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SDLG Organization

Organization of the South Dakota Early Learning Guidelines Developmental Indicator Continuum

Organization of Early Learning Guidelines

The “heart” of The South Dakota Early Learning Guidelines are charts that describe Goals and Developmental Indicators for children’s learning and development. The Goals and Developmental Indicators describe expectations for what children will learn prior to kindergarten, starting with infancy and covering all ages through kindergarten entry.

The Goals and Developmental Indicators are divided into five Domains:

1. Approaches to Learning (AL)

2. Social and Emotional Development (SED)

3. Communication, Language, and Literacy (CLL)

4. Cognitive Development (CD)

5. Health and Physical Development (HPD)

Because infant, toddler, and preschool children’s bodies, feelings, thinking skills, language, social skills, love of learning, and knowledge all develop together, it is essential to include all five of these domains in The Early Learning Guidelines.

Each domain is organized into three sections:

Domain Introduction – Each introduction provides a description of some of the most important ideas related to the domain. This introductory information aids in understanding what aspects of children’s learning and development are included in the domain.

Components – Each Domain is further organized into Components or sub-areas of children’s development. This makes it easier to find the Goals related to specific areas of children’s learning.

Goals and Developmental Indicators Continuum - Sometimes called a “Continuum” for short in this document, each Component contains the expectations for children’s learning and development at particular age levels.

Developmental Indicators are also divided into overlapping age levels in a table format. These age levels help the reader know where to start when using the Continuum. They describe expectations many children will reach toward the end of the respective age level, but are not requirements for what children should know and be able to do at the end of the age period.

The age levels used in the Continuum are as follows:

• Infants: Birth to 12 months
• Younger Toddlers: 8–21 months
• Older Toddlers: 18–36 months
• Younger Preschoolers: 33–48 months
• Older Preschoolers: 45–60+ months

Following each Component is a list of Strategies. These Strategies provide ideas for how adults can enrich the environment and support children’s development and learning described in the Developmental Indicators. These lists include strategies that can be used to promote the learning and development of all children with some specific strategies for working with children who are Dual Language Learners and those with disabilities.

Although the Goals and Developmental Indicators are the same for all children, it is important to remember that children with challenges may demonstrate progress on the Developmental Indicators Continuum at a different rate and/or in different ways. South Dakota families represent diverse populations and in addition to their home languages may be learning English and have the added element of being “Dual Language Learners.” Each domain provides some additional ideas for teaching children in different ways.

More detailed information is also provided:

Appendix A: Supporting Children with Disabilities

Appendix B: Supporting Dual Language Learners.


A Note About Terminology -- The Early Learning Guidelines are designed to be useful to a broad range of professionals who work with children, as well as parents. In this document, we refer to “adults.” This terminology includes anyone who works with and cares for children: teachers, caregivers, early educators, early interventionists, home visitors, parents, etc. The document also refers to “children” generically, which is intended to include infants, toddlers, and preschool-age children.

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