About the South Dakota Early Learning Guidelines
The Early Learning Guidelines are based on five Domains, each with different Components, all based on a Developmental Continuum. No one domain is more or less important than another, and there is some overlap between what is covered in different domains. This is because children’s development and learning is integrated or interrelated. The progress that a child makes in one domain is related to the progress he or she makes in other domains. For example, as a child interacts with adults (Social Development), they learn new words (Language Development). Therefore, it is essential that the Early Learning Guidelines address all five domains and that adults who are using them pay attention to all domains as they are interrelated.
Each domain is presented on a continuum showing the expectations for children’s learning and development at particular age levels. These age levels help the reader know where to start when using the document. They are not meant to be requirements for what children should know or be able to do at the end of each age period as children develop at different levels. The fact that there is overlap across the age levels shows that what children know and are able to do at one age is closely related to what they know and are able to do at the previous and the next age levels. Most children will reach many, but not necessarily all, of the Developmental Indicators that are listed for their age level. Some will exceed the Developmental Indicators for their age level while others may not exhibit all skills and knowledge described for their particular age level. Children may demonstrate skills advanced for their age in one domain while
demonstrating skills more typical of younger children in other areas. For instance, early walkers may be later talkers.
Most of the strategies included could and should be carried out as part of a child’s everyday activities. Offer learning opportunities a child can select and complete on their own. Again, these are not intended to be an exhaustive list of how adults can support children’s growth and development but are a place to start when planning experiences or activities to support children’s progress.
Organization of Early Learning Guidelines
Note About Terminology -- 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.
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 Components, Goals, and Developmental Indicators are divided into five Domains:
Infant, toddler, and preschool children’s bodies, feelings, thinking skills, language, social skills, love of learning, and knowledge all develop together, so it is essential to include all five of these domains in the South Dakota Early Learning Guidelines.
Although the goals and components are the same for all children, it is important to remember that skills are developed at different rates and/or in different ways.
Each domain is organized into 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 sub-areas of children’s development. This makes it easier to find the goals related to specific areas of children’s learning.
- Goals - 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.
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
- 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.
- Appendices - More detailed information is also provided:
Appendix A: Supporting Children who have Disabilities
Appendix B: Supporting Dual Language Learners