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Young Toddler (8-21 months)

Young Toddlers are at an important stage between infancy and childhood. Everything that happens is meaningful and they are learning and growing in many ways! While the young toddler may say "no" frequently, it is important for trusted adults to encourage and guide little ones by using words to describe what they want the child to do, such as "use your walking feet" or "be gentle and keep our hands to ourselves." Language is developing at a rapid rate so talking, singing and reading are wonderful ways to learn and enjoy! They may play beside, but not with, other children and view themselves as the center of the world. Since they are becoming increasingly able to physically explore their surroundings, it is important to keep them safe. Their emotions can be intense and may express a wider range of feelings such as jealousy, affection, pride or shame. Routines and consistent responses by adults provide encouragement and stability for this period of rapid growth.

Great Books to Read to Infants and Toddlers

About the South Dakota Early Learning Guidelines

The South Dakota Early Learning Guidelines serve as a shared vision for all adults supporting young children's experiences prior to entering kindergarten. Positive interactions with trusted adults, engaging with peers, and consistent environments that are safe, healthy, and enhance learning are vital elements to support young children.

Goals and Developmental Indicators describe expectations for what children learn starting with infancy and covering all ages through kindergarten entry. These goals apply to all children regardless of what language they speak, what strengths/disabilities they may have, or specific unique family circumstances. Strategies to enrich the environment, support development and learning, and adaptations provide a variety of ideas to consider.

At the “heart” of the document are tables or developmental continuums that describe children’s learning and development from birth up to kindergarten. You can find these tables under the Learning Domain tab in our main navigation. These Goals and Developmental Indicators are divided into five domains:

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Approaches to Learning

Children are born with an inclination to learn. This is reflected in behaviors and attitudes such as curiousity, problem-solving, maintaining attention, and persistence.

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Communication, Language & Literacy

From birth, children are learning language and developing the ability to communicate. Talking, singing, reading, and responding effectively when children express themselves are great investments supporting learning.

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Cognitive Development

This fascinating area of development includes understanding how children aquire, organize, and use information in increasingly complex ways. Through play, skills are developed as the foundation for exploring and understanding more sophisticated concepts.

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Health & Physical Development

Physical growth, muscle development, nutrition, self-care, health and safety practices are included in this area. Safe and healthy practices suppport the ability to learn more effectively in all areas.

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Children's areas of development are all integrated. While organized among five domains, each with different components, no one area is more important than another and are interrelated. These guidelines provide understanding for how children develop and why it is important to provide playful activities and experiences that support early learning.

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