The greatest invention in the world is the mind of a child. ~~Thomas Edison

This website is dedicated to kids. From the moment they're born, they're learning - through experiences, exploration, interactions and attention. How do we help them Step Ahead before they start kindergarten? By first educating ourselves. Throughout this site you'll find developmentally appropriate goals for children’s development and learning at each age level (infant, toddler and preschooler). You'll also find ideas for helping them reach their full potential at each stage. Research shows that children who experience quality care and education are better prepared for school and throughout their lives.

Download a copy of the South Dakota Early Learning Guidelines here

Milestones for Every Age

Parents and professionals efforts support early learners. These informative goals describe areas of how children make progress from birth through kindergarten. Developmental indicators are specific statements of expectations for children’s learning at their age level.

image for Infants (Birth - 12 Months)
Infants (Birth - 12 Months)
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image for Young Toddlers (8-21 months)
Young Toddlers (8-21 months)
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image for Older Toddlers (18-36 months)
Older Toddlers (18-36 months)
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image for Younger Preschooler (33-48 Months)
Younger Preschooler (33-48 Months)
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image for Older Preschoolers (45-60+ months)
Older Preschoolers (45-60+ months)
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Transition to Kindergarten
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About the South Dakota Early Learning Guidelines

The Early Learning Guidelines are designed to be useful to a broad range of educational professionals, including parents. In this document, adults can refer to anyone who works with and cares for children: teachers, caregivers, early childhood 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.

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.

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

– Statements describing a general area or aspect of children’s development by domain.
•Approaches to Learning includes 9 goals
•Social Development and Emotional Development includes 6 goals
•Communications, Language and Literacy includes 11 goals
•Cognitive Development includes 13 goals
•Health and Physical Development includes 7 goals

Developmental Indicator Continuum
– Each continuum includes the expectations for children’s learning and development at particular age levels. These are not requirements for what children should know or be able to do at the end of each period. The continuum is divided into overlapping age levels in each table format.
•Infants: Birth – 12 months
•Younger Toddlers: 8 – 21 months
•Older Toddlers: 18 – 36 months
•Younger Preschoolers: 33 – 48 months
•Older Preschoolers: 45 – 60+ months

Strategies of Components
– At the end of each component sub-areas, strategies are included to provide ideas for how adults can enrich the environment and support children’s development and learning described in the Developmental Indicator Continuum. At the end of each domain section, there are specific adaptions for working with children who have disabilities and those who are Dual Language Learners.

– More detailed information is provided in Appendix A: Supporting Children who have Disabilities and Appendix B: Supporting Dual Language Learners.

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.

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