Policy Resource

Washington's Early Learning and Development Guidelines

Feb 9, 2016

The state Department of Early Learning (DEL), in partnership with the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) and Thrive by Five Washington published the Early Learning and Development Guidelines for children from birth through third grade in 2012.

The Guidelines replace the Early Learning and Development Benchmarks, which were first created in 2005 to outline the behaviors and skills that children may demonstrate birth through grade 3, and how a parent, or early learning professional can support their healthy development. The guidelines’ easy-to-read format better supports parents as their child’s first and most important teachers. The new guidelines provide information specific to parents about what their children can do and learn throughout their earliest years of development.

The state’s Guidelines aspire to inform professional development for caregivers, providers, teachers, and other early learning professionals, as well as incorporate current and culturally inclusive research on child development and best practices. The Guidelines work to develop and nurture the relationship between early learning and K-12 so that all schools in the state are ready for school. The Guidelines are not an exhaustive guide to child development, nor a development checklist. Children’s development is highly individualized and unique to each child – the Guidelines acknowledge, honor, and embrace the tremendous diversity and variation that exists for children and families and celebrate what children learn to help plan for the next stages of growth and development. Washington is committed to updating the Guidelines every five years in order to take into account new learning.

Reviewed July 2018.

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