AL-EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT
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memory development and self-awareness. Finally, by the time they reach
kindergarten, young children are
already becoming experts in the use
and interpretation of social comparison
information, a skill that will continue to
develop throughout the primary school
years (Pomerantz and others 1995).
Older preschoolers are just beginning
to incorporate social comparison information into their self-perceptions.
Self-Regulation
The development of self-regulation involves emerging capacities to
suppress a dominant response and
to perform, instead, a subdominant
response. It is also associated with
the self-control of impulsivity and
the development of more deliberate,
intentional activity throughout early
and middle childhood. Self-regulation is relevant to the management of
emotions and emotion-related behavior, attention, cognitive activity, and
social behavior (such as impulses to
act aggressively when provoked). The
significant growth in self-regulation
in early childhood is revealed through
the contrast between the impulsivity of a toddler and the capacities for
more careful, deliberate behavior of a
child preparing to enter kindergarten
(although these capacities are not, of
course, consistently exercised). Bronson (2000) has written a valuable overview of research and practical knowledge on this topic (see also Brazelton
and Sparrow 2001; Knitzer 2000;
Committee on Integrating the Science of Early Childhood Development
2000). The relevance of self-regulation
to young children’s school readiness
is widely acknowledged because of the
importance of cognitive, behavioral,
and emotional self-control to learning and classroom conduct (see Kopp
2002; Thompson 2002; Thompson [in
press]). Several research teams have
found that differences in aspects of
self-regulation predict children’s reading and mathematics achievement in
the early primary grades (Alexander,
Entwisle, and Dauber 1993; Howse
and others 2003; NICHD Early Child
Care Research Network 2003a).
Self-regulation is relevant to the
management of emotions and
emotion-related behavior, attention,
cognitive activity, and social behavior
(such as impulses to act aggressively
when provoked).
The development of self-regulation has been a topic of long-standing interest to developmental scholars
(see reviews of this research: Kopp
1982; Kopp and Wyer 1994). This topic
has recently gained renewed attention under the concepts of “effortful control” and “executive function.”
Although effortful control is often
studied as a component of emergent
personality, developmental researchers, including Eisenberg (Eisenberg
and others 2004; Liew, Eisenberg, and
Reiser 2004) and Kochanska (Kochanska and Knaack 2003; Kochanska,
Murray, and Harlan 2000), have
documented important developmental
changes in young children’s capacities
for effortful control. Their research
has revealed not only significant
increases in children’s capacities for
self-regulated conduct throughout
early and middle childhood, but also
a consistent association between individual differences in effortful control
and independent measures of social
Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1 • California Department of Education
competence, emotion regulation,
conscience development, and psychological adjustment. Higher effortful
control is, in short, a benefit for young
children’s deliberate and socialized
conduct.
The research on executive function
seeks to explain young children’s problem-solving behavior in regard to their
ability to regulate their attentional and
cognitive processes, another aspect
of self-regulation (see Zelazo and others 2003). This research identifies the
period of three to five years of age as
an especially important developmental
period for executive function, which
may be associated with concurrent
changes in brain functioning (Bunge
and Zelazo 2006; Diamond and Taylor
1996; Gerstadt, Hong, and Diamond
1994).
Among the various capacities young
children gradually acquire for selfcontrol, emotion regulation has been
of particular interest to developmental
scientists because of its relevance to
social competence and psychological
adjustment. Thompson, Meyer, and
Jochem (in press) have written several
reviews of theory and research on this
topic, summarizing an expanding body
of research literature.
Social and Emotional
Understanding
Over the past several decades, there
has been an enormous amount of
research interest in the early development of social and emotional understanding. This interest has arisen from
the realization that, contrary to traditional ideas, toddlers and preschoolers
are not egocentric but are, instead,
very interested in others’ beliefs and
how those beliefs compare with their
own (see Dunn 1988; Saarni 1999).
Further exploration of this topic has
also been motivated by the realization
that early differences in social and
emotional understanding are associated with individual differences in
social competence. Preschoolers who
are more socially and emotionally perceptive are capable of greater success
in their relationships with peers and
adults (see Denham and others 2003;
Denham and others 2002a; Denham
and others 2002b; Denham and others 2001; and see reviews by Denham
1998, 2006; Denham and Weissberg
2004; Halberstadt, Denham, and
Dunsmore 2001), which is relevant to
school readiness. Young children who
are more competent in understanding
others’ feelings have been found, for
example, to become more academically competent in the primary grades,
which may arise from the more successful peer relationships to which
they contribute (Izard 2002; Izard and
others 2001; see also Dowsett and
Huston 2005; Raver 2002; Raver and
Knitzer 2002).
Preschoolers who are more socially
and emotionally perceptive are capable
of greater success in their relationships
with peers and adults . . .
In recent years, research in this area
has grown under the idea that young
children develop a progressively more
complex “theory of mind,” by which
they explain people’s behavior with
respect to internal mental states. They
gradually come to understand internal
mental states more and more fully.
Research on developing theory of mind
has focused on the ages of three to five
years, the period during which young
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children advance from a theory of mind
that is focused primarily on comprehending others’ intentions, desires,
and feelings as motivators of behavior,
to a more advanced theory of mind in
which they also understand the nature
of people’s thoughts and beliefs as
motivators of behavior. One of the central features of this conceptual advance
is the four-year-old’s emerging understanding that people’s beliefs can be
mistaken; thus, others can be misled
or fooled, and the child’s own feelings
can be hidden or masked. The research
literature on developing theory of mind
is vast; recent summaries can be found
in Wellman (2002) and Harris (2006).
Although young children’s understanding of the internal determinants
of behavior remains rudimentary, there
is evidence that they are already beginning to comprehend the concept of
personality characteristics and their
association with enduring behavioral
characteristics in others. This emerging understanding parallels similar
advances in their ability to perceive
themselves in terms of psychological
characteristics as well, as is discussed
in the bibliographic note on self-awareness. Research by Heyman and her
colleagues shows that by the later preschool years, children are beginning to
derive personality-like generalizations
about the behavior of others (see Giles
and Heyman 2005a, 2005b; Heyman,
Gee, and Giles 2003; Heyman and
Gelman 2000).
One of the central features of this
conceptual advance is the
four-year-old’s emerging
understanding that people’s beliefs
can be mistaken . . .
There is also vigorous research
literature on young children’s
developing emotion understanding,
an aspect of theory of mind that
is especially important to social
competence. This research shows
that from three to five years of age,
young children become increasingly
capable of identifying a broader
range of emotions and describing
prototypical situations in which these
emotions might be elicited. They
also become capable of explaining
the causes of these emotions and
their consequences in ways that
reveal a greater understanding of
the psychological bases of emotional
experience (e.g., frustrated goals with
respect to anger). This is consistent,
of course, with broader characteristics
of their developing theory of mind.
The research on developing emotion
understanding is reviewed by Denham
(1998, 2006), Harris (1989), Lagattuta
and Thompson (2007), Saarni and
others (2006), and Thompson (in
press; Thompson 2006; Thompson,
Goodvin, and Meyer 2006; Thompson
and Lagattuta 2006).
The later preschool years also witness growth in event knowledge—that
is, the capacity to comprehend and
predict everyday routines—which is an
important component of social understanding. Young preschool children
can describe the sequence of events
that characterize everyday routines
and experiences in their lives (e.g., a
trip to the grocery store), and older
preschool children have more comprehensive knowledge of these events
(see Hudson 1993; Narratives from the
Crib 1989; Nelson 1993).
Finally, the preschool years also
witness young children’s growing
Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1 • California Department of Education
awareness of and response to diversity in gender, culture, and ethnicity,
particularly as these are apparent in
differences in people’s appearance and
behavior. This is complex research
literature, particularly because of the
multiple origins (e.g., social learning,
conceptual development, direct exposure to diversity) of young children’s
responses to human diversity in their
experience; see Aboud (2005, 2003).
Empathy and Caring
Young children’s capacities to
respond sympathetically and helpfully to others in distress have been
of long-standing interest to parents,
professionals, and researchers. These
capacities build on children’s developing social and emotional understanding and contribute to their ability to
cooperate successfully with others in
group learning environments.
In understanding the development
of caring, it is important to distinguish
a young child’s emotional response to
another’s distress, which emerges very
early, from the behavioral capacity
to help the distressed person. Knowing how to aid a peer in distress is a
complex challenge to a young child
(it is an even greater conceptual challenge to figure out how to assist a
distressed adult); therefore, genuine
helping behavior emerges later in the
preschool years than does a child’s
emotional response to another’s upset.
The period of three to four years of age
is a crucial one. From before the age
of three, young children respond with
concerned attention to the distress of
another and are interested in finding
out why the person is upset. But it is
not until later in the preschool years
that children can accompany their
empathic response with assistance
(although this does not necessarily
occur reliably). For recent reviews of
this research, consult Eisenberg, Spinrad, and Sadovsky (2006), Thompson
(1998), and Zahn-Waxler and Robinson
(1995).
Initiative in Learning
How children approach new learning and problem-solving challenges
is a critical feature of their academic
success. “Approaches to learning” is
an important predictor of classroom
achievement in kindergarten and
the primary grades, with the term
“approaches to learning” defined as
teacher ratings of children’s classroom
engagement, motivation, and participation (Alexander, Entwisle, and Dauber
1993; Duncan, Claessens, and Engel
2005). Young children’s natural curiosity, interest, and self-confidence that
they can discover the answers to their
questions are a central component of
their capacities to benefit from learning opportunities (Thompson 2002).
Beginning in early childhood, there
are significant differences in the
enthusiasm, motivation, and selfconfidence that children bring to new
learning situations. The work of Dweck
and her colleagues has demonstrated
that from relatively early in childhood,
children develop distinctly different
learning styles that influence their initiative in learning and their persistence
when faced with difficult challenges
(see Burhans and Dweck 1995; Dweck
2002; Dweck and Leggett 1988). Children with a “performance orientation”
focus on efforts in learning situations
that elicit positive evaluations from
others and avoid negative judgments.
As a consequence, these children
may avoid situations that are likely to
result in failure and they may not per-
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sist in circumstances in which they are
unlikely to succeed. This orientation
can, under some circumstances, result
in a learned helplessness orientation
in which children tend to give up after
failing because they do not have confidence in their ability to succeed. In
contrast, children with a “learning (or
mastery) orientation” focus on efforts
that increase their ability. These children will be more likely to tackle difficult challenges if they can foster new
learning (even if their initial efforts
result in failure) and are more likely
to persist until they are successful.
This is the kind of learning orientation
that best predicts classroom achievement. These differences in learning orientation are readily observed
among primary grade students, but
there is evidence that they are present among older preschoolers as well
(see Burhans and Dweck 1995; Smiley
and Dweck 1994). Research by Dweck
and her colleagues indicates that these
differences arise from many influences, including the kinds of reactions
by parents and teachers to children’s
achievement successes and failures
that emphasize the child’s intrinsic
ability and strong effort.
The research on learning orientations focuses on individual differences
among children of a given age. But
there are also developmental differences in preschool children’s initiative in learning, with younger children
being more likely to approach new
Young children’s natural curiosity,
interest, and self-confidence that they
can discover the answers to their
questions are a central component
of their capacities to benefit from
learning opportunities.
learning situations with enthusiasm
and self-confidence but not necessarily
with persistence in confronting difficult
problem-solving situations. In contrast, older children are more active
learners who are more persistent but
who are also more likely to be creative
problem solvers, proposing their own
ideas and approaching new learning opportunities with initiative and
involvement (see Committee on Early
Childhood Pedagogy 2001; The Role of
Interest in Learning and Development
1992; Renninger and Wozniak 1985;
Flavell, Miller, and Miller 2001).
Social Interaction
Interactions with Familiar
Adults
Young children regularly interact with familiar adults in preschool
and other early childhood settings.
Although these adults are not attachment figures, and children’s relationships with them are not necessarily
sources of security and support, a
child’s ability to interact competently
with familiar adults is important to
social competence and the ability to
obtain the assistance the child needs.
The ability to interact with other adults
is important also to school success
because children in kindergarten and
the primary grades must interact with
many adults other than their teachers.
With the primary focus of developmental research on young children’s
establishment and maintenance of
close relationships, scientists have
devoted considerably less attention to
the growth of social skills relevant to
interacting with familiar adults (see
Durkin 1995 for a general source).
The relevant research offers a por-
Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1 • California Department of Education
trayal that is consistent with conclusions from other foundations. Older
three-year-olds have developed a number of social skills for interacting competently with familiar adults—including developing abilities to engage in
simple conversations, enjoy other
shared activities, and cooperate with
requests or instructions—and they
can exercise these skills particularly
in familiar and comfortable settings.
Older four-year-olds are not only more
advanced in most of these social skills
but also take greater active initiative in
interacting with familiar adults. Based
on these conclusions, most children
are becoming prepared for the variety
of social encounters that will characterize their experience in kindergarten
and the primary grades.
Interactions with Peers
It was not so long ago that developmental researchers and practitioners
underestimated the peer social skills
of young children, interpreting episodes of conflict to reflect preschoolers’
egocentrism and limited social interest. With the growing experience of
young children in preschool and early
childhood settings, researchers have
rethought peer interactions and have
discovered that they are far more
complex, sophisticated, and multifaceted than earlier believed. This
discovery is consistent with the developmental accomplishments described
in the other foundations. As preschoolers achieve considerable insights into
others’ thoughts and feelings through
their growth in “theory of mind,” for
example, they are capable of greater
cooperation with other children and
more adept at using conflict resolution
strategies.
The development of social skills with
peers is also important to the growth of
school readiness. A number of studies
have shown that the peer experiences
of children in kindergarten and the
primary grades are an important predictor of children’s academic success
and school adjustment. Children who
experience greater peer acceptance
and positive peer relationships tend
to feel more positively about coming
to school, participate more in classroom activities, and achieve more in
the classroom (Buhs and Ladd 2001;
Ladd, Birch, and Buhs 1999; Ladd,
Kochenderfer, and Coleman 1996,
1997; O’Neil and others 1997).
The period of ages three to five
years is a particularly significant one
for the growth of social skills with
peers, and these foundations illustrate the multifaceted ways in which
peer relationships evolve during this
time (see reviews of this research by
Rubin, Bukowski, and Parker [2006]
and Rubin and others [2005]). Young
children initially acquire greater skill
and confidence in interacting with
other children in playgroups of two or
three; later, they do so in larger, wellcoordinated peer groups. Among the
important achievements of the later
preschool period is the ability to initiate peer sociability and smoothly join
others in play; to cooperatively and
spontaneously share with others; to
coordinate one’s behavior with that of
one or more other children; to communicate in ways that other children
can understand; and to spontaneously
enlist procedures (such as turn-taking)
that reduce the chance of peer conflict
(Howes 1987, 1988; Vandell, Nenide,
and Van Winkle 2006).
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Children’s play with peers changes
significantly during the later preschool
period. Preschoolers become capable
of greater cooperation and coordination in their shared activity, playing
interactively rather than just side by
side. In addition, imaginative or pretend play—one of the hallmarks of
preschool play activity—develops significantly in complexity and sophistication. Young children proceed from
simple sequences of pretend activity
to well-coordinated, complex episodes
of imaginative play that involve planning, coordination of roles, and mutual
correction as the story line is enacted
(Goncu 1993; Howes 1987, 1988,
1992; Howes and Matheson 1992).
The remarkable ability of older preschool children to competently enact
pretend roles, coordinate their activity
with that of other children in pretend
roles, and monitor the unfolding of the
sociodramatic play script is consistent
with—and helps to confirm—much
of what we know about their social
understanding and capacities for
cooperation, self-awareness, and
self-regulation during this period.
Peer interactions do not always
proceed happily, of course. There are
significant developmental changes
during this period in how young
children express their hostility when
disagreements arise. Younger preschool children are more likely to
respond with physical aggression,
while older preschool children are
more capable of expressing their
hostility in more socially acceptable
Imaginative or pretend play—one of
the hallmarks of preschool play
activity—develops significantly in
complexity and sophistication.
ways and are more likely to use verbal
taunts and teasing rather than hitting
(Tremblay 2000). Fortunately, there
are also developmental changes in
children’s capacities for conflict negotiation, such that by the later preschool
years, children are capable of spontaneously suggesting simple conflict
resolution strategies (such as proposing alternative play materials or taking
turns) and enlisting negotiation over
aggression (Howes 1987, 1988; Rubin
and others 2005; Rubin, Bukowski,
and Parker 2006; Vandell, Nenide, and
Van Winkle 2006). These conflict resolution strategies will develop further
in the elementary grades, of course,
but differences in the capacities of
preschoolers to spontaneously enlist
conflict resolution strategies are an
important basis for their social competence with peers at this age.
Group Participation
The ability to participate cooperatively and constructively in group
activity is an essential skill in any
group learning activity; thus, it is a
critical component of school readiness. This substrand integrates the
developmental achievements described
in other social-emotional foundations
and applies them to the young child’s
competency as a group member (see
Developmentally Appropriate Practice in
Early Childhood Programs 1997; Landy
2002). These developmental achievements (described in detail in other
foundations) include:
• Developing capacities for self-regulation and self-control, which enable
the older preschool child to remember the rules for classroom behavior,
games, and other activities; apply
the rules to his or her own behav-
Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1 • California Department of Education
•
•
•
•
ior; and spontaneously self-correct
to better maintain compliance with
those rules (Bronson 2000; Kopp
1982; Kopp and Wyer 1994)
Developing skills for behavioral
and attentional self-control, which
enable preschool children to gradually attain a greater ability to deliberately focus attention; sit still for
longer periods; manage transitions
in the daily routine more easily;
cooperate in games that require
specific responses at particular
times (e.g., “Hokey Pokey”); and be
less fidgety and distractible (Zelazo
and others 2003)
Developing capacities for cooperation and a sense of responsibility in
relation to others, which cause older
preschoolers to have a more conscientious commitment to complying
with group procedures (sometimes,
spontaneously correcting other
children who fail to comply), often
anticipating the procedures before
being reminded by the teacher, and
acting in a manner that helps the
group to function better (Kochanska
and Thompson 1997; Thompson and
others 2006)
Developing event knowledge, which
enables the older child to understand and predict the ordinary routines of the classroom schedule;
manage transitions in the routine
well; and cooperate with new activities when they are initiated by the
teacher, especially when preparatory
tasks for the activity are required
(e.g., getting ready to paint at an
easel) (Hudson 1993; Narratives from
the Crib 1989; Nelson 1993).
Developing social and emotional
understanding, which enables older
children (with a more advanced
“theory of mind”) to better coordi-
nate their own desires, needs, and
interests with those of others, which,
in turn, facilitates older children’s
capacities to collaborate on group
activities as well as to play harmoniously with peers (Harris 2006;
Thompson 2006)
• Developing self-awareness, which
enables preschool children to
identify themselves not just as individuals in a classroom but also as
members of a group, and prompts
older preschoolers to strive to make
the group work better in shared
activities (Harter 1999, 2006;
Thompson 2006)
The purpose of delineating a new
substrand for group participation,
therefore, is to indicate how these
different developmental achievements
assemble in a manner that enables
older preschool children, because of
this developing constellation of skills,
to be more constructive group participants than are younger children. In
this respect, therefore, the whole (of
these advances for classroom conduct)
is truly greater than the sum of the
developmental parts.
Cooperation and Responsibility
Because of the moral development
theories of Piaget (1965) and Kohlberg
(1969), young children were, for many
years, believed to be motivated primarily by rewards and punishments in
their cooperation with adult standards.
This belief was consistent with the
traditional view that young children
are egocentric in considering the needs
of others in relation to their own. During the past several decades, however,
a new view of the early growth of cooperation and responsibility—studied
under the term “conscience develop-
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SOCI AL-EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT
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ment”—has emerged. It emphasizes
that in addition to responding to the
incentives and punishments of adults,
young children are motivated to cooperate by their emotional attachments
to those adults and their desire to
maintain positive relationships with
them. Children cooperate in order to
maintain relationships of mutual cooperation with the adults who care for
them. Furthermore, young children are
also motivated by the feelings of others
to act in ways that do not cause others
distress. Moreover, as they reach the
end of the preschool years, children
are also motivated to cooperate and act
responsibly because in doing so, they
think more approvingly of themselves.
This reflects that young children have
proceeded from a primarily “external”
view of adults’ expectations and standards—in other words, cooperating
because this is what adults expect—to
an “internalized” acceptance of adult
standards as their goal. The desire to
perceive themselves as cooperative,
helpful, and “good” emerges at this
time and will remain an important,
lifelong motivator of moral conduct.
These conclusions about the development of cooperation and responsibility emerge from a large body of
research literature, to which Kochanska has made major contributions
(e.g., see Kochanska 1997, 2002;
Kochanska and Thompson 1997). A
review of this research literature can
be found in Thompson, Meyer, and
McGinley (2006). The development of
capacities for cooperation and responsibility is important to early school
success. A number of research teams
have found that individual differences
in children’s cooperation capacities
are directly associated with children’s
academic achievement in the early
primary grades (Alexander, Entwisle,
and Dauber 1993; McClelland, Morrison, and Holmes 2000; Yen, Konold,
and McDermott 2004). Children who
show greater cooperative compliance
with their teachers are capable of getting along better in the classroom and
achieve more than do children who are
less cooperative.
During the past several decades,
however, a new view of the early
growth of cooperation and
responsibility—studied under the term
“conscience development”—
has emerged.
Developmental changes in children’s
motivated cooperation and their growing sense of responsibility build on
developmental accomplishments in
other social and emotional areas. In
particular, these changes build on
children’s developing capacities for
self-regulation and changes in selfawareness that enable older preschoolers to perceive themselves as positive
and approvable. In this respect, as in
others, growth in the later preschool
period is integrated and consistent
across different areas of development.
Relationships
Attachments to Parents
One of the central conclusions of
developmental research is the extent
to which young children rely on their
close relationships with caregivers for
emotional security and well-being.
Decades of research on parent-child
attachment relationships in infancy
and early childhood have established
the importance of the security of these
relationships and their long-term
Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1 • California Department of Education
importance for a child’s self-concept,
relationships with others, and understanding of what people are like (see
reviews by Thompson 2006; Thompson and others 2005; and Waters
and others 1991). At the same time,
developmental researchers realized
that the caregivers on whom children
are emotionally reliant are not always
biological parents. Sometimes they
are grandparents or other adults who
assume a regular caregiving role in the
child’s life—they are, in a sense, “psychological parents” to the child. This is
true when nonparents are substitute
parents (such as when grandparents
are providing full-time care instead
of a parent who is incapacitated or
absent) and when nonparents are coparents along with the child’s biological parents. In each case, these adult
caregivers assume a parenting function in the child’s life and are usually
attachment figures. This substrand
is labeled “Attachments to Parents,”
although the foundations refer to
“primary family attachment figures” to
acknowledge the diversity of adults
who are attachment figures to young
children.
Consistent with their psychological
importance to young children, parent-child attachments have also been
found to be important to the development of school readiness. Many studies have found that the quality of the
parent-child relationship in the preschool years, especially its quality in
terms of warmth and support to the
child, predicts children’s subsequent
Children with more secure, supportive
family relationships also show fewer
conduct problems and have better
work habits.
academic success in kindergarten and
the early primary grades as well as
their social competence in the classroom. Children with more secure, supportive family relationships also show
fewer conduct problems and have better work habits (Burchinal and others
2002; Estrada and others 1987; Morrison, Rimm-Kauffman, and Pianta 2003;
NICHD Early Child Care Research
Network 2003b, 2003c, 2005; Pianta,
Nimetz, and Bennett 1997).
The behavioral indications of parentchild attachment in preschoolers are
well established (Marvin and Britner
1999), and the indicators of attachment relationships incorporated into
this foundation are drawn from the
extensive research literature as well
as validated assessment instruments
for assessing parent-child attachment
quality (see Solomon and George 1999;
Waters 2006). In contrast to the
dependence of infants and toddlers on
physical proximity to their caregivers,
preschool children are more independent socially yet are still very emotionally reliant on their attachment figures.
The indicators included here focus on
how preschoolers seek security and
support from their attachment figures
in age-appropriate ways as well as
their capacities to maintain positive
relationships with their attachment
figures through their own initiative
(Maccoby 1984). An important developmental change in attachment relationships during this period is the greater
initiative of older preschoolers in both
seeking support and maintaining
a relationship of positive mutual
cooperation with their attachment
figures, which is an outgrowth of their
greater psychological understanding of
the adult and of the relationship they
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share. As with younger children, preschoolers exhibit their trust in attachment figures through their preference
to be with the adult; the adult’s capacity to assist and comfort them when
others cannot; their efforts to attract
the attachment figure’s positive regard
(and avoid criticism by this person);
their pleasure in shared activity with
the adult; and the greater ease with
which they can disclose and discuss
troubling topics (such as distressing
experiences) with the attachment
figure.
All of the behavioral indicators
included in this foundation should be
readily observed of children interacting
with their family attachment figures
while in a preschool or early childhood
setting. An additional indicator concerns preschoolers’ success in coping
with departing from the attachment
figure at the beginning of the day and
with separation throughout the day,
for which younger preschool children
require greater assistance than do
older preschool children. This difference arises from the greater ability
of older preschoolers to maintain a
satisfying mental representation of the
attachment figure and their relationship with that person to sustain them;
their greater self-regulatory capacities;
and their enhanced involvement with
peer relationships and the activities of
the setting.
Close Relationships with
Teachers and Caregivers
Just as researchers have acknowledged the importance of nonparental
caregivers within the family to the
emotional well-being of young children,
they have also recognized the importance of caregivers outside the home.
Preschoolers develop strong emotional
bonds with their teachers and caregivers in early childhood settings, and
although there is some debate about
whether these should be considered
“attachments” as the term is applied
to primary family caregivers (parents
or other adults raising the child), it is
apparent that these close family caregiver relationships function very much
like attachment relationships for children in early childhood settings (Berlin
and Cassidy 1999; Dunn 1993; Howes
1999). Young children rely on their
primary teachers or caregivers in early
childhood settings in much the same
manner that they rely on their family caregivers at home. Although these
relationships are not interchangeable,
and close relationships outside the
home do not diminish the strength of
the young child’s attachments to the
parents, it is apparent that both kinds
of relationships are developmentally
important.
Young children’s close relationships
with preschool teachers and caregivers
are also important to their development of school readiness. A number
of studies have found that the warmth
and security of the preschool child’s
relationship with a preschool teacher
are predictive of the child’s subsequent classroom performance, attentional skills, and social competence in
the kindergarten and primary grade
classroom (Peisner-Feinberg and others 2001; Pianta, Nimetz, and Bennett 1997; see Committee on Early
Childhood Pedagogy 2001 and Lamb
1998 for reviews). The importance of
close relationships outside the home
extends to children’s adaptation to
school. Several studies have confirmed
that young children’s success in kindergarten and the primary grades is
significantly influenced by the qual-
Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1 • California Department of Education
ity of the teacher-child relationship
and that conflict in the relationship
is a predictor of children’s poorer
academic performance and greater
behavior problems, sometimes years
later (Birch and Ladd 1997; Hamre
and Pianta 2001; La Paro and Pianta
2000; Pianta, Steinberg, and Rollins
1995; Pianta and Stuhlman 2004a,
2004b). In a manner similar to the
way in which successful peer relationships in the classroom contribute to
children’s enthusiasm for learning and
classroom success, so is the teacherchild relationship a significant contributor—both before school entry and
afterward.
The indicators of young children’s
close relationships with preschool
teachers and caregivers are remarkably consistent with the behavioral
indicators of children’s attachments to
their family caregivers. In both cases,
the significant features are the extent
to which children seek security and
support from their primary preschool
teachers and caregivers and the extent
to which they contribute to maintaining positive relationships with those
adults. Preschoolers exhibit their reliance on their primary preschool teachers through their preference to be with
the adult; the adult’s capacity to assist
and comfort them when others cannot;
their efforts to attract the teacher’s
positive regard (and avoid criticism by
Although these relationships are
not interchangeable, and close
relationships outside the home
do not diminish the strength of the
young child’s attachments to the
parents, it is apparent that both
kinds of relationships are
developmentally important.
Several studies have confirmed
that young children’s success in
kindergarten and the primary grades
is significantly influenced by the
quality of the teacher-child relationship
and that conflict in the relationship
is a predictor of children’s poorer
academic performance and greater
behavior problems, sometimes
years later.
this person); their pleasure in shared
activity with the adult; and the greater
ease with which they can disclose
and discuss troubling topics (such as
distressing experiences) with the primary preschool teacher or caregiver.
Although this similarity in behavioral
indicators should not be taken to indicate that young children’s relationships with their parents are identical
to their relationships with their
primary preschool teachers and
caregivers in early childhood settings—
clearly, they are not—it is important to
recognize that children derive security
and support from their close relationships in these settings comparable to
the confidence they derive from attachment relationships at home.
Friendships
Our understanding of preschool
children’s friendships has advanced
in concert with our knowledge of peer
interactions, both of which reveal
children’s skill and sophistication
in peer sociability to be greater than
was earlier believed. Friendships are
important to children’s adaptation to
school and their academic success for
the same reason that successful peer
interactions are important: they cause
kindergarteners and elementary grade
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children to look forward to coming to
school, to have a more positive classroom experience, and to achieve more
as students (Ladd, Kochenderfer, and
Coleman 1996, 1997; Ladd, Birch, and
Buhs 1999).
Research on the friendships of preschool children reveals that close
relationships between peers tend
to be stable over time; but with the
children’s increasing age, these friendships become more reciprocal, more
exclusive (i.e., children are more likely
to exclude other children from the
activities they share with friends), and
friends become more psychologically
aware of the relationship they share
(see reviews by Gottman 1983; Parker
and Gottman 1989; Rubin and others
Friendships become characterized
by more complex play between friends
and more positive and affectionate
behavior. But, somewhat surprisingly,
there can be greater conflict between
friends than in interactions
with nonfriends.
2005; Rubin, Bukowski, and Parker
2006; Vandell, Nenide, and Van Winkle
2006). Friendships become characterized by more complex play between
friends and more positive and affectionate behavior. But, somewhat surprisingly, there can be greater conflict
between friends than in interactions
with nonfriends. The greater incidence
of conflict may derive both from the
greater frequency of friendship interaction and the greater emotional investment in these interactions. However,
toward the end of the preschool years,
friends are more likely to negotiate
with each other, to disengage from
disagreements before conflict worsens,
and to find other ways of maintaining
their friendship beyond the disagreement (Gottman 1983; Hartup 1996;
Howes, Droege, and Matheson 1994;
Parker and Gottman 1989). In these
ways, then, broader features of developing social and emotional competences in early childhood contribute
to the maintenance of friendship in
older preschoolers and their greater
endurance over time.
Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1 • California Department of Education
Glossary
approaches to learning. Children’s classroom engagement, motivation, and
participation
attachment figures. Caregivers on whom
children are emotionally reliant, such
as a parent, grandparent, or nonparental caregiver; adults who assume a
parenting function
caregiver. An adult with responsibility for
children in a family child care home,
or an adult who provides family, friend,
or neighbor care
family caregiver. A mother, father,
grandparent, or other adult raising
the child
early childhood setting. Any setting in
which preschool children receive
education and care
teacher. An adult with responsibility for
the education and care of children in
a preschool program
theory of mind. Children’s developing
ability to explain people’s behavior with
respect to internal mental states
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SOCI AL-EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT
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Achievement?” Journal of School
Psychology, Vol. 42, 157–69.
Zahn-Waxler, Carolyn, and Joann Robinson. 1995. “Empathy and Guilt: Early
Origins of Feelings of Responsibility,”
in Self-Conscious Emotions. Edited by
June Price Tangney and Kurt Fischer.
New York: Guilford.
Zelazo, P. D., and others. 2003. “The
Development of Executive Function,”
Monographs of the Society for Research
in Child Development, Vol. 68.
California Department of Education • Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1
SOCI AL-EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT
45
FOUNDATIONS IN
Language
and Literacy
Purpose of the Language
and Literacy Preschool
Learning Foundations
This section presents preschool
learning foundations for preschool
children in the central domain of
language and literacy learning and
development. Based on research, these
preschool learning foundations identify
key competencies typical of children
who are making progress toward being
ready for kindergarten and becoming
fluent communicators and readers.
The foundations describe age-appropriate knowledge and skills expected of
older three-year-olds (i.e., at around 48
months of age) and of older four-yearolds (i.e., at around 60 months of age).
In other words, the focus of these foundations is on the language and literacy
competencies of young children near
the time when they are three years old
going on four years old and four years
old going on five years old. Although
an in-depth consideration of children’s
language and literacy competencies
during the preschool years is fundamentally important, attention to this
domain is best understood in the broad
context of early learning and development. Language and literacy learning
depends on children’s functioning in
the other domains, including socialemotional development, physical development, and for English learners,
English-language development. Many
such complementary and mutually supporting aspects of the child’s
overall learning and development are
addressed in the learning foundations
for the other domains, such as those
for social-emotional development and
mathematics learning.
An assumption underlying the
language and literacy foundations is
that children should experience the
kinds of interactions, relationships,
activities, and play that research has
shown to support successful learning
and development. Like the foundations
for the other domains, the language
and literacy foundations describe
learning and development that would
typically be expected with appropriate
support rather than presenting aspirational expectations that would be
expected only under the best possible
conditions. The foundations are not
intended to be assessment items. This
publication is meant to be a resource
and a guide to support preschool programs in their efforts to foster learning
in all young children.
California Department of Education • Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1
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48
LANGUAGE AND LITER ACY
Organization of the Language
and Literacy Foundations
The preschool learning foundations
in language and literacy are organized
into three developmental strands to
align with the strands for listening
and speaking, reading, and writing in
the California Department of Education’s English–language arts content
standards for kindergarten. The first
strand, listening and speaking, relates
primarily to language development.
This strand includes the substrands of
language use and conventions, vocabulary, and grammar. The other two
strands relate to literacy development.
The reading strand consists of the
substrands of concepts about print,
phonological awareness, alphabetics
and word/print recognition, comprehension and analysis of age-appropriate text, and literacy interest and
response. The writing strand has one
substrand: writing strategies.
Within each substrand, individual
foundations specify distinct competencies. Each substrand is divided
into two columns: The column on the
left-hand side focuses on children at
around 48 months of age, and the column on the right-hand side focuses on
children at around 60 months of age.
The substrand descriptions for children at around 60 months of age detail
more sophisticated and advanced
competencies than do those for children at around 48 months of age. In
some cases the difference between the
foundations for the two age ranges is
more pronounced than for the other
foundations. Although two points of a
developmental progression (at around
48 months of age and at around 60
months of age) are specified within
each strand, the order in which the
strands are presented is not meant
to indicate a developmental progression from strand to strand. Nor is the
order of presentation of the substrands
within a strand meant to indicate a
developmental progression from substrand to substrand.
Both substrands and foundations are numbered sequentially. For
example, if a substrand is numbered
1.0, the foundations under that substrand are 1.1, 1.2, and so on for both
age levels; likewise, if a substrand is
numbered 2.0, the foundations under
that substrand are 2.1, 2.2, and so on,
again for both age levels. While both
substrands and foundations are numbered sequentially, the order of presentation does not represent a developmental progression.
Each foundation is accompanied by
examples that further illustrate the
meaning of the foundation. They provide behavioral illustrations of how a
child might demonstrate a competency
described in a given foundation. In
some instances the examples may also
clarify the meaning of a foundation.
However, the examples are not exhaustive checklists or assessment items
and should be used for illustrative
purposes only.
Following the foundations, a review
of the relevant research for each
strand is presented to indicate the
research basis for the foundations in
that strand. This section provides the
reader with a more complete explanation of each strand. At the end of
this section, a selected bibliography
of research citations is provided for
the entire set of language and literacy
foundations. Brief explanations of the
main points within the strands are
provided next.
Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1 • California Department of Education
Listening and Speaking—
Language Use and Conventions,
Vocabulary, and Grammar
The rate of children’s early language
growth and later language outcomes
is directly related to the verbal input
that children receive when communicating with adults and other children.
Detailed within the three substrands is
the sequential progression of children’s
developing understanding of language
use and conventions, vocabulary, and
grammar.
Language Use and Conventions.
The substrand of language use and
conventions covers a broad range of
knowledge and skills, including using
language to communicate for a variety
of purposes, using accepted language
and style when communicating with
adults and children, understanding
and using language to communicate
effectively with others, and constructing narratives with language. In preschool, children are developing the
ability to use language for a range of
purposes, such as describing, requesting, commenting, greeting, reasoning,
problem solving, seeking new information, and predicting. Children nearing
four years of age are expected to generate an appropriate response to at least
one comment made during a conversation, and those nearing five years of age
are expected to maintain a conversation
for several turns.
Another development in the area of
language use and conventions is learning to use accepted language and style
during communication. It is important to note that accepted language
or behavior is that which commonly
occurs in the child’s environment or
community. For example, in some
environments people make eye contact
when they speak, while in other communities they do not. At around 48
months of age, children typically can
make themselves understood when
they communicate with familiar adults
and children. At this age they may
make pronunciation errors or sometimes use words in unusual ways that
are understood by people who know
them, but not by people who are unfamiliar with them. As children develop,
they increasingly speak in ways that
most familiar and unfamiliar adults
and children can understand. This
development pertains to the articulation of specific words and the expression of specific sounds rather than
to the overall way in which children
speak or whether they speak with an
accent.
At this age children also begin constructing narrative by engaging in
extended monologues that communicate to the listener an experience,
a story, or something desired in the
future. As children get older, such stories become more detailed, linear, and
geared toward the perspective of the
listener. When children are about 48
months of age, their narratives may
consist of several unrelated ideas,
characters, or events. Children near
five years of age begin to produce narratives that convey a causal or temporal sequence of events (e.g., “After
naptime we woke up. Then we had a
snack and went outside. Then . . . ”).
For children at the older age, the narratives tend to be longer, make more
sense, and provide more information
than those of younger children. Teachers can support young children in the
area of language use and conventions
by repeating and extending what children say in conversations. Teachers
can also provide opportunities for chil-
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LANGUAGE AND LITER ACY
49
LANGUAGE AND LITER ACY
50
dren to use language for a broad range
of purposes, including encouraging
children to repeat or tell stories.
Vocabulary. The vocabulary substrand represents an important tool
for accessing background knowledge,
expressing ideas, and acquiring new
concepts. Children with large vocabularies can acquire new words more easily, are more effective readers, and are
more proficient in reading comprehension. Multiple experiences with words
across a variety of contexts are critical
for children’s acquisition and extension of vocabulary. An important element of vocabulary development is the
attainment of an increasing variety and
specificity of accepted words (words
that are commonly used in the children’s environment or community) for
objects, actions, and attributes used
in both real and symbolic contexts.
For example, many children nearing
the age of four would call all dinosaurs
“dinosaurs.” By the time children are
approaching the age of five, they refer
to dinosaurs with greater specificity,
pointing to an Apatosaurus and saying,
“Apatosaurus,” or pointing to a Tyrannosaurus and saying, “Tyrannosaurus.”
Vocabulary development also consists of understanding and using
accepted words for categories of
objects. At around 48 months of age,
children understand and use category
names they encounter frequently, such
as toys, food, clothes, or animals. As
children near the age of 60 months,
their understanding and use of verbal categories expands to ones they
encounter less often, such as reptiles,
vehicles, fruits, vegetables, and furniture. Another important aspect of
vocabulary development during the
preschool years is the understanding
and use of words that describe relations between objects. For example, as
children near 48 months of age, they
use such words as under, in, and different. Children at around 60 months
of age continue to use simple words
to describe relations between objects
and add complex relational words to
their vocabulary, for example, smaller,
bigger, next to, and in front of. During
the preschool years, children begin to
use the comparative -er and the superlative -est (big, bigger, biggest; long, longer, longest) to discriminate among the
sizes of objects.
Often, to promote children’s vocabulary development, adults’ language
must be contextualized, or supported
by the immediate context. Children
can understand and express more
decontextualized language as their
concepts of vocabulary and language
expand. They can describe concepts
without the support of the immediate
context and increasingly communicate about events and actions in the
past and in the future. This movement
from concrete and contextualized language to abstract and decontextualized language plays a critical role in
children’s growing comprehension of
abstract ideas. Children learn much
of their vocabulary and basic language
concepts indirectly through their interaction with others. They also acquire
vocabulary through teacher-guided
instructional activities.
Grammar. The third substrand
of listening and speaking, grammar,
refers to the ways in which words,
phrases, and sentences are structured and marked to make meaning
in language. In preschool, children
take important steps toward acquiring grammar. Preschoolers learn the
rules of making basic sentences, join-
Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1 • California Department of Education
51
understood. Children’s development of
grammatical sophistication is greatly
enhanced by the teacher’s modeling of
correct forms and providing support
in play and through teacher-guided
instructional activities.
Reading—Concepts About
Print, Phonological Awareness,
Alphabetics and Word/Print
Recognition, Comprehension
and Analysis of Age-Appropriate
Text, Literacy Interest
and Response
Concepts About Print. Children
develop concepts about print through
seeing print in the environment and
observing people using print for various purposes. Central to an understanding of the nature and role of
reading and writing is a child’s understanding of “intentionality,” i.e., that
intentional meaning is encoded in
print and print conveys a message.
Children’s understanding that print
carries meaning often begins earlier
than at preschool age, but the concept
becomes increasingly sophisticated
during the preschool years, and it
depends largely on exposure to print
and interaction with it in preschool.
Preschoolers begin to use print to
communicate, to understand the way
print is organized in text and in books,
to recite the alphabet, and to recognize some letters and words in print.
They develop sophisticated knowledge
about print conventions—how print is
organized and how this organization
changes to fit various purposes and
genres. Preschool children’s understanding of print conventions supports
their knowledge of the alphabet
and letter recognition. The print
California Department of Education • Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1
LANGUAGE AND LITER ACY
ing phrases and clauses to make language into more complex sentences,
joining adjectives to nouns, and using
verb tenses, adverbs, and other parts
of speech. At around 48 months of age,
children tend to convey their thoughts
by using simple, short phrases that
communicate only one main idea
(e.g., “I’m hungry!” or “Almost bedtime!”) Over time, preschool children
begin producing increasingly longer
compound sentences (e.g., “It’s almost
bedtime and I am still hungry!”) by
connecting clauses (using words such
as and and but). They also begin to
generate more complex sentences
(e.g., “Because I haven’t eaten yet, I am
still hungry”) that combine multiple
phrases or concepts to communicate
more sophisticated and interrelated
ideas (using words such as if and
because). As children develop their
comprehension and use of verb markers, such as -ed, they tend to make
errors (e.g., “I wented,” “He hitted”).
Errors among preschoolers in the use
of pronouns are very common (e.g.,
“Her did it,” “It’s hims”). Children’s use
of basic negative sentences between
two and three years of age (e.g., “no
go,” “no want”) becomes increasingly
precise during the preschool years
(e.g., “I don’t want any” or “You are not
going”). Some errors in negation will be
observed during the preschool years
(e.g., “I not want to do that!”), but
these errors occur less frequently as
children near 60 months of age.
As with the development of children’s vocabulary and basic language
concepts, children’s ability to use
increasingly sophisticated language
structures allows them to make greater
use of “decontextualized language”—
language that requires little reliance
on the immediate context for it to be
LANGUAGE AND LITER ACY
52
conventions preschoolers learn include
directionality (e.g., the left-to-right and
top-to-bottom organization of print in
books and other print media in English), the way books are organized
(title, author, front and back), and the
way books are handled. Preschoolers develop an understanding of the
functions of print—that it serves a
number of purposes related to social
and cultural contexts. In the preschool setting, children are beginning
to understand and operate within the
routines and contexts where literacy
instruction occurs, contexts such as
reading a page and a story, writing,
and drawing. This knowledge extends
to routines governing the use of literacy in the classroom or home, such
as reading stories, making lists, and
writing letters. Preschool-age children
also gain an understanding that print
forms (e.g., words, letters, and other
print units) have distinct names and
are used in specific, organized ways.
Knowing that the word is the basic
unit of meaning in the reading and
writing process is a critical transition
point in children’s literacy development. Adults can encourage children’s
engagement with print by explicitly
focusing children’s attention on print
forms and functions.
Phonological Awareness. Spoken
language is made up of various phonological units that include words, syllables, subsyllabic units (onsets, rimes),
and sounds (phonemes). “Phonological
awareness” is generally defined as an
individual’s sensitivity to the sound (or
phonological) structure of spoken language. It is an oral language skill that
does not involve print. Unlike the foundations for all the other substrands,
those for phonological awareness are
written only for children between four
and five years of age. The focus is on
this age group because research indicates that children younger than four
tend not to demonstrate this ability
in reliable ways that can be readily observed. At age four, however,
children begin to develop phonological awareness along a developmental
progression from sensitivity to large
units of sound, such as phrases and
words, to small units of sound, such
as syllables and phonemes. Phonological awareness is an important area of
early and later reading instruction. It
plays a direct role in several components of reading, such as understanding the alphabetic principle, decoding
printed words, and spelling—and an
indirect but important role in reading
comprehension through its direct role
in facilitating decoding.
Children demonstrate phonological
awareness in three ways—detection
(matching similar sounds), synthesis
(combining smaller segments into
syllables and words), and analysis (segmenting words or syllables
into smaller units). Children usually
develop detection skills first, then
synthesis skills, followed by analysis
skills. But children do not have to
master one skill before they begin to
acquire the next. In the foundations
for phonological awareness, there is a
progression from the ability to detect
and blend words to the ability to segment at the onset-rime level. Preschoolers’ development of phonological
awareness depends to a great extent
on the amount and kind of support
provided by the teacher. For example,
when asking children to delete the
onset of a word, teachers can help children remember the word by showing
pictures. The foundations for phonological awareness indicate which skills
Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1 • California Department of Education
are most likely to be demonstrated in
the context of such teacher support,
i.e., when the teacher uses pictures,
props, objects, and so forth in activities intended to support phonological
awareness.
Alphabetics and Word/Print
Recognition. Knowing the letters of
the alphabet at preschool age is related
to both short- and long-term reading proficiency. Knowledge of letter
names facilitates children’s ability to
decode text and to apply the alphabetic principle to word recognition.
For most children letter names help
them connect the sounds in words
and letters in print. Preschool children
tend to learn first the letters that are
most familiar to them, such as the letters in their own names and the letters that occur earlier in the alphabet
string. As children become aware of
letter names, they also start to identify
printed words. Word recognition at the
preschool age is mainly prealphabetic
(i.e., the recognition of words by sight
and by reliance on familiar cues). Children can recognize some words, but
rarely can they examine the alphabetic
or phonetic structures of the word to
arrive at its meaning. Preschool children are able to recognize some words
in the environment (e.g., Stop, Exit,
and some brand names) but usually
only in a familiar context. Typically,
four-year-olds develop their knowledge of the alphabet and letter-sound
correspondences. Coupled with their
improving phonological awareness,
those children may read at partial
alphabetic levels during the preschool
years. They may be able to look at
some unknown words and use letters
and their corresponding sounds to
decode the printed word. For instance,
seeing the word Thomas in a book, the
child may use some alphabetic information (e.g., the first letter T and its
corresponding letter sound) to make a
good guess at what it says.
Comprehension and Analysis
of Age-Appropriate Text. Preschoolers’ development of narrative thinking goes through a series of stages
that ultimately lead to their making
sense of stories and the world around
them. At the earliest stage, preschoolers construct narrative scripts, or
primitive accounts of story plots that
focus on familiar events and routine
activities. In the next stage, children
construct narrative schemas, which
include knowledge about the main elements of stories (such as characters
and settings) and about the sequence
of events (such as time, order, and
causal progression). Then preschoolers come to understand and relate to
characters’ internal responses, such
as their mental processes and experiences. Ultimately, children recognize both the external and internal
features of narrative. Preschoolers’
competence with narratives can be
greatly expanded through instructional activities guided by teachers.
Exposure to wordless picture books
provides instructional opportunities for
children and, for teachers, a window
into children’s learning processes. The
efforts of children to make sense of the
pictures when they are reading wordless picture books form the foundation
for reading comprehension and making meaning. Storybook reading, both
of wordless picture books and regular
books, when combined with interactive language activities, such as active
discussion of stories, before, during,
and after reading, enhances children’s
understanding and recall of stories.
Shared reading activities allow teach-
California Department of Education • Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1
LANGUAGE AND LITER ACY
53
LANGUAGE AND LITER ACY
54
ers to model key components of the
reading task and enable children to
begin discovering the components of
reading themselves. Interaction during
shared reading creates opportunities
for cognitive processing and problem
solving.
Literacy Interest and Response.
Interest in books and a positive regard
for reading are important developmental accomplishments for preschool-age
children. Participation in such literacy
activities as handling books and
listening to stories leads to continuing
engagement with text and to motivation and persistence in challenging
reading tasks. These experiences
are necessary for children to become
able readers and lifelong literacy
learners. An emerging body of research
shows that motivation is an important
factor in the development of early
literacy in preschool and later reading achievement. Increasing engagement in literacy and expanding reading activities are tied to increases in
motivation, which, in turn, facilitates
comprehension and recall of information. Children’s active engagement in
text-related activities, such as turning
pages in a book, is related to knowledge of print concepts at around four
years of age. Opportunities for reading are related to children’s interest
in reading at home and at school.
Children who are read to more frequently and from an earlier age tend
to have greater interest in literacy,
exhibit superior literacy skills during
the preschool and school years, choose
reading more frequently, initiate reading sessions on their own, and show
greater engagement during reading
sessions. Adult-child storybook reading promotes children’s interest in
reading and leads to increased
exposure and engagement with text.
Writing—Writing Strategies
Writing Strategies. Learning to
write involves cognitive, social, and
physical development. Children from a
very young age notice writing in their
surroundings. They begin to understand that signs in the environment
represent words for ideas or concepts.
By age three they begin to differentiate between writing and other kinds of
visual representation, such as drawing. With this realization comes differentiation between tools for writing
and tools for drawing (“I need to get a
pencil to write my name”). Their writing starts to look different from their
drawing—more linear than circular.
Young children become involved with
written text by being read to, examining books, and observing others writing. Preschoolers begin to experiment
with writing by pretending to write
and by learning to write their names.
Initially, children demonstrate a global
form of writing. They tend to use drawings as writing or use idiosyncratic
scribbles (i.e., markings that have only
personal meaning). Later, children use
letter-like forms that resemble some
of the characteristics of real writing
(e.g., longer words are represented by
longer strings of letter-like symbols).
Children in the next phase start using
actual letters to write, but with little
or no connection to the actual spelling
of what they want to write (i.e., nonphonetic strings of letters). This phase
is followed by attempts at phonetic
spelling, also called “invented spelling.”
In this phase, children use letters to
match letter sounds to parts of words
they hear, but from a phonological
Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1 • California Department of Education
55
dren begin to understand the alphabetic principle. It also helps children
realize that writing carries meaning,
that other people should be able to
read what they write, and that people
write for different purposes. Children
who have the physical experience of
writing in this way begin to develop
ways of handling writing implements,
but they need support from adults in
learning to do so.
LANGUAGE AND LITER ACY
rather than an orthographic perspective.
Children may recognize that writing
the word they are thinking of requires
more than one or two symbols and
that the same symbols may be in different words or in different places in
the same word, but they have not yet
mastered the alphabetic principle.
Even so, invented spelling is an effective vehicle through which many chil-
California Department of Education • Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1
56
Listening and Speaking
1.0
Language Use and Conventions
At around 48 months of age
At around 60 months of age
Children understand and use language
to communicate with others effectively.
Children extend their understanding and
usage of language to communicate with
others effectively.
1.1 Use language to communicate with
others in familiar social situations for
a variety of basic purposes, including
describing, requesting, commenting,
acknowledging, greeting, and
rejecting.
1.1 Use language to communicate with
others in both familiar and unfamiliar
social situations for a variety of basic
and advanced purposes, including
reasoning, predicting, problem solving, and seeking new information.
Examples
Examples
Describing
• The child says, “It was big and green and
scary.”
Reasoning
• The child says, “I think we can go outside because
it’s sunny now” or “I don’t need my coat because
it’s not windy.”
LANGUAGE AND LITER ACY
Requesting
• The child asks, “Can I have more play dough?”
while in the art area.
Commenting
• The child says, “This is my blanket.”
Predicting
• The child says, “I think that bear’s going to get
lost!” or “If it keeps raining I think the worms will
come out.”
Acknowledging
• The child indicates, “Me too.”
Problem solving
• The child says, “Maybe we can put the milk in here
and then it will be cookie dough.”
Greeting
• The child says, “Hi, Mrs. Franklin,” when
entering the room.
Seeking new information
• The child asks, “Why isn’t Jerome at school?” or
“Why are you dressed up? Where are you going?”
Rejecting
• The child says, “I don’t want to clean up blocks”
during clean-up time.
1.2 Speak clearly enough to be understood by familiar adults and children.
1.2 Speak clearly enough to be understood by both familiar and unfamiliar
adults and children.
Examples
Examples
• The child’s speech may contain pronunciation
errors that are understood by familiar adults and
children, but those errors would be difficult for a
visitor to the classroom to understand.
• The child generally speaks with correct pronunciation, although some continuing speech errors are
age-appropriate.
• The child may speak using some idiosyncratic
words that are understood by familiar adults and
peers but not by unfamiliar adults (e.g., Bryan
calls his blanket a “wobie”).
• Most of the child’s speech is free of speech errors.
Most listeners do not have to ask the child to
repeat himself or herself by asking, “What did you
say?”
Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1 • California Department of Education
Listening and Speaking | 57
Language Use and Conventions (Continued)
At around 48 months of age
At around 60 months of age
1.3 Use accepted language and style
during communication with familiar
adults and children.
1.3 Use accepted language and style
during communication with both
familiar and unfamiliar adults and
children.
Examples
Examples
• The child responds on the topic for at least one
turn in a conversation. For example, the child
responds, “Me too. I got new shoes,” following a
peer’s comment, “I got new shoes,” while playing
in the dress-up area.
• The child responds on topic across several turns in
conversation. For example, during dramatic play,
the child says, “I’m the baby and I’m hungry.” A
friend responds, “Okay, I’ll cook you breakfast.”
The child responds, “Then you’re the mommy and
you’re cooking the breakfast.” A friend responds,
“I’m going to make pancakes.”
• The child adjusts the form and style of language
use according to the listener’s status or competence. For example, asks the teacher, “Can
I please have that paintbrush,” but tells peer,
“Give me that paintbrush,” or speaks slowly
and deliberately to a younger child.
• The child often uses appropriate nonverbal
standards in conversation with others (e.g., eye
contact, distance to conversational partner, facial
expressions).
• The child often uses polite forms of communication as appropriate (e.g., says thank you, please,
addresses adults as Mr., Mrs., or Ms.).
• The child often uses volume and intonation
appropriate for a situation when speaking. For
example, speaks quietly to the teacher while the
other children are napping or speaks in a slower
and quieter tone while expressing regret (e.g.,
“I’m sorry I broke it”).
• The child adjusts the form and style of language
use according to the listener’s status, competence,
or knowledge. For example, during a field trip to
the fire station, tells a firefighter, “Wow! That’s
neat. Can I hold it?” but tells a peer, “I want to
see!” While talking with older brother, prefaces
the description of the fire truck and equipment by
stating that the class went on a field trip to the fire
station that day.
• The child consistently uses appropriate nonverbal
standards in conversation with others (e.g., eye
contact, distance to conversational partner, facial
expressions).
• The child typically uses polite forms of communication as appropriate (e.g., says thank you, please,
addresses adults as Mr., Mrs., or Ms.).
• The child typically uses volume and intonation
appropriate for a situation when speaking. For
example, uses a quieter voice inside the classroom
than on the playground.
California Department of Education • Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1
LANGUAGE AND LITER ACY
1.0
58 | Listening and Speaking
1.0
Language Use and Conventions (Continued)
At around 48 months of age
At around 60 months of age
1.4 Use language to construct short
narratives that are real or fictional.*
1.4 Use language to construct extended
narratives that are real or fictional.*
Examples
Examples
• The child draws attention or points to pictures on
the wall of a special class event: “The mama bird
built a nest in our toy box. The baby birds flew
away.”
• The child tells a brief story that unfolds over time:
“I went to the park with my mommy, and we
played in the sandbox. Then we had a picnic. After
that, we went to the store.”
• The child describes an unfolding event at snack
time: “I want to put peanut butter on my bread.
I’m going to put jelly on, too.”
• The child tells about activities of interest to him or
her that day: “First we come to school and sit on
the carpet. Then we have our circle time. And then
we do the centers. And then it’s time for lunch.”
• The child relays events from the day’s morning:
“My daddy’s truck broke down. We walked to
school. It was a long way.”
• The child retells the major events of a favorite
story: “The boy wrote to the zoo, and they kept
sending him animals. But he doesn’t like them.
So, then he gets a puppy, and he keeps it. He was
happy then.”
LANGUAGE AND LITER ACY
* Producing narratives may vary at these ages for children who are communicating with sign language or alternative
communication systems. As is true for all children, teachers can support young children’s communication knowledge and
skills by repeating and extending what children communicate in conversations. Teachers can also provide opportunities for
children to repeat or tell stories as a way to encourage them to produce narratives.
Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1 • California Department of Education
Listening and Speaking | 59
Vocabulary
At around 48 months of age
At around 60 months of age
Children develop age-appropriate
vocabulary.
Children develop age-appropriate
vocabulary.
2.1 Understand and use accepted words
for objects, actions, and attributes
encountered frequently in both real
and symbolic contexts.
2.1 Understand and use an increasing
variety and specificity of accepted
words for objects, actions, and
attributes encountered in both real
and symbolic contexts.
Examples*
Examples*
Nouns/Objects
• The child hands a friend the trucks when the
friend says, “I want to play with those trucks”
during play.
Nouns/Objects
• The child hands a friend the fire truck, the dump
truck, and the semitruck when the friend says,
“I want to play with the fire truck, dump truck,
and semi” during play.
• While reading a book about spiders, the child
answers, “spiders,” when the teacher asks,
“What are these?”
Verbs/Actions
• When the child is playing with tools in the dramatic play area, the child responds, “the stove,”
when a friend asks, “What needs to be fixed?”
• The child says to a parent volunteer, “I have a
story. Can you do it on the computer for me?”
Attributes
• During a cooking project, the child gives the
teacher the big bowl when the teacher says,
“Hand me the big bowl.”
• While in the block area, the child says to a friend,
“Look at what I made. It’s tall.”
• While reading a book about dinosaurs, the child
answers, “That’s a Apatosaurus and that’s a
Tyrannosaurus,” when the teacher asks, “What
are these?”
Verbs/Actions
• When the child is playing with tools in the dramatic play area, the child responds, “the stove,”
when a friend asks, “What needs to be repaired?”
• The child says to a parent volunteer, “I have a
story. Can you type it on the computer for me?”
Attributes
• During a cooking project, the child gives the
teacher the plastic fork when the teacher says,
“Hand me the plastic one.”
• During dramatic play, the child says to a friend,
“Look at my necklace. It’s shiny.”
* Key word forms in the examples are italicized.
California Department of Education • Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1
LANGUAGE AND LITER ACY
2.0
60 | Listening and Speaking
2.0
Vocabulary (Continued)
At around 48 months of age
At around 60 months of age
2.2 Understand and use accepted words
for categories of objects encountered
and used frequently in everyday life.
2.2 Understand and use accepted words
for categories of objects encountered
in everyday life.
Examples*
Examples*
• When painting at the easel, Min paints a picture
of a doll and a dollhouse and says, “This is my
doll and her dollhouse. They’re my favorite toys.”
• After reading a book about reptiles, the child
points to pictures of a snake, a lizard, and a turtle
when the teacher asks the children to find the
pictures of reptiles.
• While playing store, Peter tells Judy, “I want to
buy some food,” and Judy says, “OK. We have
milk, bread, and corn.”
• Frieda puts some hats on the shelf and puts
some dresses in a box when the teacher asks,
“Can you please put the dress-up clothes away?”
• During play Lorenzo brings an elephant, a giraffe,
a goat, a hippopotamus, and a lion to the table
and says to Miguel and Larry, “Here are the
animals for our zoo.”
• When the children and teacher are making a pretend city, the teacher says, “Now, we need some
vehicles,” and Sammy brings a car, a truck, a
tractor, and a motorcycle.
• During play the child puts the apple, banana,
and pear into one bowl and puts the broccoli,
carrots, and corn into another bowl and says to
a friend, “These are the fruits and these are the
vegetables.”
LANGUAGE AND LITER ACY
• During play Anne tells Cathy, “You go get the
furniture for the house. We need a chair, a table,
a sofa, a desk, and a dresser.”
2.3 Understand and use simple words
that describe the relations between
objects.
2.3 Understand and use both simple
and complex words that describe the
relations between objects.
Examples*
Examples*
• While playing a game, the child is able to collect
all the circles when the teacher says, “Find all
the things that are the same shape as this”
(while showing a picture of a circle).
• After reading a story about the zoo, the teacher
asks, “What animals are smaller than an
elephant?” The child correctly identifies a lion,
a tiger, a bear, and a zebra.
• During play Alice tells Mary, “Ortiz is under the
table.”
• During circle time the teacher invites Stephen
to sit next to Mark, and he does.
• The child puts all the marbles in the box when a
peer says, “Now let’s put them all in the box.”
• While playing in the block center, DeAndre tells
Susan, “Put the red block in front of the tower.”
• During story time the child points to pictures of
a dog and a cat and says, “These are different
animals.”
• During snack time the child complains, “Your
quesadilla is bigger than mine!”
*Key word forms in the examples are italicized.
Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1 • California Department of Education
Listening and Speaking | 61
Grammar
At around 48 months of age
At around 60 months of age
Children develop age-appropriate
grammar.
Children develop age-appropriate
grammar.
3.1 Understand and use increasingly
complex and longer sentences,
including sentences that combine
two phrases or two to three
concepts to communicate ideas.
3.1 Understand and use increasingly
complex and longer sentences,
including sentences that combine
two to three phrases or three to four
concepts to communicate ideas.
Examples*
Examples*
• The child demonstrates comprehension of two-,
three-, and four-word requests (e.g., “please sit
down,” “put that over here”) and sentences
(e.g., “John is here,” “The cat is black”).
• The child responds with appropriate action to
a statement or a request that includes multiple
clauses, such as “find the girl who is sad” or
“pick up the dog that fell over.”
• When asked to “pick up the toys” and “take off
your jacket and put it in your cubby,” the child
does so.
• When asked to “take off your coat, find a book,
and come to the rug” or “please sit down at the
table, help yourself to some crackers, and pour
your juice,” the child does so.
• The child produces noun phrases that include
one or more descriptors (e.g., “that blue chair is
mine,” “the green car crashed”).
• The child uses short complete sentences to
comment, ask questions, and request (e.g.,
“Where’s my baby doll?” “What’s that?” and
“I want a cookie”).
• The child uses noun phrases that include three
or four descriptors (e.g., “the big red shirt is
Bobby’s,” “I want to play with the little blue
square one”).
• The child produces a two-part sentence through
coordination, using and and but (e.g., “I’m
pushing the wagon, and he is pulling it!” and
“It’s naptime, but I’m not tired”).
3.2 Understand and typically use
age-appropriate grammar, including
accepted word forms, such as
subject-verb agreement, progressive
tense, regular past tense, regular
plurals, pronouns, and possessives.
3.2 Understand and typically use
age-appropriate grammar, including
accepted word forms, such as
subject-verb agreement, progressive tense, regular and irregular past
tense, regular and irregular plurals,
pronouns, and possessives.
Examples*
Examples*
Understands and uses verbs indicating present,
progressive, and regular past tense.
Understands and uses verbs indicating present,
progressive, and both regular and irregular past
tense (even if not always used correctly).
• The child responds, “The block tower,” when
another child asks, “What fell down?” or
responds appropriately to questions, such as,
“Who walked to school today?” “Who is drinking
juice?” or “Who drives the bus?” during discussion at lunch.
• While reading a picture book, the child correctly
identifies “the children” and “the girl” when
asked, “Who was running and who fell down?”
* Key word forms in the examples are italicized.
California Department of Education • Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1
LANGUAGE AND LITER ACY
3.0
62 | Listening and Speaking
3.0
Grammar (Continued)
At around 48 months of age
At around 60 months of age
Examples (Continued)*
Examples (Continued)*
• The child says, “Maria jumps with the rope,”
“Maria is jumping rope,” or “Maria jumped with
the rope,” depending on the time when the
action occurred.
• During story time, the child remarks, “The bear
ate the fish and then he ran away.”
Understands and applies the “s” sound at the end
of words to indicate plurals (even if not always used
correctly).
Understands and applies the “s” sound at the end of
words to indicate plurals and understands and uses
irregular plurals (even if not always used correctly).
• Miguel brings more than one cup to the table
when the teacher requests, “Please bring me
the cups.”
• Alice points to a picture of five mice when the
teacher asks, “Which is the picture of the mice?”
• The child uses plural forms of nouns, such as
socks, cups, mens,† and foots† when talking
about more than one sock, cup, man, or foot
Understands and uses different types of pronouns,
including subject (he, she, it), object (him, her),
possessive (hers, his, its), and demonstrative
(there, here), although usage may be incorrect
and inconsistent at times.
LANGUAGE AND LITER ACY
• Lisa gives a book to the girl when an adult
requests, “Please give the book to her,” and a
boy is also present, or Lisa puts the animals on
the table when a friend requests, “Put them there,
please” while gesturing toward the table.
• Brandee says, “I have boats” during circle time,
“Him† put that there” when talking with another
child, or “This is my dolly” when in the dramatic
play area.
Understands and adds an “s” sound to nouns to
indicate the possessive form.
• Richard helps find John’s coat when asked, or
Elizabeth points to Mariella’s backpack when
asked, “Which one is Mariella’s?”
• The child says, “I like to put on Daddy’s shoes
and walk” during a discussion about favorite
pastimes, or “I brushed the doll’s hair” when
asked, “What happened?”
• Suzie tells the teacher, “He pushed me and
I felled† down!”
• A child brings five sheep to the table after a friend
says, “Now we need lots of sheep.”
• Gene exclaims, “Look at that one. He has lots of
teeths!Ӡ while looking at a book about dinosaurs.
• A child says, “Look at those trees; they have lots
and lots of leaves.”
Understands and uses different types of pronouns,
including subject (he, she, it, they), object (him,
her, them), possessive (hers, his, its, our, their), and
demonstrative (there, here).
• The child hands Maria a book when the parent
volunteer says, “Please give it to her,” and Juan
is also present.
• Darla complains to the teacher, “This ball is mine
and that one is his.”
• The child tells a friend, “Our tower is bigger
than theirs, but they could build it higher” when
playing with blocks.
• Maria responds, “Susan did. She gave the
cookies to them” when asked, “Who gave the
cookies to Jose and Mallika?”
Understands and adds an “s” sound to nouns to
indicate the possessive form.
• Robby responds, “Those are his mom’s keys,”
when an adult points to a picture and says, “The
boy has somebody’s keys. Are they his?”
• The child shares, “We went to grandma’s house
because it was my mommy’s birthday” during
circle time when the children are telling what they
did over the weekend.
* Key word forms in the examples are italicized.
†
Denotes common usage of an incorrect form.
Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1 • California Department of Education
63
Reading
1.0
Concepts about Print
At around 48 months of age
At around 60 months of age
Children begin to recognize print
conventions and understand that print
carries meaning.
Children recognize print conventions
and understand that print carries
specific meaning.
1.1 Begin to display appropriate
book-handling behaviors and begin
to recognize print conventions.
1.1 Display appropriate book-handling
behaviors and knowledge of print
conventions.
Examples
Examples
• When holding a book, the child orients it as if
to read.
• The child orients a book correctly for reading
(i.e., right-side up with the front cover facing
the child).
• The child can point to where the title is shown
on the cover of a book.
• The child opens a book and turns the pages in
a single direction, although not necessarily one
page at a time.
• The child turns the pages of a book one at a time.
• The child begins to track print from left to right
and top to bottom (e.g., while pretending to read
a story to a peer or doll).
1.2 Recognize print as something that
can be read.*
1.2 Understand that print is something
that is read and has specific
meaning.*
Examples
Examples
• The child points to letters in a book, on a sign, or
on a drawing and communicates, “that says my
name,” although usually inaccurately.
• The child asks the teacher, “What does this say?”
when pointing to text in a book.
• The child can indicate which part of a picture
book shows the story (pictures) versus which part
tells the story (text).
• The child “writes” something down on paper
and then asks the teacher what it says (i.e., to
“read” it).
• The child communicates, “Can you tell me what
that says?” drawing attention to a sign while
outside on a walk.
• The child asks the teacher to write down a story
or note that the child dictates, and then the child
“reads” it to the other children.
* Children can learn to recognize letters of the alphabet without being able to see conventional print. Multiple means of
recognizing print include the use of tactile letters, large print, color contrast or lighting, and braille, as well as other means of
representing letters.
California Department of Education • Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1
LANGUAGE AND LITER ACY
• While looking through a book, the child says,
“the end” after reaching the last page.
64 | Reading
2.0
Phonological Awareness
At around 48 months of age
At around 60 months of age
Children develop age-appropriate
phonological awareness.*
2.1 Orally blend and delete words and
syllables without the support of
pictures or objects.†, ‡
Examples
Orally puts together two familiar words, making a
compound word.
• The child plays the “What’s That Word?” game
while on a swing. With each push of the swing,
the teacher says one part of a compound word
(e.g., sun, shine) and then asks the child, “What’s
that word?” The child responds, “Sunshine.”
• While playing in the dramatic play area, the
child responds, “hairbrush” when asked, “What
word do you get when you say ‘hair’ and ‘brush’
together?”
LANGUAGE AND LITER ACY
Orally puts together the two syllables of two-syllable
words that are familiar to the child.
• During mealtime conversation, the child participates in the guess-the-food game. The teacher
says two-syllable words (ta-co, su-shi, crack-er,
ap-ple, but-ter) and says each syllable distinctly.
The teacher asks, “What food is this?” The child
responds, “Taco.”
• The child chants, “sister” after singing along to,
“What word do you get when you say ‘sis’ and
‘ter’ together?”
• The child responds, “Amit” in unison with other
classmates during circle time when the teacher
says, “I’m thinking of a classmate’s name that
has two parts, like ‘A-mit.’ Whose name is that?”
* “Phonological awareness” is defined for the preschool learning foundations as an oral language skill: an individual’s
sensitivity to the sound (or phonological) structure of spoken language. Phonological awareness is an important skill that
children start to acquire during preschool and continue to build in early elementary school as they learn to read. Even
though it is defined as an oral language skill, it is also an important skill for children who are deaf or hard of hearing.
A teacher of the deaf should be consulted for strategies for facilitating phonological awareness in individual children who
are deaf or hard of hearing.
†
Some children may need assistance in holding a book or turning the pages, either through assistive technology or through
the help of an adult or a peer. For example, a book can be mounted so that it does not have to be held, and sturdy tabs can
be placed on the pages so that they are easier to turn. Some children may need to have an adult or a peer hold the book
and turn the pages.
‡
The foundations for phonological awareness are written only for older four-year-olds because much of the initial
development of phonological awareness occurs between 48 months and 60 months of age.
Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1 • California Department of Education
Reading | 65
2.0
Phonological Awareness (Continued)
At around 48 months of age
At around 60 months of age
Examples (Continued)
Orally takes apart compound words into their
component words.
• The child claps out words in a compound word
as part of a circle time activity. When the teacher
says, “When I think of the word ‘book,’ I think of
clapping one time. Other words like ‘bookshelf’
have two parts. So I clap two times. Let’s clap out
the parts for ‘paintbrush.’”
• The child responds, “table” when asked, “What
word do you get when you say ‘tablecloth’ without ‘cloth’?”
• The child responds, “ball” when asked, “What
word do you get when you say ‘football’ without
‘foot’?”
• The child responds, “mail” and “box” when
asked, “What two words make ‘mailbox’?”
• The child claps out syllables in a two-syllable
word as part of a circle time activity. When the
teacher says, “Let’s clap out how many parts we
hear in the word ‘cook-ie.’”
• The child responds, “door” when asked, “What
word do you get when you say ‘doorknob’
without ‘knob’?”
California Department of Education • Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1
LANGUAGE AND LITER ACY
Orally takes apart two-syllable words into their
component syllables.
66 | Reading
2.0
Phonological Awareness (Continued)
At around 48 months of age
At around 60 months of age
2.2 Orally blend the onsets, rimes,
and phonemes of words and orally
delete the onsets of words, with the
support of pictures or objects.*
Examples
Orally blends the onsets and rimes of words with
the support of pictures or objects.
• During a small group activity with several objects
on the table (e.g., cat, cup, mat, bus, rat, pup),
the child responds and selects the rat (or says
“rat”) when a teacher asks, “Ricardo, can you find
the r—at?”
• While playing a game of I-spy, the teacher says,
“I spy a s—un,” and the child indicates or points
to the sun or says, “sun.”
LANGUAGE AND LITER ACY
• While engaged in a game, the child selects the
picture of a bed from among three or four pictures (or says, “bed”) when asked to put together
the letter sounds b—ed.
Deletes the onset from a spoken word with the
support of pictures or objects.
• The child selects the picture of ants from among
three or four pictures (or says, “ants”) when asked
to say “pants” without the “p” letter sound.
Orally blends individual phonemes to make a simple
word with the support of pictures or objects.
• While playing a “bingo game” during small group
time, the child chooses and marks pictures
corresponding to the words for which the
teacher sounds out the individual phonemes
(e.g., h—a—t, m—o—p, c—u—p).
• The teacher sings, “If you think you know the
word, shout it out. If you think you know the
word, tell me what you’ve heard. If you think you
know the word, shout it out . . . s—i—t.” The child
sings out “sit” along with the classmates.
• The child picks up the picture of a hat from
among three or four pictures (or says, “hat”)
when asked to put together the letter sounds
h—a—t.
* The foundations for phonological awareness are written only for older four-year-olds because much of the initial
development of phonological awareness occurs between 48 months and 60 months of age.
Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1 • California Department of Education
Reading | 67
Alphabetics and Word/Print Recognition
At around 48 months of age
At around 60 months of age
Children begin to recognize letters
of the alphabet.*
Children extend their recognition
of letters of the alphabet.*
3.1 Recognize the first letter of own
name.
3.1 Recognize own name or other
common words in print.
Examples
Examples
• Kavita communicates, “That’s my name” while
indicating the letter K on Karen’s name card on
the helper chart.
• Bobby indicates a word beginning with the letter
B and says, “That’s my letter.”
• The child responds appropriately when the
teacher holds up a card with the first letter of his
or her name and says, “Everyone whose name
begins with this letter (the first letter of the child’s
name), put on your jacket.”
• The child recognizes his or her name on a
sign-in sheet, helper chart, artwork, or name tag
(e.g., name tag, label for the cubby, or place at
the table).
• The child recognizes common or familiar words
(e.g., mom or friends’ names) in print.
3.2 Match some letter names to their
printed form.
3.2 Match more than half of uppercase
letter names and more than half of
lowercase letter names to their
printed form.
Examples
Examples
• When putting the “T” puzzle piece into the
alphabet puzzle, the child says, “That’s a T.”
• The child traces over sandpaper letters, saying
the matching letter name for some letters.
• The child names some letters in storybooks,
logos, or on artwork.
• The child says, “I want all the A’s,” when sorting
through a container of letters, picking out the A
shapes.
• When shown an upper- or lowercase letter, the
child can say its name.
• The child says letter names when attending to
different words, such as own name, friends’
names, or frequently seen signs.
• During circle time the child indicates or points
to the correct letter on a chart when the teacher
prompts with the name of the letter.
3.3 Begin to recognize that letters have
sounds.
Examples
• The child makes the correct sound for the first
letter in his name.
• The child says the correct letter sound while
pointing to the letter in a book.
• The child indicates the correct picture when presented with four pictures—dog barking, car horn
honking, letter k, and letter n—and asked, “Which
of these make these sounds: bow-wow, honk, “k”
(letter sound), “n” (letter sound)?”
* Children with oral motor involvement, who may have difficulty in saying words or syllables as they learn to match,
synthesize, or analyze syllables and sounds, may demonstrate their knowledge by indicating yes or no in response to
an adult’s production of sounds or words or by identifying pictures that represent the products of these manipulations. It
should be understood that children can learn letters of the alphabet and about print without being able to see typical print.
Multiple means of recognizing print include the use of tactile letters, large print, color contrast or lighting, braille, and any
other means of representing letters and print.
California Department of Education • Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1
LANGUAGE AND LITER ACY
3.0
68 | Reading
4.0
Comprehension and Analysis of Age-Appropriate Text
At around 48 months of age
At around 60 months of age
Children demonstrate understanding
of age-appropriate text read aloud.
Children demonstrate understanding
of age-appropriate text read aloud.
4.1 Demonstrate knowledge of main
characters or events in a familiar
story (e.g., who, what, where)
through answering questions
(e.g., recall and simple inferencing),
retelling, reenacting, or creating
artwork.
4.1 Demonstrate knowledge of details
in a familiar story, including characters, events, and ordering of events
through answering questions (particularly summarizing, predicting,
and inferencing), retelling, reenacting,
or creating artwork.
Examples
Examples
• In the dramatic play area, the child pretends
to be a character from a familiar story.
• The child uses a bucket (pail of water) and step
stool (the hill) to reenact the “Jack and Jill”
nursery rhyme.
• During circle time the child reminds a peer what
has just happened in a story being read aloud.
• The child retells a story to peers or stuffed
animals in the library center, not necessarily
including all events or in the correct order.
LANGUAGE AND LITER ACY
• The child names places where Rosie walked in
the book Rosie’s Walk (e.g., chicken coop, pond).
• The child is able to label correctly a character’s
feelings when asked by teacher (e.g., “Critter
was sad”).
• The child places story picture cards or flannel
board pictures in order while retelling a familiar
story with peers.
• The child acts out the sequence of events in a
familiar story, using props and puppets.
• The child responds to open-ended questions
from teachers or other children (e.g., how, why,
cause/effect, connecting events, prediction,
and inferring).
• The child is able to describe the situation and
feelings that led to a story character’s actions
(e.g., “He yelled at them because he was mad
that they took his toy”).
4.2 Demonstrate knowledge from
informational text through labeling,
describing, playing, or creating
artwork.
4.2 Use information from informational
text in a variety of ways, including
describing, relating, categorizing,
or comparing and contrasting.
Examples
Examples
• The child demonstrates knowledge of trucks by
indicating that things can be carried in the back
of trucks after the teacher has read a description
of jobs that trucks do.
• The child communicates important differences
and similarities of jet airplanes and propeller
planes after being read a story about airplanes
and airports.
• In the block area a group of children build an
airport after being read a story about airplanes
and airports.
• The child tells about a visit to the dentist in
response to a book about getting teeth cleaned
at the dentist’s office.
• During outside play the child pretends to be a
traffic officer by directing tricycle traffic after
listening to or looking at a story about traffic
officers.
• The child explains or demonstrates the steps of
planting a seed after being read a book about
gardening.
• The child communicates, “I love the giraffe.
Giraffes have long necks” when listening to or
looking at a book about the zoo.
Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1 • California Department of Education
Reading | 69
Literacy Interest and Response
At around 48 months of age
At around 60 months of age
Children demonstrate motivation for
literacy activities.
Children demonstrate motivation for
a broad range of literacy activities.
5.1 Demonstrate enjoyment of literacy
and literacy-related activities.
5.1 Demonstrate, with increasing
independence, enjoyment of
literacy and literacy-related
activities.
Examples
Examples
• The child brings a book to an adult to share or to
read together.
• The child brings a favorite book from home
to be read aloud during story time.
• The child chooses the activities in literacy or writing center (e.g., “reading” a book by oneself in the
library area or pretending to write a story).
• The child initiates creating or obtaining appropriate written materials for dramatic play (e.g., menus
for playing restaurant, lists for playing grocery
store).
• The child displays appropriate attention while listening to a read-aloud during circle time.
• The child describes a trip to the library with a
family member where they selected books and
checked them out to read at home.
5.2 Engage in routines associated with
literacy activities.
5.2 Engage in more complex routines
associated with literacy activities.
Examples
Examples
• The child listens during story time.
• The child returns books to the library shelf after
independent reading.
• The child participates in a discussion of a story.
• The child asks for help from the teacher to write
something (e.g., writing a note to mother, labeling
a picture, writing a story).
• The child finds own journal book when entering
the classroom and engages in pretend writing.
• After the reading of a book about insects during
circle time, the child asks the teacher to identify
other books about insects for the child to look
through.
California Department of Education • Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1
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70
Writing
LANGUAGE AND LITER ACY
1.0
Writing Strategies
At around 48 months of age
At around 60 months of age
Children demonstrate emergent
writing skills.*
Children demonstrate increasing
emergent writing skills.*
1.1 Experiment with grasp and body
position using a variety of drawing
and writing tools.
1.1 Adjust grasp and body position
for increased control in drawing
and writing.
Examples
Examples
• The child holds a marker with the fist or finger
grasp to draw.
• The child holds a pencil or pen with finger grasp
to write.
• The child paints at an easel with fat and thin
brushes.
• The child draws recognizable figures, letters, or
shapes.
• The child draws or paints with pencils, crayons,
markers, brushes, or fingers.
• The child child moves hand to hold paper in place
while drawing or writing.
1.2 Write using scribbles that are
different from pictures.
1.2 Write letters or letter-like shapes to
represent words or ideas.
Examples
Examples
• The child produces scribble writing that is linear
(mock cursive).
• The child draws a picture and writes a label
(may not be readable).
• The child makes scribbles of lines and circles
(mock printing).
• The child writes strings of symbols that look like
letters or writes actual letters, which can vary in
directionality (not necessarily left to right).
• The child makes scribbles that are more
separated.
1.3 Write marks to represent own name.
1.3 Write first name nearly correctly.
Examples
Examples
• The child makes a series of circles and lines to
represent name.
• The child writes own name with or without
mistakes, for example:
• The child writes marks and refers to them as
“my name” or “this is my name.”
– Excludes some letters (dvid).
– Reverses some letters (Davib).
– Uses letters that may not be written in a line.
* Some children may need assistance in emergent writing, either through assistive technology or through the help of an adult.
Assistive technology (either low tech or high tech) may be as simple as building up the width of the marker or pencil so that
it is easier to grasp, or it may be as sophisticated as using a computer. Another possibility would be for an adult or a peer to
“write” for the child who would then approve or disapprove by indicating yes or no.
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Listening and Speaking
Language Use and Conventions.
The development of oral language is
one of the most impressive accomplishments that occur during the first
five years of children’s lives (Genishi
1988). Oral language development
results from the interaction of a variety
of factors, including social, linguistic,
maturational/biological, and cognitive
influences, and these factors interact
and modify one another (Bohannon
and Bonvillian 2001). Research indicates that social factors have a prominent role on oral language development. For example, the wide variation
in the rate of children’s early language
growth and later language outcomes
is directly related to differences in
maternal and other caretakers’ verbal
input (Baumwell, Tamis-LeMonda,
and Bornstein 1997; Girolametto and
Weitzman 2002; Hart and Risley 1995;
Landry and others 1997; Pellegrini and
others 1995; Tamis-LeMonda, Bornstein, and Baumwell 2001).
The language use and conventions
substrand focuses on children’s use
of language for social and communicative purposes. Four aspects of
language use are emphasized in the
foundations: using language to communicate with others for a variety of
purposes, increasing clarity of communication (i.e., phonology), developing an increasing understanding of the
conventions of language use (i.e., pragmatics), and using language for narrative purposes. The first component of
the foundation emphasizes the child’s
ability to use language for a variety
of different purposes. Each time children produce language, an intention is
being expressed. As children develop
their language abilities during early
childhood, the range of intentions they
express expands. They use language
not just to request, reject, and comment, but to acknowledge, to greet,
to understand, to solve problems,
to hypothesize, to regulate, and to
describe, among other uses.
The second component centers on
the ability of young children to learn
to use understandable pronunciation
and words. This development pertains
to the articulation of specific words
and the expression of specific sounds
rather than to the overall way in which
children speak or whether they speak
with an accent. Young children may
speak in ways that may contain pronunciation errors and idiosyncratic
words. Usually their communication is
understood by familiar adults and children. As children continue to develop,
they usually speak with clear pronunciation and use common words. Their
speech is usually understood by both
familiar and unfamiliar adults and
children.
The third component of the foundation focuses on children’s increasing
understanding of the conventions of
communication, including conversational participation and the ability to
sustain a topic over turns, and the use
of appropriate verbal and nonverbal
communicative behaviors, including
adapting language based on communicative partners and situations.
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It is important to note that appropriate (or accepted) language or behavior
is that which commonly occurs in the
child’s environment or community.
For example, in some communities or
environments, people make eye contact when they speak, while in other
communities they do not. In the first
few years of life, children are not very
skilled conversationalists, only able to
(typically) maintain a conversational
focus for one or two turns. As children
become older and near the end of the
preschool years, they can maintain a
conversation for several turns and take
on more of the responsibility of maintaining a conversational focus. Also, as
children become older, they develop an
increasingly sophisticated understanding of the pragmatics of communication, or the social rules that govern the
use of language and other communicative behaviors.
The fourth component of the foundation emphasizes the child’s ability to
use language for narrative purposes.
With narrative, the child’s task is,
essentially, to produce an “extended
monologue” as she relays an experience she had, a story she has developed, or something she wants to do
in the future. Narratives include both
real events (the personal narrative) as
well as fictional or imagined events
(the fictional narrative). There are clear
developmental changes in narrative
production as children mature during
the preschool years (Umiker-Sebeok
1979). Children at three years of age
may produce narratives organized as a
series of unrelated actions or characters (e.g., “the bear, the cat, the gorilla,
the end”). At around 48 months of age,
children begin to organize narratives to
follow a causal or temporal sequence
of events (e.g., “The bear was angry
because her babies woke her up. And
then . . .”). The narratives of four- and
five-year-old children tend to be longer
and contain more information than
those of three-year-olds (Curenton and
Justice 2004). They contain more multiclausal sentences, more words, and a
greater diversity of words. At the same
time, children’s narratives become
more coherent as children develop and
become less likely to omit key information that the listener needs to follow
the events (Gutierrez-Clellen and Iglesias 1992; Peterson 1990).
Teachers can help children to
develop the different aspects of conversation described previously. For
instance, teachers can provide opportunities for all children to develop and
apply a range of communication intentions. Teachers can develop skills in
maintaining a conversational focus
by repeating what children say and
extending children’s conversational
contributions—techniques that promote children’s conversational abilities (Girolametto and Weitzman 2002).
Additionally, teachers can both model
and promote the use of the appropriate
social conventions of language. Finally,
teachers can support children’s narrative comprehension—which involves
the ability to negotiate vocabulary,
grammar, and background knowledge
on the subject, to process information,
to engage their phonological memory
(Baddeley 1986), and when producing a narrative, to take into account
the listener’s needs. Teachers can
elicit children’s demonstration of phonological memory by requesting that
children produce immediate recalls of
verbally presented material (Lonigan
2004).
Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1 • California Department of Education
Vocabulary. The development of
vocabulary is one of the most essential, observable, and robust aspects of
early language acquisition. Vocabulary
knowledge is an important language
tool that children use to access background knowledge, express ideas, and
acquire new concepts. In addition to
providing children with a tool that
supports peer relationships and their
interactions with adults, the size of a
child’s vocabulary is itself a positive
influence on word learning. Children
who have a larger vocabulary have
an easier time acquiring new words
(Nash and Donaldson 2005; Sénéchal,
Thomas, and Monker 1995). They also
tend to be more effective readers, mastering a wider variety of strategies to
figure out the meaning of new words
than less capable readers can (McKeown 1985), and are more proficient
in reading comprehension (Report of
the National Reading Panel 2000). On
the contrary, preschool and kindergarten children who show difficulties
with vocabulary exhibit relatively lower
reading achievement later (Cunningham and Stanovich 1998; Share and
others 1984; Stanovich, Cunningham,
and Freeman 1984). The differences
in vocabulary words between high and
low achievers are stable over time.
Vocabulary growth throughout early
childhood occurs at a very rapid rate.
This process continues throughout
school, where children acquire from
3,000 to 5,000 new words each academic year, with about half of those
words learned through reading (Nagy
and Herman 1987). It is thus important to pay attention to vocabulary
development from an early age. The
vocabulary substrand includes three
interrelated foundations: age-appropriate vocabulary, basic concepts, and
vocabulary that describes relations
between objects.
Vocabulary undergoes rapid growth
during the preschool years. Many children enter into a period termed the
“vocabulary explosion” or “word spurt”
within the second year of life (Bates,
Bretherton, and Snyder 1988). Vocabulary acquisition is not merely adding new words in a serial fashion to a
static and established vocabulary base.
Learning new vocabulary is a more
complex process that involves altering
and refining the semantic representation of words already in the children’s
vocabulary base, as well as the relationships among them (Landauer and
Dumais 1997; Woodward, Markham,
and Fitzsimmons 1994). Children’s
development of the meaning of a single
word is best viewed as a gradual process in which word representations
progressively develop from immature,
incomplete representations to mature,
accurate representations (Justice,
Meier, and Walpole 2005). Children
often can acquire a general representation of a new word with only a single
exposure through a process called
“fast mapping” (see McGregor and others 2002). This process is followed by
“slow mapping,” during which representations are gradually refined over
time with multiple exposures (Curtis
1987). Thus, multiple experiences with
words across a variety of contexts are
critical for children’s acquisition of a
fine-grained representation of those
words.
An important aspect of early vocabulary and linguistic concept development is that of “categorization” (Hoff
2005). “Vocabulary development”
can be defined as the child’s ongoing
achievement of increasingly precise
ways of representing the contents of
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the world. As children develop new
words, those words naturally fall into
different categories, such as words
that describe food items, different animals, and family members. During the
preschool years, as children gradually
expand their use and understanding
of words within a category, they also
learn the “superordinate terms” (the
names of the categories) by which to
group these words. Examples of superordinate terms often acquired during
the preschool years are colors, animals,
shapes, family members, friends, bugs,
toys, and vegetables (Owens 1999).
As children grow and are exposed to a
range of new experiences, they learn
words from across a variety of grammatical classes and from a range of
“ontological categories” (Clark 1993).
These categories include objects,
actions, events, relations, states and
properties. Relating words and concepts within these ontological categories helps the children create meaning
within their environment.
Another important element of vocabulary development is the attainment
of a core group of terms that describe
relations between objects. Young
children’s vocabulary becomes increasingly refined to show an understanding
of and relay information about position and location (e.g., in, on, under,
above), amount, and size (e.g., small,
big, huge). For instance, three- and
four-year-old children are able to
produce and comprehend locational
terms, such as in, on, above, below,
in front, of, next to, under, underneath,
and beside (see Owens 1996). During the same period, they also begin
to use terms that specify amounts,
such as more, less, all, and none, and
physical relationships among objects
on the basis of size and texture, such
as hard/soft, big/little, and short/tall.
Three- and four-year-old children also
begin to use the comparative -er and
the superlative -est (big, bigger, biggest; long, longer, longest) to be discriminating about the sizes of objects.
The superlative form usually emerges
before the comparative form, so that
children use and understand terms
like longest and largest before they do
the terms longer and larger (Owens
1996). Also, children’s accuracy in
comprehension of such terms tends
to precede their use.
The development of an extensive
vocabulary provides children with
more sophisticated and precise ways
to represent the world around them
through the use of language. In the
first few years of life, the language
of children is developed enough to
allow them to describe the immediate world—the persons, objects, and
events in the immediate vicinity. Often,
children’s language must be contextualized, or supported by the immediate context. As their vocabulary and
language concepts expand, children
can be more decontextualized in their
language use and comprehension. This
movement from the concrete and contextualized to the abstract and decontextualized plays a critical role in the
development of “academic language”
(also called literate language) (see
Curenton and Justice 2004) and the
vocabulary used to produce and comprehend the relatively abstract content
of written language. Use of an “academic language style” helps children to
represent explicitly and precisely the
world around them through the use
of language and allows them to communicate effectively in the type of language most commonly used in school
settings (Charity, Scarborough, and
Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1 • California Department of Education
Griffin 2004; Dickinson and Snow
1987; Dickinson and Tabors 1991;
Snow 1983).
Children learn much of their vocabulary and basic language concepts
indirectly through their interaction
with others, especially adults (Cunningham and Stanovich 1998; Hayes
and Ahrens 1988; Miller and Gildea
1987; Nagy and Anderson 1984; Nagy,
Herman, and Anderson 1985; Nagy
and Herman1987; Sternberg 1987;
Swanborn and De Glopper 1999).
Children also acquire vocabulary
through direct, explicit instruction.
For example, Biemiller (1999) and
Stahl (1999) reviewed several studies
and found that children can acquire
and retain two or three words a day
through instruction involving contextualized introduction and explanation
of new words. Other researchers have
also found that direct and explicit
approaches are effective in increasing children’s vocabulary (see Elley
1989; Feitelson, Kita, and Goldstein
1986; Whitehurst and others 1988).
With adequate instruction most children can acquire new vocabulary at
rates necessary to reach “grade level”
vocabulary by the middle years in
elementary school (Biemiller 2001).
For example, Hart and Risley (1995)
found that when teachers provided
40 or more hours of rich linguistic
interactions per week, children were
able to perform linguistic tasks at the
expected level. Similarly, Landry’s
study (in press) demonstrates that parents who do not frequently engage in
quality conversations with their children can be coached to support their
children’s language and literacy skills
more effectively.
Grammar. During the first five years
of a child’s life, language acquisition
develops toward an adult-like grammar. “Grammar” refers to the way
in which phrases and sentences are
structured to make meaning. Children
seem to have an innate propensity
toward learning the grammatical rules
that govern their language. The grammatical rules include the organization
of basic sentences (e.g., subject + verb
+ object: Juan drew the picture) and
the joining of clauses and phrases to
elaborate the basic sentence structure (e.g., subject + verb + object and
subject + verb + object: Juan drew the
picture and he is hanging it) (Chomsky
1957). Grammar also provides rules
about the way in which nouns can be
elaborated with determiners and adjectives (e.g., the big brown dog), verbs
can be elaborated to share information
about time (e.g., will be running), and
phrases can be created for prepositions
(e.g., on the table), adverbs (e.g., very,
very slowly), and other parts of speech.
Between the second and fifth year of
life, children master virtually all the
rules required for an adult-like grammar and can comprehend and produce
sentences with embedded clauses
(e.g., “That boy who came today is
my friend”), as well as sentences with
multiple subjects and predicates (e.g.,
“I am going and then he will get me”).
The rate at which children achieve
syntactic precision, however, varies
from child to child (Chapman 2000).
The proportion of complex sentences
contained in children’s language use
ranges from 5 percent to 30 percent
(Huttenlocher and others 2002). This
variability in the rate of growth has
been linked to children’s experiences
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in hearing complex sentences from
their teachers (Huttenlocher and others 2002).
The foundations are organized to
emphasize the child’s grammatical
accomplishments at both the sentence
and the word levels. Sentence-level
accomplishments relate to the child’s
use and production of increasingly
complex and longer sentences. Wordlevel accomplishments relate to the
child’s manipulation of word structure
for grammatical purposes.
One foundation emphasizes children’s grammatical accomplishments
at the sentence level. Typically, the
sentences of three-year-old children
average about 3.5 words, and those of
four-year-olds increase to about five
words in length. (Brown 1973). While
the increase in the length of sentences
is not dramatic, there is a significant
increase in the internal complexity of
the sentences children are producing.
By two years of age, children begin to
produce simple sentences that include
a noun + predicate (e.g., “doggy sit,”
“mommy work”). Later, children begin
to elaborate nouns by making noun
phrases (e.g., “the big brown doggy,”
“my mommy,” “my daddy’s gloves”). By
four years of age, children commonly
produce elaborated noun phrases that
include determiners (e.g., the, a, an,
all, both, one, two) and adjectives (e.g.,
green, little, fast, angry). This increase
in complexity allows children to be
highly precise in their language use
(e.g., “I want that little green one over
there”). A related development centers
on children’s ability to produce negative sentences. Children’s use of basic
negative sentences during the second
year (e.g., “no go,” “no want”) becomes
more precisely stated between ages
three and four. Typically, these nega-
tive sentences include a fully inflected
verb structure, as in, “I don’t want
any” and “You are not going.” Some
errors in negation will be seen during
the preschool age (e.g., “I do want to
do that!”), but these errors will become
less frequent by four and five years of
age as children achieve grammatical
mastery (see Hoff 2004; Owens 1996).
As children near three years of age,
they begin to organize phrases and
clauses to produce compound sentences (e.g., “I want the cupcake and
I want the cake, too”) and complex
sentences (e.g., “La’Kori is my friend
because we go to school together”).
Children typically begin producing
compound sentences (conjoined with
but, so, or, and and) by three years of
age and then start to conjoin clauses
to form complex sentences (using if
and because) soon thereafter (Brown
1973).
By four years of age, most children
have become skilled at both clausal
embedding and clausal conjoining.
“Clausal embedding” occurs when a
dependent clause is embedded within
an independent clause, as with, “Jose,
who is two, is not yet talking” (here,
the clause “who is two” is embedded
into another clause). “Clausal conjoining” occurs when children link
clauses, as in, “He took my toy, but I
didn’t want it” and “When I am four,
I can chew gum.” At four years up to
one-third of children’s sentences will
be complex (Huttenlocher and others
2002), with the remainder being simple. In addition, by four years of age,
children are typically able to produce
complex-compound sentences that
include the conjoining of two sentences
using and or but as well as clauses
embedded within the sentences (e.g.,
“I will go because she said to but I
Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1 • California Department of Education
don’t really want to”) (Curenton and
Justice 2004).
Word-level accomplishments relate
to the child’s manipulation of word
structure for grammatical purposes.
Between two and five years of age,
children acquire the ability to inflect
words to be more precise in meaning.
For instance, one of the earliest wordstructure achievements (by about two
years of age) is inflecting verbs with
the -ing marker to denote present progressive, as in “cat jumping” (Brown
1973). By three years of age, children
are using the past tense -ed marker to
denote events occurring in the past, as
in, “I walked” (Brown 1973). As children develop their comprehension and
use of these verb inflections, they tend
to make errors, as in “He going” (in
which the auxiliary verb is is omitted),
“I wented,” or “He hitted” (in which the
-ed marker is added to an irregular
past tense verb that does not take the
-ed), and Carlos “walkded” (in which
the -ed marker is added twice). Such
errors are entirely commonplace and
typical in early grammatical acquisition and will gradually be replaced
with more accurate use (Brown 1973).
By five years of age, children are quite
accurate in their inflections of verbs
for past tense, present progressive
tense, and future tense (Brown 1973).
It is important to note that some dialectical variations in the United States
affect verb inflections. For instance,
children who speak some variations
of African-American English may omit
the plural marker (e.g., two dollar) or
modify the future tense (e.g., “She be
mad”) in ways that differ from Standard American English but are wholly
appropriate to the individual’s dialect
(Owens 1996).
Another type of word-level achievement emphasized in the foundations is
the child’s development of pronouns.
“Pronouns” are grammatical structures
that serve in the place of nouns. They
include subject pronouns (I, you, he,
she, they), object pronouns (me, you,
him, her, them), possessive pronouns
(hers, his, theirs), reflexive pronouns
(myself, herself), and demonstrative
pronouns (this, that, those). Typically,
children first develop the pronouns to
refer to self (I, me, mine, my) between
18 and 24 months of age (see Owens
1996). Between 24 months and five
years of age, children gradually master
the other pronouns to include a variety of subject, object, possessive, and
reflexive pronouns. Errors in usage are
very common as children develop their
skills with pronouns, such as, “Her did
it” and “It’s hims” (Owens 1996). With
experience and development children
will typically show few difficulties with
pronouns by the end of the preschool
period.
As indicated concerning the development of children’s vocabulary,
children’s ability to use increasingly
sophisticated language structures
allows them to make greater use
of “decontextualized language”—
language that requires little reliance
on the context for it to be understood.
By contrast, “contextualized language”
requires context to aid in understanding. For example, contrast the two sentences: “He took it” and “That boy over
there took my green ball.” Obviously,
the latter example requires much less
context for it to be understood; likewise, the latter example also places
a great burden on the speaker to
be linguistically precise. This level of
linguistic precision, required in decon-
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textualized situations, is referred to as
“literate language” (Curenton and
Justice 2004). Key markers of literate language include use of elaborated noun phrases (e.g., my green
ball), conjunctions (when, because),
and adverbs (tomorrow, slowly). As
children develop literate language,
they can decrease their reliance on
immediate context as a tool for communication. This ability is essential in
preparing young children for school,
where decontextualized language is
highly valued and used, and it has also
proven to be an important facilitator
of later reading comprehension (Dickinson and Snow 1987; Dickinson and
Tabors 1991; Snow 1983).
Children’s semantic (vocabulary) and
syntactic (grammar) abilities become
especially important in the later stages
of learning to read (Bishop and Adams
1990; Bowey 1986; Demont and
Gombert 1996; Gillon and Dodd 1994;
Share and Silva 1987; Vellutino, Scanlon, and Tanzman 1991; Whitehurst
and Lonigan 1998). These abilities are
particularly relevant when children
try to comprehend units of text larger
than individual words (Mason 1992;
Nation and Snowling 1998; Snow and
others 1991; Whitehurst 1997). Thus,
it is important for preschool children
to continue building their semantic
and syntactic abilities to facilitate
their learning later in the sequence
of learning to read.
Reading
Concepts About Print. An important element to the development
of emergent literacy is preschool
children’s development of a sophisticated knowledge of how print works.
Children’s development of this
knowledge is enhanced by their explicit
and implicit exposure to literacy
practices within their homes, classrooms, and communities (Ferreiro and
Teberosky 1982; Harste, Woodward,
and Burke 1984; Sulzby 1987; Teale
1987). Children develop an understanding of print from television and
other media exposure and from more
traditional types of public literacy—like
magazines, comics, newspapers, and
billboards (Harste, Woodward, and
Burke 1984; Holdaway 1986). Most
important, children develop an awareness of concepts about print as they
experience people around them using
the printed word for many purposes.
Children also learn about the purposes
of print from labels, signs, and other
kinds of print that they see around
them (Neuman and Roskos 1993).
This exposure to print is key not
only to developing preschool children’s
concepts about print, but also to providing the foundation of processes
and knowledge bases that facilitate
writing, reading, and reading comprehension, such as vocabulary and
declarative knowledge (Adams 1990;
Mason 1980; Stanovich and Cunningham 1992, 1993; West and Stanovich
1991). Children’s understanding of
concepts about print has been shown
to be associated with later reading performance (Adams 1990; Badian 2001;
Clay 1993; Preventing Reading Difficulties in Young Children 1998; Reutzel,
Oda, and Moore 1989; Scarborough
1998; Stuart 1995; Tunmer, Herriman,
and Nesdale 1988).
Central to an understanding of the
nature and role of reading and writing
is a child’s understanding of “intentionality” (Purcell-Gates and Dahl
1991). That is, children need to
Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1 • California Department of Education
recognize that print carries meaning—that a meaning or message is
encoded (Purcell-Gates 1996). When
a child understands intentionality,
meaning and understanding become a
background for all subsequent learning. Failure to develop this awareness
is one characteristic of delayed reading
development (Clay 1985; Purcell-Gates
and Dahl 1991). Children’s understanding that print carries meaning
emerges between the second and fifth
year of life, depending on the extent to
which children interact with and are
exposed to print (Mason 1980). This
understanding becomes increasingly
sophisticated during the preschool
years (Justice and Ezell 2000). At this
time, children begin to use print to
communicate, to understand the way
print is organized in books and other
texts, to recite the alphabet, and to
recognize some letters and words in
print.
The first aspect of this substrand,
print conventions, describes children’s
growing knowledge of the ways in
which print is organized, including
directionality and, for English orthography, the left-to-right and top-tobottom organization of print in books
or other print media (Clay 2002). Print
conventions also refer to the way books
are organized (e.g., front and back) and
the way they should be handled (Clay
2002).
The second aspect of this substrand
focuses on children’s understanding
that print can be read and has specific meaning. Children are beginning
to understand and operate within the
routines and contexts in which print
is a component, and they are learning that reading and writing play a
key role in various social contexts. By
interacting with and observing adults
using print, preschool children learn
the vocabulary of reading in instructional contexts—such as read, write,
draw, page, and story (Morgan cited in
Weir 1989; van Kleeck 1990)—as well
as the routines that govern literacy use
in the classroom, home, or preschool
setting, for example, reading stories,
making lists, and writing letters (Elster
1988; Elster and Walker 1992).
Although natural exposure to print
has a positive influence on children’s
awareness of concepts about print,
researchers have found that adults
need to deliberately and actively
encourage children’s engagement with
print by explicitly drawing children’s
attention to print forms and functions
(Justice and others 2005). Strategies
teachers use to help young children
develop print awareness skills include
asking questions about print, commenting about print, tracking print
when reading, and pointing to print
(Justice and Ezell 2000, 2002).
Phonological Awareness. “Phonological awareness” is generally defined
as an individual’s sensitivity to the
sound (or phonological) structure of
spoken language independent of meaning. Spoken language is made up of
different phonological units that differ
in their linguistic complexity. The phonological units include words, syllables, subsyllabic units (onsets, rimes),
and individual sounds (phonemes).
Phonological awareness (also called
“phonological sensitivity”) should be
differentiated from “phonemic awareness.” Phonemic awareness is the most
advanced level of phonological awareness that an individual can achieve.
It refers to one’s ability to recognize
and manipulate phonemes, which constitute the smallest units of spoken
words. Phonological awareness (and
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phonemic awareness) should also be
distinguished from phonics. “Phonics”
is a method of instruction that focuses
on teaching the relationships between
sounds and the letters that represent
them, whereas phonological awareness
is an oral language skill that does not
involve print.
The development of phonological
awareness typically moves along a
continuum in which children progress from a sensitivity to larger concrete units of sound to a sensitivity
to smaller abstract units of sound
(Adams 1990; Anthony and others
2002; Fox and Routh 1975; Goswami
and Bryant 1990; Liberman and others 1974; Lonigan 2006; Lonigan and
others 1998; Lonigan, Burgess, and
Anthony 2000; MacLean, Bryant, and
Bradley 1987; Treiman 1992). Typically, children’s first achievements in
phonological awareness are to detect
and manipulate words and syllables
within words and to then progress to
awareness of onsets and rimes. The
onset of a syllable is the first consonant or consonant cluster (e.g., the
m- in the word map, the dr- in the word
drum), whereas the rime of a syllable is
its vowel and any ending consonants
(e.g., -ap in the word map, -um in the
word drum). Finally, children develop
awareness of the smallest abstract
units of sound, the phonemes. Phonemes can be represented by single
letters, such as with the phonemes
c—a—t in the word cat, or with two
letters, such as in the ch- in the word
cheese; but not all letters in a word
represent a phoneme, such as the
silent-e in the word store. The foundations reflect these gradations in the
achievement of phonological awareness
as children become gradually more
sensitive to smaller units of spoken
language.
In addition to development involving the linguistic complexity of sound
units, children demonstrate their phonological awareness through three
types of operations—detection, synthesis, and analysis (Anthony, Lonigan, and Burgess 2003). “Detection”
is the ability to match similar sounds.
“Synthesis” is the ability to combine
smaller segments into syllables and
words. “Analysis” is the ability to segment words or syllables into smaller
units. At the level of segmenting words
into syllables and segmenting syllables
into onset and rime, children’s phonological awareness performance usually
progresses from detection, to synthesis, to analysis. This development
does not occur in discrete stages but
instead represents overlapping abilities
(Anthony, Lonigan, and Burgess 2003).
That is, children do not have to completely master the earlier skill before
they begin to acquire the next skill in
the sequence. The foundations concurrently address the developmental levels
of phonological awareness within the
various performance areas, so that
a progression can be seen from the
ability to detect and blend words to
the ability to segment at the onsetrime level.
The position of a phoneme in a word
or syllable and the context in which
the phoneme occurs also influence
the level of difficulty of a phonological awareness task. Children are able
to detect or manipulate the initial
phonemes in words before they can
detect or manipulate final phonemes.
Additionally, children have more difficulty in identifying or manipulating
a phoneme that is a part of a cluster
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than they do phonemes that are not in
a cluster. For instance, children may
be able to identify the three phonemes
in pop but have difficulty in identifying
the four phonemes in plop because the
onset of the word contains a consonant cluster. The foundations address
these variations in the level of difficulty
of phonological awareness tasks by
focusing the harder operations (e.g.,
deleting parts of words and blending
phonemes) on the initial parts of words
(deleting onsets rather than deleting
rimes) and on simple words (blending
of words that have a limited number
of phonemes and do not contain
clusters).
One additional source of variation
relates to the amount and kind of supports provided to children so that they
can perform these tasks. For example,
when asking children to delete the
onset of a word, the teacher can provide pictures of stimuli to reduce the
level of difficulty of the task. This
approach helps children to remember
the different words and enhances their
performance compared with having
them perform this task without picture
stimuli. When needed, the foundations emphasize phonological awareness performance within the context
of support, and the expectation is that
children will demonstrate mastery in
the context of the support provided by
pictures, props, objects, or other valid
supportive context. This is the case
for the foundations that involve the
manipulation of smaller units of sound
within more difficult forms of cognitive
operations (e.g., deletion of a word’s
initial phoneme).
Phonological awareness is an important area of early and later reading
instruction (Bowers 1995; Bowers
and Wolf 1993; Lonigan, Burgess, and
Anthony 2000; Report of the National
Reading Panel: Teaching Children to
Read: An Evidence-Based Assessment
of the Scientific Research Literature
on Reading and Its Implications for
Reading Instruction 2000; Prather,
Hendrick, and Kern 1975; Templin
1957; Wagner, Torgesen, and Rashotte
1994; Wagner and others 1997). Phonological awareness plays a key role
in several of the components that help
children become skilled readers, such
as understanding the alphabetic principle (Burgess and Lonigan 1998; Ehri
1991, 1995), decoding printed words
(Beck and Juel 1999; Bradley and Bryant 1985; Byrne and Fielding-Barnsley 1993, 1995; Demont and Gombert
1996; Tunmer, Herriman, and Nesdale
1988), spelling (Bryant and others
1990; Gentry 1982; Read 1975), and
reading comprehension—although this
relation with reading comprehension is
not direct (Tunmer and Nesdale 1985).
Given the importance of phonological awareness to early and later
literacy achievement, these foundations emphasize attention to its development for older preschool children.
They do not include, however, specific
indicators for younger children, as is
explained next. First, evidence suggests that phonological awareness
is not consistently mastered by children under four years of age (Lonigan, Burgess, and Anthony 2000),
although performance at three years
of age can be assessed and targeted
through instruction. Second, vocabulary is highly related to children’s
acquisition of phonological sensitivity
(Burgess and Lonigan 1998; Chaney
1992; Lonigan and others 1998; Lonigan, Burgess, and Anthony 2000).
Most probably, the positive effect of
vocabulary on phonological awareness
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is based on the fact that vocabulary
development facilitates children’s ability to focus their attention on parts of
words, rather than on their whole, as
children learn more words (see Metsala and Walley 1998), thus helping
them progress in their phonological
awareness from large to smaller units
of sound. From these findings, Lonigan and others (Fowler 1991; Jusczyk
1995; Lonigan, Burgess, and Anthony
2000; Metsala and Walley 1998; Walley
1993) conclude that vocabulary development may provide the basis for the
emergence of phonological awareness.
Therefore, the foundations focus on
this key precursor for three-year-olds
and include phonological awareness
foundations for children at around
60 months of age, because mastery of
phonological awareness is more appropriate for older preschool children.
Alphabetics and Word/Print
Recognition. The ability to recognize
letters is a basic step in the process of
learning to read and write. Knowledge
of the alphabet letters is a strong predictor of short- and long-term reading
success. Children who have a welldeveloped knowledge of the letters
before engaging in reading instruction
make better progress than those who
do not (Adams 1990; Badian 1982;
Bond and Dykstra 1967; Chall 1967;
Evans, Shaw, and Bell 2000; Scanlon
and Vellutino 1996; Share and others
1984; Stevenson and Newman 1986;
Stuart 1995; Tunmer, Herriman, and
Nesdale 1988; Walsh, Price, and Gillingham, 1988). Knowing the names of
letters facilitates children’s ability to
decode text and to apply the alphabetic
principle to word recognition. For most
children the name of the letters helps
them connect the sounds in words and
letters in print (Durrell 1980). Know-
ledge of letter names, then, can be
conceived as a mediator in the reading
process that provides children with the
ability to remember the sounds associated with letters (Ehri 1979, 1998).
The order of learning the alphabet
letters seems facilitated by environmental and developmental influences.
An important environmental influence
is exposure to the individual letters
of the alphabet. Children learn first
the letters that are the most familiar
to them, such as the letters in their
own names and the letters that occur
earlier in the alphabet string (Treiman
and Broderick 1998). The features of
certain letters make them more amenable to learning. For instance, letters
that contain their sound in a child’s
name, like b and f, are learned earlier than are those letters that do not,
like q and w (Treiman and Broderick
1998). A developmental influence on
children’s learning of alphabet letters
relates to the relationship between
phonological development and alphabet knowledge. Children learn earlier
those letters that map onto earlieracquired phonemes, such as the “b”
letter sound and the “d” letter sound,
instead of letters that map onto phonemes that tend to be acquired later,
such as the “r” letter sound and the
“l” letter sound. (Justice and others
2006). Consequently, the focus of the
foundations is on children’s ability to
recognize or identify familiar letters
and words, such as the first letter of
their name and, later, their whole first
name.
As children become aware of the
names of letters, they also begin to
identify printed words. Ehri (1995) has
defined children’s development in word
recognition as a series of transitions
as children move from “prealphabetic
Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1 • California Department of Education
readers” (learning words by sight and
using salient contextual cues for word
recognition), to “partial alphabetic”
(applying some phonetic information,
such as the sound corresponding to
the first letter in a word, to recognizing
the word), to “full alphabetic” (reading a word using the alphabetic principle). The word recognition skills of
preschool-age children are primarily of
a prealphabetic type, so that they can
recognize some words, but rarely can
they examine the alphabetic or phonetic structures of the word to arrive
at its meaning. This is why young
children are able to recognize some
words in the environment (e.g., Stop,
Exit, and some brand names), but they
require contextual information from
the environment to aid their recognition of these words. Some children
who have well-developed knowledge
of the alphabet and letter-sound correspondences, coupled with relatively
good phonological awareness, may
read at partial alphabetic levels during the preschool years. These children
are able to look at some unknown
words and use letters (and their corresponding sounds) to unlock the word’s
meaning. For instance, a child may see
the word Thomas in a book and use
some alphabetic information (e.g., the
first letter T and its corresponding letter sound) to make a good guess as to
what it says.
Comprehension and Analysis of
Age-Appropriate Text. Reading comprehension is influenced greatly by
language comprehension, and in large
part they draw on the same developmental processes (Perfetti, Van Dyke,
and Hart 2001). Just as children move
from understanding simple phrases
and directions to comprehending
more detailed information, they also
progress from remembering isolated
aspects of simple stories to understanding parts of more complex
literacy events. As children become
better able to respond to complex
literacy events that feature causal or
temporal sequences or descriptions
of nonfiction, real events, they draw
on their narrative skills in particular.
“Narrative” is a term that describes
production and comprehension of
discourse (including both written and
spoken). A defining feature of narrative
is its organizational cohesion, so that
information is threaded over a series
of utterances or sentences.
Preschool children’s development
of narrative thinking goes through a
series of stages that ultimately help
them to make sense of stories and the
world around them (Paris and Paris
2003). At the early stages preschool
children construct narrative scripts,
which involve primitive accounts of
story plots. These scripts usually focus
on the description of familiar events
and routine activities, such as going to
a birthday party or visiting the doctor.
Over time, children construct narrative schemas, which include knowledge
about the main elements of stories
(such as characters and settings) and
about the sequence of events (such as
time, order, and causal progression).
In the last, and perhaps most difficult stage, preschool children come
to understand and relate to characters’ internal responses, such as their
mental processes and experiences.
This ability to understand characters’
internal thinking also helps children
to develop a sense of perspective by
which they can empathize with the
experiences and reactions of characters in a story, and it helps children
develop the ability to recognize both
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the external and internal features of
narratives.
Children’s comprehension and production of narrative is an important
foundation for learning to read (Burns,
Griffin, and Snow 1999; Whitehurst
and Lonigan 1998). Narratives are
pervasive in children’s language, play,
and thinking and tend to be naturally
supported by parents and teachers.
However, narrative competence can be
expanded through designed interventions (Yussen and Ozcan 1996).
Exposure to wordless picture books
provides both instructional opportunities for children and a window into the
process for teachers. When reading
wordless picture books and books with
print, preschool children use a common set of strategies to grasp meaning:
they make use of prior knowledge and
experiences, pay attention to intertextual cues and multiple perspectives,
rely on story language and rituals, and
implement active, playful behavior as
a part of the reading process (Crawford
and Hade 2000). Children’s efforts to
make sense of the pictures in wordless picture books form the foundation
for the reading comprehension and
meaning-making skills needed later to
be successful readers (Paris and van
Kraayenoord 1998). Children’s narrative comprehension of wordless picture
books has been shown to be an effective way to assess children’s comprehension when they are still not able to
decode (Paris and Paris 2003).
Storybook reading, both of wordless
picture books and books with print,
when combined with interactive language activities, has other benefits
as well. Active discussion of stories
before, during, and after shared reading has been shown to improve children’s understanding and recall of oral
stories (Cochran-Smith 1984; Mason
and Allen 1986; Morrow 1984; Morrow and Smith 1990). Book reading
also contributes to general language
development, whether it is practiced at
home (Chomsky 1972; Raz and Bryant
1990; Sénéchal and others 1998; Wells
1985a; Whitehurst and others 1988)
or in the classroom (Dickinson 2001;
Dickinson, Hao, and He 1995; Dickinson and Keebler 1989; Dickinson and
Smith 1994; Martinez and Teale 1993;
Teale and Martinez 1986). Within the
classroom, studies conducted with
preschool children have shown that
intervention-enhanced teacher-child
interactions have positive effects on
the children’s language skills (e.g.,
syntactic forms at the sentence level)
(Arnold and Whitehurst 1994; Karweit
1989; Valdez-Menchaca and Whitehurst 1992). This enhanced development
of language abilities may in turn lead
to enhanced comprehension (Elley and
Mangubhai 1983; Feitelson, Kita, and
Goldstein 1986; Feitelson and others
1993; Morrow 1984, 1988).
Shared reading activities provide an
adult with the opportunity to introduce
key components of the reading task to
children and to support their learning
of these key issues. Research has
shown that such practices as shared
reading, when conducted over time,
provide children with a sense of the
purposes of literacy (Gee 1992; Heath
1983), the values associated with
shared reading (Snow and others
1991), and the processes and skills
involved in shared reading (see the
preceding paragraph). While storybook
reading has often been considered
an introduction to literacy (Adams
1990), the practices and styles of
interaction that emerge during shared
reading set the foundation for the
Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1 • California Department of Education
types of cognitive processing and
problem solving that characterize
comprehension in the elementary
grades, with strategies such as
self-questioning and use of mental
imagery (Bauman and Bergeron 1993;
Fitzgerald and Spiegel 1983). Shared
reading activities also help children
become familiar with the nature of
written language and help preschool
children realize the developmental
progression from an “oral” to a
“written” type of language (PurcellGates 1988; Sulzby 1985).
Children entering school from disadvantaged environments often have
limited or minimal exposure to complex narrative texts. Shared reading,
picture-book reading, and the instructional conversations are of special
relevance for these children. The lack
of exposure puts them at a disadvantage when they are placed in classrooms with students who have been
repeatedly exposed to the language,
ideas, routines, and pleasures associated with complex text (Baker, Serpell,
and Sonnenschein 1995; Dahl and
Freppon 1991; Marvin and Mirenda
1993; Preventing Reading Difficulties
in Young Children 1998; Purcell-Gates
and Dahl 1991). Fortunately, this
exposure gap can be closed through
instruction at home and in school
(Clay 1979; Leppäen and others 2004;
Purcell-Gates, McIntyre, and Freppon 1995). For example, adults can
explicitly engage children with thinking about and responding to specific
elements of texts during storybook
reading interactions. They might,
for instance, focus a child’s attention on following the cause-and-effect
sequence of a story or discussing
words that occur repeatedly in a text
to create coherence. It is most impor-
tant that adults who read with young
children provide this structure
consistently and systematically, so
that they support children’s engagement with certain aspects of the text
(e.g., causal flow of events) that children may not be drawn to incidentally
or of their own accord (Ezell and
Justice 2000).
Literacy Interest and Response.
The comprehension of text for young
children requires both skill and will,
will usually being a precursor to skill.
Showing an interest in books and
holding a positive regard for reading are considered developmental
accomplishments of three- and fouryear-olds by the National Research
Council (Preventing Reading Difficulties
in Young Children 1998). Children’s
willing participation in such literacy
activities as handling books and listening to stories is an essential precursor to their later cognitive engagement
with text, in the same way that early
joint attention between a caregiver and
a child is an essential precursor to
achievements in oral language production and comprehension. Early interest
in literacy may also motivate children
to persist with future challenging reading tasks (Preventing Reading Difficulties in Young Children 1998). Cognitive
skills are necessary for children to
become able readers, but to become
lifelong literacy learners, children
must be motivated to engage in literacy
activities and persist in their engagement. As such, interest in literacy is
closely linked to the issue of motivation.
Interest in and motivation toward
reading describe the child’s affect
toward, or feelings about, literacy
activities (Alexander and Filler 1976;
Mathewson 1994; McKenna, Kear,
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and Ellsworth 1995). The beliefs, motivation, and purposes of individuals
influence their decisions about which
activities to do, how long to do them,
and how much effort to put into them
(Bandura 1997; Eccles, Wigfield, and
Schiefele 1998; Pintrich and Schunk
1996). The literature on motivation
makes a distinction between “intrinsic motivation,” which refers to being
motivated to do an activity for its own
sake and out of interest and curiosity,
and “extrinsic motivation,” or doing an
activity to receive an award or other
form of recognition (Guthrie, Wigfield,
and Von Secker 2000). Both intrinsic
and extrinsic motivation influence the
amount and frequency of children’s
reading. However, research has shown
that intrinsic motivation is a stronger
predictor of reading achievement than
is extrinsic motivation (Baker and
Wigfield 1999; Gottfried 1990; Schultz
and Switzky 1993; Wigfield and Guthrie 1997). Motivation toward reading
influences individuals’ engagement
with reading and literacy activities by
facilitating their entry into a “psychological state of interest” (Krapp, Hidi,
and Renniger 1992), in which individuals demonstrate increased attention,
cognitive functioning, and persistence
in different literacy tasks, as well as an
increase in their affective investment
(Hidi, 1990; Krapp, Hidi, and Renniger
1992). Reading in this state of interest
facilitates comprehension and recall of
information (see Anderson 1982; Asher
1979, 1980; Bernstein 1955; Estes
and Vaughan 1973; Hidi 2001; Hidi
and Baird 1986, 1988; Kintsch 1980;
Schank 1979; Schraw, Bruning, and
Svoboda 1995).
Studies about interest and motivation toward reading and literacy have
most extensively been conducted
with school-age children and college
students. Nonetheless, an emerging
research base shows that interest and
motivation are also factors in preschool reading achievement (Scarborough and Dobrich 1994; Whitehurst
and Lonigan 1998). Research with
young children has confirmed that
they have strong, stable, and relatively
well-focused individual interests that
influence their attention, recognition,
and recall of information during literacy activities, such as shared storybook reading (Renninger and Wozniak
1985). In addition, children’s active
engagement in text-related activities,
such as turning pages in a book, is
related to knowledge of print concepts
at four years of age (Crain-Thoresen
and Dale 1992). Preschool children
who are engaged and attentive during
literacy activities achieve greater literacy gains in these activities (Justice
and others 2003).
A positive relationship exists
between children’s interest in reading
and their opportunities for reading at
home and school. Children who are
read to more frequently and from an
earlier age tend to have a greater interest in literacy, exhibit superior literacy
skills during the preschool and school
years, choose reading more frequently,
initiate reading sessions on their own,
and show greater engagement during
reading sessions (Lonigan 1994; Scarborough and Dobrich 1994). Guthrie
and others (1996) have also reported
that increasing literacy engagement
and expanded reading activity are tied
to increases in intrinsic motivation,
whereas decreased literacy engagement is reflected in decreased intrinsic motivation. In short, adult-child
storybook reading promotes children’s
interest in and motivation for reading,
Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1 • California Department of Education
both of which lead to increased exposure, experience, and engagement with
text. This engagement with text has a
positive effect on overall reading ability (Bus 2001; Whitehurst and Lonigan
1998). The opposite is also true: negative attitudes toward reading, especially recreational reading, usually lead
to decreased exposure to reading and
reading ability (McKenna, Kear, and
Ellsworth 1995).
In addition to increasing children’s
exposure to reading and print and
their interest in literacy, early reading activities also help children learn
about the context of literacy and the
structure of literacy activities (CrainThoreson and Dale 1992), providing
children with the language used at
school for literacy activities (Heath
1982; Wells 1985b). Helping children
become familiar with some aspects of
the language (Heath 1982), participant
structures (Phillips 1983), and patterns of interaction (Cazden 1986) of
the classroom during the preschool
years will place them in the right trajectory to be successful learners in
school (Improving Schooling for Language-Minority Children: A Research
Agenda 1997). Consequently, the foundations focus on children’s engagement in literacy activities in a way
that will furnish them with knowledge
about the roles and routines of reading
and literacy activities they are likely to
experience when they enter school.
Writing
Writing Strategies. Learning to
write involves cognitive, social, and
physical development. From a very
young age, children notice the writing
in their surroundings. They begin to
develop the understanding that regular
signs can be used to represent ideas or
concepts. At first, they may conclude
that there should be some resemblance between what is being represented and the way it is represented.
For example, they may say that train
must be a very long word, while
mosquito must be a very small one
(Ferreiro and Teberosky 1982; Piaget
1962). At the same time, they begin to
differentiate between writing and other
kinds of visual representation (e.g.,
drawing) (Bissex 1980; Ferreiro and
Teberosky 1982; Harste, Woodward,
and Burke 1984). They accompany
this realization with a differentiation
between the tools for writing and those
for drawing (“I need to get a pencil to
write my name”). Moreover, their writing starts to look different from their
drawing (Ferreiro and Teberosky 1982;
Harste, Woodward, and Burke 1984),
often being linear in form instead of
circular.
As young children get more involved
with written text by being read to,
examining books, and observing
others write, they begin to experiment
with writing. Children’s emergent
writing abilities are demonstrated in
the preschool classroom with such
activities as pretending to write and
learning to write one’s name (Whitehurst and Lonigan 2001). According
to some theorists, children’s writing
follows a developmental path. Initially,
children demonstrate a global form of
writing. They tend to treat writing from
a pictographic perspective, which is
usually demonstrated by using drawings as writing or using idiosyncratic
scribble (e.g., markings that have
meaning only for the child). Later,
children use letter-like forms to write,
usually making marks that resemble
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characteristics of the real writing (e.g.,
longer words are represented by longer
strings of letter-like symbols). In the
next stage children start using actual
letters to write, even when there is no
connection between the true spelling
of what they want to write and what
they produce (i.e., producing nonphonetic strings of letters) (Ferreiro and
Teberosky 1982; Sulzby 1986, 1987).
This stage is followed by a period
when children produce phonetic spelling, also called “invented spelling.”
Children use letter-like symbols to
represent the parts of words that they
hear and attempt to match letters to
sounds or syllables, usually based on
sound rather than on what is written
(Ferreiro and Teberosky 1982). For
example, children may recognize that
to write something requires more than
one or two symbols, and they may also
realize that the same symbols may
recur in different words and in different places in the word (Ferreiro and
Teberosky 1982; Temple and others
1993), but they have not yet mastered
the alphabetic principle. Nonetheless, several studies have shown that
invented spelling is an effective vehicle
through which many children begin to
understand the alphabetic principle
(Clarke 1988; Ehri 1988; Torgesen and
Davis 1996).
Throughout this early stage of
learning to write, children begin to
realize that writing carries meaning;
people should be able to read what
you write (Clay 1977; Harste, Woodward, and Burke 1984; Kress 1994).
They also learn that people write
for different purposes (Ferreiro and
Teberosky 1982; Heath 1983; Schieffelin and Cochran-Smith 1984; Taylor
and Dorsey-Gaines 1988; Teale 1987).
While research shows that children
from different cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds have different
experiences with written language,
it also shows that all children have
experienced written language and its
purposes (McGee and Richgels 1990).
Finally, children have the physical experience of actually writing
and drawing, in which they begin to
develop effective (or not so effective)
ways of handling writing implements.
While many children handle writing
implements efficiently, some children
need support in learning to do so.
Children who are still using scribbles
and have difficulty with the basic
shapes (circle, square, triangle) would
benefit from informal instruction in
learning to make these shapes, since
they ease the transition to learning
letters (Lesiak 1997).
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caregiver. An adult with responsibility for
children in a family child care home,
or an adult who provides family, friend,
or neighbor care
contextualized language. Language used
to communicate about the “here and
now,” or immediate situation, with a person who may share background knowledge with the speaker and who is in the
same location as are the things, actions,
or events the speaker describes (Such
cues as intonation, gestures, and facial
expressions may support the meaning
that contextualized language conveys.)
decontextualized language. Language,
such as that in story narratives, used to
provide novel information to a listener
who may share limited background
knowledge with the speaker or who is
not in the same location where the things
or events described are located
early childhood setting. Any setting
outside the home in which preschool
children receive education and care
family caregiver. Mother, father, grandparent, or other adult raising the child
at home
onset. The first consonant or consonant
cluster in a syllable (e.g., the h in the
one-syllable word hat, the m and k in the
two syllables in the word monkey)
orally blend. To combine sound elements
to make a word or syllable (e.g., combine
the phonemes “k” “a” “t” to make the
word cat)
phoneme. The individual unit of meaningful sound in a word or syllable
phonemic awareness. A subtype of phonological awareness (Phonological
awareness can refer to the detection or
manipulation of large and concrete units
of sounds, like words and syllables, or
smaller and abstract units of sound, like
onsets, rimes, and phonemes. Phonemic
awareness specifically refers to the ability
to manipulate or detect the smallest units
of sound in the words, the phonemes.)
phonological awareness. The ability to
detect or manipulate the sound structure
of spoken words, independent of meaning (It is an increasingly sophisticated
capability that is highly predictive of, and
causally related to, children’s later ability
to read.)
pragmatics. The system of social rules for
using language in different communication contexts or situations (Pragmatics
includes using language for different
purposes, such as greeting or requesting; changing language according to the
needs of a listener or situation, such as
communicating differently to a baby than
to an adult; or following conversational
rules, such as taking turns, making eye
contact, or maintaining physical distance
during a conversation. These rules vary
among cultures.)
productive language. The process of
formulating and sending a message
(communicating) using language (Speech
is one form of productive or expressive language. Other means to express
language include using sign language,
pointing to words and pictures on a communication board, and producing written
messages on a computer screen.)
rime. Everything left in a syllable after the
onset is removed; the vowel and coda of a
syllable (e.g., the at in the single-syllable
word hat, the in in the single-syllable
word in)
receptive language. The process of receiving and understanding communication
through language (Speech is one way
to receive messages through language.
Other means to receive language are sign
language, words and pictures on a communication board, and written messages
on a computer screen.)
teacher. An adult with responsibility for
the education and care of children in a
preschool program
California Department of Education • Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1
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90
LANGUAGE AND LITER ACY
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FOUNDATIONS IN
English-Language
Development
C
alifornia is experiencing a dramatic increase in the number
of children from birth to five
years of age whose home language is
not English. Currently, one in four
California students—25 percent—in
kindergarten through grade twelve are
identified as English learners (California Department of Education [CDE]
2006a, b). The term “English learners”
refers to children whose first language
is not English and encompasses children learning English for the first time
in the preschool setting as well as children who have developed various levels
of English proficiency (Rivera and Collum 2006). For the majority of these
children, Spanish is the home language, followed by Vietnamese, Cantonese, Hmong, Tagalog, Korean, and
other languages (CDE 2006a). Whereas
25 percent of California children in
kindergarten through grade twelve are
identified as English learners, English
learners represent 39 percent of children in California between three and
five years of age (Children Now 2007).
Given this reality, the development
of preschool learning foundations must
take into consideration how young
children whose home language is
not English negotiate learning in all
content and curricular areas. For all
children, the home language is the
vehicle by which they are socialized
into their families and communities.
Children’s identity and sense of self
are inextricably linked to the language
they speak and the culture in which
they have been socialized, which takes
place in a specific family context (Crago 1988; Johnston and Wong 2002;
Ochs and Schieffelin 1995; Vasquez,
Pease-Alvarez, and Shannon 1994).
In addition, in most families, children
are first introduced to language and
literacy in the home language, and
those experiences provide an important foundation for success in learning
literacy in English (Durgunoglu and
Öney 2000; Jiménez, García, and Pearson 1995; Lanauze and Snow 1989;
Lopez and Greenfield 2004).
Researchers have documented the
fragility of a child’s home language and
cultural practices when they do not
represent the mainstream or are not
highly valued. Genesee, Paradis, and
Crago (2004) caution that, “dual-language children are particularly at risk
for both cultural and linguistic identity
displacement.” Loss of the home language may diminish parent-child
communication, reducing a parent’s
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ENGLISH-LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT
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ability to transmit familial values,
beliefs, and understandings (Wong
Fillmore 1991b), all of which form an
important part of a young child’s socialization and identity. Regardless of
which language or languages young
children are exposed to at home, they
have, at best, only partially mastered
the language when they enter the preschool setting (Bialystok 2001). The extent to which a child’s home language
and home culture can be included in
the preschool classroom as a resource
impacts a child’s sense of self-efficacy
and social and cognitive development
(Chang and others 2007; Duke and
Purcell-Gates 2003; Moll 1992; RiojasCortez 2001; Vygotsky and Education
1990).
The development of language and literacy skills in a child’s first language is
important for the development of skills
in a second language and, therefore,
should be considered the first step in
the range of expectations for children
learning English as a second language
(International Reading Association and
National Association for the Education
of Young Children 1998). Learning by
these children is not confined to one
language. Children who have the skills
to understand and communicate in
their home language will transfer that
knowledge to their learning of a second
language, resulting in a more effective
and efficient second-language learning process (Cummins 1979; Wong
Fillmore 1991a). For example, building
Spanish-speaking children’s language
skills in their first language directly
enhances their literacy development
in English (Bialystok 2001; Childhood Bilingualism 2006; Preventing
Reading Difficulties in Young Children
1998). The transfer of knowledge applies to the structure of language and
early literacy skills, such as concepts
about print, phonological awareness,
alphabet knowledge, and writing in
alphabetic script (Cárdenas-Hagan,
Carlson, and Pollard-Durodola 2007;
Cisero and Royer 1995; Durgunoglu
2002; Durgunoglu, Nagy, and HancinBhatt 1993; Gottardo and others 2001;
Mumtaz and Humphreys 2001).
Recent research suggests that the
development of two languages benefits the brain through the increase in
density of brain tissue in areas related
to language, memory, and attention
(Mechelli and others 2004). Although
the brain structures of bilingual children and monolingual children are
similar and process language in basically the same way, bilingual children
have higher rates of engagement in
particular parts of the brain (Kovelman, Baker, and Petitto 2006). This
increased brain activity may have longterm positive effects (Bialystok, Craik,
and Ryan 2006). In addition, it is important to acknowledge the heterogeneity of the English learner population
and, in particular, the parameters of
variation within the population, such
as the age of the child and the amount
of exposure to the home language and
English; the relative dominance of each
language; and the similarities and differences between the two languages.
These same parameters systematically
affect the language and literacy development of English learners (Childhood
Bilingualism 2006).
The preschool learning foundations
in English-language development are
foundations in language and literacy
for preschool children whose home
language is not English. These foundations for English learners are intended
for use with children who arrive at
preschool functioning predominantly
Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1 • California Department of Education
in their home language, not English,
and set the stage for further Englishlanguage acquisition described within
the foundations. These foundations
are organized to align with the content
categories of California’s English-language development standards, which
cover kindergarten through grade
twelve (K–12) and are divided into the
following three categories: (1) listening
and speaking; (2) reading; and (3) writing. As with the K–12 standards, the
preschool learning foundations in
English-language development are
designed to assist classroom teachers
in their understanding of children’s
progress toward English-language proficiency. They are meant to be used
along with the language and literacy
foundations, not in place of them. The
foundations can be demonstrated in
a variety of settings, and children will
often demonstrate their language abilities when engaged in authentic, natural, child-initiated activities.
Stages of Sequential Bilingual
Language Development
Children entering a preschool program with little or no knowledge of
English typically move through several
stages on their journey to achieving
success in the second language (Tabors 1997). Both the length of time the
child remains at a stage and the level
of expectation for second-language
learning depend on several important characteristics of the child and
the child’s language environment. For
example, the age of a child may help
determine the child’s developmental
level, while the child’s temperament
may influence her motivation to learn
a new language (Genesee, Paradis, and
Crago 2004; Genishi, Yung-Chan, and
Stires 2000). The first stage for young
English learners occurs when they
attempt to use their home language to
communicate with teachers and peers
(Saville-Troike 1987; Tabors 1997).
During this stage, children gradually
realize they are not being understood
and must adapt to their new language
environment.
Over time—for some children, a matter of days; for some, months—a shift
occurs, and the child begins to actively
attend to the new language, observing
and silently processing the features
of the English language. This is considered the second stage (Ervin-Tripp
1974; Hakuta 1987, Itoh and Hatch
1978; Tabors 1997). This observational
period is normal in second-language
learners. The children are not shutting down; rather, they are attending
to the language interactions occurring
around them. Typically, the child will
attempt to communicate nonverbally,
using gestures, facial expressions,
and often some vocalizations, such as
crying or laughing.
The third stage occurs when the
child is ready to “go public” with the
new language. The child typically
masters the rhythm and the intonation of the second language as well as
some key phrases, using telegraphic
and formulaic speech to communicate
(Tabors 1997; Wong Fillmore 1976).
“Telegraphic speech” refers to the use
of a few content words without functional words or specific grammatical
markers. For example, a child might
use one word combined with nonverbal communication, intonation, facial
expressions, and so forth to communicate different ideas. So a child saying, “Up!” while pointing at a plane in
the sky might mean, “Look, there’s a
plane!” or a child saying, “Up?” while
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pointing to or otherwise indicating a
toy on a shelf might mean, “Can you
get me that toy? I can’t reach it.”
Formulaic speech is a related strategy
that refers to children’s use of memorized chunks or phrases of language
without completely understanding the
function of those phrases. Sometimes
children add new vocabulary as well.
For example, “I want ________,” is a
formula that allows for a host of possibilities: “I want play.” “I want doll.”
“I want go.” Children use such formulas as a strategy to expand their
communication.
In the fourth stage the child is introduced to new vocabulary words and
moves into the productive language
stage, at which she is able to express
herself by using her own words (Tabors 1997). The child demonstrates a
general understanding of the rules of
English and is able to apply them more
accurately to achieve increasing control over the language. However, this
does not mean that the child communicates as does a native speaker of the
language. The child may mispronounce
words as well as make errors in vocabulary choice and grammar. Such errors
are indicative of the typical process of
learning a language (Genesee, Paradis,
and Crago 2004).
Movement through the four stages
may take anywhere from six months
to two years, depending on the child
and the quality of that child’s language
environment. The stages of secondlanguage development should be considered when determining expectations
for individual children during their
preschool years.
It should be noted that full fluency
(e.g., comprehension, expression,
reading, and writing) in any language
takes anywhere from four to ten years
(Bialystok 2001; Hakuta, Butler, and
Witt 2000). In addition, the speed of
acquisition is influenced by a broad
range of factors (Snow 2006). Therefore, for three- and four-year-old
children, it is important to provide a
continuum that moves them toward a
reasonable, and desirable, set of language and literacy expectations that
can be achieved over the span of the
one to two years that a child spends in
the preschool classroom.
English learners will vary substantially in their acquisition of language
competencies, depending on a number of background factors (i.e., the
degree of exposure to English outside
the classroom, the individual child’s
motivation to acquire English, and so
forth). Because of the wide range of
language capability found in children
prior to their entering school (Ehrman,
Leaver, and Oxford 2003), the use
of developmental markers, such as
“beginning,” “middle,” and “later,” are
used to provide for a range of expectations for performance. These markers are used in the preschool learning
foundations for English-language
development to designate a developmental progression for children who
have made significant progress toward
acquisition of the home language
before beginning to acquire English
(sequential bilingualism) (Genesee,
Paradis, and Crago 2004).
The use of these terms should not
be confused with the terms “early,”
“middle,” and “later,” as used in the
resource guide Preschool English
Learners: Principles and Practices to
Promote Language, Literacy, and Learning (2007) to describe typical phases of
language development for children who
are monolingual speakers and children
who acquire two languages from birth
Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1 • California Department of Education
107
Structure of This Domain:
A Developmental Progression
The continuum of “beginning,”
“middle,” and “later” levels provides
a framework for understanding children’s second-language development
in listening, speaking, reading, and
writing. The first and second stages of
sequential bilingual language development are combined in the “beginning”
level in this domain. Young English
learners may demonstrate uneven
development across these foundations
and may show higher levels of mastery
in certain areas than in others. For
example, while children may be able to
understand certain words in the reading and writing areas, their productive
control over grammar, pronunciation,
and articulation in speaking may develop last. Related to this developmental variability across particular foundation domains is the rate of progression
through the continuum of “beginning,”
“middle,” and “later.” Progression
through the continuum is highly contingent on the quantity and quality of
language experience in both the home
and the classroom. Research on the
quality of preschool environments has
found that learning is influenced by a
number of important classroom factors (Pianta and others 2005). Chief
among them are the amount and type
of verbal input provided by teachers of
young children (Peisner-Feinberg and
others 2001). Wong Fillmore and Snow
(2000) point out that children need direct and frequent interaction with individuals who know the second language
very well and can provide the English
learner accurate feedback.
Beginning Level
This is when typically developing
children will have acquired ageappropriate language skills in their
home language and, once introduced
to English, will begin to develop receptive English abilities. Children at this
level are actively processing the features of the English language, including vocabulary, grammar, phonology,
and pragmatics. Most children speak
little during this stage. They may be
able to listen, point, match, move,
draw, copy, mime, act out, choose,
respond with gestures, and follow predictable routines. They will begin to
develop an understanding of English
based on their home language. Frequently, children will spontaneously
use their home language even when
not understood.
Middle Level
Expressive language marks the middle level of early speech production in
English. Children may repeat familiar
phrases that have been functionally
effective, such as “lookit” or “Iwant”
throughout the day. It is expected that
vocabulary use increases and that
children will begin to combine words
and phrases in English. Comprehension will continue to develop, and
children will likely use telegraphic and
formulaic speech in English. At the
same time, they may continue to use
their home language and may insert
words from their home language into
English-language utterances; this is
known as code-switching and is a normal part of second-language acquisition. This period is analogous to the
third stage of sequential bilingualism.
California Department of Education • Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1
ENGLISH-LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT
or sometime during the first year of life
(simultaneous bilingualism).
108
Later Level
Children at the later level in the
continuum will have much stronger
comprehension skills. Children will
begin to use English to learn different concepts across the curriculum.
Their use of age-appropriate English
grammar improves. They use their first
and second languages to acquire new
knowledge at home and at school. Although children are improving during
this period, it should not be assumed
that they have complete age-appropriate mastery of English; they are, however, able to engage in a majority of
classroom activities in English. Errors
in English usage are common at this
point because children are continuing
to experiment with the new language
and are still learning its rules and
structure.
ENGLISH-LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT
Categories of English-Language
Development
The preschool learning foundations
in English-language development describe a typical developmental progression for preschool English learners
in four general categories: listening,
speaking, reading, and writing. These
foundations illustrate a developmental
progression for children who come to
preschool knowing very little, if any,
English. As children move through
this progression, they are developing
the underlying linguistic knowledge
needed to learn from a curriculum
that is taught in a language they are
just learning, English. As such, these
foundations—especially the examples
following each foundation—are intended to provide guidance to adults who
are working to help preschool English learners gain the knowledge and
skills necessary in all domains of the
California preschool learning foundations. The foundations are not meant
to be assessment items or a checklist
of behavioral indicators of the knowledge and skills that must be observed
before a teacher can decide that the
competency is present. Children are
different from one another and will
vary in the extent to which they demonstrate the behaviors described in the
examples.
Listening
Children’s language development is
based on active listening. For example,
children’s receptive control precedes
their productive control of language.
That is, they understand more than
they can produce at the onset of language learning in both their home
language (or languages) and English.
When children understand, they
exhibit gestures, behaviors, and nonverbal responses that indicate they
understand what they have heard.
Listening and understanding in
English will depend on children’s receptive comprehension in their home
language. In other words, children’s
listening strategies in their home language will be applied to their strategies
for learning English (Bialystok 2001).
Overall, the development of early literacy foundations is built on the development of active listening, the social
uses of language, and nonverbal
communication (Scott-Little, Kagan,
and Frelow 2005).
Speaking
Within the classroom environment,
daily routines and classroom rituals,
such as organized circle time or peerto-peer interaction on the playground,
provide opportunities for English
learners to use oral language in both
Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1 • California Department of Education
the home language and English (Genishi, Stires, and Yung-Chan 2001).
Initially, children may use telegraphic
and formulaic speech in English along
with gestures, nonverbal behavior,
and turn-taking. Then, the use of
nonverbal communication, in combination with elaborated verbal communication, will mark their progress
in learning a second language. When
speaking, children may code-switch;
that is, combine English with their
home language to make themselves
understood. In fact, the vast majority of instances of code-switching are
systematic and follow the grammatical
rules of the two languages (Allen and
others 2002; Genesee and Sauve 2000;
Köppe [in press]; Lanza 1997; Meisel
1994; Paradis, Nicoladis, and Genesee
2000; Vihman 1998).
Asking questions, responding to
complex grammatical patterns, and
making commentaries are indicators
of later development. The creative use
of language and creative expression
through narrative also indicate a growing sophistication of formal language
use. Research has found that narrative
skills developed in the first language
transfer to the second language (Miller
and others 2006; Pearson 2002;
Uccelli and Paez 2007). Young English learners can distinguish between
their home language and the language
used in the classroom, and this may
be demonstrated by the children’s use
of either the home language or English when responding to their peers
and teachers. It should be noted that
the development of grammatical sequences varies among the different
language populations, and this may
influence their development of grammar in English (Childhood Bilingualism
2006; Huang and Hatch 1978; Yoshida
1978). For example, in Chinese there
are no words that end with “-ing” as
compared to English. In Spanish,
the descriptive adjective is placed
after the noun, whereas in English the
adjective is placed before the noun.
Furthermore, the development of oral
language skills in a second language
is closely tied to vocabulary expansion (Saunders and O’Brien 2006). In
turn, English vocabulary development
plays an important role in supporting later English literacy development
(August and others 2005). The productive vocabulary of English learners is
typically composed of nouns; as time
passes, the vocabulary incorporates a
wider variety of words, such as action
verbs, adjectives, and adverbs (Jia and
others 2006).
It is important to note that different languages possess different social conventions, or rules of how and
when to use language, that reflect a
culture’s orientation toward the role of
adults and children as conversational
partners. In addition, social conventions guide a culture’s use of verbal
and nonverbal communication strategies (Rogoff 2003). Therefore, social
conventions influence such things as
a child’s expectations to initiate during conversation, the amount of talk
considered appropriate, and when and
how to ask questions or interrupt
during conversation (Cultural Diversity
and Early Education 1994; Genishi,
Stires, and Yung-Chan 2001). In addition, the narrative structure of discourse may vary in different cultures
and language groups. In U.S. classrooms, narrative discourse focuses
primarily on the communication of
information; in other cultures and language groups, oral narrative stresses
social engagement and the importance
California Department of Education • Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1
ENGLISH-LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT
109
110
of family interaction (Greenfield 1994;
Heath 1983).
ENGLISH-LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT
Reading
Reading in the preschool classroom
often begins as a social act that engages children in a meaningful language
exchange. Reading is learned on the
basis of need, purpose, and function.
Children come to know the complexity
of the act of reading by being read to,
by reading with others, and by reading
by themselves (Espinosa and Burns
2003; Halliday 2006). This culture is
rich with environmental print, such
as newspapers, books, and magazines; television; and home products,
brand names, signs, and billboards.
Increasingly, children may have access
to print in their home language and
in English. Thus, children may enter
preschool with some knowledge of the
written symbol system of their home
language and its associations with real
life. Children’s oral language in both
their home language and English will
facilitate their ability to tell and retell
stories. As their oral language develops, one of the first steps in reading
is the development of an appreciation
and enjoyment of reading. As children
demonstrate an awareness that print
carries meaning, they may begin to
show progress in their knowledge of
the alphabet in English, phonological
awareness, and aspects of book handling and book reading (Developing
Literacy in Second-Language Learners
2006; Handbook of Early Literacy Research 2006). Parents can assist their
children on the path to competency in
reading by reading to their children in
their home language as well as by providing appropriate reading experiences
in English (Hammer, Miccio, and Wagstaff 2003; Tabors and Snow 2001).
According to Scott-Little, Kagan, and
Frelow (2005), early learning foundations in literacy should include book
awareness and story sense, literature
awareness and comprehension, and
phonological and alphabetic awareness.
Writing
Children come to know written language from their perspectives, and
their conceptual interpretations are
developmental in nature (Clay 2001;
Ferreiro and Teberosky 1982). For example, children initially will begin to
distinguish drawing from writing. Next
they will progress to using facsimiles,
or imitations, of letter shapes and will
eventually use the symbols from their
home language to represent meaning.
Then they begin to use letters to represent meaning. These strings of letters
are the beginning of the alphabetic
principles that govern alphabetic languages, such as English and Spanish.
Children’s knowledge of the written
language is facilitated by their engagement with letters and practice in writing their names on their own or with
help from others (Handbook of Early
Literacy Research 2006). Children will
come to know that writing is used for
different functions, that it is associated with oral language, that it names
objects in their environments, that it is
used to communicate ideas, and that
it is used creatively to express their
feelings, experiences, and needs. In
the early childhood practice, the development of early literacy in writing begins with children understanding that
the writing process is a mechanism
to communicate their ideas, express
themselves, and name objects in their
world (Scott-Little, Kagan, and Frelow
2005).
Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1 • California Department of Education
111
opportunities will support children’s
literacy development as well. The
teacher can also engage children in
storybook reading, create a print-rich
environment, structure opportunities to use writing for a variety of purposes, and provide other activities to
further enhance literacy development
(Dickinson and Tabors 2002; Espinosa
and Burns 2003; Genishi, Stires, and
Yung-Chan 2001).
California Department of Education • Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1
ENGLISH-LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT
Overall, the teacher plays a crucial
role, providing opportunities for children to develop their oral language and
literacy skills. For example, the teacher
can foster development in the area of
listening and speaking through the
use of questioning strategies, language
elaboration and feedback (Cazden
1988; Lyster and Ranta 1997), and
the facilitation of informal peer interactions with monolingual Englishspeaking peers (Tabors 1997). Those
112
Listening*
1.0
Children listen with understanding.
Focus: Beginning words
Beginning
Middle
Later
1.1 Attend to English oral
language in both real
and pretend activity,
relying on intonation,
facial expressions, or
the gestures of the
speaker.
1.1 Demonstrate understanding of words in
English for objects
and actions as well as
phrases encountered
frequently in both real
and pretend activity.
1.1 Begin to demonstrate
an understanding of
a larger set of words
in English (for objects
and actions, personal
pronouns, and possessives) in both real
and pretend activity.
Examples
Examples
Examples
• Listens attentively and nods
her head in response to the
teacher’s asking, “Is this your
coat, Samantha?” while holding up a coat.
• Upon hearing, “I’m finished” or
“Good-bye,” uses appropriate
actions, such as waving goodbye to an English-speaking
peer who says “Good-bye!”
as she leaves at the end of the
day.
• In response to the teacher
holding up a jacket and asking
the child, “Does this belong to
you? Or is it Lai’s jacket?” as
the children are getting ready
to go outside, takes the jacket
and gives it to his friend.
• Goes to the door when the
teacher says, “outside time.”
• While playing with a dollhouse
and props with an Englishspeaking peer, puts the pants
on the doll when the peer says,
“Put the pants on the doll.”
• Looks at a cup and nods or
smiles when another child
says, “More milk?” during
snack time.
• Pays attention to the teacher
during circle time, raising his
hand when the teacher asks
a question, but just looks and
smiles when called upon.
• Focuses intently on Englishspeaking children while they
are playing with blocks, dolls,
puzzles, and so forth and
conversing in English.
ENGLISH-LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT
• Points to a picture of a dog
on the page of a book when
asked in English, “Where is
the dog?”
• Stands up and gets a toy
monkey from the shelf while
his peers sing “Five Little Monkeys” during circle time.
• Reaches for a small carton of
milk when asked by another
child, “Pass the milk, please.”
• In response to the teacher asking an open-ended question
while holding up a photograph
(e.g., “What could you do at
this park?”), runs in place or
hops.
• Responds by patting his chest
and smiling when the teacher
asks, “Whose hat is this?”
(communicates possession)
• During small group outdoor
play, responds to the teacher’s
input (“Throw the ball,” “Kick
the ball,” “Catch the ball”) with
appropriate actions.
* Any means available to the child for attending to and processing oral language information could be considered “listening.”
For example, a child might read lips or interpret facial expressions and other nonverbal gestures within the context of
spoken language to develop understanding. This pertains to all examples in the foundations related to listening, even if
attending to oral language is not explicitly stated.
Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1 • California Department of Education
Listening | 113
Children listen with understanding.
Focus: Requests and directions
Beginning
Middle
Later
1.2 Begin to follow simple
directions in English,
especially when there
are contextual cues.
1.2 Respond appropriately to requests involving one step when
personally directed
by others, which may
occur with or without
contextual cues.
1.2 Follow directions that
involve a one- or
two-step sequence,
relying less on
contextual cues.
Examples
Examples
Examples
• Moves with other children
to an activity area when the
teacher ends morning circle
time.
• Cleans up in an activity center
when the teacher says, “Alicia,
it’s time to clean up.”
• Chooses a book and brings
it to the teacher when the
teacher says, “Go get a book
and bring it to me. I’ll read it
with you.”
• Responds appropriately to
simple requests, such as “Pass
the napkins” at snack time or
“Pick up the crayon.”
• Washes his hands after seeing
others do so and in response
to the teacher’s saying his
name and gesturing to wash
hands.
• Joins peers in line when she
sees others do so during a
practice emergency evacuation drill.
• Sits by a peer when the peer
says, “Come sit here,” and
points to a place on the carpet.
• Nods her head “yes” and runs
to pick up a truck when asked
by another child if she wants
to play with the trucks.
• Raises his hand when the
teacher asks, “Who wants
more apple slices?” at snack
time.
• Participates in a “Simon Says”
game (e.g., jumps when the
teacher says, “Simon says
jump!”).
California Department of Education • Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1
• “Pours” something into a
pot and stirs the “soup” in
response to another child who
says, “Put some milk in the
soup. And stir, stir, stir,” while
in the kitchen area.
• Takes off her coat and places it
in her cubby after the teacher
says, “It’s hot in here. Why
don’t you take off your coat
and put it in your cubby?”
ENGLISH-LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT
1.0
114 | Listening
1.0
Children listen with understanding.
Focus: Basic and advanced concepts
Beginning
Middle
Later
1.3 Demonstrate an
understanding of
words related to basic
and advanced concepts in the home
language that are
appropriate for the
age (as reported by
parents, teachers,
assistants, or others,
with the assistance
of an interpreter if
necessary).
1.3 Begin to demonstrate
an understanding of
words in English
related to basic
concepts.
1.3 Demonstrate an understanding of words
in English related to
more advanced
concepts.
Examples
Examples
Examples
• Tells his grandfather in Hmong
at the end of the day about the
class trip to the petting zoo,
talking about the baby animals,
what they eat, what they like to
do, and so forth (as heard by
the bilingual assistant).
• When the teacher says, “It’s
your turn, Jorge. Go up the
stairs and go down the slide,”
climbs the stairs and goes
down the slide.
• After looking for his favorite
toy lion in the zoo animal
basket and not finding it,
responds to the teacher’s suggestion, “It’s not on top. Look
under the other animals,” by
reaching down deeper in the
basket, finding the toy, and
smiling.
• During open house, tells her
older sister in Farsi how she
planted a seed that grew into a
plant, after which her parents
share with the teacher, ”She’s
telling her sister Frough about
her plant.”
ENGLISH-LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT
• Responds appropriately to
directions relating spatial concepts in the home language
(e.g., can identify which ball is
bigger when shown two balls).
• Wearing a red T-shirt, leaves
the circle for snack time in
response to the teacher singing, “All the kids who are wearing red, wearing red, wearing
red, all the kids who are wearing red, can go have snack.”
• Passes several blocks to
another child in response to
that child communicating,
“Let’s use a lot of blocks for
our castle! We need more!”
• Gives a peer the “big” baby
in response to the peer communicating, “You have the little
baby. I want the big baby,”
while playing in the dramatic
play area.
• Communicates, “Ride bike,” in
response to the teacher asking,
“What happened before you
fell down?”
• Responds appropriately to the
directions, “First, wash your
hands and then come to the
table,” at snack time.
• Brings the teacher the book
from the previous day’s “readaloud” in response to the
teacher’s question, “Lai-Wan,
can you bring me the book we
read yesterday about fish?”
• Passes the bigger cup
during water play when
another child says, “Give me
the bigger cup, please.”
• Touches spilled juice and
makes a face when a peer
says, “Ooh, it’s still sticky!”
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115
Speaking*
Children use nonverbal and verbal strategies to communicate
with others.
Focus: Communication of needs
Beginning
Middle
Later
1.1 Use nonverbal communication, such as
gestures or behaviors,
to seek attention,
request objects, or
initiate a response
from others.
1.1 Combine nonverbal
and some verbal
communication to
be understood by
others (may codeswitch—that is, use
the home language
and English—and use
telegraphic and/or
formulaic speech).
1.1 Show increasing
reliance on verbal
communication in
English to be understood by others.
Examples
Examples
Examples
• Uses gestures, such as extending the hand, pointing, tapping
on a person’s shoulder, or an
intentional eye gaze, to get a
person’s attention.
• Says memorized phrases, such
as, “Let’s go!” or “Come on!”
• Says, “Wanna wash my
hands,” after showing the
teacher his fingers covered with glue, to which
the teacher has responded,
“What do you need?”
• Uses her home language to
express her wants and needs.
• Looks at the teacher and indicates or points to a toy she
wants that is on a shelf.
• Cries or withdraws to show he
is not sure how to express himself effectively (e.g., communicates discontent by grimacing
or whimpering when an English-speaking peer picks up a
crayon the child was using and
had put down on the table).
• Uses props, photos, or drawings that represent an item to
indicate her needs.
• Says in English and Spanish,
“Want más! Más red paint!”
(Want more! More red paint!)
when she runs out of red while
painting at an easel.
• Says in English and Mandarin
Chinese,† “Diana
playground or
” (Diana
wants to go to the playground
or the zoo) when talking about
weekend plans during circle
time.
• Sings the routine song for an
activity (e.g., “Clean up, clean
up, everybody clean up!”).
• Pulls the teacher’s hand and
communicates, “Come.”
• Begins to string together words
in English, such as “Me today
yes,” and “Mama doctor.”
• Communicates to another
child, “Help me?” or “How do
you do that?” while trying to
put a puzzle together.
• Communicates, “Move over.
Move over some more,” to
another child who is sitting
next to him during circle time.
• Learns new, more abstract
words, such as “busy,”
“stinky,” or “grouchy,” from a
story that has been repeated
and is heard using that word.
• Communicates, “You have
to share,” when she wants
a crayon another child is
holding.
* Any means available to the child for communicating could be considered “speaking” English (e.g., Signed Exact English,
American Sign Language, electronic communication devices). For some children, the home language may be a signed
language (e.g., signed Spanish).
†
For the English-language development foundation examples, all Chinese characters are written in the simplified writing
system used in mainland China.
California Department of Education • Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1
ENGLISH-LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT
1.0
116 | Speaking
1.0
Children use nonverbal and verbal strategies to communicate
with others.
Focus: Vocabulary production
Beginning
Middle
Later
1.2 Use vocabulary in the
home language that
is age-appropriate (as
reported by parents,
teachers, assistants,
or others and with the
assistance of an interpreter if necessary).
1.2 Begin to use English
vocabulary, mainly
consisting of concrete
nouns and with some
verbs and pronouns
(telegraphic speech).
1.2 Use new English
vocabulary to share
knowledge of
concepts.
Examples
Examples
Examples
• As reported to the teacher by a
parent or other family member,
uses her home language to
name familiar items at home
and make requests (with assistance of interpreter if necessary), such as, “Tengo hambre”
(I’m hungry) in Spanish.
• Mouths “tar” after peers
chorally say “star” when the
teacher points to a picture of
a star during circle time and
asks, “What is this?”
• Communicates, “My mommy
had a baby. He cries, cries”
when talking to a peer about
a new baby brother.
• Uses his home language
appropriately with other children in the dramatic play area
(as heard by the bilingual
assistant).
• Spontaneously uses her home
language during unstructured
school activities.
ENGLISH-LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT
• Interacts with ease while using
his home language with his
parents during drop-off and
pick-up times.
• Says, “Me paint” and smiles
in response to another child’s
statement, “I like your painting.”
• Names many animals featured
in the book Brown Bear, Brown
Bear, What Do You See? after
hearing it read aloud several
times.
• Says, “Bà [“Grandmother” in
Vietnamese], come see the
tadpoles! They have two legs
now!” at the end of the day.
• Communicates, “I’m sticky,”
to a peer during an art activity
that requires the use of glue.
• Begins to refer to friends by
their first name.
• Names common objects aloud
in English, such as “juice,”
“blocks,” and “music.”
Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1 • California Department of Education
Speaking | 117
Children use nonverbal and verbal strategies to communicate
with others.
Focus: Conversation*
Beginning
Middle
1.3 Converse in the home
language (as reported
by parents, teachers,
assistants, or others,
with the assistance
of an interpreter if
necessary).
1.3 Begin to converse
1.3 Sustain a conversawith others, using
tion in English about
English vocabulary
a variety of topics.
but may code-switch
(i.e., use the home
language and English).
Examples
Examples
Examples
• Communicates, as follows,
with a peer in their home language about the toys they
have at home: Says, “I have a
truck like this one,” to which
the peer responds, “I have one,
too;” then asks “Is yours red?”
to which the peer responds,
“Yeah, mine is red.”
• Says in English and Vietnamese, “My dì [maternal aunt]
gave me,” when a peer asks
who has given the child a new
backpack.
• Converses, as follows, with
a peer about their play situation in the block area, where
they have built a bus, using
large wooden blocks for seats:
The peer says, “I want to be
the driver;” to which the child
responds, “I want to sit here;”
the peer says, “OK;” and the
child smiles.
• Describes what he did at
school in detail at home,
using his home language (as
reported by a family member).
• Prefers to speak with teachers,
peers, or other individuals who
speak her home language.
• After attempting to play with
others while using his home
language, observes them
quietly as they play and speak
English.
• Stays in the conversation with
an English speaker by using
the words “huh” or “what”
and possibly combining those
words with matching gestures
and facial expressions.
• Says in English and Spanish, “Uh-oh! ¡Se cayó! [It fell]
Blocks!” after a block tower
tumbles down, and another
child responds, “Yeah, uh-oh,
it fell down.”
• Responds, “Mommy and me”
when a peer painting next to
him asks, “What is that?”
• Says, “Play sand,” to peer in
sand play area after peer says,
“I’m going to play in the sand.”
Later
• While playing outside,
answers, “I jump and then
run fast. We play ball,” when
the teacher asks, “What are
you doing with your friend?”
• Communicates, “No, I be
the daddy,” in response to a
peer who says, “You be the
mommy,” while in the dramatic
play area.
• In response to the teacher,
who asks during a familystyle lunch, “What do you
want to eat?” communicates,
“Want juice and crackers and
banana,” then later communicates “Want more crackers.”
* Children with oral motor involvement who may have difficulty saying words or syllables as they learn to match, synthesize,
or analyze syllables and sounds may demonstrate their knowledge by indicating “yes” or “no” in response to an adult’s
production of sounds or words or by identifying pictures that represent the products of these manipulations.
California Department of Education • Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1
ENGLISH-LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT
1.0
118 | Speaking
1.0
Children use nonverbal and verbal strategies to communicate
with others.
Focus: Utterance length and complexity
Beginning
1.4
Use a range of utterance lengths in the
home language that
is age-appropriate (as
reported by parents,
teachers, assistants,
or others, with the
assistance of an interpreter if necessary).
Middle
1.4
Use two- and threeword utterances
in English to
communicate.
1.4
Increase utterance
length in English by
adding appropriate
possessive pronouns
(e.g., his, her); conjunctions (e.g., and,
or); or other elements
(e.g., adjectives,
adverbs).
Examples
Examples
Examples
• Communicates in Hmong,
“I like to go to the park to play
on the slide and the swings.”
• Communicates, “Me book,”
when she wants a particular
book.
• Communicates in Tagalog, “We
went to the shops with grandfather and we bought a cake. We
had grandfather’s birthday and
there were lots of people.”
• Communicates, “No touch,”
when he does not want
anyone to touch his toy.
• Communicates, “I give it to
her” or “I like the little one
better,” while pointing to different props in the dramatic
play area.
• Communicates, “I want juice”
or “I want crackers” or “I want
apples” during snack time.
• Communicates, “I do letter A,”
while writing with markers at a
table with other children.
ENGLISH-LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT
Later
• Communicates, “My dog got
hurt. So I take him to the doctor,” while in the dramatic play
area.
• Communicates, “I went to the
park and had fun!”
Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1 • California Department of Education
Speaking | 119
Children use nonverbal and verbal strategies to communicate
with others.
Focus: Grammar
Beginning
Middle
Later
1.5 Use age-appropriate grammar in the
home language (e.g.,
plurals; simple past
tense; use of subject,
verb, object), sometimes with errors
(as reported by
parents, teachers,
assistants, or others,
with the assistance
of an interpreter if
necessary).
1.5 Begin to use some
English grammatical
markers (e.g., -ing
or plural –s) and, at
times, apply the rules
of grammar of the
home language to
English.
1.5 Expand the use of
different forms of
grammar in English
(e.g., plurals; simple
past tense; use of
subject, verb and
object), sometimes
with errors.
Examples
Examples
Examples
• Says in Spanish, “Yo fui a
la tienda con mi mamá y mi
papá. Y compramos pan y
leche.” (I went to the store with
my mom and my dad. And we
bought bread and milk.)
• Says in English, “I have two
friends.”
• Says, “I didn’t weared that,”
while in the dramatic play area.
• Says, “He leaving,” as a peer
puts his jacket on to leave with
his grandmother at the end of
the day.
• Says, “She gave to me the
cookie,” at snack time.
• Says in Spanish, “Yo sabo.”
(I know.) (This is a common
mistake for Spanish-speaking children, who often use
“sabo” for “sé” when learning
to conjugate the verb “saber”
[to know]).
• Says, “There is two childrens,”
while pointing at a picture she
drew.
• Says in Mandarin Chinese,
“
” (Daddy is
already gone to work) to a peer
in the dramatic play area (as
reported by a bilingual assistant).
• Says in Spanish and English,
“Yo quiero el truck red.” (“I
want the truck red.”) (In Spanish, the descriptive adjective is
usually placed after the noun it
describes.)
California Department of Education • Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1
• Says, “My pants is red” in
response to the teacher saying, “The bear’s pants are blue.
What color are your pants?”
while reading a book at circle
time.
• While gesturing toward a peer,
says, “Sarah don’t want to
play blocks,” in response to
the teacher saying, “Why don’t
you build a tower with her?”
• Responds, “We’re playing
house,” when another child
asks, “What are you doing?”
ENGLISH-LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT
1.0
120 | Speaking
1.0
Children use nonverbal and verbal strategies to communicate
with others.
Focus: Inquiry
Beginning
Middle
Later
1.6 Ask a variety of types
of questions (e.g.,
“what,” “why,” “how,”
“when,” and “where”)
in the home language
(as reported by
parents, teachers,
assistants, or others,
with the assistance
of an interpreter if
necessary.
1.6 Begin to use “what”
and “why” questions
in English, sometimes
with errors.
1.6 Begin to use “what,”
“why,” “how,”
“when,” and “where”
questions in more
complete forms in
English, sometimes
with errors.
Examples
Examples
Examples
• Asks in Mandarin Chinese,
• Asks, “Why no?” after hearing
a peer say, “I don’t want to go
to the playground.”
• Says, “Why you did that?” to
a peer who pours water from
a pitcher at the water table.
• Asks, “What you doing?” as he
approaches a group of children
playing in the sand box.
• Says, “And what is for that?”
pointing to a cement truck
while on a walk in the neighborhood.
(Can I go to play at auntie’s
house?) or
(Where
is the new toothbrush that you
bought with Daddy?), demonstrating the use of a variety of
types of questions (as reported
by parents or others).
ENGLISH-LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT
• While going on a neighborhood walk, asks in Spanish,
“¿Adónde vamos, maestra?”
(Where are we going, teacher?)
or “¿Por qué? ¿Por qué tengo
que llevar mi chaqueta?”
(Why? Why do I have to bring
my jacket?) to a teacher who
understands the child’s home
language.
• Asks, “Why gone?” after noticing that the teacher is out for
the day.
• Points to an item and asks,
“What’s that?”
• Says, “How do you do this?”
or “How do you make the
sun?” to a peer who is painting
at the easel next to him.
• Asks another child, “Where do
you put this?” while holding up
a pair of rain boots.
• Asks, “When do we go
home?” or “When mommy
coming?” toward the end of
the school day.
Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1 • California Department of Education
Speaking | 121
Children begin to understand and use social conventions
in English.
Focus: Social conventions
Beginning
Middle
Later
2.1 Use social conventions of the home
language (as reported
by teachers, parents,
assistants, or others,
with the assistance
of an interpreter if
necessary).
2.1 Demonstrate a
beginning understanding of English
social conventions.
2.1 Appropriately use
words and tone of
voice associated
with social conventions in English.
Examples
Examples
Examples
• If considered a sign of respect
in her culture, lowers gaze
when speaking with an adult.
• Communicates “please” and
“thank you” during snack time
after observing other children
saying “please” to request
food and “thank you” when
receiving food.
• Says, “Close the door,” to a
peer while playing with dollhouse props; follows up with,
“Pleeease!” if the peer does
not respond.
• If considered appropriate in his
culture, stands in close proximity to others when engaged
in conversation.
• Uses the formal form of his
home language (e.g., Spanish,
Korean, Japanese*) with unfamiliar adults and familiar form
with relatives and friends. (In
Spanish the familiar form uses
“Tú” and the formal form uses
“Usted” and the corresponding verb form. A child would
say, “Buenos días, ¿Cómo
estás?” [Good morning, how
are you?] [informal] to a peer,
but to a teacher, “Buenos días,
¿Cómo está usted, maestra?”
[Good morning, how are you,
teacher?] [formal]. In Japanese, the formal uses “desu,”
and the informal does not use
it. A child says to a classmate,
“Ohayoo” [good morning]
[informal] but to a teacher,
“Ohayoo gozaimasu” [good
morning] [formal].)
• Communicates, “Hi!” or
“Hello!” to greet the teacher
when arriving at school.
• Responds, “Thank you,” to
a peer who has said, “That’s
pretty,” while pointing to the
child’s painting.
• Communicates, “Sorry” or
“Excuse me” when she bumps
into a peer.
• If another child gets hurt,
asks, “Are you OK?” with a
concerned tone of voice.
• Uses the slang, idioms, and
colloquialisms of peers, such
as, “I have to go potty.”
* In this example, Japanese is phonologically represented in written form using the English alphabet.
California Department of Education • Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1
ENGLISH-LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT
2.0
122 | Speaking
3.0
Children use language to create oral narratives about their
personal experiences.*
Focus: Narrative development
Beginning
Middle
Later
3.1 Create a narrative in
3.1 Begin to use English
the home language (as
to talk about personal
reported by parents,
experiences; may
teachers, assistants,
complete a narrative
or others, with the
in the home language
assistance of an interwhile using some
preter if necessary).
English (i.e., codeswitching).
3.1 Produce simple
narratives in English
that are real or
fictional.
Examples
Examples
Examples
• Talks to other children in Spanish about a family gathering:
“Vino mi abuelita. Y vino mi
tía. Y vino mi tío. Y comimos
sopa. Y me quemé la boca. Y
mi mami me dio hielo pa’ que
no me doliera.” (My grandma
came. And my aunt came. And
my uncle came. And we ate
soup. And I burned my mouth.
And my mom gave me some
ice so it wouldn’t hurt) (as
reported by a parent).
• Talks in English and Spanish
about what she saw on the
recent nature walk: “I see bird.
I see bug, y una mariposa
muy bonita. Y regresamos a
la escuela.” (A butterfly, really
pretty. And we went back to
school.)
• Dictates a story to the teacher,
gesturing with his hands, “The
pony was big. The pony flew.
Flew up into the sky. Really,
really high!” after painting a
pony sitting on a cloud.
• Says in Mandarin Chinese,
“
” (So I went to the
airport, got on an airplane, and
visited grandma.) (as reported
by the bilingual assistant).
• Draws a picture of her family
and says in English and Vietnamese, “Bà (grandma), ba
(dad), me (mom). We go park.
Lotta fun.”
• Draws a lizard and tells the
teacher about a lizard she
found outside, “I saw a lizard
outside. It was a baby lizard.
He didn’t have a tail. He ran
away.”
• Tells the teacher about a conflict that came up while playing
“family” with two peers, “I was
the mommy and Mai was the
baby. I told her to sleep and be
quiet. But she not listen. I got
mad at her.”
ENGLISH-LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT
• Draws a picture and tells a
peer, “Look, the car goes fast.
And the bus goes fast. The
police say, ‘Stop!’”
* Producing narratives many vary at these ages for children who are communicating through sign language or other alternate
communication systems. Teachers can support all young children’s communication knowledge and skills by repeating and
extending what children communicate in conversations. Teachers can also provide opportunities for children to repeat or
tell stories as a way of encouraging them to produce narratives.
Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1 • California Department of Education
123
Reading
Children demonstrate an appreciation and enjoyment of reading
and literature.
Focus: Participate in read-aloud activity
Beginning
Middle
Later
1.1 Attend to an adult
reading a short
storybook written in
the home language or
a storybook written
in English if the story
has been read in the
home language.
1.1 Begin to participate
in reading activities,
using books written
in English when
the language is
predictable.
1.1 Participate in reading activities, using a
variety of genres that
are written in English
(e.g., poetry, fairy
tales, concept books,
and informational
books).
Examples
Examples
Examples
• Moves closer in an attempt
to see props as the teacher
reviews the English vocabulary
before reading a story and
then reads the story aloud.
• Responds with other children
to questions in the text, using
appropriate animal names
during a class read-aloud of
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What
Do You See?
• Brings a stack of books to a
classroom volunteer and communicates, “First read Rainbow Fish, and then the ABC
farm book.”
• Attends to the story and
responds to questions when
a storybook written in her
home language is read aloud
in a small group by a visiting
parent who speaks the home
language.
• Looks at the teacher’s hand
and pages in the book as
teacher uses a mouse puppet
during a read-aloud of a book
about mice.
• Points to familiar objects and
names them in the home language while the teacher reads
aloud, in English, a book that
she read aloud in the child’s
home language the day before.
• Responds in relation to the
teacher and peers during a
big-book read-aloud at circle
time (e.g., laughs along with
others).
• Communicates, “honk, honk,
honk” when the teacher pauses
after saying, “The horn on the
bus goes . . . ” while reading
The Wheels on the Bus.
• Counts “one, two, three,
four” with the group when the
teacher counts the number of
strawberries illustrated on a
page.
• Participates in choral response
when the teacher invites the
children to participate in a
class read-aloud of There Was
an Old Lady Who Swallowed a
Fly or The Three Little Pigs.
• Imitates the motions the
teacher makes to illustrate a
story read aloud in English
(e.g., pretends to run like the
Gingerbread Man).
California Department of Education • Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1
• Communicates, “Humpty
Dumpty is my favorite! Read
that one after the egg book,
OK?” during circle time.
• Calls out, “I like that one! It
has black and white,” pointing to the orca whale during a
read-aloud of a big book about
whales.
• Role-plays a simple poem
about how plants grow outside
after hearing the poem during
circle time.
• When the teacher asks, “What
does the boy see?” during
a small group read-aloud,
responds, “a dog!” while
pointing at a picture of a dog
on a page in the book.
ENGLISH-LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT
1.0
124 | Reading
1.0
Children demonstrate an appreciation and enjoyment of reading
and literature.
Focus: Interest in books and reading
Beginning
Middle
1.2 “Read” familiar books
written in the home
language or in English
when encouraged
by others and, in the
home language, talk
about the books.
1.2 Choose to “read”
1.2 Choose to “read”
familiar books written
familiar books
in the home language
written in English
or in English with inwith increasing
creasing independence
independence and
and, in the home
talk about the books
language or in English,
in English.
talk about the books.
Examples
Examples
Examples
• When playing in the block corner with cars and trucks, finds
a picture book on transportation in a basket and communicates in her home language,
“Look! A big truck!”
• Chooses a book about animals to “read” with another
child while playing “zoo” in the
block area, pretends to be an
elephant, and says, “Look it.
My big trunk.”
• Looks on as a peer “reads,”
then selects a book in her
home language and sits next
to the peer to “read” too.
• Selects a familiar book written
in the home language (e.g., Pío
Peep) from the shelf without
help and sings the lyrics to a
song in Spanish and in English.
• Chooses a familiar book
in English, A Pocket for
Corduroy, settles down again
on a pile of pillows, turns the
pages of the book, and says,
“Look, bear want pocket.
Girl make pocket.”
• When asked by a bilingual
assistant, “What is your favorite
book?” picks up La oruga muy
hambrienta (The Very Hungry
Caterpillar) and asks the assistant to read it to her.
• Chooses to “read” a book that
was read aloud by the teacher
earlier the same day or on the
previous day and talks with a
peer about the book in any
language.
Later
• Selects and “reads” a class
book about a recent walk in
the neighborhood (with photographs captioned in English) and, using English, talks
about the photographs.
ENGLISH-LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT
• When building a block tower,
looks at a book about construction after a teacher prompts,
“What a great tower! Do you
think you could find a building in
this book that looks like yours?”
to which he responds by talking
about the book in any language.
Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1 • California Department of Education
Reading | 125
Children show an increasing understanding of book reading.
Focus: Personal connections to the story
Beginning
Middle
Later
2.1 Begin to identify and
relate to a story from
their own life experiences in the home
language (as reported
by parents, teachers,
assistants, or others,
with the assistance
of an interpreter
if necessary).
2.1 Describe their own
experiences related
to the topic of the
story, using telegraphic and/or
formulaic speech
in English.
2.1 Begin to engage
in extended
conversations
in English
about stories.
Examples
Examples
Examples
• Tells the teacher in Spanish
how the story reminds her of
an experience she has had:
“Mi papá dice que yo soy su
princesa.” (My dad says that
I am his princess.)
• In response to hearing a book
about the zoo, starts her own
story with “Mommy zoo”
because her mother went on a
class trip to the zoo along with
a small group and the teacher.
• After hearing Goodnight Moon,
talks about his own house,
leading to a conversation with
the teacher about bedtime routines and where he lives.
• Brings items from home to
share that are related to a
storybook read aloud the
previous day.
• Calls out during a read-aloud of
a story about the dentist, “Me
too! Me too!” while pointing at
her mouth.
• Says to a peer in Vietnamese,
“
• Communicates, “I love cereal—
not hot,” after hearing the
story Goldilocks and the Three
Bears.
” (I pet a dog,
Coco, just a little bit. After
that, I washed my hands with
soap.) during a read-aloud
of a big book about animals
(as reported by a bilingual
assistant or interpreter).
California Department of Education • Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1
• When the teacher asks, “Has
anyone seen a train? What did
it look like?” says, “I saw a
train. I saw a big train (emphasizing “big” and using hand
gestures). It was blue. I like
blue,” after a read-aloud of a
storybook about a train ride.
ENGLISH-LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT
2.0
126 | Reading
2.0
Children show an increasing understanding of book reading.
Focus: Story structure
Beginning
Middle
Later
2.2 Retell a story in the
home language when
read or told a story in
the home language
(as reported by parents, teachers, assistants, or others, with
the assistance of an
interpreter if necessary).
2.2 Retell a story using
the home language
and some English
when read or told a
story in English.
2.2 Retell in English the
majority of a story
read or told in
English.
Examples
Examples
Examples
• Begins to put the pictures of a
simple story in sequence when
told the beginning, middle, and
end in the home language as
part of a small group activity
with a bilingual assistant; retells
the story in his home language.
• Says in Spanish and English,
“Se sentó en la silla de [she
sat in the chair of] Papa Bear,
and then Mama Bear, and then
Baby Bear” to a peer in the
dramatic play area.
• Says, “First he go to the
house . . . straw. Then the
house . . . sticks . . . then the
house . . . bricks” in a small
group conversation after a
read-aloud.
• Participates in a whole-class
reenactment of The Little Red
Hen, using such props as a
flannel board or finger puppets;
retells some of story sequence
primarily in his home language, using some key English
phrases, such as, “‘Not I,’ said
the duck” or “Then I will.”
• Flips through the pages of a
picture book of Goldilocks
and The Three Bears and
communicates, “Baby, Mama,
Papa bear. Food is hot.
Go outside. . . . [continues
through sequence] Girl see
bear and she run. The end.”
(This is a story the teacher
has told on many occasions.)
ENGLISH-LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT
• Says to her mother in Spanish
while looking at a book at the
end of the day, “Primero, la
casa de paja se cayó, después
la casa de palo, y después la
de ladrillo.” (First, the straw
house fell, next the stick house,
and then the brick one.)
Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1 • California Department of Education
Reading | 127
Children demonstrate an understanding of print conventions.
Focus: Book handling*
Beginning
Middle
Later
3.1 Begin to understand
that books are read
in a consistent manner (e.g., in English,
pages are turned
from right to left and
the print is read from
top to bottom, left to
right; this may vary in
other languages).
3.1 Continue to develop
an understanding of
how to read a book,
sometimes applying
knowledge of print
conventions from the
home language.
3.1 Demonstrate an
understanding that
print in English is
organized from left to
right, top to bottom,
and that pages are
turned from right to
left when a book is
read.
Examples
Examples
Examples
• Rotates and flips the book
over until the picture of
George is right side up on
the cover of Jorge el curioso
(Curious George) and begins
to look at the book.
• Turns the pages of a book and
talks about illustrations in either
English or his home language.
• Turns an upside-down book
right side up and says, “Let’s
start here,” when sitting and
“reading” with a peer in a
rocking chair.
• A Cantonese-speaking child
picks up a book, and flips the
pages from left to right, looking at the pictures (the appropriate way to read a book in
Chinese).
• Turns the pages of a book,
although not necessarily one at
a time, talking quietly to herself
in Arabic; tracks the print with
her finger, moving from top to
bottom, right to left (the appropriate way to write and read in
Arabic).
• During circle time, turns the
page of a big book written in
English in the appropriate direction when the teacher indicates
it is time to turn the page.
• Imitates the teacher reading
to children by sitting next to a
peer, holding up a book written
in English that has been read
aloud several times; turns the
pages and points to words,
tracking the print with her finger, moving from left to right
and top to bottom.
• Communicates in Spanish,
“Había una vez” (Once upon a
time) when looking at the first
page of a book, looks through
the book, and communicates,
“The end” when reaching the
last page.
* Some children may need assistance in holding a book or turning the pages, either through assistive technology or through
the help of an adult or peer. For example, a book can be mounted so it will not have to be held, and sturdy tabs can be
placed on the pages so they are easier to turn. Some children may need to have an adult or peer hold the book and turn
the pages.
California Department of Education • Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1
ENGLISH-LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT
3.0
128 | Reading
4.0
Children demonstrate awareness that print carries meaning.
Focus: Environmental print
Beginning
Middle
Later
4.1 Begin to recognize
that symbols in the
environment (classroom, community,
or home) carry a
consistent meaning
in the home language
or in English.
4.1 Recognize in the
environment (classroom, community, or
home) some familiar
symbols, words, and
print labels in the
home language or
in English.
4.1 Recognize in the
environment (classroom, community, or
home) an increasing
number of familiar
symbols, words,
and print labels
in English.
Examples
Examples
Examples
• Sees the pedestrian-crossing sign at a stoplight signal
(showing a green hand) and
communicates in his home
language, “We can go,
teacher!” while on a
neighborhood walk.
• Recognizes “stop” signs:
Communicates, “Stop!” when
seeing a stop sign while walking home from school (as
reported by parent); stops the
tricycle on the playground and
raises his hand to indicate
“stop” when a peer holds up
a paper stop sign.
• Takes a peer’s jacket from the
floor, finds the owner’s name
label on the cubby, and puts
the jacket there.
• During cleanup time, finds the
shelf with a big block picture
label and puts big blocks on
the shelf or puts away musical
instruments on the shelf that
has a label showing musical
notes.
• Recognizes logos for familiar
grocery stores, restaurants,
and so forth in the community
(as reported by parents or
others).
ENGLISH-LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT
• Points to picture labels on a
chart representing daily class
routines and communicates in
her home language, “book”
or “blocks.”
• Says in Spanish, “¡Mami, cómprame pan dulce!” (Mommy,
buy me a pastry) while pointing
at the sign for a Mexican bakery
that has a picture of a pastry.
• Recognizes the label and picture on a package and says,
“mac ’n cheese” in the kitchen
play area.
• Finds more spoons for snack
time in a drawer labeled with a
picture of spoons and the word
“spoons.”
• Moves toward the women’s
bathroom, indicates or points
at the sign on the door with
only the word “Women”
labeled on it, and says, “This
one is for girls,” while visiting
the public library.
• Names the exit sign or the
signs for various areas, such
as “library area,” “science
area,” and so forth.
• Says, “Teacher, this is my
book,” and puts her book in
the trunk labeled “Show and
Tell” as the children gather for
sharing time on the rug.
• Recognizes her own printed
name on signs in the classroom
(e.g., on a chart that lists how
children get to school or on a
label on her cubby).
Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1 • California Department of Education
Reading | 129
5.0
Children demonstrate progress in their knowledge
of the alphabet in English.
Focus: Letter awareness
Beginning
Middle
Later
5.1 Interact with material representing the
letters of the English
alphabet.
5.1 Begin to talk about the
letters of the English
alphabet while playing and interacting
with them; may codeswitch (use the home
language and English).
5.1 Begin to demonstrate
understanding that
the letters of the
English alphabet are
symbols used
to make words.
Examples
Examples
Examples
• Plays with alphabet puzzles or
magnets with a peer.
• Names individual letters while
tracing them in the sand and
says a friend’s name that starts
with one of the letters.
• Asks the teacher to write the
word “tree” on his paper after
drawing a tree.
• Prints letters on paper, using
alphabet stamps.
• Indicates or points at individual
letters in an alphabet book in
English and communicates,
“That’s my letter!” while pointing at the letter “M,” the first
letter in her name, Minh.
• Communicates, “C, O, L” as
she puts letters into the appropriate spaces in the alphabet
puzzle.
• Asks, “What letter, teacher?”
indicating or pointing at the
first letter of the first word in
the title of a big book during
circle time.
• Indicates or points to words
under a drawing of the sun
and says, “That says ‘sun’”
(even if the text says something else).
• Communicates, “A, B, C, D” to
a peer while indicating or pointing to one of the piles of letters
in front of him on the table during a game of ABC Bingo.
California Department of Education • Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1
ENGLISH-LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT
• Says in Spanish, “Maestra, ‘T’
(says letter name in English)
es la mía. ¡Es mi nombre!”
(Teacher, ‘T’ is mine. It’s my
name.) while pointing at the first
letter of the name label for his
cubby (his name is Tomás). La
130 | Reading
ENGLISH-LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT
5.0
Children demonstrate progress in their knowledge
of the alphabet in English.
Focus: Letter recognition
Beginning
Middle
Later
5.2 Begin to recognize the
first letter in their own
name or the character
for their own name in
the home language
or English.
5.2 Identify some letters
of the alphabet in
English.
5.2 Identify ten or
more letters of the
alphabet in English.
Examples
Examples
Examples
• Shows her parents her cubby
and says in Spanish, “Mi nombre empieza con esta letra,
la ‘m’.” (My name begins with
this letter, ‘m’.) (The child’s
name is Manuela.)
• Recognizes several letters in
his classmates’ names or in his
parents’ names.
• Identifies different letters of
friends’ names on a name
chart.
• Identifies five letters on an
alphabet poster when highlighted by the teacher.
• Names ten individual letters
as a friend writes them with
chalk outside.
• Indicates or points to her name
label written in Mandarin
Chinese on her cubby and
communicates to her parents
in Chinese, “That’s my name.”
• When looking through an
“alphabet storybook” or
children’s illustrated alphabet
book, names five or more
letters.
Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1 • California Department of Education
Reading | 131
6.0
Children demonstrate phonological awareness.
Focus: Rhyming
Beginning
Middle
Later
6.1 Listen attentively and
begin to participate in
simple songs, poems,
and finger plays that
emphasize rhyme in
the home language
or in English.
6.1 Begin to repeat or
recite simple songs,
poems, and finger
plays that emphasize
rhyme in the home
language or in
English.
6.1 Repeat, recite,
produce, or initiate
simple songs, poems,
and finger plays that
emphasize rhyme
in English.
Examples
Examples
Examples
• Participates in a class chant
of “Humpty Dumpty” or class
sing-along of “Itsy Bitsy Spider” by making some gestures
and smiling with peers.
• Sings some key words and
perhaps makes some gestures
for the Spanish-language
songs “Pimpón” or “Aserrín,
Aserrán” with a peer while
playing outside (as reported
by a bilingual assistant).
• Produces a word that rhymes
with the target word during
chants, such as “Eddie spaghetti” or “Ana banana.”
• Imitates a frog jumping into
water while listening to this
rhyme in Mandarin Chinese:
“
” (One frog has one mouth,
two eyes, and four legs. It
jumps into the water and
makes a “splash” sound.)
(as reported by teachers,
parents, assistants, or others,
with the assistance of an
interpreter, if necessary).
• Participates with a peer who
is chanting “One, two buckle
my shoe, three, four shut the
door . . . ” by joining in for the
rhyming words, such as “two,
shoe” and “four, door” and
clapping while playing in the
sandbox.
• Participates in a class singalong of “Twinkle, Twinkle
Little Star,” singing rhyming
words and key phrases (e.g.,
“Twinkle, twinkle, little star”
and “what you are,” but not
the entire song).
• Participates in a class singalong of “Down by the Bay,”
repeating most of the song
and almost all of the rhyming words in phrases (e.g.,
“a whale with a polka-dot
tail” and “a moose kissing a
goose”).
• Plays a word-matching game
involving rhyming (e.g., “I say
no, you say go,” “I say boo,
you say too,” or “I say cat,
you say rat”).
• Says, “Cindy. Bindy. They’re
the same!” when talking to
a peer about her own name
(Bindy) and her peer’s name
(Cindy).
California Department of Education • Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1
ENGLISH-LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT
• Says spontaneously to a
friend, “Mother and brother
sound the same—they rhyme!”
while in the dramatic play area.
132 | Reading
6.0
Children demonstrate phonological awareness.
Focus: Onset (initial sound)
Beginning
Middle
Later
6.2 Listen attentively and
begin to participate in
simple songs, poems,
and finger plays in
the home language
or in English.
6.2 Begin to recognize
words that have a
similar onset (initial
sound) in the home
language or in English, with support.
6.2 Recognize and
produce words that
have a similar onset
(initial sound) in
English.
Examples
Examples
Examples
• Imitates motions in finger
plays, following the teacher’s
rhythm, such as “Los elefantes” (The Elephants) in Spanish
or “This Is the Way We Wash
Our Hands” in English.
• During a read-aloud of a big
book about bugs, indicates or
points to a butterfly or a beetle
on a page and says “butterfly”
or “beetle” in response to the
teacher asking, while pointing
to the corresponding images,
“Which bugs start with the “b”
letter sound? Butterfly, caterpillar, or beetle?”
• Says words that start with the
same sound as her own name
(e.g., Sara, sock, scissors).
• Participates, using appropriate
gestures only, in a class singalong of “Where Is Thumbkin?”
or the Spanish version of the
song “Pulgarcito.”
• Listens to the “days of the
week” song in English, clapping along with peers when
the current day of the week is
named.
ENGLISH-LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT
• Sings along and uses some
gestures for a song in Vietnamese (as reported by parents,
teachers, assistants, or
others, with the assistance of
an interpreter if necessary):
“
• Cuts out pictures of things that
begin with the “p” letter sound
for a class book on things that
begin with the “p” letter sound.
The pictures include things
that begin with “p” letter sound
in Spanish and English (e.g.,
palo—stick, perro—dog,
pencil).
• Draws a picture of a cat and
tells a child, “That’s a cat.
Cat is like me. Catalina.”
• Generates words that start
with the same initial sound
during a word game while
being pushed on a swing by
the teacher; for example, “m”
(letter sound) “mom, man, me,
mine,” in response to teacher
saying, “I’m thinking of a word
that begins with “m” (letter
sound); mouse begins with
“m” (letter sound); what else
begins with “m” (letter sound)?
” (There’s the
yellow butterfly. There’s the
yellow butterfly. Spreads its
wings. Spreads its wings.
Takes its flight to the sky. Takes
its flight to the sky. We contemplate it. We contemplate it.)
Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1 • California Department of Education
Reading | 133
Children demonstrate phonological awareness.
Focus: Sound differences in the home language and English
Beginning
Middle
Later
6.3 Attend to and manipulate different sounds
or tones in words in
the home language
(as reported by
parents, teachers,
assistants, or others,
with the assistance
of an interpreter if
necessary.)
6.3 Begin to use words
in English with
phonemes (individual
units of meaningful
sound in a word or
syllable) that are
different from the
home language.
6.3 Begin to orally
manipulate sounds
(onsets, rimes, and
phonemes) in words
in English, with
support.
Examples
Examples
Examples
• Repeats parts of tongue twisters in the home language,
such as “Mi mamá me mima
mucho” (My mom really pampers me), as reported by the
grandmother, with the assistance of an interpreter. (Using
tongue twisters is a common
practice in Spanish-speaking
families.)
• Listens as the teacher sounds
out words while writing a list
on chart paper; mouths letter
sounds silently, imitating the
teacher.
• Sings along with other children
during circle time to songs,
such as “Willaby Wallaby Woo”
or “Apples and Bananas,” that
emphasize the oral manipulation of sounds.
• Recites parts of poems in the
home language, such as “
” (Little kitty goes to
school, when the teacher talks
he goes to sleep. Words spoken by the teacher go into his
left ear, but soon come out of
his right ear. Don’t you think
it’s really silly?) as reported by
the father. (Reciting poetry is a
common practice in Chinesespeaking families.)
• Utters new words with English
sounds that do not exist in
Mandarin Chinese or Korean,
such as “uh oh” when seeing
a classmate spill juice or “yum
yum” when eating a favorite
snack.
• Participates in activities, such
as games and songs, that
stress sounds in English (e.g.,
sings along to “The Ants Go
Marching” or “This Old Man”
with peers while marching
outside).
• Participates in the chant “Uno
dos tres cho-, Uno dos tres
co-, Uno dos tres la-, Uno dos
tres te-. Cho-co-la-te, Cho-cola-te, Bate, bate, chocolate!”
(One two three cho-, one two
three co-, one two three la-,
one two three te. Chocolate,
Chocolate, Whip, Whip the
chocolate!) as observed by the
teacher when an older sibling
picks up the child at the end
of the day. (This is a common
chant in Spanish that emphasizes syllables.)
California Department of Education • Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1
• While pointing at her untied
shoelaces, says, “Teacher,
tie my shoes [saying “chüz”],
please,” to which the teacher
responds, “You want me to
tie your shoes?” emphasizing
the “sh” in the word “shoes,”
after which the child nods and
responds, “Yes, my shoes
[saying “shüz”].”
ENGLISH-LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT
6.0
134
Writing
1.0
Children use writing to communicate their ideas.*
Focus: Writing as communication
Beginning
Middle
Later
1.1 Begin to understand
that writing can
be used to
communicate.
1.1 Begin to understand
that what is said in
the home language
or in English can be
written down and
read by others.
1.1 Develop an increasing
understanding that
what is said in English
can be written down
and read by others.
Examples
Examples
Examples
• Makes marks (e.g., scribbles,
draws lines) and, by gesturing,
engages a peer to share her
writing.
• Asks the teacher to write in
Spanish and English, “No se
toca. [Don’t touch.] No touch,”
on a piece of paper to place in
front of a block tower he has
just finished building.
• Dictates a simple letter to his
mother in English when he is
very excited about something
he was able to do.
• Communicates “rain, rain,”
in the home language while
painting spirals and then dots
at the easel.
• Dictates, to a bilingual
assistant, a simple letter in
Vietnamese addressed to his
dì (maternal aunt).
• Cuts a shape out of red paper
that resembles a stop sign and
asks the teacher to write the
word “stop” on it so he can use
it outside when riding tricycles.
• While playing doctor, “writes”
on a paper, hands it to a peer,
and communicates in Spanish, “Necesitas esta medicina.”
(You need this medicine.)
• Pointing to the top of a painting she has just finished at the
easel, says to the teacher, “I’m
done! Write my name here,
OK?”
• “Writes” on a paper after making a drawing, gives it to the
teacher, and requests, “Read
my story.”
• “Writes” while saying, “Eggs.
Milk. Ice Cream,” while playing
restaurant in the kitchen play
area with other children.
ENGLISH-LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT
* Some children may need assistance in emergent writing to communicate their ideas. Assistive technology may be used
to facilitate “writing.” This may be as simple as building up the width of a marker or pencil so it is easier to grasp or as
sophisticated as using a computer. Another possibility would be for an adult or peer to “write” for a child with motor
challenges, who would then agree or disagree by indicating “yes” or “no” (Preschool English Learners 2007).
Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1 • California Department of Education
Writing | 135
1.0
Children use writing to communicate their ideas.*
Focus: Writing to represent words or ideas
Beginning
Middle
Later
1.2 Begin to demonstrate
an awareness that
written language can
be in the home language or in English.
1.2 Begin to use marks or
symbols to represent
spoken language in
the home language
or in English.
1.2 Continue to develop
writing by using
letters or letter-like
marks to represent
their ideas in English.
Examples
Examples
Examples
• Makes scribbles of lines and
shapes that may resemble the
home language.
• While pretend-writing with
crayons and paper, communicates, “Teacher, this Korean.”
• Gestures to a bilingual poster
on the wall and asks a peer,
“¿Es español o inglés?” (Is
this Spanish or English?)
• As a speaker of Ukranian,
writes marks with crayons on
paper and communicates,
“This like Mommy writes.”
• Writes a grocery list in the
housekeeping center, using
forms that approximate letters
in English.
• Says, “That says, ‘Chinese,’”
in Cantonese while pointing
to a calendar with Chinese
characters.
• Writes marks from the bottom
to the top and from right to
left on a paper and communicates in English and Mandarin
Chinese, “I write like my yí.”
(maternal aunt).
• Writes “blocks,” with some
errors, on a daily plan for center time while saying, “I am
going to play with the blocks.”
• Writes letter-like marks while
saying “lizard” after drawing
a picture of a lizard for her
own page in a class book on
lizards.
• Writes marks that resemble
Chinese characters in his journal next to a picture he has
drawn of a little boy with a man
and says, “Me. Daddy.”
California Department of Education • Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1
ENGLISH-LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT
* Some children may need assistance in emergent writing either through assistive technology or through the help of an adult.
Assistive technology (either low tech or high tech) may be as simple as building up the width of a marker or pencil so that
it is easier to grasp or it may be as sophisticated as using a computer. Another possibility would be for an adult or peer to
“write” for the child who would then approve or disapprove by indicating “yes” or “no.” (Preschool English Learners 2007)
136 | Writing
1.0
Children use writing to communicate their ideas.
Focus: Writing their name
Beginning
Middle
Later
1.3 Write marks to represent their own name
in a way that may
resemble how it is
written in the home
language.
1.3 Attempt to copy their
own name in English
or in the writing
system of their
home language.
1.3 Write their first name
on their own in English nearly correctly,
using letters of the
English alphabet to
accurately represent
pronunciation in their
home language.
Examples
Examples
Examples
• Uses circles, lines, graphics,
or figures that resemble the
writing system for her home
language to represent her own
name and communicates in
the home language, “That’s
my name!”
• Copies her name in English
from her name card with some
errors, using a whiteboard
and markers.
• Writes his name in English on
a painting, with some errors.
• “Writes” his name on a card he
has made for his parent and
communicates his name in the
home language.
ENGLISH-LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT
• Makes marks in the sand and
communicates in her home
language, “Teacher, this my
name.”
• From a card with his name
written in Korean by his
mother, copies his name in
Korean at the bottom of a
picture he wants to send to
his grandma, who does not
speak English.
• While outside, writes his name
in English and then in Japanese next to a self-portrait,
with some errors, using
sidewalk chalk.
• Traces her name in English
while drawing with crayons,
then writes her name on
her own.
• Writes an approximation of
her name in Vietnamese on
the sign-in sheet when arriving
at school and communicates,
“I’m here!”
Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1 • California Department of Education
137
chunks. Short phrases used as units;
patterned language acquired through
redundant use, such as refrains and
repetition phrases in stories
code-switching. A normal part of secondlanguage acquisition in which the child
combines English with the home
language
English learner. Children whose first
language is not English, encompassing
children learning English for the first
time in the preschool setting as well as
children who have developed various
levels of English proficiency
formulaic speech. The use of memorized
chunks or phrases of language, without
a complete understanding of their function (e.g., the formula, “I want . . . ”
allows for a host of possibilities, such
as “I want play,” “I want doll,” or “I want
go”)
onset. The first consonant or consonant
cluster in a syllable (e.g., the “h” in the
one-syllable word “hat”; the “m” and “k”
in the two syllables in the word “monkey”)
orally blend. To combine sound elements
to make a word or syllable (e.g., combining the phonemes “k” “a” “t” to make the
word “cat”)
phoneme. The individual unit of meaningful sound in a word or syllable
phonological awareness. The ability
to detect or manipulate the sound
structure of spoken words, independent
of meaning. It is an increasingly
sophisticated capability that is highly
predictive of, and causally related to,
children’s later ability to read
productive language. The process of
formulating and sending a message
(communicating) using language
(Speech is one form of productive or
expressive language. Other means to
express language include using sign
language, pointing to words and pictures on a communication board, and
producing written messages on a
computer screen.)
receptive language. The process of receiving and understanding communication
through language (Speech is one way
to receive messages through language.
Other means to receive language are
sign language, words and pictures on a
communication board, and written
messages on a computer screen.)
rime. Everything left in a syllable after the
onset is removed; the vowel and coda of
a syllable (e.g., the “at” in the singlesyllable word “hat”; the “in” in the
single-syllable word “in”)
sequential bilingualism. The process of
beginning to acquire English after making significant progress toward acquisition of the home language
simultaneous bilingualism. The process
of acquiring two languages beginning at
birth or sometime during the first year
of life
social conventions. A culture’s rules for
how and when to use language
telegraphic speech. The use of a few
content words without functional words
or specific grammatical markers (e.g.,
one word combined with nonverbal
communication, intonation, or facial
expressions to communicate different
ideas; saying, “up!” while pointing at a
plane in the sky to mean, “Look, there’s
a plane!”)
utterance. Any speech sequence consisting of one or more words preceded and
followed by silence. May be equivalent
to a phrase or a sentence.
California Department of Education • Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1
ENGLISH-LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT
Glossary
138
ENGLISH-LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT
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Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1 • California Department of Education
FOUNDATIONS IN
Mathematics
T
he preschool learning foundations identify for teachers and
other educational stakeholders
a set of behaviors in mathematics
learning that are typical of children
who will be ready to learn what is
expected of them in kindergarten. The
foundations provide age-appropriate
competencies expected for older threeyear-olds (i.e., at around 48 months
of age) and for older four-year-olds
(i.e., at around 60 months of age). That
is, the preschool learning foundations
represent goals to be reached by the
time a three-year-old is just turning
four and a four-year-old is just turning five. Focusing on the child’s
readiness for school in the domain of
mathematics learning acknowledges
that there must also be appropriate
social-emotional, cognitive, and language development as well as appropriate motivation. Many such complementary and mutually supporting
aspects of the child’s overall development are addressed in the preschool
learning foundations for other domains
(e.g., social-emotional development,
language and literacy, and Englishlanguage development).
These preschool learning foundations are designed with the assumption that children’s learning takes
place in everyday environments:
through interactions, relationships,
activities, and play that are part of a
beneficial preschool experience. The
foundations are meant to describe what
is typically expected to be observed
from young children in their everyday
contexts, under conditions appropriate
for healthy development, not as aspirational expectations under the best
possible conditions. They are meant as
guidelines and tools to support teaching, not as a list of items to be taught
as isolated skills and not to be used for
assessment.
Some mathematics foundations mention specific expectations, using exact
numbers to describe a counting range
(e.g., “up to three,” or “up to four”) at
different ages or to set a minimum criterion for a particular area (e.g., “compare two groups of up to five objects”).
However, some children may exhibit
competencies that go beyond the level
described in a particular foundation,
while others may need more time to
reach that level. The foundations are
meant to give teachers a general idea of
what is typically expected from children
at around 48 or 60 months of age and
are not intended to set limits on the
way teachers support children’s learning at different levels.
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Children with special needs can
demonstrate mathematical knowledge
in various ways and do not necessarily need to engage in motor behavior.
For example, a child might indicate
to an adult or another child where to
place each object in a sorting task. Or
a child might ask a teacher to place
objects in a particular order to make a
repeating pattern. Children with visual
impairments might be offered materials for counting, sorting, problem solving, and so forth that are easily distinguishable by touch. Any means of
expression and engagement available
to the child should be encouraged.
Organization of the
Mathematics Foundations
The California preschool learning
foundations in mathematics cover five
main developmental strands: Number
Sense, Algebra and Functions (Classification and Patterning), Measurement,
Geometry, and Mathematical Reasoning. These strands were identified
after a careful review of research, the
Principles and Standards for School
Mathematics (NCTM 2000), and the
California mathematics content standards for kindergarten through grade
twelve (K–12).
The preschool mathematics foundations expand on the standards identified by the NCTM (2000) for the preschool age to include more detailed,
age-specific expectations in the key
mathematics content areas. In addition, the preschool foundations for
mathematics are closely aligned with
the California K–12 mathematics
content standards, yet there are some
particular differences in the organization of the mathematics strands. In the
preschool learning foundations, Mea-
surement and Geometry are two separate strands rather than one combined
strand of Measurement and Geometry.
Also, the preschool learning foundations, unlike the K–12 mathematics
content standards, do not include a
separate strand for statistics, data
analysis, and probability. The foundations for Patterning are included in the
strand for Algebra and Functions, along
with the foundations for Classification.
The numbering system for the
mathematics foundations follows the
same numbering system used in the
California K–12 mathematics content
standards. The major divisions within
a strand are referred to as substrands
and are numbered 1.0, 2.0, and so
forth. Each substrand is divided into
a column for children “around 48
months of age” and a column for children “around 60 months of age” on
each page. The description for younger
preschool children is different from
the one for older preschool children.
The separate foundations are written
under their substrand column by age
range and are numbered sequentially.
Where a substrand is numbered 1.0,
the foundations under the substrand
would be 1.1, 1.2, and so forth, where
a substrand is numbered 2.0, the foundations under the substrand would be
2.1, 2.2, and so forth for both columns.
Immediately below each foundation,
a few examples are given. The examples
are meant to clarify the foundation
by illustrating how the competency
described in the foundation might be
observed in the preschool environment.
They are not meant to be used as a
checklist of the knowledge and skills
that a child must demonstrate before
the teacher can decide that a competency is present.
Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1 • California Department of Education
A developmental progression by age
range is articulated within each substrand. That is, the substrand description and foundations for children at
around 60 months of age are written to
indicate a higher level of development
than the foundations for children at
around 48 months of age in that same
substrand. For some foundations, the
change between 48- and 60-monthold children is more pronounced than
for other foundations. Although there
is a developmental progression from
around 48 months of age to around
60 months of age within a substrand,
the order in which the strands are
presented is not meant to indicate any
sense of developmental progression
from strand to strand or from substrand to substrand within a strand.
At the end of the foundations, bibliographic notes provide a review of
the research base for the foundations.
Following the bibliographic notes, a list
of references for the entire set of mathematics foundations is provided. Brief
explanations of each strand are as
follows:
Number Sense—important aspects
of counting, number relationships,
and operations
Preschool children develop an initial
qualitative understanding of a quantity of small groups of objects without
actually counting the objects. This
understanding is referred to as visually
knowing or “subitizing.” It supports
the ability to compare small groups of
objects: to know if the groups are the
same, if one group is larger (smaller),
or which has more (fewer). Also developing is the ability to approach simple
arithmetic-like operations on groups
of objects with ideas such as “adding
to,” “putting together,” “taking apart,”
“taking away,” and so forth. Preschool
is the time when children learn to recite
the numbers in order, recognize numerals, and begin to incorporate the idea
of one-to-one-correspondence and true
counting. This is also a time when preschool children begin to learn about
cardinality, which is the concept of
knowing the last number named is the
quantity of objects counted.
Algebra and Functions
(Classification and Patterning)—
sorting and classifying objects;
recognizing, extending, and
creating patterns
Classification involves sorting, grouping, or categorizing objects according
to established criteria. Analyzing, comparing, and classifying objects provide
a foundation for algebraic thinking.
Although preschool children may not
know how all the objects in a mixed set
can be sorted or be able to say much
about why some objects go together,
they do begin to group like with like at
around 48 months of age and will do so
more completely at around 60 months
of age. These foundations use the idea
of sorting objects by some attribute.
The term “attribute” is used here to
indicate a property of objects, such
as color or shape, that would be apparent to a preschooler and that the preschooler could use as a basis for grouping or sorting. A younger preschool
child is expected to show some sorting
of a group of objects, but not necessarily do so completely or without errors.
A young preschooler might sort farm
animals but remove only the cows and
leave the rest ungrouped, and there
may be a pig or two or a horse mixed
in. But an older preschool child might
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make a group of all cows and a group
of all pigs and a group of all horses.
This competency is the precursor to
many important mathematics abilities
that will come later (e.g., the logic of
what belongs in a set and what does
not, grouping terms in an algebraic
expression, data analysis, and graphing). Sorting and grouping in preschool
will help prepare children for those
later steps. Researchers Seo and Ginsburg (2004) point out that preschool
children do not often spontaneously
choose to do sorting activities on their
own. Therefore, sorting is an area in
which teacher facilitation and modeling across a range of situations and
contexts is particularly important. The
teacher should note that how a child
sorts depends on the situation and the
child’s perception of the activity.
Thinking about patterns is another
important precursor for learning mathematics in general and for learning
algebra in particular (Clements 2004a).
During the preschool years, children
develop their abilities to recognize,
identify, and duplicate patterns and
to extend and create simple repeating
patterns. Although less research has
been conducted for preschoolers in
patterning than in other areas, such
as numbers and counting, recent studies (Klein and Starkey 2004; Starkey,
Klein, and Wakelely 2004) provide
information about the development of
patterning skills. Children first learn
to identify the core unit in a repeating pattern. Once they are able to
identify the initial unit of a pattern,
they can extend a pattern by predicting what comes next. Teacher facilitation and modeling are particularly
important in introducing the notion of
patterns, extending it to more aspects
of the child’s environment and daily
activities, and encouraging the child’s
attempts to create patterns.
Measurement—comparing and
ordering objects by length,
weight, or capacity; precursors
of measurement
Measuring is assigning a number
of units to some property, such as
length, area, or weight, of an object.
Although much more learning will
take place later as children become
increasingly competent with core measurement concepts, preschool is when
children gain many of the precursors
to this kind of understanding about
comparing, ordering, and measuring
things. For example, young preschool
children are becoming aware that
objects can be compared by weight,
height, or length and use such words
as “heavier,” “taller,” or “longer” to
make comparisons. They begin to
compare objects directly to find out
which is heavier, taller, and so forth.
They can compare length by placing
objects side by side and order three or
more objects by size. By the time children are around 60 months old, they
develop the understanding that measuring length involves repeating equalsize units and counting the number
of units. They may start measuring
length by laying multiple copies of
same-size units end to end (Clements
2004a).
Geometry—properties of objects
(shape, size, position) and the
relation of objects in space
Geometry is a tool for understanding relations among shapes and spatial
properties mathematically. Preschool
children learn to recognize and name
two-dimensional shapes, such as a
circle, square, rectangle, triangle, and
Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1 • California Department of Education
other shapes. At first, they recognize
geometric shapes by their overall holistic physical appearance. As they gain
more experience comparing, sorting,
and analyzing shapes, children learn
to attend to individual attributes and
characteristics of different shapes.
Younger preschool children use shapes
in isolation, while older preschool children use shapes to create images of
things they know and may combine
shapes into new shapes (Clements
2004a, 2004b). In the early preschool
years, children also develop spatial
reasoning. They can visualize shapes
in different positions and learn to
describe the direction, distance, and
location of objects in space. Teachers
can facilitate children’s development
of geometry and spatial thinking by
offering many opportunities to explore
attributes of different shapes and to
use vocabulary words about the position of objects in space.
Mathematical Reasoning—using
mathematical thinking to solve
problems in play and everyday
activities
Children in preschool encounter situations in play and everyday activities
that require them to adapt and change
their course of action. Although they
may not realize it, some situations
call for mathematical reasoning—to
determine a quantity (e.g., how many
spoons?) or to reason geometrically
(e.g., what shape will fit?). Other
situations require general reasoning.
For preschoolers, when the context
is familiar and comfortable enough,
a simple strategy may be applied to
solve an immediate problem—even
something as simple as counting the
number of objects held in the hand or
carrying a block over to see if there
are others like it. A young preschool
child may begin this process by trying
a strategy that is not always effective.
An older preschool child may try several strategies, finally finding one that
works. The important point is that
both younger and older preschool
children learn through reasoning
mathematically. As the above examples
suggest, encouraging young children
to engage in mathematical reasoning
is not only beneficial in itself, it also
opens the door to children’s exploration of the other mathematics foundations, such as geometric shapes,
counting, and classification.
California Department of Education • Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1
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MATHEMATICS
Number Sense*
At around 48 months of age
At around 60 months of age
1.0 Children begin to understand
numbers and quantities in their
everyday environment.
1.0 Children expand their understanding of numbers and
quantities in their everyday
environment.
1.1 Recite numbers in order to ten with
increasing accuracy.†
1.1 Recite numbers in order to twenty
with increasing accuracy.†
Examples
Examples
• Recites one to ten incompletely or with errors
while playing (e.g., “one, two, three, four, five,
seven, ten”).
• Recites one to ten while walking.
• Recites one to twenty incompletely or with errors
(e.g., “one, two, three, four, five, . . . nine, ten,
eleven, twelve, thirteen, fifteen , seventeen,
eighteen, twenty”).
• Recites one to ten while singing.
• Chants one to twenty in order while swinging.
• Recites one to twenty to show her friend how high
she can count.
1.2 Begin to recognize and name
a few written numerals.
1.2 Recognize and know the name
of some written numerals.
Examples
Examples
• Communicates, “That’s a one,” when playing
with magnetic numerals.
• Names some numerals found in books or during
a game.
• Indicates or points to the numerals on a cube
and names, “three, two, five.”
• Points to numerals in a number puzzle as the
teacher names them.
• Identifies the numeral 3 on the page of the Five
Little Speckled Frogs book while sitting with a
teacher.
* Throughout these mathematics foundations many examples describe the child manipulating objects. Children with motor
impairments may need assistance from an adult or peer to manipulate objects in order to do things such as count, sort,
compare, order, measure, create patterns, or solve problems. A child might also use adaptive materials (e.g., large manipulatives that are easy to grasp). Alternately, a child might demonstrate knowledge in these areas without directly manipulating
objects. For example, a child might direct a peer or teacher to place several objects in order from smallest to largest.
Children with visual impairments might be offered materials for counting, sorting, or problem solving that are easily distinguishable by touch. Their engagement is also facilitated by using containers, trays, and so forth that contain their materials
and clearly define their work space.
†
Some children may not be able to count by either saying the numbers or signing them. Any means available to the child for
demonstrating knowledge of numbers in order should be encouraged. For example, a child may indicate or touch number
cards or might respond yes or no when an adult counts.
Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1 • California Department of Education
At around 48 months of age
At around 60 months of age
1.3 Identify, without counting, the
number of objects in a collection of
up to three objects (i.e., subitize).
1.3 Identify, without counting, the number
of objects in a collection of up to four
objects (i.e., subitize).
Examples
Examples
• Perceives directly (visually, tactilely, or auditorily)
the number of objects in a small group without
needing to count them.
• Perceives directly (visually, tactilely, or auditorily)
the number of objects in a small group without
needing to count them.
• Indicates or points to a pile of blocks and
communicates, “Three of them.”
• Looks briefly at a picture of four frogs and immediately communicates the quantity four.
• Attends to the child next to her at snack time
and communicates, “Clovey has two.”
• During storytime, puts her hand on the picture
of four ladybugs and communicates, “Four ladybugs.”
• Looks briefly at a picture with three cats and
immediately communicates the quantity by
saying “three” or showing three fingers.
• Correctly points out, “That’s three cars there.”
1.4 Count up to five objects, using
one-to-one correspondence (one
object for each number word) with
increasing accuracy.*
1.4 Count up to ten objects, using
one-to-one correspondence
(one object for each number word)
with increasing accuracy.*
Examples
Examples
• After building a block tower, counts the number
of blocks by pointing to the first block and communicating “one,” then pointing to the next block
and communicating “two.” The child counts up
to five blocks.
• Indicates or points to a flower in the garden and
communicates, “one,” then points to another
flower and communicates, “two.” The child counts
up to seven different flowers.
• Indicates or points to each toy in a line while
communicating, “One, two, three, four, five.”
• Counts ten children by identifying them one by
one during circle time.
• Counts the blocks in a pile, keeping track of which
blocks have already been counted.
• Counts out eight napkins in preparation for snack
time.
* Children with motor disabilities may need assistance manipulating objects in order to count them. Children may also
demonstrate knowledge of object counting by using eye-pointing or by counting while an adult or another child touches or
moves the objects.
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150 | Number Sense
At around 48 months of age
At around 60 months of age
1.5 Use the number name of the last
object counted to answer the
question, “How many . . . ?”
1.5 Understand, when counting, that
the number name of the last object
counted represents the total
number of objects in the group
(i.e., cardinality).
Examples
Examples
• Counts the number of sticks in her hand, communicating, “one, two, three, four, five.” The
teacher asks, “How many sticks do you have?”
and the child communicates “five.”
• After giving away some bears, counts the
remaining bears to find out how many are left
and communicates, “I now have six bears.”
• When asked, “How many cars do you have?”
counts, “one, two three, four” and communicates, “four.”
• Counts the beads in her necklace, communicating, “one, two, three, four, five, six.” A friend
asks, “How many beads do you have?” and the
child replies, “six.”
• Lines up cars on a track and counts, then
communicates, “My train has seven cars!”
• Counts dolls, “one, two, three, four” and
communicates, “There are four dolls.”
• Counts her sticks and communicates, “I have
five,” when the teacher asks during an activity,
“Does everyone have five sticks?”
• Counts five apple slices and recognizes there is
one slice of apple for each of the five children
around the table.
Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1 • California Department of Education
At around 48 months of age
At around 60 months of age
2.0 Children begin to understand
number relationships and
operations in their everyday
environment.
2.0 Children expand their understanding of number relationships and operations in their
everyday environment.
2.1 Compare visually (with or without
counting) two groups of objects that
are obviously equal or nonequal and
communicate, “more” or “same.”*
2.1 Compare, by counting or matching,
two groups of up to five objects and
communicate, “more,” “same as,”
or “fewer” (or “less”).*
Examples
Examples
• Examines two groups of counting bears, one
with two bears and the other with six bears,
and indicates or points to the group of six bears
when asked which group has more.
• Counts the number of rocks he has and the number a friend has and communicates, “Five and five,
you have the same as me.”
• Communicates, “I want more—she’s got more
stamps than me” during a small group activity.
• Communicates, “We have the same,” when
referring to apple slices during snack time.
• Compares a group of four bears to a group of five
bears and communicates, “This one has less.”
• Counts her own sand toys, then counts a friend’s
and communicates, “You have more.”
2.2 Understand that adding to (or taking
away) one or more objects from a
group will increase (or decrease) the
number of objects in the group.
2.2 Understand that adding one or taking
away one changes the number in a
small group of objects by exactly one.
Examples
Examples
• Has three beads, takes another, and communicates, “Now I have more beads.”
• Adds another car to a pile of five to have six, just
like his friend.
• When the teacher adds more cats on the flannel
board, indicates that there are now more cats.
• Removes one animal from a collection of eight
animals and communicates, “She has seven now.”
• While playing bakery, communicates that after
selling some bagels there are now fewer bagels
in the bakery shop.
• Correctly predicts that if one more car is added to
a group of four cars, there will be five.
• Gives away two dolls and communicates that
now she has fewer.
*Comparison may be done visually, tactilely, or auditorily.
California Department of Education • Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1
MATHEMATICS
Number Sense | 151
MATHEMATICS
152 | Number Sense
At around 48 months of age
At around 60 months of age
2.3 Understand that putting two groups
of objects together will make a
bigger group.
2.3 Understand that putting two groups
of objects together will make a bigger
group and that a group of objects can
be taken apart into smaller groups.
Examples
Examples
• Combines his blocks with a pile of his friend’s
blocks and communicates, “Now we have
more.”
• Refers to a collection of six balloons and communicates, “Three red balloons for me and three
green ones for you.”
• Puts together crayons from two separate boxes
to have more.
• Indicates seven by holding up five fingers on one
hand and two fingers on another.
• Puts together the red bears and the yellow bears
to have a bigger group of bears.
• Removes three (of five) ducks from the flannel
board, communicating, “Three left, and only two
stay” when acting a story.
2.4 Solve simple addition and subtraction problems nonverbally (and often
verbally) with a very small number of
objects (sums up to 4 or 5).
2.4 Solve simple addition and subtraction problems with a small number of
objects (sums up to 10), usually by
counting.
Examples
Examples
• Recognizes that one ball together with another
one makes a total of two balls. The child may
create a matching collection or say or indicate
“two.”
• Adds one car to a train with two cars and
indicates the total number of cars in train by
showing three fingers.
• During a small group activity, count oranges on
the flannel board and communicate, “There are six
oranges.” The teacher puts one more orange on
the board and asks, “How many oranges do we
have now?” Some say seven; others first count,
“One, two three, four, five, six, seven” and then
say seven.
• Recognizes that only two bananas are left after
giving away one of three bananas to a friend.
• Adds two more cups to a group of two, says that
there are four cups.
• Takes away one flower from a group of four
flowers on the flannel board, while acting out
a story, and communicates that only three
flowers are left.
• Takes two boats away from a group of five boats
and communicates, “One, two, three—three boats
left” while playing with friends.
• Watches a friend connect a train with three cars
to a second train with three cars. Counts the cars
and communicates, “Now our train has six cars.”
• Builds a stack of five blocks and adds two more
saying, “One, two, three, four, five, six, seven.
I have seven blocks now.”
Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1 • California Department of Education
153
At around 48 months of age
At around 60 months of age
1.0 Children begin to sort
and classify objects in their
everyday environment.
1.0 Children expand their
understanding of sorting
and classifying objects in their
everyday environment.
1.1 Sort and classify objects by one
attribute into two or more groups,
with increasing accuracy.
1.1 Sort and classify objects by one or
more attributes, into two or more
groups, with increasing accuracy
(e.g., may sort first by one attribute
and then by another attribute).†
Examples
Examples
• Selects some red cars for himself and some
green cars for his friend, leaving the rest of the
cars unsorted.
• Sorts the large blue beads into one container and
the small red beads in another.
• Chooses the blue plates from a variety of plates
to set the table in the kitchen play area.
• Sorts through laundry in the basket and takes
out all the socks.
• Places all the square tiles in one bucket and all
the round tiles in another bucket.
• Attempts to arrange blocks by size and communicates, “I put all the big blocks here and all
the small ones there.”
• Puts black beans, red kidney beans, and pinto
beans into separate bowls during a cooking
activity.
• Arranges blocks on the shelf according to shape.
• Sorts a variety of animal photographs into two
groups: those that fly and those that swim.
• Sorts buttons first by size and then each subgroup
by color into muffin tin cups.
* Throughout these mathematics foundations many examples describe the child manipulating objects. Children with motor
impairments may need assistance from an adult or peer to manipulate objects in order to do things such as count, sort,
compare, order, measure, create patterns, or solve problems. A child might also use adaptive materials (e.g., large manipulatives that are easy to grasp). Alternately, a child might demonstrate knowledge in these areas without directly manipulating
objects. For example, a child might direct a peer or teacher to place several objects in order from smallest to largest.
Children with visual impairments might be offered materials for counting, sorting, or problem solving that are easily distinguishable by touch. Their engagement is also facilitated by using containers, trays, and so forth that contain their materials
and clearly define their work space.
†
Attributes include, but are not limited to, size, shape, or color.
California Department of Education • Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1
MATHEMATICS
Algebra and Functions
(Classification and Patterning)*
MATHEMATICS
154 | Algebra and Functions
At around 48 months of age
At around 60 months of age
2.0 Children begin to recognize
simple, repeating patterns.*
2.0 Children expand their
understanding of simple,
repeating patterns.*
2.1 Begin to identify or recognize a
simple repeating pattern.
2.1 Recognize and duplicate simple
repeating patterns.
Examples
Examples
• Recognizes a simple repeating pattern made
with interlocking cubes, such as yellow, green,
yellow, green.
• Fills in an item missing from a pattern (e.g., apple,
pear, apple, pear), with guidance.
• Sings, moves, or claps through part of a pattern
song (e.g., the teacher begins a “clap-pat-clappat” pattern, and the child repeats with guidance).
• Copies simple repeating patterns, using the same
kind of objects as the original pattern.
• Attempts to sing, sign, move, or clap through a
pattern song, trying to maintain the pattern.
• Anticipates a repeating pattern in a storybook,
with support.
2.2 Attempt to create a simple
repeating pattern or participate
in making one.
2.2 Begin to extend and create simple
repeating patterns.
Examples
Examples
• Puts together connecting blocks in alternating
colors to form a repeating pattern, with guidance.
• Adds a red bead and then a blue bead in a
red-blue-red-blue pattern to complete a bead
necklace.
• Demonstrates a pattern of claps, signs, or
movements, with guidance.
• Alternates short and tall blocks to make a fence
around a farm.
• Lines up pretzel sticks and cheese slices to
make patterns at snack time.
• Makes up a clapping or action pattern, “clap,
clap, hop, hop” in rhythm to a song.
• Uses different materials such as buttons, beads,
or sequins to create patterns.
* A simple repeating pattern has two repeating elements. Examples are as follows: A-B-A-B (e.g., red-blue-red-blue);
A-A-B-B (e.g., dog-dog-cat-cat); A-B-B-A-B-B (e.g., clap-stomp-stomp-clap-stomp-stomp); and so forth.
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155
At around 48 months of age
At around 60 months of age
1.0 Children begin to compare
and order objects.
1.0 Children expand their
understanding of comparing,
ordering, and measuring
objects.
1.1 Demonstrate awareness that
objects can be compared by length,
weight, or capacity, by noting gross
differences, using words such as
bigger, longer, heavier, or taller, or
by placing objects side by side to
compare length.
1.1 Compare two objects by length,
weight, or capacity directly
(e.g., putting objects side by side)
or indirectly (e.g., using a third
object).
Examples
Examples
• Communicates, “I’m big like my daddy.”
• Tries to determine if he is taller than another
child by standing next to the child.
• Communicates, “This one’s heavier” when
choosing from a variety of beanbags in a basket.
• Communicates, “He has more clay than me.”
• Communicates, “Mine is longer than yours”
when placing trains side by side to check which
is longer.
• Builds a tower beside another child, attempting
to make her tower taller.
• Uses a balance scale to find out which of two
rocks is heavier.
• Pours water into different size containers at the
water table to find out which one holds more.
• Shows that the blue pencil is longer than the
red pencil by placing them side by side.
• Compares the length of two tables by using a
string to represent the length of one table and
then laying the string against the second table.
• Uses a paper strip to mark the distance from knee
to foot and compares it to the distance
from elbow to fingertip.
* Throughout these mathematics foundations many examples describe the child manipulating objects. Children with motor
impairments may need assistance from an adult or peer to manipulate objects in order to do things such as count, sort,
compare, order, measure, create patterns, or solve problems. A child might also use adaptive materials (e.g., large manipulatives that are easy to grasp). Alternately, a child might demonstrate knowledge in these areas without directly manipulating
objects. For example, a child might direct a peer or teacher to place several objects in order from smallest to largest.
Children with visual impairments might be offered materials for counting, sorting, or problem solving that are easily distinguishable by touch. Their engagement is also facilitated by using containers, trays, and so forth that contain their materials
and clearly define their work space.
California Department of Education • Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1
MATHEMATICS
Measurement*
MATHEMATICS
156 | Measurement
At around 48 months of age
At around 60 months of age
1.2 Order three objects by size.
1.2 Order four or more objects by size.
Examples
Examples
• Sets bowls by size in dramatic play area, the
biggest bowl for daddy bear, the medium bowl
for mommy bear, and the smallest bowl for
baby bear.
• Arranges four dolls from smallest to largest in
pretend play with dolls.
• Lines up three animal figures by size.
• Attempts to arrange nesting cups or ring
stackers in correct order by size.
• In sandbox, lines up buckets by size, from the
bucket that holds the most sand to one that holds
the least.
• On a playground, orders different kinds of balls
(e.g., beach ball, basketball, soccer ball, tennis
ball) by size.
1.3 Measure length using multiple
duplicates of the same-size
concrete units laid end to end.*
Examples
• Uses paper clips laid end to end to measure
the length of different size blocks, with adult
guidance.
• Measures the length of a rug by laying same-size
block units end to end and communicating, “The
rug is ten blocks long,” with adult guidance.
• Measures the length of a table using inch
“worms,” with adult guidance.
• Measures the distance from the reading area to
the block area by using meter sticks, with adult
guidance.
* A foundation for measurement is written only for children at around 60 months of age, because the development of the
ability to use same-size units to measure quantity typically occurs between 48 months and 60 months of age.
Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1 • California Department of Education
157
At around 48 months of age
At around 60 months of age
1.0 Children begin to identify and
use common shapes in their
everyday environment.
1.0 Children identify and use
a variety of shapes in their
everyday environment.
1.1 Identify simple two-dimensional
shapes, such as a circle and
square.
1.1 Identify, describe, and construct a
variety of different shapes, including
variations of a circle, triangle, rectangle, square, and other shapes.
Examples
Examples
• When playing a matching game, communicates,
“This is a circle.”
• While playing the “I Spy the Shape” game,
communicates, “I see a circle—the clock.”
Later, says, “I see a rectangle—the table.”
• While playing shape bingo, indicates or points
to the correct shape.
• Indicates a shape block and communicates,
“This is a square.”
• Sorts shape manipulatives of varying sizes into
different shape groups (e.g., points to the group
of triangles and communicates, “Here are the
triangles: big, small, and very small triangles”).
• Correctly identifies shapes as the teacher calls
them out in a game of shape bingo.
• Uses play dough to construct rectangles of
different sizes and orientations.
• Sorts manipulatives of different sizes and orientations by shape and explains why a particular shape
does or does not belong in a group.
• Tears paper shape and communicates, “Look!
A triangle” while making a collage.
1.2 Use individual shapes to represent
different elements of a picture
or design.
1.2 Combine different shapes to create
a picture or design.
Examples
Examples
• Uses a circle for a sun and a square for a house
in a picture.
• Uses a variety of shapes to construct different
parts of a building.
• Puts together a foam shape puzzle in which
each shape is outlined.
• Uses flannel pieces of different shapes to create
a design.
• Creates a design by putting shape tiles
together.
• Creates a house, from different shapes, using
a computer program.
* Throughout these mathematics foundations many examples describe the child manipulating objects. Children with motor
impairments may need assistance from an adult or peer to manipulate objects in order to do things such as count, sort,
compare, order, measure, create patterns, or solve problems. A child might also use adaptive materials (e.g., large manipulatives that are easy to grasp). Alternately, a child might demonstrate knowledge in these areas without directly manipulating
objects. For example, a child might direct a peer or teacher to place several objects in order from smallest to largest.
Children with visual impairments might be offered materials for counting, sorting, or problem solving that are easily distinguishable by touch. Their engagement is also facilitated by using containers, trays, and so forth that contain their materials
and clearly define their work space.
California Department of Education • Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1
MATHEMATICS
Geometry*
MATHEMATICS
158 | Geometry
At around 48 months of age
At around 60 months of age
2.0 Children begin to understand
positions in space.
2.0 Children expand their
understanding of positions
in space.
2.1 Identify positions of objects and
people in space, such as in/on/
under, up/down, and inside/outside.
2.1 Identify positions of objects and
people in space, including in/on/
under, up/down, inside/outside,
beside/between, and in front/behind.
Examples
Examples
• Goes under the table when the teacher communicates, “ Pick up the cup. It’s under the table.”
• During a treasure hunt, gives or follows directions
to find something behind the doll bed or under
the mat.
• Communicates to another child in the playhouse, “Put the pan on the stove.”
• Requests that another child put the balls inside
the box.
• Looks up when the teacher says, “If you look
up, you’ll see your coat.”
• Follows directions when asked by the teacher to
stand in front of or behind another child.
• Communicates, “Where’s my book?” A friend says,
“It’s over there on the table.” She finds the book.
• Follows along with the directions during a game
of “Simon Says” (e.g., “Put your hands in front of
your legs”).
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159
At around 48 months of age
At around 60 months of age
1.0 Children use mathematical
thinking to solve problems
that arise in their everyday
environment.
1.0 Children expand the use of
mathematical thinking to solve
problems that arise in their
everyday environment.
1.1 Begin to apply simple mathematical
strategies to solve problems in their
environment.
1.1 Identify and apply a variety of mathematical strategies to solve problems
in their environment.
Examples
Examples
• Reconfigures blocks to build a balanced, tall
tower by placing the rectangular blocks at the
bottom and triangular blocks at the top.
• After placing plates and napkins around the snack
table, recognizes that he needs one more napkin
for the last place and asks the teacher for another
napkin.
• Asks for one more paintbrush so he can put one
brush in each paint cup while helping to set up
an easel for painting.
• Gives a friend two flowers and keeps two for
himself, so they both have the same number of
flowers.
• Compares the length of her shoe to her friend’s
shoe by placing them side by side to check who
has a longer shoe.
• Following a discussion about the size of the room,
works with other children to measure the length of
the room using block units, lay blocks of the same
size along the wall end to end, and count the
number of blocks.
• Predicts the number of small balls in a closed box
and then communicates, “Let’s count.”
• Classifies objects according to whether they
can roll or not.
• Has run out of long blocks to complete a road and
solves the problem by using two smaller blocks to
“fill in” for a longer block.
• Pours sand from a big bucket to a smaller
bucket and realizes that not all the sand can fit.
The child looks for a bigger bucket.
• When in need of six cones to set up an obstacle
course but having only four, communicates,
“I need two more cones.”
• Sorts the animal figures into two groups, wild animals for him and pets for his friend, when asked to
share the animal figures with a friend.
* Throughout these mathematics foundations many examples describe the child manipulating objects. Children with motor
impairments may need assistance from an adult or peer to manipulate objects in order to do things such as count, sort,
compare, order, measure, create patterns, or solve problems. A child might also use adaptive materials (e.g., large manipulatives that are easy to grasp). Alternately, a child might demonstrate knowledge in these areas without directly manipulating
objects. For example, a child might direct a peer or teacher to place several objects in order from smallest to largest.
Children with visual impairments might be offered materials for counting, sorting, or problem solving that are easily distinguishable by touch. Their engagement is also facilitated by using containers, trays, and so forth that contain their materials
and clearly define their work space.
California Department of Education • Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1
MATHEMATICS
Mathematical Reasoning*
160
MATHEMATICS
Bibliographic Notes
Number Sense
Research suggests that children
start developing number sense in early
infancy (Feigenson, Dehaene, and
Spelke 2004). Much of what preschool
children know about number is closely
related to and depends on their understanding and mastery of counting
(Adding It Up 2001). Counting builds a
foundation for children’s future understanding of mathematics, and this
basic skill becomes the reference point
as children learn to manipulate larger
quantities in the future.
Children’s understanding of numbers is initially qualitative, as they gain
an understanding of “number-ness”
(e.g., three-ness, four-ness) with small
quantities, using subitizing: visually
knowing “how many” are in a set without actually counting them (Clements
2004a; Fuson 1988, 1992a). Counting
is a natural activity for young children
as their everyday contexts often involve
numbers and quantities, although it
requires them to have a sophisticated
set of skills based on many experiences to be able to count accurately.
Literature suggests that the three
major basic building blocks for counting are learning of (1) the sequence of
number words, (2) one-to-one correspondence, and (3) cardinality (knowing that the last number assigned to
the last object counted gives the total
number in the set) (Adding It Up 2001;
Becker 1989; Clements 2004a; Fuson
1988, 1992a, 1992b; Hiebert and
others 1997; Sophian 1988). Children
are likely to experience the aspects
of counting at different times and in
different contexts. As they gain more
experience, they start to connect and
coordinate these individual concepts
and develop skill in counting with fluency. The specific ways in which these
different aspects of counting develop
depend largely on individual children
and their experiences. Research, however, is in agreement that very young
children (ages up to three) may be able
to handle small quantities first (groups
of two to three), and as they grow
older, they are more likely to be able to
manage larger sets (by age five, groups
of 10). Cardinality is typically developed between the ages of three and
four years (Fuson 1988). The preschool
years are a critical time for children
to master the art of counting small
numbers of objects.
Young children’s understanding
of quantities and numbers is largely
related to counting, as noted in the
previous section. Another important
factor in children’s development of
number sense is early experience with
number operations (Adding It Up 2001;
Clements 2004a; Hiebert and others
1997; Principles and Standards for
School Mathematics 2000). Research
shows that counting and number
operations are related and that children as young as three years are able
to understand simple visual number
patterns that involve number operations such as, “two fingers and two fingers make four” (Fuson 1988, 1992a).
When children enter elementary
schools, much of their engagement
Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1 • California Department of Education
with mathematics will be devoted to
learning how quantitative and logical
relationships work in the world, and
number operations hold a key to such
learning (Adding It Up 2001; Principles
and Standards for School Mathematics
2000). Although standard mathematical and abstract symbols (e.g., +, =) are
absent from those early experiences
with math operations, informal and
early mathematics experience becomes
the foundation for children’s later
learning in this area. Children generally use a diverse range of strategies to
make sense of mathematical situations
around them, and this diversity of
thinking usually becomes a feature of
their subsequent mathematical development (Adding It Up 2001).
Young children initially understand
a quantity as an aggregate of single
units (Fuson 1988, 1992a, 1992b;
Carpenter and Moser 1988; Hiebert
and others 1997; Geary 1994). Thus,
when asked to combine two sets of
objects, they count the two different
sets starting from “one” to determine
the answer (the counting-all strategy);
therefore, the development of number operations is closely related to
the way they learn to count. As children gain experiences, they gradually
develop more sophisticated methods
by abstracting the quantity of one of
the two groups (one of the addends)
and starting to count on (or count
up, in subtraction) from that number.
Children eventually become adept at
decomposing numbers into smaller
chunks for the purpose of adding and
subtracting, although this method is
usually not formally taught in U.S.
classrooms (Fuson, 1992a). Nevertheless, preschool children’s first experiences with the concept of decomposition of a number into smaller groups of
numbers is the beginning of an important development in mathematical
reasoning. Learning the concept that
groups or chunks of numbers make up
larger numbers supports the understanding of arithmetic operations. For
example, children’s emerging understanding of different ways the number
10 can be decomposed into groups
(e.g., 5 + 5, 4 + 6) contributes to their
future learning of multidigit addition
and subtraction (i.e., the operation of
making 10 and moving it to the next
position to the left of a multidigit
number).
Algebra and Functions
During the preschool years children develop beginning algebraic concepts as they sort and classify objects,
observe patterns in their environment,
and begin to predict what comes next
based on a recognized pattern. Sorting
items, classifying them, and working
with patterns help children to bring
order, organization, and predictability
to their world. Classification and the
analysis of patterns provide a foundation for algebraic thinking as children develop the ability to recognize
relationships, form generalizations,
and see the connection between common underlying structures (Principles
and Standards for School Mathematics
2000; Clements 2004a).
Classification is the systematic
arrangement of objects into groups
according to established criteria and
involves sorting, grouping, and categorizing. Classification is at the heart
of identifying what is invariant across
groups of mathematical objects or
mathematical processes. Clements
(2004a) suggests that analyzing, comparing, and classifying objects help
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MATHEMATICS
161
MATHEMATICS
162
create new knowledge of objects and
their relationships; in Developmental
Guidelines for Geometry, he recommends a classification activity in
which four-year-olds match shapes to
identify congruent and noncongruent
two-dimensional shapes. Certainly,
identifying triangles from within a set
of figures that include examples and
nonexamples of triangles is essentially
a classification exercise. But classification should not be reserved solely for
work with shapes; rather, it should be
included in young children’s mathematical activities as it also facilitates
work with patterns and data analysis.
The developmental continuum for data
analysis starts with classification and
counting and evolves into data representation (e.g., graphing).
Seo and Ginsburg (2004) were interested in how frequently four- and
five-year-olds engaged in mathematical activities during play. Interestingly
enough, after studying 90 of these
children the researchers report that
classification activities were the least
frequently occurring of the mathematical activities observed. Only 2 percent
of the mathematical activities observed
could be categorized as classification
activities.
Patterns help children learn to find
order, cohesion, and predictability in
seemingly disorganized situations.
The recognition and analysis of patterns clearly provide a foundation for
the development of algebraic thinking (Clements 2004a). Identifying and
extending patterns are important preschool activities. For example, Ginsburg, Inoue, and Seo (1999) report that
the detection, prediction, and creation
of patterns with shapes are the most
frequent mathematical activities in
preschool. However,
compared with counting, little is known
about young children’s knowledge of
patterns.
Patterns involve replication, completion, prediction, extension, and description or generalization (Greenes 1999).
In preschool years, young children
gradually develop the concept of patterns that includes recognizing a pattern, describing a pattern, creating a
pattern, and extending a pattern. To
understand a pattern, children should
be able to identify similarities and differences among elements of a pattern,
note the number of elements in the
repeatable group, identify when the
first group of elements begins to replicate itself, and make predictions about
the order of elements based on given
information.
Klein and Starkey (2004) report that
young children experience difficulty
at the beginning of the year with a
fundamental property of repeating patterns: identifying the core unit of the
pattern. However, experiences can have
a positive impact on young children’s
knowledge of duplication and extension
of patterns (Klein and Starkey 2004;
Starkey, Klein, and Wakeley 2004).
In a study about the kinds of mathematical activities in which young
children engage during play, Seo and
Ginsburg (2004) found that four- and
five-year-old children most often engage
in “pattern and shape” activities, which
the authors describe as “. . . identifying
or creating patterns or shapes or
exploring geometric properties and
relationships. For example, Jennie
makes a bead necklace, putting plastic
beads into a string one by one. She
uses only yellow and red beads for her
necklace and makes a yellow-red color
pattern” (Seo and Ginsburg 2004, 94).
Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1 • California Department of Education
These researchers provide some
evidence that young children, when
engaged in play, do generate their own
repeating patterns. In preschool settings, teachers can encourage children to share their patterns created
with objects, bodies, and sounds in
relation to music, art, and movement
(Smith 2001). Although the cited work
is invaluable to the education of young
children and the development of preschool learning foundations, much
research remains to be done.
The developmental trajectory of
patterns has been characterized as
evolving from three-year-old children’s
ability to identify repeating pattern
to four-year-old children’s ability to
engage in pattern duplication and
pattern extension (Klein and Starkey
2004). The perception of the initial unit
plays a fundamental role in both the
duplication and extension of
patterns.
Measurement
Measurement is defined as a mathematical process that involves assigning
numbers to a set of continuous quantities (Clements and Stephen 2004).
Technically, measurement is a number
that indicates a comparison between
the attribute of the object being
measured and the same attribute of
a given unit of measure. To understand the concept of measurement,
children must be able to decide on the
attribute of objects to measure, select
the units to measure the attribute,
and use measuring skills and tools to
compare the units (Clements 2004a;
Van de Walle 2001). To accomplish
this task, children should understand
the different units that are assigned
to physical quantities such as length,
height, weight, volume, and nonphysical quantities such as time, and temperature (Smith 2001).
Measurement is one of the main
real-world applications of mathematics. Shaw and Blake (1998) note that
in children’s mathematics curricula,
measurement is an integration of
number operation and geometry in
everyday mathematical experiences.
A typical developmental trajectory
involves children first learning to use
words that represent quantities or
magnitude of a certain attribute. Then,
children begin to demonstrate an ability to compare two objects directly
and recognize equality or inequality.
For example, they may compare two
objects to determine which is longer
or heavier. After comparing two items,
children develop the ability to compare
three or more objects and to order
them by size (e.g. from shortest to longest) or by other attributes. Finally,
children learn to measure, connecting
numbers to attributes of objects, such
as length, weight, amount, and area
(Clements 2004a; Ginsburg, Inoue,
and Seo 1999).
This theoretical sequence establishes the basis for the measurement
strand. Children’s familiarity with the
language required to describe measurement relationships—such as longer, taller, shorter, the same length,
holds less, holds the same amount—is
an important foundation for the concept of measurement (Greenes 1999)
that should be directly addressed in
preschool and, thus, is incorporated as
part of the mathematics foundations
for children at around 48 months of
age. Young preschoolers learn to use
words that describe measurement relationships as they compare two objects
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directly to determine equality or
inequality, and as they order three or
more objects by size. Older preschool
children begin to make progress in
reasoning about measuring quantities
with less dependence on perceptual
cues (Clements 2004a, Clements and
Stephen 2004). Children start to compare the length of objects, indirectly,
using transitive reasoning, and to
measure the length of objects often by
using nonstandard units. They develop
the ability to think of the length of a
small unit (i.e., a block) as part of the
length of the object being measured
and to place the smaller unit repeatedly along the length of the larger
object.
Geometry
Geometry is the study of space and
shape (Clements 1999). Geometry
and spatial reasoning offer a way to
describe, interpret, and imagine the
world. They also provide an important
tool for the study of mathematics and
science. The research literature shows
that young children bring to kindergarten a great deal of knowledge about
shapes. This finding is important
because teachers and curriculum
writers seem to underestimate the
knowledge about geometric figures that
students bring to school. This underestimation and teachers’ lack of confidence in their own geometry knowledge
usually result in teachers’ minimizing
the time dedicated to teaching geometry concepts to children (Clements
2004a; Lehrer, Jenkins, and Osana
1998).
The literature recommends that
young children be given the opportunity to work with many varied examples of a particular shape and many
“nonexamples” of a particular shape
(Clements 2004a). For example,
children need to experience examples
of triangles that are not just isosceles triangles. They need to experience
triangles that are skewed—that is, a
triangle where the “top” is not “in the
middle,” as in an isosceles triangle.
They need also to experience triangles
with a varying aspect ratio—the ratio
of height to base. Without the opportunity to experience a wide range of
triangles, children may come to
“expect” triangles to have an aspect
ratio that is close to 1 and, consequently, often reject appropriate examples of triangles because they are too
“pointy” or too “flat.” In addition, children need to experience nonexamples
of triangles so that they can develop a
robust and explicit sense of the properties of a triangle.
In 1959, Van Hiele developed a hierarchy of ways of understanding spatial
ideas (Van Hiele 1986). The hierarchy
consists of the following
levels: 1—Visualization, 2—Analysis,
3—Abstraction, 4—Deduction, and
5—Rigor. Van Hiele’s theory has
become the most influential factor in geometry curricula. Recently,
researchers have suggested a level of
geometric thinking that exists before
the visual level: a “precognition” level
in which children cannot yet reliably
identify circles, triangles, and squares
(Clements 2004b; Clements and others
1999).
Shape knowledge involves not only
recognition and naming but also an
understanding of shape characteristics
and properties. One way in which children demonstrate this understanding
is through their ability to put together
shapes into new shapes (Clements
Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1 • California Department of Education
2004a). The developmental trajectory for the composition of geometric
figures evolves as children begin to
use shapes individually to represent
objects, progress to covering an outline
with shapes, and eventually be able
to combine shapes without an outline
and make shape units (i.e., smaller
shapes that make up a larger shape
that is itself a part of a larger picture) (Clements 2004a; Clements and
Sarama 2000).
Developing a sense of space is as
important as developing spatial sense.
Spatial sense allows people to get
around in the world and know the relative positions of artifacts in the physical environment (Smith 2001). Spatial
reasoning involves location, direction,
distance, and identification of objects
(Clements 1999). Very young children
do develop an initial spatial sense to
get around in the world. For example,
young preschoolers learn to navigate
their way around their school and
classroom, and this ability suggests
that they have created a mental map of
those places. In the beginning stages
of spatial reasoning, children use their
own position as a point of reference for
locating positions and orientations of
objects in space, such as in/out and
above/below. Then, children develop
the ability to relate positions of two
objects external to themselves or in
themselves such as in front/in back,
forward/backward, near/far, close
to/far from (Greenes 1999). There is
evidence that even preschool children
develop mapping skills. They can build
maps using familiar objects and as
they get older, build imagery maps in
familiar classroom settings (Blaut and
Stea 1974; Gouteux and Spelke 2004;
Rieser, Garing, and Young 1994).
Children’s growth in understanding
and knowledge about shape and space
is thought to develop through education and experience rather than merely
through maturational factors. Therefore, it is important not only to create
a foundation for addressing this mathematics area, but also to encourage
preschool programs to provide children
with plenty of rich and varied opportunities to engage with various aspects of
geometry. Engagement should be done
in such a way that it grounds young
children’s experiences with shapes
in action. As a result, the preschool
foundations tend to de-emphasize the
“naming” of shapes in this foundation;
rather, they focus on children’s ability
to identify shapes, whether verbally or
nonverbally.
Mathematical Reasoning
Mathematical proficiency entails
strategic competence, adaptive reasoning, conceptual understanding,
productive disposition, and procedural
fluency (Adding It Up 2001). Each of
these competencies sets the foundation for what is often called problem
solving or mathematical reasoning.
Most preschool children by at least
three years of age show that they can
solve problems involving simple addition and subtraction, often by modeling with real objects or thinking about
sets of objects. In a study by Huttenlocher, Jordan, and Levine (1994), preschoolers were presented with a set of
objects of a given size that were then
hidden in a box, followed by another
set of objects that were also placed in
the box. The children were asked to
produce a set of objects corresponding to the total number of objects
contained in the box. The majority
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of three-year-olds were able to solve
these types of problems when they
involved adding or subtracting a single
item, but their performance decreased
rapidly as the size of the second set
increased.
Preschoolers demonstrate the conceptual understanding and procedural
fluency necessary for them to solve
simple word problems (Fuson 1992b).
Simple word problems are thought
to be easier for preschool children to
solve than number problems that are
not cast in a context (Carpenter and
others 1993). All ages of problemsolvers are influenced by the context
of the problem and tend to perform
better with more contextual information (Wason and Johnson-Laird 1972;
Shannon 1999). However, preschool
children tend to be more heavily influenced by the context of the problem
than do older children and adults,
thus limiting their ability to solve number problems that are not presented in
context.
Alexander, White, and Daugherty
(1997) propose three conditions for
reasoning in young children: the children must have a sufficient knowledge
base, the task must be understandable
and motivating, and the context of the
task must be familiar and comfortable
to the problem-solver. These conditions
probably apply to all ages of problem-
solvers (Wason and Johnson-Laird
1972; Shannon 1999).
Researchers indicate that four- and
five-year-olds engage in advanced
mathematical explorations spontaneously in their play (Ginsburg, Inoue,
and Seo 1999; Seo and Ginsburg
2004). In their everyday activities,
young children spontaneously engage
in a variety of mathematical explorations and applications such as pattern
analysis, change and transformation, comparison of magnitude, and
estimations. Any logical thinking that
children exhibit to solve real-life problems could potentially be considered
beginning mathematical reasoning.
For example, children distributing
the same (or almost same) amount of
snack to classmates or using strategies to solve immediate situations in
play are situations in which children
begin to demonstrate their ability to
solve mathematical problems. Thus,
it is crucial for teachers to be attuned
to the fact that mathematical reasoning happens all the time in children’s
lives, and teachers would do well to
use those occasions to nurture children’s mathematical thinking skills.
The examples illustrate the authentic
problems that occur in preschoolers’
everyday activities and all the different
skills involved in mathematical reasoning and problem solving.
Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1 • California Department of Education
167
attribute. A property or characteristic of
an object or a person; attributes such
as size, color, or shape would be apparent to a preschool child and would be
used in grouping or sorting
cardinality. The concept that the number
name applied to the last object counted
represents the total number of objects
in the group (the quantity of objects
counted)
classification. The sorting, grouping, or
categorizing of objects according to
established criteria
one-to-one correspondence. One and
only one number word is used for each
object in the array of objects being
counted
simple repeating pattern. A pattern with
two repeating elements: A-B-A-B, A-AB-B, A-B-B-A-B-B
subitize. The ability to quickly and accurately determine the quantity of objects
in a small group (of up to five objects)
without actually counting the objects
California Department of Education • Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1
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Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1 • California Department of Education
APPENDIX
The Foundations
Social-Emotional Development
Self
1.0
Self-Awareness
At around 48 months of age
At around 60 months of age
1.1 Describe their physical characteristics, 1.1 Compare their characteristics with
behavior, and abilities positively.
those of others and display a growing awareness of their psychological
characteristics, such as thoughts
and feelings.
2.0
Self-Regulation
2.1 Need adult guidance in managing
their attention, feelings, and impulses
and show some effort at self-control.
3.0
Social and Emotional Understanding
3.1 Seek to understand people’s feelings
and behavior, notice diversity
in human characteristics, and are
interested in how people are similar
and different.
4.0
3.1 Begin to comprehend the mental and
psychological reasons people act as
they do and how they contribute to
differences between people.
Empathy and Caring
4.1 Demonstrate concern for the needs
of others and people in distress.
5.0
2.1 Regulate their attention, thoughts,
feelings, and impulses more consistently, although adult guidance is
sometimes necessary.
4.1 Respond to another’s distress and
needs with sympathetic caring and
are more likely to assist.
Initiative in Learning
5.1 Enjoy learning and are confident in
their abilities to make new discoveries
although may not persist at solving
difficult problems.
5.1 Take greater initiative in making new
discoveries, identifying new solutions,
and persisting in trying to figure
things out.
California Department of Education • Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1
173
174 | Social-Emotional Development
Social Interaction
1.0
Interactions with Familiar Adults
At around 48 months of age
At around 60 months of age
1.1 Interact with familiar adults comfortably and competently, especially in
familiar settings.
1.1 Participate in longer and more
reciprocal interactions with familiar
adults and take greater initiative in
social interaction.
2.0
Interactions with Peers
2.1 Interact easily with peers in shared
activities that occasionally become
cooperative efforts.
2.1 More actively and intentionally
cooperate with each other.
2.2 Participate in simple sequences
of pretend play.
2.2 Create more complex sequences of
pretend play that involve planning,
coordination of roles, and cooperation.
2.3 Seek assistance in resolving peer
conflict, especially when disagreements have escalated into physical
aggression.
2.3 Negotiate with each other, seeking
adult assistance when needed, and
increasingly use words to respond to
conflict. Disagreements may be
expressed with verbal taunting in
addition to physical aggression.
3.0
Group Participation
3.1 Participate in group activities and are
beginning to understand and cooperate with social expectations, group
rules, and roles.
4.0
3.1 Participate positively and cooperatively as group members.
Cooperation and Responsibility
4.1 Seek to cooperate with adult instructions but their capacities for selfcontrol are limited, especially when
they are frustrated or upset.
4.1 Have growing capacities for selfcontrol and are motivated to cooperate in order to receive adult approval
and think approvingly of themselves.
Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1 • California Department of Education
Social-Emotional Development | 175
Relationships
1.0
Attachments to Parents
At around 48 months of age
At around 60 months of age
1.1 Seek security and support from their
primary family attachment figures.
1.1 Take greater initiative in seeking
support from their primary family
attachment figures.
1.2 Contribute to maintaining positive
relationships with their primary family
attachment figures.
1.2 Contribute to positive mutual cooperation with their primary family attachment figures.
1.3 After experience with out-of-home
care, manage departures and separations from primary family attachment
figures with the teacher’s assistance.
1.3 After experience with out-of-home
care, comfortably depart from their
primary family attachment figures.
Also maintain well-being while apart
from primary family attachment
figures during the day.
2.0
Close Relationships with Teachers and Caregivers
2.1 Seek security and support from their
primary teachers and caregivers.
2.1 Take greater initiative in seeking the
support of their primary teachers
and caregivers.
2.2 Contribute to maintaining positive
relationships with their primary
teachers and caregivers.
2.2 Contribute to positive mutual cooperation with their primary teachers and
caregivers.
3.0
Friendships
3.1 Choose to play with one or two
special peers whom they identify as
friends.
3.1 Friendships are more reciprocal,
exclusive, and enduring.
California Department of Education • Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1
176
Language and Literacy
Listening and Speaking
1.0 Language Use and Conventions
At around 48 months of age
At around 60 months of age
1.1 Use language to communicate with
others in familiar social situations for
a variety of basic purposes, including
describing, requesting, commenting,
acknowledging, greeting, and
rejecting.
1.1 Use language to communicate with
others in both familiar and unfamiliar
social situations for a variety of basic
and advanced purposes, including
reasoning, predicting, problem solving, and seeking new information.
1.2 Speak clearly enough to be understood by familiar adults and children.
1.2 Speak clearly enough to be understood
by both familiar and unfamiliar adults
and children.
1.3 Use accepted language and style
during communication with familiar
adults and children.
1.3 Use accepted language and style
during communication with both
familiar and unfamiliar adults and
children.
1.4 Use language to construct short
narratives that are real or fictional.
1.4 Use language to construct extended
narratives that are real or fictional.
2.0 Vocabulary
2.1 Understand and use accepted words
for objects, actions, and attributes
encountered frequently in both real
and symbolic contexts.
2.1 Understand and use an increasing
variety and specificity of accepted
words for objects, actions, and
attributes encountered in both real
and symbolic contexts.
2.2 Understand and use accepted words
for categories of objects encountered
and used frequently in everyday life.
2.2 Understand and use accepted words
for categories of objects encountered
in everyday life.
2.3 Understand and use simple words
that describe the relations between
objects.
2.3 Understand and use both simple
and complex words that describe the
relations between objects.
Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1 • California Department of Education
Language and Literacy | 177
3.0 Grammar
At around 48 months of age
At around 60 months of age
3.1 Understand and use increasingly
complex and longer sentences,
including sentences that combine
two phrases or two to three
concepts to communicate ideas.
3.1 Understand and use increasingly
complex and longer sentences,
including sentences that combine
two to three phrases or three to four
concepts to communicate ideas.
3.2 Understand and typically use
age-appropriate grammar, including
accepted word forms, such as
subject-verb agreement, progressive
tense, regular past tense, regular
plurals, pronouns, and possessives.
3.2 Understand and typically use
age-appropriate grammar, including
accepted word forms, such as
subject-verb agreement, progressive tense, regular and irregular past
tense, regular and irregular plurals,
pronouns, and possessives.
Reading
1.0
Concepts about Print
At around 48 months of age
At around 60 months of age
1.1 Begin to display appropriate
book-handling behaviors and begin
to recognize print conventions.
1.1 Display appropriate book-handling
behaviors and knowledge of print
conventions.
1.2 Recognize print as something that
can be read.
1.2 Understand that print is something
that is read and has specific
meaning.
2.0
Phonological Awareness
2.1 Orally blend and delete words and
syllables without the support of
pictures or objects.
2.2 Orally blend the onsets, rimes, and
phonemes of words and orally delete
the onsets of words, with the support
of pictures or objects.
California Department of Education • Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1
178 | Language and Literacy
3.0
Alphabetics and Word/Print Recognition
At around 48 months of age
At around 60 months of age
3.1 Recognize the first letter of own
name.
3.1 Recognize own name or other
common words in print.
3.2 Match some letter names to their
printed form.
3.2 Match more than half of uppercase
letter names and more than half of
lowercase letter names to their
printed form.
3.3 Begin to recognize that letters have
sounds.
4.0
Comprehension and Analysis of Age-Appropriate Text
4.1 Demonstrate knowledge of main
characters or events in a familiar
story (e.g., who, what, where) through
answering questions (e.g., recall
and simple inferencing), retelling,
reenacting, or creating artwork.
4.1 Demonstrate knowledge of details
in a familiar story, including characters, events, and ordering of events
through answering questions
(particularly summarizing, predicting,
and inferencing), retelling, reenacting,
or creating artwork.
4.2 Demonstrate knowledge from
informational text through labeling,
describing, playing, or creating
artwork.
4.2 Use information from informational
text in a variety of ways, including
describing, relating, categorizing,
or comparing and contrasting.
5.0
Literacy Interest and Response
5.1 Demonstrate enjoyment of literacy and 5.1 Demonstrate, with increasing
independence, enjoyment of
literacy-related activities.
literacy and literacy-related
activities.
5.2 Engage in routines associated with literacy activities.
5.2 Engage in more complex routines
associated with literacy activities.
Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1 • California Department of Education
Language and Literacy | 179
Writing
1.0
Writing Strategies
At around 48 months of age
At around 60 months of age
1.1 Experiment with grasp and body
position using a variety of drawing
and writing tools.
1.1 Adjust grasp and body position
for increased control in drawing
and writing.
1.2 Write using scribbles that are
different from pictures.
1.2 Write letters or letter-like shapes to
represent words or ideas.
1.3 Write marks to represent own name.
1.3 Write first name nearly correctly.
California Department of Education • Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1
180
English-Language Development
Listening
1.0
Children listen with understanding.
Focus: Beginning words
Beginning
Middle
Later
1.1 Attend to English oral
language in both real
and pretend activity,
relying on intonation,
facial expressions, or
the gestures of the
speaker.
1.1 Demonstrate understanding of words in
English for objects
and actions as well as
phrases encountered
frequently in both real
and pretend activity.
1.1 Begin to demonstrate
an understanding of
a larger set of words
in English (for objects
and actions, personal
pronouns, and possessives) in both real and
pretend activity.
Focus: Requests and directions
1.2 Begin to follow simple
directions in English,
especially when there
are contextual cues.
1.2 Respond appropriately
to requests involving
one step when personally directed by others,
which may occur with
or without contextual
cues.
1.2 Follow directions that
involve a one- or
two-step sequence,
relying less on
contextual cues.
Focus: Basic and advanced concepts
1.3 Demonstrate an
understanding of
words related to basic
and advanced concepts in the home
language that are
appropriate for the
age (as reported by
parents, teachers,
assistants, or others,
with the assistance
of an interpreter if
necessary).
1.3 Begin to demonstrate
an understanding
of words in English
related to basic
concepts.
1.3 Demonstrate an
understanding of
words in English
related to more
advanced concepts.
Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1 • California Department of Education
English-Language Development | 181
Speaking
1.0
Children use nonverbal and verbal strategies
to communicate with others.
Focus: Communication of needs
Beginning
Middle
Later
1.1 Use nonverbal communication, such as
gestures or behaviors,
to seek attention,
request objects, or
initiate a response from
others.
1.1 Combine nonverbal and some verbal
communication to
be understood by
others (may codeswitch—that is, use the
home language and
English—and use telegraphic and/or
formulaic speech).
1.1 Show increasing
reliance on verbal
communication in
English to be understood by others.
Focus: Vocabulary production
1.2 Use vocabulary in the
home language that
is age-appropriate (as
reported by parents,
teachers, assistants,
or others and with the
assistance of an interpreter if necessary).
1.2 Begin to use English
vocabulary, mainly
consisting of concrete
nouns and with some
verbs and pronouns
(telegraphic speech).
1.2 Use new English
vocabulary to share
knowledge of
concepts.
1.3 Begin to converse with
others, using English
vocabulary but may
code-switch (i.e., use
the home language
and English).
1.3 Sustain a conversation
in English about a
variety of topics.
Focus: Conversation
1.3 Converse in the home
language (as reported
by parents, teachers,
assistants, or others,
with the assistance
of an interpreter if
necessary).
California Department of Education • Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1
182 | English-Language Development
1.0
Children use nonverbal and verbal strategies
to communicate with others.
Focus: Utterance length and complexity
Beginning
Middle
Later
1.4 Use a range of utterance lengths in the
home language that
is age-appropriate (as
reported by parents,
teachers, assistants, or
others, with the assistance of an interpreter
if necessary).
1.4 Use two- and threeword utterances
in English to
communicate.
1.4 Increase utterance
length in English by
adding appropriate
possessive pronouns
(e.g., his, her); conjunctions (e.g., and,
or); or other elements
(e.g., adjectives,
adverbs).
1.5 Begin to use some
English grammatical
markers (e.g., -ing or
plural –s) and, at times,
apply the rules of
grammar of the home
language to English.
1.5 Expand the use of
different forms of
grammar in English
(e.g., plurals; simple
past tense; use of
subject, verb and
object), sometimes
with errors.
1.6 Begin to use “what”
and “why” questions
in English, sometimes
with errors.
1.6 Begin to use “what,”
“why,” “how,” “when,”
and “where” questions in more complete forms in English,
sometimes with errors.
Focus: Grammar
1.5 Use age-appropriate
grammar in the home
language (e.g., plurals;
simple past tense; use
of subject, verb, object), sometimes with
errors (as reported
by parents, teachers,
assistants, or others,
with the assistance of
an interpreter if necessary).
Focus: Inquiry
1.6 Ask a variety of types
of questions (e.g.,
“what,” “why,” “how,”
“when,” and “where”)
in the home language
(as reported by parents, teachers, assistants, or others, with
the assistance of an
interpreter if necessary.
Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1 • California Department of Education
English-Language Development | 183
2.0
Children begin to understand and use social conventions
in English.
Focus: Social conventions
Beginning
Middle
2.1 Use social conventions 2.1 Demonstrate a
of the home language
beginning under(as reported by
standing of English
social conventions.
teachers, parents,
assistants, or others,
with the assistance
of an interpreter if
necessary).
3.0
Later
2.1 Appropriately use
words and tone of
voice associated
with social conventions in English.
Children use language to create oral narratives about their
personal experiences.
Focus: Narrative development
3.1 Create a narrative in
the home language (as
reported by parents,
teachers, assistants, or
others, with the assistance of an interpreter
if necessary).
3.1 Begin to use English
to talk about personal
experiences; may
complete a narrative
in the home language
while using some
English (i.e., codeswitching).
California Department of Education • Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1
3.1 Produce simple
narratives in English
that are real or
fictional.
184 | English-Language Development
Reading
1.0
Children demonstrate an appreciation and enjoyment
of reading and literature.
Focus: Participate in read-aloud activity
Beginning
Middle
Later
1.1 Attend to an adult
reading a short
storybook written in
the home language or
a storybook written in
English if the story has
been read in the home
language.
1.1 Begin to participate
in reading activities,
using books written
in English when
the language is
predictable.
1.1 Participate in reading
activities, using a variety of genres that are
written in English
(e.g., poetry, fairy
tales, concept books,
and informational
books).
Focus: Interest in books and reading
1.2 “Read” familiar books
written in the home
language or in English when encouraged
by others and, in the
home language, talk
about the books.
1.2 Choose to “read”
familiar books written in
the home language or
in English with increasing independence
and, in the home
language or in English,
talk about the books.
1.2 Choose to “read”
familiar books
written in English
with increasing
independence and
talk about the books
in English.
Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1 • California Department of Education
English-Language Development | 185
2.0
Children show an increasing understanding of book reading.
Focus: Personal connections to the story
Beginning
Middle
Later
2.1 Begin to identify and
relate to a story from
their own life experiences in the home
language (as reported
by parents, teachers,
assistants, or others,
with the assistance
of an interpreter
if necessary).
2.1 Describe their own
experiences related
to the topic of the
story, using telegraphic
and/or formulaic
speech in English.
2.1 Begin to engage
in extended
conversations
in English
about stories.
Focus: Story structure
2.2 Retell a story in the
home language when
read or told a story in
the home language (as
reported by parents,
teachers, assistants,
or others, with the
assistance of an
interpreter if necessary).
3.0
2.2 Retell a story using
the home language
and some English
when read or told
a story in English.
2.2 Retell in English the
majority of a story
read or told in
English.
Children demonstrate an understanding of print conventions.
Focus: Book handling
3.1 Begin to understand
that books are read in
a consistent manner
(e.g., in English, pages
are turned from right
to left and the print is
read from top to bottom, left to right; this
may vary in other
languages).
3.1 Continue to develop
an understanding of
how to read a book,
sometimes applying
knowledge of print
conventions from the
home language.
California Department of Education • Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1
3.1 Demonstrate an
understanding that
print in English is
organized from left
to right, top to bottom, and that pages
are turned from right
to left when a book is
read.
186 | English-Language Development
4.0
Children demonstrate awareness that print carries meaning.
Focus: Environmental print
Beginning
Middle
Later
4.1 Begin to recognize
that symbols in the
environment (classroom, community, or
home) carry a consistent meaning in the
home language or
in English.
4.1 Recognize in the
environment (classroom, community, or
home) some familiar
symbols, words, and
print labels in the home
language or in English.
4.1 Recognize in the
environment (classroom, community, or
home) an increasing
number of familiar
symbols, words, and
print labels in English.
5.0
Children demonstrate progress in their knowledge
of the alphabet in English.
Focus: Letter awareness
5.1 Interact with material representing the
letters of the English
alphabet.
5.1 Begin to talk about the
letters of the English
alphabet while playing
and interacting with
them; may code-switch
(use the home language and English).
5.1 Begin to demonstrate
understanding that the
letters of the English
alphabet are symbols
used to make words.
5.2 Identify some letters
of the alphabet in
English.
5.2 Identify ten or more
letters of the alphabet
in English.
Focus: Letter recognition
5.2 Begin to recognize the
first letter in their own
name or the character
for their own name in
the home language
or English.
Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1 • California Department of Education
English-Language Development | 187
6.0
Children demonstrate phonological awareness.
Focus: Rhyming
Beginning
Middle
Later
6.1 Listen attentively and
begin to participate in
simple songs, poems,
and finger plays that
emphasize rhyme in
the home language
or in English.
6.1 Begin to repeat or
recite simple songs,
poems, and finger
plays that emphasize
rhyme in the home
language or in English.
6.1 Repeat, recite,
produce, or initiate
simple songs, poems,
and finger plays that
emphasize rhyme
in English.
Focus: Onset (initial sound)
6.2 Listen attentively and
begin to participate in
simple songs, poems,
and finger plays in
the home language
or in English.
6.2 Begin to recognize
words that have a similar onset (initial sound)
in the home language
or in English, with
support.
6.2 Recognize and
produce words that
have a similar onset
(initial sound) in
English.
Focus: Sound differences in the home language and English
6.3 Attend to and manipulate different sounds
or tones in words in
the home language
(as reported by
parents, teachers,
assistants, or others,
with the assistance of
an interpreter if
necessary.)
6.3 Begin to use words
in English with
phonemes (individual
units of meaningful
sound in a word or
syllable) that are
different from the
home language.
California Department of Education • Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1
6.3 Begin to orally
manipulate sounds
(onsets, rimes, and
phonemes) in words
in English, with
support.
188 | English-Language Development
Writing
1.0
Children use writing to communicate their ideas.
Focus: Writing as communication
Beginning
Middle
Later
1.1 Begin to understand
that writing can
be used to
communicate.
1.1 Begin to understand
that what is said in
the home language
or in English can be
written down and
read by others.
1.1 Develop an increasing understanding that
what is said in English
can be written down
and read by others.
Focus: Writing to represent words or ideas
1.2 Begin to demonstrate
an awareness that
written language can
be in the home language or in English.
1.2 Begin to use marks or
symbols to represent
spoken language in
the home language
or in English.
1.2 Continue to develop
writing by using
letters or letter-like
marks to represent
their ideas in English.
1.3 Attempt to copy their
own name in English
or in the writing
system of their
home language.
1.3 Write their first name
on their own in English
nearly correctly, using
letters of the English
alphabet to accurately
represent pronunciation in their home
language.
Focus: Writing their name
1.3 Write marks to represent their own name
in a way that may
resemble how it is
written in the home
language.
Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1 • California Department of Education
189
Mathematics
Number Sense
At around 48 months of age
At around 60 months of age
1.0 Children begin to understand
numbers and quantities in
their everyday environment.
1.0 Children expand their understanding of numbers and
quantities in their everyday
environment.
1.1 Recite numbers in order to ten with
increasing accuracy.
1.1 Recite numbers in order to twenty
with increasing accuracy.
1.2 Begin to recognize and name
a few written numerals.
1.2 Recognize and know the name
of some written numerals.
1.3 Identify, without counting, the
number of objects in a collection of
up to three objects (i.e., subitize).
1.3 Identify, without counting, the number
of objects in a collection of up to four
objects (i.e., subitize).
1.4 Count up to five objects, using
one-to-one correspondence (one
object for each number word) with
increasing accuracy.
1.4 Count up to ten objects, using
one-to-one correspondence
(one object for each number word)
with increasing accuracy.
1.5 Use the number name of the last
object counted to answer the
question, “How many . . . ?”
1.5 Understand, when counting, that the
number name of the last object counted
represents the total number of
objects in the group (i.e., cardinality).
2.0 Children begin to understand
number relationships and
operations in their everyday
environment.
2.0 Children expand their understanding of number relationships
and operations in their everyday
environment.
2.1 Compare visually (with or without
counting) two groups of objects that
are obviously equal or nonequal and
communicate, “more” or “same.”
2.1 Compare, by counting or matching,
two groups of up to five objects and
communicate, “more,” “same as,”
or “fewer” (or “less”).
2.2 Understand that adding to (or taking
away) one or more objects from a
group will increase (or decrease) the
number of objects in the group.
2.2 Understand that adding one or taking
away one changes the number in a
small group of objects by exactly one.
California Department of Education • Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1
190 | Mathematics
At around 48 months of age
At around 60 months of age
2.3 Understand that putting two groups
of objects together will make a
bigger group.
2.3 Understand that putting two groups
of objects together will make a bigger
group and that a group of objects can
be taken apart into smaller groups.
2.4 Solve simple addition and subtraction problems nonverbally (and often
verbally) with a very small number of
objects (sums up to 4 or 5).
2.4 Solve simple addition and subtraction problems with a small number of
objects (sums up to 10), usually by
counting.
Algebra and Functions
(Classification and Patterning)
At around 48 months of age
At around 60 months of age
1.0 Children begin to sort
and classify objects in their
everyday environment.
1.0 Children expand their understanding of sorting and
classifying objects in their
everyday environment.
1.1 Sort and classify objects by one
attribute into two or more groups,
with increasing accuracy.
1.1 Sort and classify objects by one or
more attributes, into two or more
groups, with increasing accuracy
(e.g., may sort first by one attribute
and then by another attribute).
2.0 Children begin to recognize
simple, repeating patterns.
2.0 Children expand their
understanding of simple,
repeating patterns.
2.1 Begin to identify or recognize a
simple repeating pattern.
2.1 Recognize and duplicate simple
repeating patterns.
2.2 Attempt to create a simple
repeating pattern or participate
in making one.
2.2 Begin to extend and create simple
repeating patterns.
Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1 • California Department of Education
Mathematics | 191
Measurement
At around 48 months of age
At around 60 months of age
1.0 Children begin to compare
and order objects.
1.0 Children expand their understanding of comparing, ordering,
and measuring objects.
1.1 Demonstrate awareness that
objects can be compared by length,
weight, or capacity, by noting gross
differences, using words such as
bigger, longer, heavier, or taller, or
by placing objects side by side to
compare length.
1.1 Compare two objects by length,
weight, or capacity directly
(e.g., putting objects side by side)
or indirectly (e.g., using a third
object).
1.2 Order three objects by size.
1.2 Order four or more objects by size.
1.3 Measure length using multiple
duplicates of the same-size concrete
units laid end to end.
Geometry
At around 48 months of age
At around 60 months of age
1.0 Children begin to identify and
use common shapes in their
everyday environment.
1.0 Children identify and use a variety
of shapes in their everyday
environment.
1.1 Identify simple two-dimensional
shapes, such as a circle and
square.
1.1 Identify, describe, and construct a variety of different shapes, including variations of a circle, triangle, rectangle,
square, and other shapes.
1.2 Use individual shapes to represent
different elements of a picture
or design.
1.2 Combine different shapes to create
a picture or design.
2.0 Children begin to understand
positions in space.
2.0 Children expand their understanding of positions in space.
2.1 Identify positions of objects and
people in space, such as in/on/
under, up/down, and inside/outside.
2.1 Identify positions of objects and people
in space, including in/on/under, up/
down, inside/outside, beside/between,
and in front/behind.
California Department of Education • Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1
192 | Mathematics
Mathematical Reasoning
At around 48 months of age
At around 60 months of age
1.0 Children use mathematical
thinking to solve problems
that arise in their everyday
environment.
1.0 Children expand the use of
mathematical thinking to solve
problems that arise in their
everyday environment.
1.1 Begin to apply simple mathematical
strategies to solve problems in their
environment.
1.1 Identify and apply a variety of mathematical strategies to solve problems
in their environment.
Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1 • California Department of Education
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