Guiding Principles

All children are valued members of our community

Children achieve optimal health and grow and develop in safe environments with family, community and school support. The ultimate goal of early childhood programs is to enable young children to be active and successful participants during the early childhood years and in the future in a variety of settings – in their homes with their families, in child care, preschool or school programs with their teachers and peers, and in their communities.

Families are the primary caregivers and educators of young children.

Early care and education providers should work collaboratively with families to ensure that children are provided optimal learning experiences. Early care and education providers should be proactive in assisting families in becoming familiar with programmatic goals, developmentally appropriate experiences and expectations for their child’s performance throughout the preschool years.

Early learning and development are multi-dimensional. Developmental domains are highly interrelated.

Development in one domain often influences development in other domains. For example, a child’s language skills affect his or her ability to engage in social interactions. Therefore, developmental domains cannot be considered in isolation from each other. The dynamic interaction of all areas of development must be considered. Standards and indicators listed for each domain could also be cited in different domains.

Young children are capable and competent, and exhibit a range of skills in any domain of development.

All children are capable of learning. There should be high expectations for children from all backgrounds, experiences and cultures. Children within an age group reach benchmarks in various stages through a variety of experiences.

Children are individuals who develop at different rates.

Each child is unique. Each grows and develops skills and competencies at his/her own pace. Children with developmental delays or disabilities may require adults to adapt learning opportunities so all children can successfully demonstrate achievements.

Knowledge of typical child growth and development is essential for providing the best early learning experiences for children

With this knowledge, adults can make sound decisions about appropriate curriculum for the group and for individual children.

Assessment is important and benefits individual children, families and programs.

A variety of assessment tools should be used to monitor children’s continuous progress, inform intervention/instruction and evaluate program effectiveness.

Young children learn through active exploration of their environment.

Early childhood educators recognize that children’s play is a highly supportive context for development and learning. The early childhood environment should provide opportunities for children to explore materials, engage in activities and interact with peers and adults to construct their own understanding of the world around them. There should, therefore, be a balance of child-initiated and adult–initiated activities to maximize learning.