Math Read Aloud Presentation

Head Start Early Learning
Outcomes Framework
Ages Birth to Five
2015
R
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Administration for Children and Families
Office of Head Start
Office of Head Start | 8th Floor Portals Building, 1250 Maryland Ave, SW, Washington DC 20024 | eclkc.ohs.acf.hhs.gov
Dear Colleagues:
The Office of Head Start is proud to provide you with the newly revised Head Start Early Learning
Outcomes Framework: Ages Birth to Five. Designed to represent the continuum of learning for
infants, toddlers, and preschoolers, this Framework replaces the Head Start Child Development and
Early Learning Framework for 3–5 Year Olds, issued in 2010. This new Framework is grounded in a
comprehensive body of research regarding what young children should know and be able to do during
these formative years. Our intent is to assist programs in their efforts to create and impart stimulating
and foundational learning experiences for all young children and prepare them to be school ready.
New research has increased our understanding of early development and school readiness. We are
grateful to many of the nation’s leading early childhood researchers, content experts, and practitioners
for their contributions in developing the Framework. In addition, the Secretary’s Advisory Committee
on Head Start Research and Evaluation and the National Centers of the Office of Head Start, especially
the National Center on Quality Teaching and Learning (NCQTL) and the Early Head Start National
Resource Center (EHSNRC), offered valuable input. The revised Framework represents the best
thinking in the field of early childhood.
The first five years of life is a time of wondrous and rapid development and learning. The Head Start
Early Learning Outcomes Framework: Ages Birth to Five outlines and describes the skills, behaviors,
and concepts that programs must foster in all children, including children who are dual language
learners (DLLs) and children with disabilities. As designed, the Framework will guide early childhood
programs to align curricula, assessments, and professional development to school readiness goals and
assure the continuity of early learning experiences.
The Office of Head Start invites all programs—Early Head Start, Head Start, and Child Care—to adopt
the Framework and engage in meaningful dialogue regarding its implementation. To further assist in
these efforts, an implementation guide for the Framework will be available, and technical assistance
will be provided to help programs use the Framework with staff, parents, and community partners. We
encourage all programs to access the Framework and its supportive implementation resources through
the Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center (ECLKC).
Our goal of becoming High Performing Head Start Grantees is advanced by this revised Head Start
Early Learning Outcomes Framework: Ages Birth to Five. Thank you for incorporating it into your
program design and investing in the future of our children as they deserve the very best!!!
Respectfully,
Dr. Blanca E. Enriquez
Director
Office of Head Start

Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework: Ages Birth to Five | 1
Contents
INTRODUCTION………………………………………………………………………………….. 2
APPROACHES TO LEARNING………………………………………………………………10
Infant/Toddler Domain: Approaches to Learning………………………………………….12
Preschool Domain: Approaches to Learning………………………………………………..16
SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT ……………………………………….. 22
Infant/Toddler Domain: Social and Emotional Development………………………24
Preschool Domain: Social and Emotional Development …………………………….29
LANGUAGE AND LITERACY……………………………………………………………….. 34
Infant/Toddler Domain: Language and Communication ……………………………..36
Preschool Domain: Language and Communication…………………………………….42
Preschool Domain: Literacy…………………………………………………………………………..46
COGNITION ………………………………………………………………………………………. 50
Infant/Toddler Domain: Cognition…………………………………………………………………52
Preschool Domain: Mathematics Development………………………………………….. 57
Preschool Domain: Scientific Reasoning ……………………………………………………..62
PERCEPTUAL, MOTOR, AND PHYSICAL DEVELOPMENT …………………… 66
Infant/Toddler Domain: Perceptual, Motor, and Physical Development……..68
Preschool Domain: Perceptual, Motor, and Physical Development…………… 72
The first five years of life is a time of wondrous
development and learning. Children grow from
infants communicating through babbling and
crawling on all fours—to toddlers speaking
short sentences and beginning to run—to
preschoolers telling detailed stories and kicking
a ball to a friend. All young children learn in
the context of caring, responsive, and stimulating relationships as they explore the world
around them.
Yet, the quality of their early experiences can
vary dramatically, and this can influence their
learning and development. For example, by
three years of age, some children have large
vocabularies and others have much smaller
ones. These differences usually reflect the
everyday language experiences that children
have with adults as well as other experiential
and developmental factors. Such differences
can have a lasting impact on later school
success. Head Start and other early childhood
programs must create stimulating learning
environments and implement intentional
teaching strategies that ensure all children are
ready to succeed in school.
Family engagement and comprehensive services
also play critical roles in children’s development
and school readiness. They remain essential
services in Head Start. The Framework does not
address these service areas because they are
detailed in the Head Start Program Performance
Standards. The Framework describes the skills,
behaviors, and knowledge that programs need
to foster in all children.
2 Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework: Ages Birth to Five |
The Framework is grounded in a comprehensive body of research about what young children should know and be able to do to succeed
in school. It describes how children progress
across key areas of learning and development
and specifies learning outcomes in these areas.
This information will help adults better understand what they should be doing to provide
effective learning experiences that support
important early learning outcomes.
Programs should use the Framework to guide
their choices in curriculum and learning materials, to plan daily activities, and to inform
intentional teaching practices. Aligning instruction and opportunities for play, exploration,
discovery, and problem-solving with the early
learning outcomes described in the Framework
will promote successful learning in all children.
Programs should also use the Framework with
families to help them engage in their children’s
learning. This Framework replaces the 2010
Head Start Child Development and Early
Learning Framework.
The Head Start Early Learning
Outcomes Framework:
Ages Birth to Five describes
the skills, behaviors, and
knowledge that programs
must foster in all children.
Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework: Ages Birth to Five | 3
GUIDING PRINCIPLES
The guiding principles of the Framework have been fundamental to the Head Start program
from its inception. They underlie the program policies and practices that prepare young children
for success in school and beyond.
■ Each child is unique and can succeed.
Children are individuals with different rates
and paths of development. Each child is
uniquely influenced by their prenatal environment, temperament, physiology, and life
experiences. With the appropriate support,
all children can be successful learners and
achieve the skills, behaviors, and knowledge
described in the Framework.
■ Learning occurs within the context of
relationships. Caring families, teachers,
and other adults matter in a young
child’s life. Responsive and supportive
interactions with adults are essential to
children’s learning.
■ Families are children’s first and most
important caregivers, teachers, and
advocates. Families must be respected and
supported as the primary influence in their
child’s early learning and education. Their
knowledge, skills, and cultural backgrounds
contribute to children’s school readiness.
■ Children learn best when they are
emotionally and physically safe and
secure. Nurturing, responsive, and consistent care helps create safe environments
where children feel secure and valued. In
these settings, children are able to engage
fully in learning experiences.
■ Areas of development are integrated, and
children learn many concepts and skills at
the same time. Any single skill, behavior,
or ability may involve multiple areas of
development. For example, as infants gain
fine motor skills, they can manipulate
objects in new ways and deepen their
understanding of cause and effect. As
preschoolers gain new verbal skills, they
can better manage their emotions and
form more complex friendships.
■ Teaching must be intentional and focused
on how children learn and grow. Children
are active, engaged, and eager learners.
Good teaching practices build on these
intrinsic strengths by providing developmentally appropriate instruction and opportunities for exploration and meaningful play.
■ Every child has diverse strengths rooted
in their family’s culture, background,
language, and beliefs. Responsive and
respectful learning environments welcome
children from diverse cultural and linguistic
backgrounds. Effective teaching practices
and learning experiences build on the unique
backgrounds and prior experiences of
each child.
4 | Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework: Ages Birth to Five
CHILDREN WHO ARE DUAL LANGUAGE LEARNERS
Children who are dual language learners
(DLLs) are growing up with more than one
language. The foundation for language development is set in utero as babies process and
store the sounds of the languages in their
environment. The continued development of a
child’s home language in the family and early
childhood program is an asset and will support
the child’s progress in all areas of learning. For
example, there are cognitive benefits, particularly in the area of executive functioning, to
children’s dual language learning. Young children who speak two languages also benefit
socially as they can create relationships in
both languages while also maintaining strong
ties with their family, community, and culture.
Children’s progress in learning English will
vary depending on their past and current
exposure to English, their age, temperament,
and other factors.
Intentional planning at the program and classroom level is necessary. Teaching practices need
to create learning environments that support
children’s diversity and use proven strategies that
promote home language(s) and English acquisition. The learning outcomes of children who
are DLLs are best supported with opportunities
to interact and learn in each of their developing
languages. Programs must ensure that children
who are DLLs progress in each area of learning
and development in the Framework while also
promoting English acquisition. Children who are
DLLs must be allowed to demonstrate the skills,
behaviors, and knowledge in the Framework in
their home language, English, or both languages.
Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework: Ages Birth to Five | 5
Infants and Toddlers
Experiences in the first three years of life have
a strong impact on brain development and
learning. They are the foundation for healthy
development and strong child outcomes in the
preschool years and beyond. In the Framework,
developmental progress in key learning areas
for infants and toddlers is presented in three age
groups: birth to 9 months, 8 to 18 months, and 16
to 36 months. These age groups reflect common
shifts or transitions in development. The overlapping months recognize that infants and toddlers,
in particular, grow and develop at different rates.
The Framework also provides specific skills,
behaviors, and concepts that children should
demonstrate at the end of Early Head Start (by
36 months).
Preschoolers
From 3 to 5 years of age, experiences continue
to have a strong impact on brain development
and learning. Children build on their earlier
experiences to learn even more complex ways
of communicating, relating, exploring, and
understanding the world around them. Areas of
learning during this age period become more
specific and differentiated. This depth is
reflected in the Framework. Preschoolers’
developmental progression is described across
two age groups: 36 to 48 months (3 to 4 years)
and 48 to 60 months (4 to 5 years). The Framework
also identifies specific skills, behaviors, and
concepts that children at 60 months of age
should know and be able to do as they leave
Head Start.
Children with Disabilities
It is essential that programs identify the strengths
and abilities of all children to ensure that learning
opportunities are maximized and that all children
are fully included in every educational experience
and activity. Children with disabilities may need
more individualized or intensive instruction in order
to develop and learn the skills, behaviors, and
concepts described in the Framework. They may
require accommodations in the environment or in
instructional strategies. Some may require adaptive
materials or assistive technology. Programs need to
use the Framework in close collaboration with
specialists identified on a child’s Individual Family
Service Plan (IFSP), Individualized Education
Program (IEP), or 504 plan.
The Framework is designed to:
■ foster a deeper understanding of
the timing and sequence of child
development and learning from
birth to 5
■ guide implementation of effective
learning experiences that promote
strong outcomes for all children
6 Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework: Ages Birth to Five |
The Organization of the Framework
The Framework is organized into the following
elements: Domains, Sub-Domains, Goals,
Developmental Progressions, and Indicators
(see Figure 1).
To guide effective teaching practices, these
elements are:
■ RESEARCH-BASED–Informed by research as
being reasonably achievable, age appropriate,
and aligned with kindergarten expectations.
■ COMPREHENSIVE–Cover the central domains
of early learning and skills children need
to succeed in school and provide sufficient
breadth and depth in each area.
■ INCLUSIVE–Relevant for children from diverse
linguistic, economic, and cultural backgrounds
and for children with disabilities.
■ MANAGEABLE–Include a reasonable number
of domains, sub-domains, goals, and indicators that programs can effectively implement.
■ MEASURABLE–Reflect observable skills,
behaviors, and concepts.
Domains
The Domains are broad areas of early learning
and development from birth to 5 years that are
essential for school and long-term success (see
Figure 2). The central domains are:
■ Approaches to Learning
■ Social and Emotional Development
■ Language and Literacy
■ Cognition
■ Perceptual, Motor, and Physical Development
FIGURE 1: FRAMEWORK ORGANIZATION
DOMAINS
GOALS
DEVELOPMENTAL
PROGRESSIONS
INDICATORS
Each domain is related to and influences the
others. For example, as preschoolers’ working
memory develops (a component of Approaches
to Learning), their ability to follow multiple-step
instructions improves, and their ability to learn
complex math concepts increases.
Because areas of early learning become
more differentiated as children get older,
some domains for preschoolers are captured
differently than they are for infants and
toddlers. Specifically, the single domain of
Language and Communication for infants and
toddlers becomes two domains–Language
and Communication and Literacy–for
preschoolers. This distinction best reflects the
breadth and depth of development for 3- to
5-year-olds. Likewise, the single domain of
Cognition for infants and toddlers is presented
as two different domains for preschoolers:
Mathematics Development and Scientific
Reasoning. The domain structure captures
Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework: Ages Birth to Five | 7
important developmental differences across
the ages and guides effective teaching practices that support strong child outcomes.
Sub-Domains
The Sub-Domains are categories or components of development within a domain. For
example, for the Social and Emotional
Development domain, sub-domains include
relationships with adults, relationships with
other children, emotional functioning, and
sense of identity and belonging.
Goals
The Goals are broad statements of expectations for children’s learning and development.
The goals describe broad skills, behaviors,
and concepts within a sub-domain that are
important for success in school. These are
sometimes referred to as standards in state
early learning guidelines.
Developmental Progressions
The Developmental Progressions describe the
skills, behaviors, and concepts that children will
demonstrate as they progress towards a given
goal within an age period. The term “emerging”
is used for the youngest infant age group when
specific skills, behaviors, or concepts have not
yet emerged or are not yet observable.
Indicators
Indicators are identified for each goal for children 36 months and 60 months of age. They
describe specific, observable skills, behaviors,
and concepts that children should know and
be able to do at the end of Early Head Start (by
36 months) or at the end of Head Start (by 60
months). Given children’s individual differences,
some children may demonstrate these indicators
before the designated age period and some
may demonstrate them later. The indicators
listed for each age are not exhaustive—other
indicators related to the goal may be observed.
FIGURE 2: DOMAIN ORGANIZATION
CENTRAL DOMAINS
APPROACHES TO
LEARNING
SOCIAL AND
EMOTIONAL
DEVELOPMENT
LANGUAGE AND
LITERACY COGNITION
PERCEPTUAL,
MOTOR, AND
PHYSICAL
DEVELOPMENT
▲ INFANT/
TODDLER
DOMAINS
Approaches to
Learning
Social and Emotional
Development
Language and
Communication Cognition
Perceptual,
Motor, and Physical
Development
● PRESCHOOLER
DOMAINS
Approaches to
Learning
Social and Emotional
Development
Language and
Communication
Mathematics
Development Perceptual,
Motor, and Physical
Development Literacy Scientific Reasoning
8 | Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework: Ages Birth to Five
The Framework is not to be used as a
curriculum, assessment, or checklist. It
is never to be used to conclude a child
has failed in any way or that a child is
not ready to transition into Head Start
or kindergarten.
Using the Framework
The Framework outlines the key areas and
expectations for child development and
learning that Head Start programs must use to:
■ plan teaching strategies and learning
environments
■ establish school readiness goals
■ select curricula
■ select assessments
■ tailor professional development
■ inform program planning, improvement,
and implementation
The Framework is a guide to foster implementation of effective teaching and program practices
in Head Start, including centers, family child
care, and home visiting programs. It includes
domains of learning most central to school
success and presents a common set of expectations in these key learning areas.
This targeted focus is designed to ensure that
learning experiences and environments are
delivered with utmost intentionality to promote
strong child outcomes.
For these reasons, the Framework does not
include every area of child development and
learning. For example, the Framework does not
include a creative arts domain, but art experiences are an important part of early childhood
curriculum. They can be used to promote
learning and development across the domains
in the Framework. They foster curiosity and fine
motor skills, develop vocabulary about colors
and shapes, promote counting and object
The Framework, in combination with
teachers’ knowledge and understanding
of each child’s cultural background,
ensures that children’s unique ways of
learning are recognized. Children may
demonstrate problem-solving skills by
questioning adults or peers, by watching
to see what others do before engaging, or
by looking to older children for assistance.
Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework: Ages Birth to Five | 9
relations, and build self-regulation skills. Art is a
joyful activity for children that allows discovery
and exploration, active and engaged learning,
and individual expression. Aligning curriculum
activities, such as art, with the Framework ensures
that children have broad learning experiences that
have greater impact on important child outcomes.
The Framework also can be a helpful tool for
effective engagement with families. Programs
can use the Framework to convey the importance of adults talking with infants starting at
birth, using turn taking and two-way communication. Teachers and parents can use the
Framework to discuss skills children are developing and to identify strategies that support and
reinforce children’s learning and development
in the home and community. Programs that use
the Framework in partnership with families will
Programs can use the Framework in partnership with families to promote strong child outcomes.
benefit from the family’s knowledge of the child’s
development, interests, and prior experiences.
Programs then can implement more individualized learning opportunities that promote strong
child outcomes.
Children are engaged and eager learners from
birth. Effective early childhood programs build on
children’s readiness to learn by creating stimulating and safe environments and supporting positive adult-child relationships. Aligning teaching and
program practices with the learning outcomes in
the Framework will promote more effective educational experiences and stronger child outcomes.
Thoughtfully-designed practices will motivate and
excite children and foster their internal desire to
learn. Implementing the Framework will assist
programs in their efforts to ensure all children
become successful learners in school.
10 | Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework: Ages Birth to Five
Approaches to Learning
Approaches to learning focuses on how children learn. It refers to
the skills and behaviors that children use to engage in learning.
The Approaches to Learning domain
incorporates emotional, behavioral, and
cognitive self-regulation under a single
umbrella to guide teaching practices
that support the development of these
skills. This domain also includes initiative, curiosity, and creativity. Supporting
children’s skills in this domain helps
children acquire knowledge, learn new
skills, and set and achieve goals. They
learn to successfully navigate learning
experiences that are challenging,
frustrating, or simply take time to
accomplish. How children engage in
learning influences development in all
domains and directly contributes to
success in school.
An important part of becoming a
successful learner is developing the
ability to self-regulate in a variety of
situations. In infancy, self-regulation
occurs within the context of consistent,
responsive relationships. In the next few
years, the child becomes a more active
agent, though adults still provide guidance. Children draw on emotional and
behavioral self-regulation skills in many
ways. They develop different coping
strategies to manage feelings when
playing with other children and when
following classroom rules. This growing
ability for children to manage emotions
and behavior allows for more positive
engagement in learning activities.
Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework: Ages Birth to Five | 11
Children also develop cognitive self-regulation skills—often
referred to as executive functioning. These skills include
sustained attention, impulse control, and flexibility in thinking.
Another related skill is working memory, the ability to hold
information and manipulate it to perform tasks. Executive
functioning skills are present in rudimentary form during the
infant and toddler years and develop even more in the preschool
years. For example, children become increasingly able to
rely on their memory to recount past experiences in detail
and follow multi-step directions. Whether climbing onto a
couch to retrieve a toy, building increasingly elaborate block
structures, or deciding on the roles in pretend play, young
children draw upon their curiosity, persistence, and creativity
to gather information and solve problems.
Many factors influence how children approach learning.
Some children seem to be born risk takers who are eager to
try something new, while others prefer to observe for a while.
As children with disabilities learn how to learn, they may
require more individualized instruction and accommodations
to aid with sustained attention or regulation of feelings.
Young children who are dual
language learners (DLLs)
may develop increased
flexibility in thinking, working
memory, and sustained
attention as they learn
multiple languages.
▲ INFANT/TODDLER
12 Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework: Ages Birth to Five |
APPROACHES TO LEARNING
▲Domain: Approaches to Learning
SUB-DOMAIN: EMOTIONAL AND BEHAVIORAL SELF-REGULATION
▲ Goal IT-ATL 1. Child manages feelings and emotions with support of familiar adults.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
Birth to 9 Months 8 to 18 Months 16 to 36 Months By 36 Months
Engages with familiar adults
for calming and comfort, to
focus attention, and to share
joy.
Seeks to be close, makes
contact, or looks to familiar
adults for help with strong
emotions.
Uses various strategies to help
manage strong emotions, such
as removing oneself from the
situation, covering eyes or
ears, or seeking support from a
familiar adult.
S Looks to others for help in
coping with strong feelings
and emotions.
S Uses strategies, such as
seeking contact with a familiar
adult or removing oneself
from a situation to handle
strong feelings and emotions.
▲ Goal IT-ATL 2. Child manages actions and behavior with support of familiar adults.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
Birth to 9 Months 8 to 18 Months 16 to 36 Months By 36 Months
Responds to attentive
caregiving by quieting or
calming down, such as when
being fed or being comforted
during moments of physical
distress.
Looks to familiar adults for
assistance and guidance with
actions and behavior. May
try to calm self by sucking on
fingers or thumb when overly
excited or distressed.
Begins to manage and adjust
actions and behavior with the
guidance of familiar adults
using words or signs such as
“Stop” or “No” during conflict
with a peer instead of hitting.
Lets the adult know when they
are hungry or tired.
S Participates in and follows
everyday routines with the
support of familiar adults.
S Communicates verbally or
non-verbally about basic
needs. Manages short delays
in getting physical needs met
with the support of familiar
adults.
S Learns and follows some
basic rules for managing
actions and behavior in
familiar settings, such as
holding an adult’s hand
when crossing the street.
The strategies children use to manage strong
emotions may vary based on cultural background.
For example, some children may be much more
likely to use self-soothing strategies while others
may seek out comfort from adults.
▲ INFANT/TODDLER
Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework: Ages Birth to Five | 13
APPROACHES TO LEARNING
▲ Domain: Approaches to Learning
SUB-DOMAIN: COGNITIVE SELF-REGULATION (EXECUTIVE FUNCTIONING)
▲ Goal IT-ATL 3. Child maintains focus and sustains attention with support.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
Birth to 9 Months 8 to 18 Months 16 to 36 Months By 36 Months
Develops some ability to filter
out distracting sensory stimuli
in order to focus on and
attend to important people or
objects in the environment
with support.
Shows increasing ability to
attend to people, objects and
activities in order to extend
or complete an activity, or
to join others in a common
focus.
Participates in activities and
experiences with people,
objects, or materials that
require attention and common
focus.
S Maintains engagement in
interactions with familiar
adults and children.
S Chooses to join in activities
or pays attention to tasks and
activities that are self-initiated.
S Maintains focus and attention
on a simple task or activity for
short periods of time.
▲ Goal IT-ATL 4. Child develops the ability to show persistence in actions and behavior.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
Birth to 9 Months 8 to 18 Months 16 to 36 Months By 36 Months
Shows increasing ability to
continue interactions with
familiar adults or toys for
more than just a brief time.
Shows willingness to repeat
attempts to communicate
or to repeat actions to
solve a problem even when
encountering difficulties.
Shows increasing ability to
stay engaged when working
towards a goal or solving a
problem. Often tries different
strategies until successful.
S Persists in learning new skills
or solving problems.
S Continues efforts to finish a
challenging activity or task
with support of an adult.
▲ Goal IT-ATL 5. Child demonstrates the ability to be flexible in actions and behavior.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
Birth to 9 Months 8 to 18 Months 16 to 36 Months By 36 Months
Shows repetitive patterns in
actions or behaviors but
sometimes tries more than
one approach to solving a
problem or engaging
someone in interaction.
Shows ability to shift focus in
order to attend to something
else, participate in a new
activity or try a new approach
to solving a problem.
Modifies actions or behavior in
social situations, daily routines,
and problem solving, such as
playing quietly when asked
or adjusting to changes in
schedule.
S Adjusts to changes in routines
or usual activities when
informed ahead of time by
adults.
S Makes common, everyday
transitions that are part of a
daily schedule.
S Shows flexibility in problem
solving by trying more than
one approach.
▲ INFANT/TODDLER
14 | Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework: Ages Birth to Five
APPROACHES TO LEARNING
▲ Domain: Approaches to Learning
SUB-DOMAIN: INITIATIVE AND CURIOSITY
▲ Goal IT-ATL 6. Child demonstrates emerging initiative in interactions, experiences, and explorations.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
Birth to 9 Months 8 to 18 Months 16 to 36 Months By 36 Months
Initiates interactions with
familiar adults through
expressions, actions, or
behaviors.
Points to desired people,
objects or places, and
initiates actions, such as
looking for a favorite toy or
bringing a book to an adult to
read. Actively resists actions
or items not wanted.
Prepares for or starts some
activities without being directed
by others, such as getting ready
for the next activity or bringing
a ball to a new child at the
playground.
S Engages others in interactions
or shared activities.
S Demonstrates initiative by
making choices or expressing
preferences.
S Attempts challenging tasks
with or without adult help.
S Shows eagerness to try new
things.
▲ Goal IT-ATL 7. Child shows interest in and curiosity about objects, materials, or events.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
Birth to 9 Months 8 to 18 Months 16 to 36 Months By 36 Months
Shows excitement when
engaged in learning, such as
smiling at an adult, laughing
after batting at a mobile, or
knocking over a toy.
Approaches new events,
experiences with others, or
materials with interest and
curiosity, such as intently
listening to a new song
or examining new toys or
materials.
Participates in new experiences,
asks questions, and experiments
with new things or materials,
such as collecting leaves and
pinecones in the fall.
S Asks questions about what
things are, how they are used,
or what is happening.
S Experiments with different
ways of using new objects or
materials.
S Shows awareness of and
interest in changes in the
environment, such as changes
in room arrangement,
weather, or usual activities.
As children grow, they show increasing
interest in and curiosity about objects
and materials in their environment.
▲ INFANT/TODDLER
Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework: Ages Birth to Five | 15
APPROACHES TO LEARNING
▲ Domain: Approaches to Learning
SUB-DOMAIN: CREATIVITY
▲ Goal IT-ATL 8. Child uses creativity to increase understanding and learning.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
Birth to 9 Months 8 to 18 Months 16 to 36 Months By 36 Months
Uses a variety of ways to
interact with other people.
Modifies expressions,
actions, or behaviors based
on responses of others.
Finds new things to do with
familiar, everyday objects,
such as using a cooking pot
for a hat or a spoon as a
drumstick.
Combines objects or materials
in new and unexpected ways.
Shows delight in creating
something new.
S Pays attention to new or
unusual things.
S Shows willingness to
participate in new activities or
experiences.
S Uses language in creative
ways, sometimes making up
words or rhymes.
▲ Goal IT-ATL 9. Child shows imagination in play and interactions with others.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
Birth to 9 Months 8 to 18 Months 16 to 36 Months By 36 Months
Emerging Uses sounds, gestures, signs,
or words playfully through
songs, finger plays, or games.
Uses imagination to explore
possible uses of objects and
materials. Engages in pretend
or make-believe play with other
children.
S Uses pretend and imaginary
objects or people in play or
interaction with others.
S Uses materials such as paper,
paint, crayons, or blocks to
make novel things.
Toddlers enjoy using their
imagination in play and in
interactions with other children.
They show delight in doing
something new.
● PRESCHOOL
16 | Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework: Ages Birth to Five
●Domain: Approaches to Learning
SUB-DOMAIN: EMOTIONAL AND BEHAVIORAL SELF-REGULATION
● Goal P-ATL 1. Child manages emotions with increasing independence.*
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
36 to 48 Months 48 to 60 Months By 60 Months
Manages less intense emotions, such
as mild frustration, independently. May
require adult support to manage more
intense emotions.
Has an expanding range of strategies for
managing emotions, both less intense
emotions as well as those that cause
greater distress. May still look to adults
for support in managing the most intense
emotions, but shows increasing skill in
successfully using strategies suggested
by adults.
z Expresses emotions in ways that are
appropriate to the situation.
z Looks for adult assistance when
emotions are most intense.
z Uses a range of coping strategies to
manage emotions with the support of
an adult, such as using words or taking
deep breaths.
* This is the same as P-SE Goal 8
● Goal P-ATL 2. Child follows classroom rules and routines with increasing independence.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
36 to 48 Months 48 to 60 Months By 60 Months
Follows simple rules and routines
with assistance from adults, such as
hanging up their coat or sitting at the
table when asked by an adult.
Usually follows classroom rules and
routines with occasional reminders
from adults, such as following an endof-lunch routine that includes putting
away their plate, washing hands, and
lining up at the door to go outside.
z Demonstrates awareness of classroom
rules when asked and is able to follow
these rules most of the time.
z Follows most classroom routines, such
as putting away backpack when entering
the room or sitting on the rug after
outside time.
z Responds to signals when transitioning
from one activity to another.
● Goal P-ATL 3. Child appropriately handles and takes care of classroom materials.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
36 to 48 Months 48 to 60 Months By 60 Months
Handles classroom materials, such as
putting them where they belong, with
adult support.
Usually handles, takes care of, and
manages classroom materials, such as
using them in appropriate ways and
not throwing them from the sensory
table onto the floor.
z Appropriately handles materials during
activities.
z Cleans up and puts materials away
appropriately, such as places blocks
back on correct shelf or places markers
in the correct bin.
APPROACHES TO LEARNING
● PRESCHOOL
Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework: Ages Birth to Five | 17
● Domain: Approaches to Learning
SUB-DOMAIN: EMOTIONAL AND BEHAVIORAL SELF-REGULATION (continued)
● Goal P-ATL 4. Child manages actions, words, and behavior with increasing independence.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
36 to 48 Months 48 to 60 Months By 60 Months
Manages own actions, words and
behavior with frequent support from
adults, such as reminders to use gentle
touches and friendly words.
Manages own actions, words, and
behavior with occasional support from
adults.
z Demonstrates control over actions and
words in response to a challenging
situation, such as wanting to use the
same materials as another child, or
frustration over not being able to climb
to the top of a structure. May need
support from adults.
z Manages behavior according to
expectations, such as using quiet feet
when asked or sitting on the rug during
circle time.
z Waits for turn, such as waits in line to
wash hands or waits for turn on swings.
z Refrains from aggressive behavior
towards others.
z Begins to understand the consequences
of behavior, such as hitting leads to an
adult giving you quiet time. Can describe
the effects their behavior may have on
others, such as noticing that another
child feels sad when you hit him.
APPROACHES TO LEARNING
During play, preschoolers
manage their actions, words,
and behavior with increasing
independence.
● PRESCHOOL
18 | Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework: Ages Birth to Five
● Domain: Approaches to Learning
SUB-DOMAIN: COGNITIVE SELF-REGULATION (EXECUTIVE FUNCTIONING)
● Goal P-ATL 5. Child demonstrates an increasing ability to control impulses.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
36 to 48 Months 48 to 60 Months By 60 Months
Frequently engages in impulsive
behaviors, but inhibits them when
directly supported by an adult.
Sometimes controls impulses
independently, while at other times
needs support from an adult.
z Stops an engaging activity to transition
to another less desirable activity with
adult guidance and support.
z Delays having desires met, such as
agreeing to wait turn to start an activity.
z Without adult reminders, waits to
communicate information to a group.
z Refrains from responding impulsively,
such as waiting to be called on during
group discussion or requesting materials
rather than grabbing them.
● Goal P-ATL 6. Child maintains focus and sustains attention with minimal adult support.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
36 to 48 Months 48 to 60 Months By 60 Months
With adult support, focuses attention
on tasks and experiences for short
periods of time, despite interruptions
or distractions.
With increasing independence, focuses
attention on tasks and experiences
for longer periods of time, despite
interruptions or distractions.
z Maintains focus on activities for
extended periods of time, such as 15
minutes or more.
z Engages in purposeful play for extended
periods of time.
z Attends to adult during large and small
group activities with minimal support.
APPROACHES TO LEARNING
Some preschoolers may have difficulty participating in small groups and
staying on task due to language delays or attention difficulties. Adults can
plan specific activities or class jobs to keep these children engaged and
gradually increase their ability to maintain focus and persist in tasks.
● PRESCHOOL
Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework: Ages Birth to Five | 19
● Domain: Approaches to Learning
SUB-DOMAIN: COGNITIVE SELF-REGULATION (EXECUTIVE FUNCTIONING) (continued)
● Goal P-ATL 7. Child persists in tasks.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
36 to 48 Months 48 to 60 Months By 60 Months
Persists on preferred tasks when
presented with small challenges
with or without adult support, such
as continuing to try to build a tall
tower with blocks, even when some
pieces fall.
Frequently persists on preferred
tasks. Sometimes persists on less
preferred activities with or without
adult support, such as working to
clean up an activity area.
z Completes tasks that are challenging or
less preferred despite frustration, either
by persisting independently or seeking
help from an adult or other child.
z Returns with focus to an activity or
project after having been away from it.
● Goal P-ATL 8. Child holds information in mind and manipulates it to perform tasks.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
36 to 48 Months 48 to 60 Months By 60 Months
Holds small amounts of information in
mind, such as two-step directions, to
successfully complete simple tasks.
Holds an increasing amount of
information in mind in order to
successfully complete tasks.
z Accurately recounts recent experiences
in the correct order and includes
relevant details.
z Successfully follows detailed, multi-step
directions, sometimes with reminders.
z Remembers actions to go with stories or
songs shortly after being taught.
● Goal P-ATL 9. Child demonstrates flexibility in thinking and behavior.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
36 to 48 Months 48 to 60 Months By 60 Months
Demonstrates flexibility, or the ability
to switch gears, in thinking and
behavior when prompted by an adult,
such as trying a new way to climb a
structure when the first attempt does
not work.
Demonstrates flexibility in thinking
and behavior without prompting at
times. Also responds consistently to
adult suggestions to show flexibility in
approaching tasks or solving problems,
such as taking turns to share toys when
many children want to use them.
z Tries different strategies to complete
work or solve problems including with
other children.
z Applies different rules in contexts that
require different behaviors, such as
using indoor voices or feet instead of
outdoor voices or feet.
z Transitions between activities without
getting upset.

APPROACHES TO LEARNING
● PRESCHOOL
20 | Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework: Ages Birth to Five
● Domain: Approaches to Learning
SUB-DOMAIN: INITIATIVE AND CURIOSITY
● Goal P-ATL 10. Child demonstrates initiative and independence.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
36 to 48 Months 48 to 60 Months By 60 Months
Regularly shows initiative, particularly
in interactions with familiar adults.
Works independently for brief periods
of time without adult prompting.
Frequently shows initiative, particularly
when engaged in preferred activities.
Demonstrates a willingness and
capability to work independently for
increasing amounts of time.
z Engages in independent activities.
z Makes choices and communicates these
to adults and other children.
z Independently identifies and seeks
things to complete activities or tasks,
such as gathering art supplies to make
a mask or gathering cards to play a
matching activity.
z Plans play scenarios, such as dramatic
play or construction, by establishing
roles for play, using appropriate
materials, and generating appropriate
scenarios to be enacted.
● Goal P-ATL 11. Child shows interest in and curiosity about the world around them.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
36 to 48 Months 48 to 60 Months By 60 Months
Seeks out new information and explores
new play and tasks with adult support.
Seeks out new information and
explores new play and tasks both
independently and with adult support.
z Asks questions and seeks new
information.
z Is willing to participate in new activities
or experiences even if they are
perceived as challenging.
z Demonstrates eagerness to learn about
and discuss a range of topics, ideas, and
activities.
APPROACHES TO LEARNING
Preschoolers are eager to learn
about the world around them and
discuss their experiences.
● PRESCHOOL
Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework: Ages Birth to Five | 21
● Domain: Approaches to Learning
SUB-DOMAIN: CREATIVITY
● Goal P-ATL 12. Child expresses creativity in thinking and communication.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
36 to 48 Months 48 to 60 Months By 60 Months
Responds to adults’ prompts to express
creative ideas in words and/or actions.
Communicates creative ideas and
actions both with and without
prompting from adults.
z Asks questions related to tasks or
activities that indicate thinking about
new ways to accomplish the task or
activity.
z Approaches tasks, activities, and play
in ways that show creative problem
solving.
z Uses multiple means of communication
to creatively express thoughts, feelings,
or ideas.
● Goal P-ATL 13. Child uses imagination in play and interactions with others.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
36 to 48 Months 48 to 60 Months By 60 Months
Consistently uses imagination in play
and other creative works. Begins to
communicate creative ideas to other
children and adults.
Develops more elaborate imaginary
play, stories, and other creative works
with children and adults.
z Engages in social and pretend play.
z Uses imagination with materials to
create stories or works of art.
z Uses objects or materials to represent
something else during play, such as
using a paper plate or Frisbee as a
steering wheel.

APPROACHES TO LEARNING
Children often use objects or materials
to represent something else during
their play. They may engage in role
play and pretend to be a familiar figure
in their community.
22 | Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework: Ages Birth to Five
Social and Emotional
Development
Positive social and emotional development in the early years
provides a critical foundation for lifelong development and learning.
Social development refers to a child’s
ability to create and sustain meaningful
relationships with adults and other children. Infants and toddlers develop
relationship-building skills and behaviors
through their earliest interactions with
important adults in their lives. Children
who develop trusting relationships with
adults are able to more fully explore and
engage in the world around them. They
know that the adults will support them in
challenging times.
Relationships with other children also may
develop in the first three years of life.
These relationships provide opportunities
to practice skills learned from adults.
These relationships also foster problemsolving skills as young children navigate
the difficulties and joys of interacting with
another child who has different wants and
ideas. As children move into the preschool
years, they become increasingly interested in forming relationships with peers.
Critical social skills, such as compromise,
cooperation, and sharing, are developing
at this time. Young children need support
from adults as they learn and practice
these skills.
Emotional development refers to a child’s
ability to express, recognize, and manage
their own emotions as well as respond
appropriately to others’ emotions. Emotional
development in infants is closely tied to
their social development with adults as
well as to individual differences. These
early relationships teach young children
how to express and interpret a wide range
of emotions. Though children express
emotions at birth, the preschool years are
a critical time for learning how to manage
Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework: Ages Birth to Five | 23
emotions in ways that can help children build strong social skills
and get the most out of their time in the early childhood program.
Preschoolers are developing more concrete ideas about their
own identity–who they are and what they can do. A sense of
identity and belonging contributes to school readiness and
learning by helping children gain self-confidence. When children
feel good about themselves and what they can do, they engage
more fully in learning opportunities.
For many reasons, the rate and path of social and emotional
development varies in young children. Cultural and linguistic
backgrounds must be taken into account as well as individual
differences. Some cultures encourage children to be outgoing,
others to be reserved in social interactions and emotional
expression. Children with disabilities may require more individualized instruction or accommodations. They may need intentional guidance from teachers to help them form friendships or
to express their feelings.
As children observe and
i
t
t
nteract with familiar adults,
hey begin to learn how
o express and interpret a
broad range of emotions.
Social and emotional
development go hand-inhand in the early years.
▲ INFANT/TODDLER
24 | Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework: Ages Birth to Five
SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT
▲Domain: Social and Emotional Development
SUB-DOMAIN: RELATIONSHIPS WITH ADULTS
▲ Goal IT-SE 1. Child develops expectations of consistent, positive interactions through secure relationships with
familiar adults.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
Birth to 9 Months 8 to 18 Months 16 to 36 Months By 36 Months
Interacts in predictable ways
with familiar adults. Responds
positively to familiar adults’
efforts to help with stressful
moments.
Looks to familiar adults
for emotional support and
encouragement. Reacts or
may become distressed
when separated from familiar
adults.
Engages in positive interactions
in a wide variety of situations
with familiar adults. Looks to
or seeks familiar adults for
comfort when distressed or
tired.
S Shows emotional connection
and attachment to familiar
adults.
S Turns to familiar adults for
protection, comfort, and
getting needs met.
▲ Goal IT-SE 2. Child uses expectations learned through repeated experiences in primary relationships to
develop relationships with other adults.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
Birth to 9 Months 8 to 18 Months 16 to 36 Months By 36 Months
Shows recognition of familiar
adults by turning head
toward familiar voice, smiling,
reaching, or quieting when
held. May avoid or withdraw
from unfamiliar adults.
Moves or stays close to
familiar adults for emotional
security when unfamiliar
adult approaches. May look
at familiar adults to gauge
comfort level with unfamiliar
adult.
Often watches from a
distance or waits for
reassurance from familiar
adult before approaching
someone new. May engage
in positive interactions when
meeting new people, such as
sharing a book with a visitor.
S Engages in and may
initiate behaviors that
build relationships with
familiar adults.
S Uses familiar adults for
reassurance when
engaging with new adults.
▲ Goal IT-SE 3. Child learns to use adults as a resource to meet needs.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
Birth to 9 Months 8 to 18 Months 16 to 36 Months By 36 Months
Communicates needs to
familiar adults by using a
variety of behaviors, such
as, crying, looking, smiling,
pointing, dropping, reaching,
or banging objects.
Looks to or seeks help from a
familiar adults, such as taking
the adult’s hand and leading
them to something the child
wants or needs.
Asks familiar adult for
help or assistance when
encountering difficult tasks
or situations.
S Seeks assistance from familiar
adults in new or difficult
situations, such as reaching
for a toy on a high shelf.
S Shows preference for familiar
adults when in distress.
▲ INFANT/TODDLER
Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework: Ages Birth to Five | 25
▲ Domain: Social and Emotional Development
SUB-DOMAIN: RELATIONSHIPS WITH OTHER CHILDREN
▲ Goal IT-SE 4. Child shows interest in, interacts with, and develops personal relationships with other children.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
Birth to 9 Months 8 to 18 Months 16 to 36 Months By 36 Months
Looks at attentively, touches
or explores another child’s
face. Shows recognition of
familiar children through
actions or behaviors, such as
smiling, reaching, touching,
or making sounds directed to
the child.
Participates in simple backand-forth interactions with
another child. Interacts with
a few children on a regular
basis, knows some of their
names, likes or dislikes.
Seeks out other children
for social interaction
including initiating contact
and responding to others.
Develops friendships and
engages in more elaborate
play with friends.
S Shows increasing interest
in interacting with other
children.
S Shows preference for particular
playmates, such as greeting
friends by name.
▲ Goal IT-SE 5. Child imitates and engages in play with other children.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
Birth to 9 Months 8 to 18 Months 16 to 36 Months By 36 Months
Responds to another child’s
actions or sounds during
play with a toy by watching
attentively, touching the
other child, or reaching for or
taking the toy.
Participates in simple
imitation games, such as
making similar sounds or
running after another child.
Plays next to other children
with similar toys or materials.
Joins in play with other
children by sometimes taking
turns or doing joint activities
with a common goal, such as
building block structures with
others or pretending to eat
together.
S Uses multiple strategies, such
as imitating or responding, in
order to enter play with other
children.
S Engages in extended play
with other children with a
common focus.
S Engages in simple cooperative
play with other children.
Young children engage in positive
interactions with adults in a variety of
situations, including everyday routines.
When they develop trusting relationships,
they are able to more fully explore the
world.
SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT
▲ INFANT/TODDLER
26 | Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework: Ages Birth to Five
▲ Domain: Social and Emotional Development
SUB-DOMAIN: EMOTIONAL FUNCTIONING
▲ Goal IT-SE 6. Child learns to express a range of emotions.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
Birth to 9 Months 8 to 18 Months 16 to 36 Months By 36 Months
Expresses feelings of comfort,
discomfort, enjoyment, fear,
surprise, anger, or unhappiness
by crying, smiling, laughing
or through facial expressions,
body movements or gestures,
often to elicit a response from a
familiar adult.
Expresses a variety of
emotions and modifies their
expression according to the
reactions of familiar adults,
based on the child’s cultural
background.
Expresses a range of
emotions, including surprise,
guilt, embarrassment, or
pride, based on increasing
awareness of their effects on
others.
S Expresses a variety of
emotions through facial
expressions, sounds,
gestures, or words.
S Uses words to describe
some feelings or emotions
that reflect an awareness of
other people’s emotions.
▲ Goal IT-SE 7. Child recognizes and interprets emotions of others with the support of familiar adults.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
Birth to 9 Months 8 to 18 Months 16 to 36 Months By 36 Months
Attends with interest when
others show they are happy,
sad, or fearful by their facial
expressions, voices, or
actions.
Responds to others’ emotional
expressions, often by sharing
an emotional reaction, such
as smiling when an adult smiles
or showing excitement when
other children are excited.
Shows understanding of
some emotional expressions
of others by labeling the
emotions, asking questions
about them, or responding in
appropriate non-verbal ways.
S Recognizes feelings and
emotions of others.
S Responds to feelings and
emotions of others with
support from familiar adults.
S Describes feelings of
characters in a book with
support from an adult.
▲ Goal IT-SE 8. Child expresses care and concern towards others.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
Birth to 9 Months 8 to 18 Months 16 to 36 Months By 36 Months
May cry when another child
cries.
Looks sad or concerned when
another child is crying or
upset. May seek adult’s help
or offer something, such as a
blanket, food, or a soft toy.
Expresses empathy toward
other children or adults
who have been hurt or are
crying by showing concerned
attention. May try to comfort
them with words or actions.
S Shows care and concern for
others, including comforting
others in distress.
S Responds to needs of others
and tries to help others with
simple tasks.
SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT
▲ INFANT/TODDLER
Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework: Ages Birth to Five | 27
▲ Domain: Social and Emotional Development
SUB-DOMAIN: EMOTIONAL FUNCTIONING (continued)
▲ Goal IT-SE 9. Child manages emotions with the support of familiar adults.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
Birth to 9 Months 8 to 18 Months 16 to 36 Months By 36 Months
Quiets or stops crying when
held and gently rocked or
talked to by a familiar adult.
Looks to or seeks comfort
when distressed and accepts
reassurance from a familiar
adult, or engages in selfcomforting behaviors, such as
sucking on fingers or thumb
to calm self when upset or in
new situations.
Shows developing ability to
cope with stress or strong
emotions by using strategies,
such as getting a familiar toy
or blanket or seeking contact
with a familiar adult.
S Uses different ways to calm
or comfort self when upset.
S Responds positively to
emotional support from
adults and other children.
SUB-DOMAIN: SENSE OF IDENTITY AND BELONGING
▲ Goal IT-SE 10. Child shows awareness about self and how to connect with others.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
Birth to 9 Months 8 to 18 Months 16 to 36 Months By 36 Months
Learns about self by exploring
hands, feet, body, and
movement.
Experiments with use of
hands and body, discovering
new capacities and how
movement and gestures can
be used to relate to others.
Shows awareness of own
thoughts, feelings, and
preferences as well as those
of others. Uses different
words or signs to refer to self
and others.
S Shows awareness of self,
including own body, abilities,
thoughts, and feelings.
S Shows awareness of others
as having thoughts and
feelings separate from own.
▲ Goal IT-SE 11. Child understands some characteristics of self and others.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
Birth to 9 Months 8 to 18 Months 16 to 36 Months By 36 Months
Listens and responds by
quieting, smiling or cooing
when name is said to
child or when it is used in
conversation with a familiar
adult.
Responds by looking or
coming when called by name.
Pays attention when others
notice what the child is able
to do.
Identifies obvious physical
similarities and differences
between self and others.
Compares characteristics of
self and others.
S Recognizes own name.
S Identifies some physical
characteristics of self, such
as hair color, age gender, or
size.
S Recognizes some similarities
and differences between self
and others.
SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT
▲ INFANT/TODDLER
28 | Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework: Ages Birth to Five
▲ Domain: Social and Emotional Development
SUB-DOMAIN: SENSE OF IDENTITY AND BELONGING (continued)
▲ Goal IT-SE 12. Child shows confidence in own abilities through relationships with others.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
Birth to 9 Months 8 to 18 Months 16 to 36 Months By 36 Months
Participates in back-and-forth
social interactions through
facial expressions, sounds,
gestures, and responding to
the actions of others.
Expresses desires and
preferences. Seeks to draw
adult’s attention to objects
of interest or new physical
skills and attends to adult’s
responses.
Contributes own ideas, skills,
and abilities to activities
and experiences with adults
and other children. May call
attention to new skills and
abilities or seek to do things
by self, such as putting on
own jacket or pouring juice
out of a small pitcher.
S Shows confidence in
increasing abilities.
S Shows others what they
can do.
▲ Goal IT-SE 13. Child develops a sense of belonging through relationships with others.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
Birth to 9 Months 8 to 18 Months 16 to 36 Months By 36 Months
Shows awareness of familiar
routines by behaviors, such as
opening mouth for feeding or
lifting arms to be picked up.
Anticipates familiar routines
or activities, such as getting
shoes when it is time to go
outside or watching for a
parent when it is time to go
home.
Refers to personal or family
experiences and events
that have happened in the
recent past, such as when
a grandparent came to visit
or when there was a family
celebration.
S Identifies self as a member of
a family.
S Points to or names self and
other familiar people, such as
in photos or pictures.
S Talks about family members,
familiar people, or friends
who may not be present.
By participating in familiar activities
and routines, children develop a sense
of belonging and gain self-confidence.
SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT
● PRESCHOOL
Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework: Ages Birth to Five | 29
● Domain: Social and Emotional Development
SUB-DOMAIN: RELATIONSHIPS WITH ADULTS
● Goal P-SE 1. Child engages in and maintains positive relationships and interactions with adults.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
36 to 48 Months 48 to 60 Months By 60 Months
Engages in positive interactions with
adults, such as by demonstrating
affection or talking about ideas. Is able
to separate from trusted adults when
in familiar settings. Uses adults as a
resource to solve problems.
Clearly shows enjoyment in
interactions with trusted adults
while also demonstrating skill in
separating from these adults with
minimal distress when in a familiar
setting. Initiates interactions with
adults and participates in longer
and more reciprocal interactions
with both trusted and new adults.
z Interacts readily with trusted adults.
z Engages in some positive interactions
with less familiar adults, such as parent
volunteers.
z Shows affection and preference for
adults who interact with them on a
regular basis.
z Seeks help from adults when needed.
● Goal P-SE 2. Child engages in prosocial and cooperative behavior with adults.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
36 to 48 Months 48 to 60 Months By 60 Months
Sometimes engages in prosocial
behavior with adults, such as greeting
the teacher or saying goodbye,
and responds to adult requests
and directions that may include
assistance or prompting. Sometimes
demonstrates uncooperative behavior
with familiar adults, such as saying
“No” to requests, but these moments
are typically resolved with support
from adults.
Often engages in prosocial
behavior with adults and usually
responds appropriately to adult
requests and directions without
significant assistance or prompting.
Uncooperative behavior with familiar
adults is rare and the child is able to
resolve minor conflicts with adults
with support, such as being given
reminders to use a quiet voice or
follow directions.
z Engages in prosocial behaviors with
adults, such as using respectful
language or greetings.
z Attends to an adult when asked.
z Follows adult guidelines and
expectations for appropriate behavior.
z Asks or waits for adult permission before
doing something when they are unsure.
Preschoolers initiate longer and
more reciprocal interactions with
trusted adults, such as asking
questions or talking about ideas.
SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT
● PRESCHOOL
30 | Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework: Ages Birth to Five
● Domain: Social and Emotional Development
SUB-DOMAIN: RELATIONSHIPS WITH OTHER CHILDREN
● Goal P-SE 3. Child engages in and maintains positive interactions and relationships with other children.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
36 to 48 Months 48 to 60 Months By 60 Months
Sometimes engages in and maintains
interactions with other children without
support from an adult, or demonstrates
skills in doing this when prompted by
an adult. May spontaneously engage in
prosocial behaviors with other children,
such as sharing and taking turns with
materials and in conversations, or may
engage in these with prompting from
adults.
Sustains interactions with other
children more often and for increasing
periods of time. Demonstrates prosocial
behaviors with other children with and
without prompting from adults. Likely
to show at least some preference for
playing with particular children.
z Engages in and maintains positive
interactions with other children.
z Uses a variety of skills for entering
social situations with other children,
such as suggesting something to do
together, joining an existing activity,
or sharing a toy.
z Takes turns in conversations and
interactions with other children.
z Develops friendships with one or two
preferred other children.
● Goal P-SE 4. Child engages in cooperative play with other children.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
36 to 48 Months 48 to 60 Months By 60 Months
Often plays cooperatively with other
children. For at least short periods
during this play, works with other
children to plan and enact this play
in a coordinated way.
Cooperatively plays with other children
in an increasingly coordinated way.
Works with other children to make
plans for what and how they will play
together. When given the opportunity,
these coordinated play periods get
longer.
z Engages in joint play, such as using
coordinated goals, planning, roles, and
games with rules, with at least one other
child at a time.
z Demonstrates willingness to include
others’ ideas during interactions and
play.
z Shows enjoyment of play with other
children, such as through verbal
exchanges, smiles, and laughter.
z Engages in reflection and conversation
about past play experiences.
SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT
Developmental delays can impact children’s social and emotional
development, including the ability to engage in reciprocal
interactions and to regulate their emotions. Adults can use
puppets to help children engage in back-and-forth interactions
and to teach them how to demonstrate different emotions.
● PRESCHOOL
Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework: Ages Birth to Five | 31
● Domain: Social and Emotional Development
SUB-DOMAIN: RELATIONSHIPS WITH OTHER CHILDREN (continued)
● Goal P-SE 5. Child uses basic problem-solving skills to resolve conflicts with other children.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
36 to 48 Months 48 to 60 Months By 60 Months
Begins to recognize and describe
social problems. Suggests solutions
to conflicts with adult guidance and
support.
Often recognizes and describes
social problems, suggests solutions
to conflicts, and compromises when
working or playing in a group. Although
simple conflicts may be resolved
without adult assistance, may seek
out or need adult support in more
challenging moments.
z Recognizes and describes basic social
problems in books or pictures, such as
both children wanting the same toy, and
during interactions with other children,
such as “Why do you think your friend
might be sad?”
z Uses basic strategies for dealing with
common conflicts, such as sharing,
taking turns, and compromising.
z Expresses feelings, needs, and opinions
in conflict situations.
z Seeks adult help when needed to
resolve conflicts.
SUB-DOMAIN: EMOTIONAL FUNCTIONING
● Goal P-SE 6. Child expresses a broad range of emotions and recognizes these emotions in self and others.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
36 to 48 Months 48 to 60 Months By 60 Months
Expresses a broad range of emotions
across contexts, such as during play
and in interactions with adults. Notices
when strong emotions are exhibited
by others and begins to use words to
describe some of these emotions, such
as happy, sad, or mad.
Expresses a broad range of emotions
and begins to notice more subtle or
complex emotions in self and others,
such as embarrassed or worried. Uses
words to describe own feelings when
prompted, and may at times use these
words without prompting, such as
saying “Don’t be mad” when engaged
in play with other children.
z Recognizes and labels basic emotions
in books or photographs.
z Uses words to describe own feelings.
z Uses words to describe the feelings of
adults or other children.
Children who are dual language learners (DLLs) may demonstrate social and
emotional skills in their home language, English, or in both languages.
SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT
● PRESCHOOL
32 | Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework: Ages Birth to Five
● Domain: Social and Emotional Development
SUB-DOMAIN: EMOTIONAL FUNCTIONING (continued)
● Goal P-SE 7. Child expresses care and concern toward others.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
36 to 48 Months 48 to 60 Months By 60 Months
Often pays attention when others are
distressed, but attention and response
to this distress may be brief. May seek
out adult support to help another child
who is distressed.
Consistently pays attention when
others are distressed and often
responds with care, either by seeking
out adult support or providing
reassurance or support themselves.
z Makes empathetic statements to adults
or other children.
z Offers support to adults or other children
who are distressed.
● Goal P-SE 8. Child manages emotions with increasing independence.*
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
36 to 48 Months 48 to 60 Months By 60 Months
Manages less intense emotions, such
as mild frustration, independently. May
require adult support to manage more
intense emotions.
Has an expanding range of strategies
for managing emotions, both less
intense emotions and those that cause
greater distress. Sometimes looks to
adults for support in managing the
most intense emotions, but shows
increasing skill in managing emotions
independently.
z Expresses feelings in ways that are
appropriate to the situation.
z Looks for adult assistance when feelings
are most intense.
z Uses a range of coping strategies to
manage emotions with the support of an
adult, such as using words or taking a
deep breath.
* This is the same as P-ATL Goal 1
SUB-DOMAIN: SENSE OF IDENTITY AND BELONGING
● Goal P-SE 9. Child recognizes self as a unique individual having own abilities, characteristics, emotions, and interests.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
36 to 48 Months 48 to 60 Months By 60 Months
Describes own physical characteristics
and behaviors and indicates likes and
dislikes when asked.
Describes a larger range of individual
characteristics and interests and
communicates how these are similar or
different from those of other people.
z Describes self using several different
characteristics.
z Demonstrates knowledge of uniqueness
of self, such as talents, interests,
preferences, or culture.
SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT
● PRESCHOOL
Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework: Ages Birth to Five | 33
● Domain: Social and Emotional Development
SUB-DOMAIN: SENSE OF IDENTITY AND BELONGING (continued)
● Goal P-SE 10. Child expresses confidence in own skills and positive feelings about self.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
36 to 48 Months 48 to 60 Months By 60 Months
Expresses enjoyment in accomplishing
daily routines and new skills and
may draw adult attention to these
accomplishments. May share own
ideas or express positive feelings
about self, particularly when prompted
by an adult.
Enjoys accomplishing a greater
number of tasks and sharing these
accomplishments with other children
and adults. Makes increasing number
of contributions to group discussion
and may share ideas with or without
adult prompting.
z Shows satisfaction or seeks
acknowledgment when completing a
task or solving a problem.
z Expresses own ideas or beliefs in group
contexts or in interactions with others.
z Uses positive words to describe self,
such as kind or hard-worker.
● Goal P-SE 11. Child has sense of belonging to family, community, and other groups.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
36 to 48 Months 48 to 60 Months By 60 Months
Communicates feeling a sense of
belonging to family and an emerging
sense of connections to other
communities through words or other
forms of expression, such as drawing
a picture of their family or sharing a
special object related to their cultural
heritage.
Has a sense of belonging to family and
community and communicates details
about these connections, such as
sharing a story about a family gathering,
both spontaneously and when prompted
by an adult or other child.
z Identifies self as being a part of different
groups, such as family, community, culture,
faith, or preschool.
z Relates personal stories about being a part
of different groups.
z Identifies similarities and differences about
self across familiar environments and
settings.
Children’s cultural backgrounds influence
the ways that they demonstrate interests,
imitate others, or engage in play situations.
Some cultures encourage children to
stand out as individuals, while other
cultures emphasize group identity.
SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT
34 | Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework: Ages Birth to Five
Language and Literacy
Communication is fundamental to the human experience, and
language and literacy are essential to children’s learning.
Language development refers to emerging
abilities in listening and understanding
(receptive language) and in using language
(expressive language). Babies attend to the
sounds of language in their environment
before they are born. In the context of
nurturing, responsive adult relationships,
infants rapidly learn to communicate with
facial expressions, gestures, and looks.
They move from babbling to understanding
many words spoken to them and then
uttering or signing their first words. Toddlers
learn to speak new words at an amazing
pace and use language to express their
needs, ask questions, and engage in short
conversations.
Language skills continue to expand and
by the end of the preschool period, children speak in adult-like sentences, tell
and re-tell stories, use verbal humor, and
engage in group discussions. Preschoolers
are sophisticated language users who
harness language in order to take in new
and complex information and organize
their world. As they delve into new learning
experiences, they add mathematical or
scientific terms to their vocabulary, such
as semi-circle or T-Rex. They begin to
understand word categories, such as
hammers and screwdrivers are tools, and
relationships among words, such as the
opposite of up is down. Preschoolers with
strong language skills are prepared to be
successful learners in school.
Language and literacy skills can develop in
any language, and for the most part, they
develop first in the child’s home language.
Supporting development of the home
language helps prepare young children
for learning English. Children who are dual
Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework: Ages Birth to Five | 35
language learners (DLLs) show different patterns of English acquisition, depending on their prior exposure, their abilities, their temperaments, and the support they receive at home and in the early
childhood program. Some children who are DLLs may use different
vocabulary and sentence structure in each language.
Children’s language ability affects learning and development in all
areas, especially emerging literacy. Emerging literacy refers to the
knowledge and skills that lay the foundation for reading and writing.
For infants and toddlers, emerging literacy is embedded in the domain
Language and Communication, reflecting the interrelatedness of
these learning areas and the limited scope of these budding skills. As
infants and toddlers listen to and repeat songs and rhymes, explore
books, and hear stories, they are gaining literacy skills. By three
years of age, children can understand the pictures in familiar books
and ask what is happening. They make scribbles, shapes, and even
letter-like marks on paper that may represent something to them.
For preschoolers, Language and Literacy are distinct domains to reflect
the differentiation, centrality, breadth, and depth of language and literacy
development in this age period. Preschoolers are beginning to grasp
how written language is structured into sounds and symbols. They play
rhyming games and learn the names of letters and associated sounds.
They take pride in recognizing their name in print and practice writing
it. Preschoolers begin to understand print conventions and the different
functions of print in picture books or grocery lists. As they listen to and
talk about story books or retell and enact events, they gain an understanding of sequence, character development, and causal relationships.
When preschoolers are engaged literacy learners, they are laying the
foundation for becoming capable readers and writers in school.
Children with disabilities may need extra support when they are
learning to communicate. They may need listening devices to help
them hear or assistive tools to help them speak or write clearly.
Depending on the child’s needs, programs can support the development of sign language as a means of communication. Programs must
promote language and literacy outcomes through appropriate and
intentional support so that all children can develop strong skills in
language and literacy.
Programs must
promote language
and literacy goals for
all children. Children
who are dual language
learners (DLLs) need
intentional support for
the development of
their home language
as well as for English
acquisition.
▲ INFANT/TODDLER
36 | Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework: Ages Birth to Five
LANGUAGE AND LITERACY
▲ Domain: Language and Communication
SUB-DOMAIN: ATTENDING AND UNDERSTANDING
▲ Goal IT-LC 1. Child attends to, understands, and responds to communication and language from others.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
Birth to 9 Months 8 to 18 Months 16 to 36 Months By 36 Months
Attends to verbal and
non-verbal communication by
turning toward or looking at a
person. Participates in
reciprocal interactions by
exchanging facial expressions
and language sounds with
familiar adults.
Shows understanding of
the meaning of familiar
caregivers’ verbal and
non-verbal communication
and responds with facial
expressions, gestures, words
or actions, such as looking
at people or objects being
referred to.
Shows recognition of words,
phrases, and simple sentences.
Participates in conversations in
ways that show understanding
by following comments or
suggestions with actions or
behavior.
S Shows understanding of
some words and phrases
used in conversation, such
as by responding to simple
questions.
S Shows comprehension of
simple sentences, such as
by listening to and following
one- or two-step directions.
▲ Goal IT-LC 2. Child learns from communication and language experiences with others.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
Birth to 9 Months 8 to 18 Months 16 to 36 Months By 36 Months
Pays attention when familiar
adults talk or sign about
objects, people, or events
during face-to-face
interactions by changing
focus, making eye contact, or
looking at people or objects.
Participates in joint attention
with an adult by looking back
and forth between the adult
and object. Points or gestures
when an adult is pointing,
naming, or signing about a
familiar or new object and
learns names and uses of
objects.
Participates in increasingly
complex and lengthy
periods of joint attention
with adults. Shows interest,
understanding, or enjoyment
when participating in
language activities, such as
demonstrating understanding
of objects’ functions and uses,
or when joining in games,
songs, rhymes, or stories.
S Acts on descriptions provided
by others about people,
objects, or events.
S Demonstrates interest
and understanding when
participating in language
activities or games.
Cultural expectations can influence adult-child
interactions in many ways. For example, in some
cultures, children are taught to show respect to
adults by making direct eye contact when spoken to.
In other cultures, children are taught that respect is
demonstrated by avoiding direct eye contact.
▲ INFANT/TODDLER
Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework: Ages Birth to Five | 37
LANGUAGE AND LITERACY
▲ Domain: Language and Communication
SUB-DOMAIN: COMMUNICATING AND SPEAKING
▲ Goal IT-LC 3. Child communicates needs and wants non-verbally and by using language.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
Birth to 9 Months 8 to 18 Months 16 to 36 Months By 36 Months
Learns how to use different
means of communication to
signal distress or discomfort,
solicit help, and to communicate
interests and needs to others.
Uses a variety of ways to
communicate interests,
needs and wants, such as
saying or making a sign for
“More” when eating.
Combines words or signs from
one or more languages into
phrases and sentences to
communicate needs, wants,
or ideas, such as “More milk,”
“I want juice,” “Mas leche,” or
“Quiero juice.”
Children who are dual
language learners may
combine their two languages
or switch between them.
S Uses combinations of words
and simple sentences or signs
in a variety of situations.
S Uses simple sentences, such
as 3–4 word sentences, to
communicate needs and
wants.
▲ Goal IT-LC 4. Child uses non-verbal communication and language to engage others in interaction.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
Birth to 9 Months 8 to 18 Months 16 to 36 Months By 36 Months
Uses facial expressions,
including smiling, or uses
gestures or sounds, such as
cooing or babbling, to
engage familiar adults in
social interaction.
Repeats actions or single
words to initiate or maintain
social interactions with other
children or adults, such as
clapping hands or calling
a name to get someone’s
attention.
Uses words, signs, phrases,
or simple sentences to
initiate, continue, or extend
conversations with others
about feelings, experiences, or
thoughts.
S Initiates and responds in
conversations with others.
S Participates in simple
conversations with others that
are maintained by back-andforth exchanges of ideas or
information.
S Engages in simple
conversations by expressing
own feelings, thoughts, and
ideas to others.
▲ INFANT/TODDLER
38 | Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework: Ages Birth to Five
LANGUAGE AND LITERACY
▲ Domain: Language and Communication
SUB-DOMAIN: COMMUNICATING AND SPEAKING (continued)
▲ Goal IT-LC 5. Child uses increasingly complex language in conversation with others.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
Birth to 9 Months 8 to 18 Months 16 to 36 Months By 36 Months
Explores sounds common in
many languages, such as
“ma-ma” or “ba-ba.”
Initiates and participates in
conversations by babbling
and using gestures, such
as showing or giving, or
by using words or signs.
Communicates mainly about
objects, actions, and events
happening in the here and
now.
Participates in conversations
with others using spoken or
sign language that includes
simple sentences, questions,
and responses. Sometimes
describes experiences that
have happened in the past or
are about to happen.
Children who are DLLs
develop the ability to
participate in conversations
with increasing complexity in
each of their languages.
S Uses sentences of three or
more words in conversation
with others.
S Asks and answers simple
questions in conversations
with others.
S Refers to past or future events
in conversation with others
▲ Goal IT-LC 6. Child initiates non-verbal communication and language to learn and gain information.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
Birth to 9 Months 8 to 18 Months 16 to 36 Months By 36 Months
Takes turns in non-verbal
conversations by using facial
expressions, sounds,
gestures or signs to initiate or
respond to communication.
Asks simple questions using
gestures, such as pointing,
signs or words with variations
in pitch and intonation.
Seeks information and meaning
of words by asking questions
in words or signs, such as
“What’s that?” or “Who’s that?”
or “Why?”
S Asks questions in a variety of
ways.
S Repeats or re-phrases
questions until a response
is received.
Some children may communicate primarily
or only by using sign language rather than
speaking. Sign language is not likely to be
used as a reliable means of communication
from 0–9 months in a hearing impaired child.
▲ INFANT/TODDLER
Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework: Ages Birth to Five | 39
LANGUAGE AND LITERACY
▲ Domain: Language and Communication
SUB-DOMAIN: VOCABULARY
▲ Goal IT-LC 7. Child understands an increasing number of words used in communication with others.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
Birth to 9 Months 8 to 18 Months 16 to 36 Months By 36 Months
Looks at familiar people,
animals or objects when they
are named such as mama,
puppy, or ball.
Looks or points at a person or
object that has been named,
follows simple directions, and
responds appropriately to the
meaning of words or signs.
Comprehends an increasing
number of words or signs used
in simple sentences during
conversation and interaction
with familiar adults and
children.
S Shows understanding of the
meaning of common words
used in daily activities.
S Attends to new words used in
conversation with others.
S Understands most positional
words, such as on, under, up,
or down.
▲ Goal IT-LC 8. Child uses an increasing number of words in communication and conversation with others.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
Birth to 9 Months 8 to 18 Months 16 to 36 Months By 36 Months
May use signs or
verbalizations for familiar
people or objects.
Imitates new words or signs
and uses some words or
signs for naming or making
simple one-word requests,
such as saying or signing
“milk” when asking for a
drink.
Uses an increasing number of
words in communication and
conversation with others and
adds new vocabulary words
regularly.
Children who are DLLs may
have a combined vocabulary in
both languages that is similar
in number to other children’s
vocabulary in one language.
S Shows rapid growth in
number of words or signs
used in conversation with
others.
S Demonstrates a vocabulary
of at least 300 words in home
language.
S Asks questions about the
meaning of new words.
SUB-DOMAIN: EMERGENT LITERACY
▲ Goal IT-LC 9. Child attends to, repeats, and uses some rhymes, phrases, or refrains from stories or songs.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
Birth to 9 Months 8 to 18 Months 16 to 36 Months By 36 Months
Listens and attends to
culturally and linguistically
familiar words or signs in
rhymes or songs.
Says a few words of culturally
and linguistically familiar
rhymes and repetitive refrains
in stories or songs.
Says or repeats culturally and
linguistically familiar rhymes,
phrases, or refrains from songs
or stories.
S Repeats simple familiar rhymes
or sings favorite songs.
S Retells familiar stories using
props.
▲ INFANT/TODDLER
40 | Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework: Ages Birth to Five
LANGUAGE AND LITERACY
▲ Domain: Language and Communication
SUB-DOMAIN: EMERGENT LITERACY (continued)
▲ Goal IT-LC 10. Child handles books and relates them to their stories or information.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
Birth to 9 Months 8 to 18 Months 16 to 36 Months By 36 Months
Explores a book by touching
it, patting it, or putting it in
mouth.
Holds books, turns pages,
looks at the pictures and uses
sounds, signs, or words to
identify actions or objects in
a book.
Pretends to read books by
turning pages and talking about
or using signs to describe what
is happening in the book.
S Asks to have several favorite
books read over and over.
S Holds book, turns pages, and
pretends to read.
▲ Goal IT-LC 11. Child recognizes pictures and some symbols, signs, or words.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
Birth to 9 Months 8 to 18 Months 16 to 36 Months By 36 Months
Looks at pictures of familiar
people, animals, or objects
while an adult points at and/
or names the person, animal,
or object.
Points at, signs, or says name
of, or talks about animals,
people, or objects in photos,
pictures, or drawings.
Recognizes and uses some
letters or numbers, such as
letters in one’s name, and
shows increasing interest in
written forms of language, such
as print in books or signs on
buildings.
Children who are DLLs
recognize and use written
forms of each of their
languages.
S Points to and names some
letters or characters in their
names.
S Recognizes familiar signs on a
building or street.
S Attributes meaning to some
symbols, such as a familiar
logo or design.
▲ Goal IT-LC 12. Child comprehends meaning from pictures and stories.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
Birth to 9 Months 8 to 18 Months 16 to 36 Months By 36 Months
Looks at picture books and
listens to an adult talk about
pictures in a book.
Points at pictures in a book,
making sounds or saying
words and interacting with an
adult reading a book.
Talks about books, acts out
events from stories, and uses
some vocabulary encountered
during book reading.
S Uses pictures as a guide to
talk about a story that has
been read.
S Asks or answers questions
about what is happening in a
book or story.
S Identifies the feelings of
characters in a book or story.
▲ INFANT/TODDLER
Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework: Ages Birth to Five | 41
LANGUAGE AND LITERACY
▲ Domain: Language and Communication
SUB-DOMAIN: EMERGENT LITERACY (continued)
▲ Goal IT-LC 13. Child makes marks and uses them to represent objects or actions.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
Birth to 9 Months 8 to 18 Months 16 to 36 Months By 36 Months
Emerging Makes marks on a paper with
a large crayon or marker to
explore writing materials.
Makes scribbles on paper to
represent an object or action
even though an adult might not
recognize what it is.
S Draws pictures using scribbles
and talks with others about
what they have made.
S Draws straight lines or curved
lines.
S Makes letter-like marks or
scribbles on paper.
Toddlers make marks on paper to
represent an object or action. They
often talk with others about what
they have drawn. The development
of children’s fine motor skills will
impact their emerging capacity to
draw and eventually write. Some
children with motor delays may
need accommodations.
● PRESCHOOL
42 | Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework: Ages Birth to Five
LANGUAGE AND LITERACY
● Domain: Language and Communication
SUB-DOMAIN: ATTENDING AND UNDERSTANDING
● Goal P-LC 1. Child attends to communication and language from others.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
36 to 48 Months 48 to 60 Months By 60 Months
Shows acknowledgment of comments
or questions and is able to attend to
conversations, either spoken or signed.
Shows acknowledgment of complex
comments or questions. Is able to
attend to longer, multi-turn conversations,
either spoken or signed.
z Uses verbal and non-verbal signals
appropriately to acknowledge the
comments or questions of others.
z Shows ongoing connection to a
conversation, group discussion, or
presentation.
● Goal P-LC 2. Child understands and responds to increasingly complex communication and language from others.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
36 to 48 Months 48 to 60 Months By 60 Months
Understands and responds (verbally
and non-verbally) to increasingly
longer sentences, simple questions,
and simple stories.
Shows an understanding of complex
statements, questions, and stories
containing multiple phrases and ideas,
and responds appropriately.
z Shows an ability to recall (in order)
multiple step directions.
z Demonstrates understanding of a variety
of question types, such as “Yes/No?”
or “Who/What/When/Where?” or “How/
Why?”
z Shows understanding of a variety of
sentence types, such as multi-clause,
cause-effect, sequential order, or if-then.
z Shows an understanding of talk related
to the past or future.
z Shows understanding, such as nodding
or gestures, in response to the content of
books read aloud, stories that are told, or
lengthy explanations given on a topic. Children who are DLLs may demonstrate more
complex communication and language in
their home language than in English.
For children with oral language delays, adults can implement communication
devices as directed by their Individualized Education Program (IEP). Adults
can observe the child’s accuracy with the device to identify and support
progress in receptive and expressive language.
● PRESCHOOL
Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework: Ages Birth to Five | 43
LANGUAGE AND LITERACY
● Domain: Language and Communication
SUB-DOMAIN: COMMUNICATING AND SPEAKING
● Goal P-LC 3. Child varies the amount of information provided to meet the demands of the situation.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
36 to 48 Months 48 to 60 Months By 60 Months
Uses language, spoken or sign, for
different purposes and is sometimes
able to provide sufficient detail to get
needs met from a variety of adults.
Uses language, spoken or sign, for a
variety of purposes and can typically
provide sufficient detail in order to get
needs met from a variety of adults.
z Usually provides sufficient detail in order
to get needs met, such as explaining a
point of difficulty in a task or sharing a
request from home with the teacher.
z Uses language, spoken or sign, to
clarify a word or statement when
misunderstood.
z Children who are DLLs may switch
between their languages.
● Goal P-LC 4. Child understands, follows, and uses appropriate social and conversational rules.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
36 to 48 Months 48 to 60 Months By 60 Months
Engages in conversations with adults,
other children, or within the group
setting lasting 2–3 conversational
turns, and, with support, will
sometimes use appropriate tone and
volume for different situations.
Maintains multi-turn conversations
with adults or other children by being
responsive to the conversational
partner in a variety of ways, such as
by asking a question. With increasing
independence, varies tone and volume
of expression to match the social
situation.
z Maintains multi-turn conversations
with adults, other children, and
within larger groups by responding in
increasingly sophisticated ways, such
as asking related questions or
expressing agreement.
z With increasing independence, matches
the tone and volume of expression to
the content and social situation, such as
by using a whisper to tell a secret.
Evidence of attending to others can vary
substantially among cultural groups. For
example, some children may be taught
to observe adults at a distance. Other
children may learn to observe up close.
44 | Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework: Ages Birth to Five
● PRESCHOOL
LANGUAGE AND LITERACY
● Domain: Language and Communication
SUB-DOMAIN: COMMUNICATING AND SPEAKING (continued)
● Goal P-LC 5. Child expresses self in increasingly long, detailed, and sophisticated ways.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
36 to 48 Months 48 to 60 Months By 60 Months
Communicates clearly enough to be
understood by familiar adults, but
may make some pronunciation and
grammatical errors. Typically uses
3–5 word phrases/sentences when
communicating. With some prompting,
can offer multiple (2–3) pieces of
information on a single topic.
Communicates clearly enough
to be understood by familiar and
unfamiliar adults, but may make
some pronunciation errors and some
isolated grammatical errors. Uses
longer sentences, as well as sentences
that are slightly more complex, such
as “I need a pencil because this one
broke.” Can offer multiple pieces of
information on a topic with increasing
independence and answer simple
questions.
z Communicates clearly enough to be
understood by adults across a range
of situations. Pronunciation errors and
grammatical errors are isolated and
infrequent. Shows proficiency with
prepositions, regular/irregular past
tense, possessives, and noun-verb
agreement.
z Typically, uses complete sentences
of more than 5 words with complex
structures, such as sentences involving
sequence and causal relations.
z Can produce and organize multiple
sentences on a topic, such as giving
directions or telling a story, including
information about the past or present
or things not physically present, and
answer a variety of question types.
SUB-DOMAIN: VOCABULARY
● Goal P-LC 6. Child understands and uses a wide variety of words for a variety of purposes.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
36 to 48 Months 48 to 60 Months By 60 Months
Shows a rapid increase in acquisition
of new vocabulary words that describe
actions, emotions, things, or ideas that
are meaningful within the everyday
environment. Uses new vocabulary
words to describe relations among
things or ideas. Shows repetition of
new words offered by adults.
Shows a steady increase in vocabulary
through the acquisition of words with
increasing specificity and variety.
Shows repetition of new words offered
by adults and may ask about the
meaning of unfamiliar words.
z Demonstrates the use of multiple (2–3)
new words or signs a day during play
and other activities.
z Shows recognition of and/or familiarity
with key domain-specific words heard
during reading or discussions.
z With multiple exposures, uses new
domain-specific vocabulary during
activities, such as using the word
“cocoon” when learning about the lifecycle of caterpillars, or “cylinder” when
learning about 3-D shapes.
z With support, forms guesses about the
meaning of new words from context
clues.
● PRESCHOOL
Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework: Ages Birth to Five | 45
LANGUAGE AND LITERACY
● Domain: Language and Communication
SUB-DOMAIN: VOCABULARY (continued)
● Goal P-LC 7. Child shows understanding of word categories and relationships among words.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
36 to 48 Months 48 to 60 Months By 60 Months
Typically uses known words in the
correct context and, with support,
shows an emerging understanding
of how words are related to broader
categories, such as sorting things by
color.
Demonstrates an increasingly
sophisticated understanding of words
and word categories with support,
such as listing multiple examples of
a familiar category or identifying a
synonym or antonym.
z Categorizes words or objects, such as
sorting a hard hat, machines, and tools
into the construction group, or giving
many examples of farm animals.
z Discusses new words in relation to
known words and word categories, such
as “It fell to the bottom when it sank” or
“When you hop it’s like jumping on one
leg” or “The bear and fox are both wild
animals.”
z Identifies shared characteristics among
people, places, things, or actions, such
as identifying that both cats and dogs
are furry and have four legs.
z Identifies key common antonyms, such
as black/white or up/down. Identifies
1–2 synonyms for very familiar words,
such as glad or happy.
z Shows an ability to distinguish similar
words, such as “I don’t like it, I love it!”
or “It’s more than tall, it’s gigantic” or
“It’s so cold, it’s frosty.”
Preschoolers show an awareness of
alphabet letters and enjoy naming them.
They produce the beginning sound in a
spoken word.
● PRESCHOOL
46 | Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework: Ages Birth to Five
LANGUAGE AND LITERACY
● Domain: Literacy
SUB-DOMAIN: PHONOLOGICAL AWARENESS
● Goal P-LIT 1. Child demonstrates awareness that spoken language is composed of smaller segments of sound.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
36 to 48 Months 48 to 60 Months By 60 Months
Shows rote imitation and enjoyment of
rhyme and alliteration. With support,
distinguishes when two words rhyme
and when two words begin with the
same sound.
Demonstrates rhyme recognition, such
as identifying which words rhyme
from a group of three: hat, cat, log.
Recognizes phonemic changes in
words, such as noticing the problem
with “Old McDonald had a charm.” Is
able to count syllables and understand
sounds in spoken words.
z Provides one or more words that rhyme
with a single given target, such as “What
rhymes with log?”
z Produces the beginning sound in a
spoken word, such as “Dog begins with
/d/.”
z Provides a word that fits with a group
of words sharing an initial sound, with
adult support, such as “Sock, Sara, and
song all start with the /s/ sound. What
else starts with the /s/ sound?”
SUB-DOMAIN: PRINT AND ALPHABET KNOWLEDGE
● Goal P-LIT 2. Child demonstrates an understanding of how print is used (functions of print) and the rules that
govern how print works (conventions of print).
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
36 to 48 Months 48 to 60 Months By 60 Months
Distinguishes print from pictures and
shows an understanding that print is
something meaningful, such as asking
an adult “What does this say?” or
“Read this.”
Begins to demonstrate an understanding
of the connection between speech and
print. Shows a growing awareness that
print is a system that has rules and
conventions, such as holding a book
correctly or following a book left to right.
z Understands that print is organized
differently for different purposes, such
as a note, list, or storybook.
z Understands that written words are
made up of a group of individual letters.
z Begins to point to single-syllable words
while reading simple, memorized texts.
z Identifies book parts and features, such
as the front, back, title, and author.
● PRESCHOOL
Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework: Ages Birth to Five | 47
LANGUAGE AND LITERACY
● Domain: Literacy
SUB-DOMAIN: PRINT AND ALPHABET KNOWLEDGE (continued)
● Goal P-LIT 3. Child identifies letters of the alphabet and produces correct sounds associated with letters.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
36 to 48 Months 48 to 60 Months By 60 Months
Shows an awareness of alphabet
letters, such as singing the ABC song,
recognizing letters from one’s name,
or naming some letters that are
encountered often.
Recognizes and names at least half of
the letters in the alphabet, including
letters in own name (first name and last
name), as well as letters encountered
often in the environment. Produces the
sound of many recognized letters.
z Names 18 upper- and 15 lower-case
letters.
z Knows the sounds associated with
several letters.
SUB-DOMAIN: COMPREHENSION AND TEXT STRUCTURE
● Goal P-LIT 4. Child demonstrates an understanding of narrative structure through storytelling/re-telling.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
36 to 48 Months 48 to 60 Months By 60 Months
With support, may be able to tell one or
two key events from a story or may act
out a story with pictures or props.
Retells 2–3 key events from a wellknown story, typically in the right
temporal order and using some simple
sequencing terms, such as first …
and then.
z Re-tells or acts out a story that was
read, putting events in the appropriate
sequence, and demonstrating more
sophisticated understanding of how
events relate, such as cause and effect
relationships.
z Tells fictional or personal stories using
a sequence of at least 2–3 connected
events.
z Identifies characters and main events in
books and stories.
The home languages of some children use
non-alphabetic writing. The home languages
of other children may not have a written form.
These children would not be expected to
identify letters of the alphabet and produce
corresponding sounds in their home language.
● PRESCHOOL
48 | Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework: Ages Birth to Five
● Domain: Literacy
SUB-DOMAIN: COMPREHENSION AND TEXT STRUCTURE (continued)
● Goal P-LIT 5. Child asks and answers questions about a book that was read aloud.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
36 to 48 Months 48 to 60 Months By 60 Months
Can answer basic questions about
likes or dislikes in a book or story. Asks
and answers questions about main
characters or events in a familiar story.
With modeling and support, makes
predictions about events that might
happen next.
With support, provides basic answers
to specific questions about details
of a story, such as who, what, when,
or where. With support, can answer
inferential questions about stories,
such as predictions or how/why
something is happening in a particular
moment.
z Answers questions about details of a story
with increasingly specific information,
such as when asked “Who was Mary?”
responds “She was the girl who was
riding the horse and then got hurt.”
z Answers increasingly complex
inferential questions that require making
predictions based on multiple pieces
of information from the story; inferring
characters’ feelings or intentions; or
providing evaluations of judgments that
are grounded in the text.
z Provides a summary of a story, highlighting
a number of the key ideas in the story
and how they relate.
LANGUAGE AND LITERACY
● PRESCHOOL
Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework: Ages Birth to Five | 49
LANGUAGE AND LITERACY
● Domain: Literacy
SUB-DOMAIN: WRITING
● Goal P-LIT 6. Child writes for a variety of purposes using increasingly sophisticated marks.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
36 to 48 Months 48 to 60 Months By 60 Months
Engages in writing activities that
consist largely of drawing and
scribbling. Begins to convey meaning.
With modeling and support, writes
some letter-like forms and letters.
Progressively uses drawing, scribbling,
letter-like forms, and letters to
intentionally convey meaning. With
support, may use invented spelling
consisting of salient or beginning
sounds, such as L for elevator or B
for bug.
z Creates a variety of written products
that may or may not phonetically relate
to intended messages.
z Shows an interest in copying simple
words posted in the classroom.
z Attempts to independently write some
words using invented spelling, such as
K for kite.
z Writes first name correctly or close to
correctly.
z Writes (draws, illustrates) for a variety of
purposes and demonstrates evidence
of many aspects of print conventions,
such as creating a book that moves left
to right.
Preschoolers engage in a variety
of writing activities and begin to
convey meaning through their
increasingly sophisticated marks.
50 | Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework: Ages Birth to Five
Cognition
Cognitive development includes reasoning, memory, problemsolving, and thinking skills that help young children understand
and organize their world. For preschoolers, this evolves into
complex mathematical thinking and scientific reasoning.
Children play an active role in their own
cognitive development by exploring and
testing the world around them, but they also
need support from parents, teachers and
other adults. When infants and toddlers feel
safe and secure, they are more willing to
experiment with their world, such as discovering how a pull toy works, observing what
happens when they turn on a faucet, and
trying out different behaviors to see how
people react. In the process, they begin to
understand basic mathematical, spatial, and
causal relationships. Toddlers also explore
concepts through a variety of symbolic
activities, such as drawing and pretend play.
More and more, young children can rely
on their developing memory to help them
make sense of the world. All this activity
in the first three years lays the foundation
for the more complex cognitive skills that
preschoolers develop.
Cognitive development is presented as
two different domains for preschoolers—
Mathematics Development and Scientific
Reasoning—to reflect the increasingly
complex and more differentiated cognitive
abilities of this age period. Mathematics
development in preschoolers refers to
understanding numbers and quantities,
their relationships, and operations, such
as what it means to add to and take away.
Mathematics also includes shapes and
their structure, reasoning, measurement,
classification, and patterns. Preschoolers
are eager to measure their height to see
how much they have grown and to chime in
with repeating patterns in books and songs.
Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework: Ages Birth to Five | 51
Increasingly, children use math strategies to solve problems
during daily activities, such as figuring out how many more cups
are needed at snack time. Because math includes generalizations and abstractions, math skills help young children connect
ideas, develop logical and abstract thinking, and analyze, question,
and understand the world around them. Children develop math
concepts and skills through active exploration and discovery in
the context of stimulating learning opportunities and intentional
teaching strategies.
Scientific Reasoning refers to the emerging ability to develop
scientific knowledge about the natural and physical worlds,
learn scientific skills and methods, and continue developing
reasoning and problem-solving skills. For preschoolers, scientific
investigation includes making observations, recording them,
talking about them, and analyzing them. Their investigations
reflect their natural interests in how things work, in plants and
animals, their bodies, and weather. In the process of investigating, they can learn to use measurement and observational
tools, such as a ruler and a magnifying glass. During the
early childhood years, science provides opportunities for rich
vocabulary learning and collaboration with peers and fosters a
sense of curiosity and motivation to learn. Problem-solving and
reasoning become more complex as preschoolers gain new
abilities to ask questions and gather information. Their inclination to be curious, explore, experiment, ask questions, and
develop their own theories about the world makes science an
important domain for enhancing learning and school success.
Because cognitive development encompasses a broad range of
skills, behaviors, and concepts, children display great individual
variation in their development from birth to 5. Prior experiences,
cultural and linguistic backgrounds, temperament, and many other
factors can impact the rate and course of cognitive development.
Children with disabilities may require extra support as they use
their senses and bodies to explore or as they describe their
scientific investigations. The instruction and learning opportunities
young children experience set the stage for their cognitive development and success.
Cognitive development
from birth to 5 is influenced
by children’s cultural and
linguistic backgrounds,
temperament, and many
other factors. Children
who are dual language
learners (DLLs) may
express their knowledge
and understanding
differently—depending on
the content of the skills
and the context in which
they were learned.
▲ INFANT/TODDLER
52 | Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework: Ages Birth to Five
COGNITION
▲ Domain: Cognition
SUB-DOMAIN: EXPLORATION AND DISCOVERY
▲ Goal IT-C 1. Child actively explores people and objects to understand self, others, and objects.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
Birth to 9 Months 8 to 18 Months 16 to 36 Months By 36 Months
Uses the senses and a variety
of actions to examine people
and objects, such as mouthing,
touching, shaking or dropping.
Acts intentionally to achieve a
goal or when manipulating an
object, such as trying to get
an adult to do something or
trying different ways to reach
a toy under a table.
Observes and experiments
with how things work, seeks
information from others, or
experiments with different
behaviors to see how people
and objects react.
S Learns about characteristics
of people and properties and
uses of objects through the
senses and active exploration.
S Experiments with everyday
objects or materials to answer
“What?”, “Why?” or “How?”
questions.
▲ Goal IT-C 2. Child uses understanding of causal relationships to act on social and physical environments.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
Birth to 9 Months 8 to 18 Months 16 to 36 Months By 36 Months
Repeats an action to make
things happen or to get an
adult to repeat an action,
such as dropping a toy from
the high chair repeatedly
and waiting for an adult to
pick it up.
Engages in purposeful actions
to cause things to happen,
such as making splashes in
a puddle or rolling a ball to
knock over a tower.
Identifies the cause of an
observed outcome, such as
the tower fell over because
it was built too high. Predicts
outcomes of actions or events,
such as turning the faucet will
make water come out.
S Makes simple predictions
about what will happen
next, such as in a story or in
everyday routines.
S Anticipates some cause
and effects of own actions,
such as what happens while
running with a cup of water.
Some children with physical limitations may have difficulty getting or
exploring objects. To support their learning, adults can observe the
child’s interests and provide engaging materials and experiences.
▲ INFANT/TODDLER
Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework: Ages Birth to Five | 53
COGNITION
▲ Domain: Cognition
SUB-DOMAIN: MEMORY
▲ Goal IT-C 3. Child recognizes differences between familiar and unfamiliar people, objects, actions, or events.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
Birth to 9 Months 8 to 18 Months 16 to 36 Months By 36 Months
Recognizes familiar people
by their faces or voices.
Learns to distinguish
between familiar and
unfamiliar people.
Remembers actions of
familiar adults, the usual
location of familiar objects,
and parts of familiar routines.
Notices and responds to new
people, objects, or materials
in the environment.
Anticipates and communicates
about multiple steps of familiar
routines, activities, or events.
Expresses surprise or asks
about unexpected outcomes
or unusual people, actions, or
events.
S Comments about similarities
or differences between new
people, objects, or events,
and ones that are more
familiar.
S Tells others about what
will happen next or about
changes in usual routines or
schedules.
▲ Goal IT-C 4. Child recognizes the stability of people and objects in the environment.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
Birth to 9 Months 8 to 18 Months 16 to 36 Months By 36 Months
Shows awareness that
people and objects still exist
when they are out of sight or
sound range. May turn head
or crawl towards a parent or
other familiar adult who
leaves the room.
Searches for hidden or
missing people or objects in
the place they were last seen
or found. May wait and watch
at a door or window for the
return of a family member.
Uses a variety of search
strategies to find hidden or
missing people or objects,
including looking in multiple
locations for things that have
been missing for some time.
S Notices who is missing from a
familiar group, such as family
at dinner or children in a
playgroup.
S Looks in several different
places for a toy that was
played with a few days
before.
▲ Goal IT-C 5. Child uses memories as a foundation for more complex actions and thoughts.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
Birth to 9 Months 8 to 18 Months 16 to 36 Months By 36 Months
Shows excitement with a toy
or other object that was
played with days earlier.
Anticipates familiar actions or
routines, such as getting
picked up or being fed.
Remembers how to use
objects or materials from
previous experience.
Anticipates routines or events
by taking action, such as
going to the table when it is
time to eat.
Tells others about memories
and past experiences.
Remembers how to do a series
of actions that were observed
at an earlier time.
S Recalls a similar family event
when hearing a story read.
S Prepares for next routine
or activity based on past
experiences, such as gets hat
or coat when it is time to go
outside.
S Repeats simple rules about
expected behavior, such as
“We wash our hands before
we eat.”
▲ INFANT/TODDLER
54 | Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework: Ages Birth to Five
COGNITION
▲ Domain: Cognition
SUB-DOMAIN: REASONING AND PROBLEM-SOLVING
▲ Goal IT-C 6. Child learns to use a variety of strategies in solving problems.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
Birth to 9 Months 8 to 18 Months 16 to 36 Months By 36 Months
Engages in simple repeated
actions to reach a goal, such
as trying to get whole hand
and then fingers or thumb in
mouth.
Explores how to make
something happen again or
how something works by
doing actions over and over
again, such as repeatedly
filling a container and
emptying it out.
Engages in activities for longer
periods of time and tries
several times to solve more
challenging problems, often
using a combination of actions
or behaviors.
S Uses a variety of strategies
to solve problems, such as
trial and error, simple tools, or
asking someone to help.
S Tries to solve the same
problem in several different
ways at different times.
▲ Goal IT-C 7. Child uses reasoning and planning ahead to solve problems.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
Birth to 9 Months 8 to 18 Months 16 to 36 Months By 36 Months
Uses own actions or
movements to solve simple
problems, such as rolling to
the side to reach an object or
kicking to make something
move.
Tries different solutions to
everyday problems until
discovering one that works.
May try the same strategy
multiple times even if it is not
working.
Uses problem-solving and
experimenting to figure out
solutions to everyday problems,
including in social situations,
such as when two children who
both want to fit into a small car
agree to take turns.
S Tries to fix things that are
broken, such as putting a toy
back together or using tape to
repair a torn paper.
S Plans ways to solve problems
based on knowledge and
experience, such as getting a
stool to reach a book that is
on a shelf after trying to reach
it on tiptoes.
Toddlers use a variety of strategies as
they match and sort objects by color,
shape, or size.
▲ INFANT/TODDLER
Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework: Ages Birth to Five | 55
COGNITION
▲ Domain: Cognition
SUB-DOMAIN: EMERGENT MATHEMATICAL THINKING
▲ Goal IT-C 8. Child develops sense of number and quantity.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
Birth to 9 Months 8 to 18 Months 16 to 36 Months By 36 Months
Attends to quantity in play
with objects, such as
reaching or looking for more
than one object.
Uses a few basic words to
refer to change in the amount
of objects, such as asking for
“more” or saying “all gone”
when a plate is empty.
Uses language to refer to
quantity, such as using some
number words or signs to
identify small amounts, or
using other words referring to
quantity, such as a little, too
much or a lot.
S Counts small number of
objects (2–3), sometimes
counting the same object
twice or using numbers out
of order.
S Identifies “more” or “less”
with a small number of items
without needing to count
them.
S Uses fingers to show how old
they are.
▲ Goal IT-C 9. Child uses spatial awareness to understand objects and their movement in space.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
Birth to 9 Months 8 to 18 Months 16 to 36 Months By 36 Months
Explores or examines objects
and watches objects when
they move.
Explores how things fit
together, how they fit with
other things, and how they
move through space, such as
a ball thrown under a table.
Predicts or anticipates how
things move through space,
or fit together or inside other
things, such as putting smaller
objects into a small box and
larger objects into a large box.
S Does puzzles with interlocking
pieces, different colors and
shapes.
S Understands some effects of
size or weight when picking
up or moving objects.
▲ Goal IT-C 10. Child uses matching and sorting of objects or people to understand similar and different
characteristics.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
Birth to 9 Months 8 to 18 Months 16 to 36 Months By 36 Months
Explores or examines
differences between familiar
or unfamiliar people or
between different types of
objects, such as by mouthing
or shaking a toy.
Matches objects by similar or
related characteristics, such
as matching shapes with
openings in a shape-sorting
box or by putting a toy bottle
with a baby doll.
Sorts objects into two
groups based on a single
characteristic, such as grouping
toy animals separately from toy
cars, or putting red socks and
white socks in different piles.
S Sorts toys or other objects by
color, shape or size.
S Orders some objects by size.
S Identifies characteristics of
people, such as “Mom has
black hair like me.”
▲ INFANT/TODDLER
56 | Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework: Ages Birth to Five
COGNITION
▲ Domain: Cognition
SUB-DOMAIN: IMITATION AND SYMBOLIC REPRESENTATION AND PLAY
▲ Goal IT-C 11. Child observes and imitates sounds, words, gestures, actions, and behaviors.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
Birth to 9 Months 8 to 18 Months 16 to 36 Months By 36 Months
Engages in reciprocal
imitation games, such as
patting on a table or handing
an object back and forth.
Imitates what other people
did earlier, such as wiping up
a spill or closing a door.
Imitates more complex actions,
words, or signs at a later time in
order to communicate, make,
or do something.
S Watches and imitates adult
actions involving multiple
steps, such as getting spoons
and forks to set a table.
S Imitates someone else’s
conversation, such as in
pretend play or on a toy
phone.
▲ Goal IT-C 12. Child uses objects or symbols to represent something else.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
Birth to 9 Months 8 to 18 Months 16 to 36 Months By 36 Months
Emerging Uses toy objects in ways
similar to the real objects
they represent, such as
talking on a toy phone.
Uses objects as symbols
to represent other objects
during pretend play, such as
using blocks for toy cars or
trucks.
S Uses familiar objects to
represent something else.
S Improvises with props during
pretend play, such as using a
towel for a blanket or making
a cookie out of play dough.
S Understands that some
symbols have meaning, such
as a sign or a drawing.
▲ Goal IT-C 13. Child uses pretend play to increase understanding of culture, environment, and experiences.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
Birth to 9 Months 8 to 18 Months 16 to 36 Months By 36 Months
Emerging Imitates everyday actions of
others, such as pretending to
feed a doll or stuffed toy.
Acts out routines, stories,
or social roles using toys
and other materials as
props, such as setting toy
dishes and cups on a table
or pretending to shop for
groceries.
S Seeks to involve others in
pretend or make-believe play.
S Looks for props to use when
telling or making up a story.
S Uses pretend play to try
out solutions to everyday
problems, such as ways to
respond to stressful situations.
● PRESCHOOL
Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework: Ages Birth to Five | 57
COGNITION
● Domain: Mathematics Development
SUB-DOMAIN: COUNTING AND CARDINALITY
● Goal P-MATH 1. Child knows number names and the count sequence.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
36 to 48 Months 48 to 60 Months By 60 Months
Says or signs some number words in
sequence (up to 10), starting with one.
Understands that counting words are
separate words, such as “one,” “two,”
“three” versus “onetwothree”.
Says or signs more number words in
sequence.
z Counts verbally or signs to at least 20
by ones.
● Goal P-MATH 2. Child recognizes the number of objects in a small set.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
36 to 48 Months 48 to 60 Months By 60 Months
Develops an understanding of what
whole numbers mean. Begins to
recognize the number of small objects
in groups without counting (referred to
as “subitizing”).
Quickly recognizes the number of
objects in a small set (referred to as
“subitizing”).
z Instantly recognizes, without counting,
small quantities of up to 5 objects and
says or signs the number.
● Goal P-MATH 3. Child understands the relationship between numbers and quantities.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
36 to 48 Months 48 to 60 Months By 60 Months
Begins to coordinate verbal counting
with objects by pointing to or moving
objects for small groups of objects
laid in a line (referred to as one-to-one
correspondence). Begins to understand
that the last number represents how
many objects are in a group (referred
to as “cardinality”).
Understands that number words
refer to quantity. May point to or
move objects while counting objects
to 10 and beyond (one-to-one
correspondence). Understands that
the last number represents how many
objects are in a group (cardinality).
z When counting objects, says or signs
the number names in order, pairing one
number word that corresponds with one
object, up to at least 10.
z Counts and answers “How many?”
questions for approximately 10 objects.
z Accurately counts as many as 5 objects
in a scattered configuration.
z Understands that each successive
number name refers to a quantity that is
one larger.
z Understands that the last number said
represents the number of objects in a
set.
● PRESCHOOL
58 | Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework: Ages Birth to Five
COGNITION
● Domain: Mathematics Development
SUB-DOMAIN: COUNTING AND CARDINALITY (continued)
● Goal P-MATH 4. Child compares numbers.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
36 to 48 Months 48 to 60 Months By 60 Months
Begins to accurately count and
compare objects that are about the
same size and are in small groups
with adult assistance, such as counts
a pile of 2 blocks and a pile of 4, and
determines whether the piles have the
same or different numbers of blocks.
Identifies the first and second objects
in a sequence.
Counts to determine and compare
number amounts even when the larger
group’s objects are smaller in size,
such as buttons, compared with the
smaller group’s objects that are larger
in size, such as markers. Uses numbers
related to order or position.
z Identifies whether the number of objects
in one group is more than, less than, or
the same as objects in another group for
up to at least five objects.
z Identifies and uses numbers related to
order or position from first to tenth.
● Goal P-MATH 5. Child associates a quantity with written numerals up to 5 and begins to write numbers.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
36 to 48 Months 48 to 60 Months By 60 Months
Begins to understand that a written
numeral represents a quantity and may
draw objects or use informal symbols
to represent numbers.
Understands that written numbers
represent quantities of objects, and
uses information symbols, such as a
tally, to represent numerals. With adult
support, writes some numerals up to 10.
z Associates a number of objects with a
written numeral 0–5.
z Recognizes and, with support, writes
some numerals up to 10.
Preschoolers develop
mathematical knowledge
as they interact with
materials.
● PRESCHOOL
Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework: Ages Birth to Five | 59
COGNITION
● Domain: Mathematics Development
SUB-DOMAIN: OPERATIONS AND ALGEBRAIC THINKING
● Goal P-MATH 6. Child understands addition as adding to and understands subtraction as taking away from.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
36 to 48 Months 48 to 60 Months By 60 Months
Begins to add and subtract very
small collections of objects with adult
support. For example, the teacher says,
“You have 3 grapes and get 1 more.
How many in all?” Child counts out 3,
then counts out 1 more, then counts
all 4: “1, 2, 3, 4. I have 4!”
Solves addition problems by joining
objects together and subtraction
problems by separating, using
manipulatives and fingers to represent
objects.
z Represents addition and subtraction
in different ways, such as with fingers,
objects, and drawings.
z Solves addition and subtraction word
problems. Adds and subtracts up to 5 to
or from a given number.
z With adult assistance, begins to use
counting on from the larger number for
addition. For example, when adding a
group of 3 and a group of 2, counts “One,
two, three…” and then counts on “Four,
five!” (keeping track with fingers). When
counting back for subtraction such as
taking away 3 from 5, counts, “Five, four,
three…two!” (keeping track with fingers).
● Goal P-MATH 7. Child understands simple patterns.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
36 to 48 Months 48 to 60 Months By 60 Months
Recognizes a simple pattern, and with
adult assistance, fills in the missing
element of a pattern, such as boy,
girl, boy, girl, ___, girl. Duplicates and
extends ABABAB patterns.
Creates, identifies, extends, and
duplicates simple repeating patterns in
different forms, such as with objects,
numbers, sounds, and movements.
z Fills in missing elements of simple
patterns.
z Duplicates simple patterns in a different
location than demonstrated, such as
making the same alternating color
pattern with blocks at a table that was
demonstrated on the rug. Extends
patterns, such as making an eight block
tower of the same pattern that was
demonstrated with four blocks.
z Identifies the core unit of sequentially
repeating patterns, such as color in a
sequence of alternating red and blue
blocks.
● PRESCHOOL
60 | Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework: Ages Birth to Five
COGNITION
● Domain: Mathematics Development
SUB-DOMAIN: MEASUREMENT
● Goal P-MATH 8. Child measures objects by their various attributes using standard and non-standard
measurement. Uses differences in attributes to make comparisons.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
36 to 48 Months 48 to 60 Months By 60 Months
With adult support, begins to
understand that attributes can be
compared, such as one child can be
taller than another child.
With some adult support, uses
measurable attributes to make
comparisons, such as identifies objects
as the same/different and more/less.
z Measures using the same unit, such as
putting together snap cubes to see how
tall a book is.
z Compares or orders up to 5 objects
based on their measurable attributes,
such as height or weight.
z Uses comparative language, such as
shortest, heavier, or biggest.
SUB-DOMAIN: GEOMETRY AND SPATIAL SENSE
● Goal P-MATH 9. Child identifies, describes, compares, and composes shapes.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
36 to 48 Months 48 to 60 Months By 60 Months
Recognizes and names typical circle,
square, and sometimes a triangle.
With adult support, matches some
shapes that are different sizes and
orientations.
Recognizes and compares a greater
number of shapes of different sizes
and orientations. Begins to identify
sides and angles as distinct parts of
shapes.
z Names and describes shapes in terms
of length of sides, number of sides, and
number of angles.
z Correctly names basic shapes
regardless of size and orientation.
z Analyzes, compares and sorts twoand three-dimensional shapes and
objects in different sizes. Describes
their similarities, differences, and other
attributes, such as size and shape.
z Creates and builds shapes from
components.
Children who are dual language learners (DLLs) may be drawn to math and
science exploration for the hands-on learning it offers. At the same time,
they may be more comfortable learning science or math content in their
home language.
● PRESCHOOL
Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework: Ages Birth to Five | 61
COGNITION
● Domain: Mathematics Development
SUB-DOMAIN: GEOMETRY AND SPATIAL SENSE (continued)
● Goal P-MATH 10. Child explores the positions of objects in space.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
36 to 48 Months 48 to 60 Months By 60 Months
Begins to understand spatial vocabulary.
With adult support, follows directions
involving their own position in space,
such as “Stand up and stretch your
arms to the sky.”
Increasingly understands spatial
vocabulary. Follows directions
involving their own position in space,
such as “Move to the front of the line.”
z Understands and uses language related
to directionality, order, and the position
of objects, including up/down, and
in front/behind.
z Correctly follows directions involving
their own position in space, such as
“Stand up” and “Move forward.”

In the context of play, preschoolers learn about the position of their own bodies
in space.
● PRESCHOOL
62 | Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework: Ages Birth to Five
COGNITION
● Domain: Scientific Reasoning
SUB-DOMAIN: SCIENTIFIC INQUIRY
● Goal P-SCI 1. Child observes and describes observable phenomena (objects, materials, organisms, and events).
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
36 to 48 Months 48 to 60 Months By 60 Months
Uses the five senses to observe
objects, materials, organisms, and
events. Provides simple verbal or
signed descriptions. With adult
support, represents observable
phenomena, such as draws a picture.
Makes increasingly complex observations
of objects, materials, organisms, and
events. Provides greater detail in
descriptions. Represents observable
phenomena in more complex ways, such
as pictures that include more detail.
z Identifies the five senses (smell, touch,
sight, sound, taste) and uses them to
make observations.
z Uses observational tools to extend the
five senses, such as a magnifying glass,
microscope, binoculars, or stethoscope.
z Describes observable phenomena using
adjectives and labels, such as lemons
taste sour and play dough feels sticky.
z Represents observable phenomena with
pictures, diagrams, and 3-D models.
● Goal P-SCI 2. Child engages in scientific talk.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
36 to 48 Months 48 to 60 Months By 60 Months
Begins to use scientific vocabulary
words with modeling and support
from an adult. Sometimes repeats new
words offered by adults.
Uses a greater number of scientific
vocabulary words. Repeats new
words offered by adults and may ask
questions about unfamiliar words.
z Uses scientific practice words or signs,
such as observe, describe, compare,
contrast, question, predict, experiment,
reflect, cooperate, or measure.
z Uses scientific content words when
investigating and describing observable
phenomena, such as parts of a plant,
animal, or object.
Young children learn to use
observational tools to extend their
senses and to observe the natural
world up close.
● PRESCHOOL
Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework: Ages Birth to Five | 63
COGNITION
● Domain: Scientific Reasoning
SUB-DOMAIN: SCIENTIFIC INQUIRY (continued)
● Goal P-SCI 3. Child compares and categorizes observable phenomena.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
36 to 48 Months 48 to 60 Months By 60 Months
Sorts objects into groups based on
simple attributes, such as color. With
support, uses measurement tools to
quantify similarities and differences of
observable phenomena, such as when
a child scoops sand into two containers
and with adult assistance, determines
which container holds more scoops.
With increasing independence, sorts
objects into groups based on more
complex attributes, such as weight,
sound, or texture. Uses measurement
tools to assess the properties of and
compare observable phenomena.
z Categorizes by sorting observable
phenomena into groups based on
attributes such as appearance, weight,
function, ability, texture, odor, and
sound.
z Uses measurement tools, such as a
ruler, balance scale, eye dropper, unit
blocks, thermometer, or measuring cup,
to quantify similarities and differences of
observable phenomena.

● PRESCHOOL
64 | Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework: Ages Birth to Five
COGNITION
● Domain: Scientific Reasoning
SUB-DOMAIN: REASONING AND PROBLEM-SOLVING
● Goal P-SCI 4. Child asks a question, gathers information, and makes predictions.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
36 to 48 Months 48 to 60 Months By 60 Months
Asks simple questions. Uses adults
as primary resources to gather
information about questions. With adult
support and modeling, makes simple
predictions, such as “I think that the
golf ball will be heavier than the ping
pong ball.”
Asks more complex questions. Uses
other sources besides adults to gather
information, such as books, or other
experts. Uses background knowledge
and experiences to make predictions.
z Asks questions that can be answered
through an investigation, such as “What
do plants need to grow?” or “What
countries do the children in our class
come from?”.
z Gathers information about a question
by looking at books or discussing prior
knowledge and observations.
z Makes predictions and brainstorms
solutions based on background
knowledge and experiences, such as “I
think that plants need water to grow.”
or “I think adding yellow paint to purple
will make brown.”
● Goal P-SCI 5. Child plans and conducts investigations and experiments.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
36 to 48 Months 48 to 60 Months By 60 Months
With adult support, engages in simple
investigations and experiments, such
as building a “bridge” out of classroom
materials and seeing how many dolls
it will hold before it collapses. Records
data with teacher assistance, mostly
using pictures and marks on a page.
With increasing independence,
engages in some parts of conducting
complex investigations or experiments.
Increasingly able to articulate the steps
that need to be taken to conduct an
investigation. Uses more complex ways
to gather and record data, such as
with adult support, makes a graph that
shows children’s favorite snacks.
z Articulates steps to be taken and lists
materials needed for an investigation or
experiment.
z Implements steps and uses materials to
explore testable questions, such as “Do
plants need water to grow?” by planting
seeds and giving water to some but not
to others.
z Uses senses and simple tools to
observe, gather, and record data, such
as gathering data on where children’s
families are from and creating a graph
that shows the number of children from
different countries.
● PRESCHOOL
Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework: Ages Birth to Five | 65
COGNITION
● Domain: Scientific Reasoning
SUB-DOMAIN: REASONING AND PROBLEM-SOLVING (continued)
● Goal P-SCI 6. Child analyzes results, draws conclusions, and communicates results.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
36 to 48 Months 48 to 60 Months By 60 Months
With adult assistance, analyzes and
interprets data. Draws conclusions
and provides simple descriptions of
results. For example, an adult suggests
counting how many dolls can be
supported by a bridge before it breaks
and along with the children counts,
“One, two, three dolls. What happened
when we put on the next doll?” A child
says, “The bridge broke!”
With increasing independence,
analyzes and interprets data and
draws conclusions. With adult support,
compares results to initial prediction
and generates new questions or
designs. For example, after putting
multiple magnets together to create
one magnet that is not strong enough
to lift 10 paperclips, builds another
and tries again. Communicates
results, solutions, and conclusions in
increasingly complex ways through
multiple methods.
z Analyzes and interprets data and
summarizes results of investigation.
z Draws conclusions, constructs
explanations, and verbalizes cause and
effect relationships.
z With adult support, compares results
to initial prediction and offers evidence
as to why they do or do not work.
Generates new testable questions based
on results.
z Communicates results, solutions,
and conclusions through a variety of
methods, such as telling an adult that
plants need water to grow or putting
dots on a map that show the number of
children from each country.

With increasing independence,
children plan and conduct
investigations to gather information
and make predictions about how
things work.
66 | Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework: Ages Birth to Five
Perceptual, Motor, and
Physical Development
Perceptual, motor, and physical development is foundational to
children’s learning in all areas because it permits children to fully
explore and function in their environment.
This area of development is represented
as four elements: perception, gross motor,
fine motor, and health, safety, and nutrition.
Perception refers to children’s use of their
senses to gather and understand information and respond to the world around
them. The use of perceptual information
is central to infants’ and toddlers’ interactions, exploration, and understanding of
their experiences. It helps them to understand and direct their everyday experiences, such as pressing harder on clay
than on play dough to make an art project
or walking carefully on a slippery surface.
Preschoolers also rely on perceptual information to develop greater awareness of
their bodies in space and to move effectively to perform tasks, such as kicking a
ball to a friend.
Motor skills support children in fully
exploring their environment and interacting with people and things and thus,
support development in all domains.
Gross motor skills refer to moving the
whole body and using larger muscles of
the body, such as those in the arms and
legs. In infancy, gross motor skills include
gaining control of the head, neck, and
torso to achieve a standing or sitting
position. They also include locomotor
skills that emerge in the toddler years,
such as walking, throwing, and stretching.
Preschoolers gain even greater control
over their body, contributing to their
increasing confidence and their ability to
engage in social play. For example, as children learn to coordinate their movements,
they are ready to learn how to pedal a
tricycle and play tag.
Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework: Ages Birth to Five | 67
Fine motor skills refer to using the small muscles found in individual
body parts, especially those in the hands and feet. Children use
their fine motor skills to grasp, hold, and manipulate small objects,
such as their drinking cups, or to use tools, including scissors and
paint brushes. As they gain hand-eye coordination, preschoolers
learn to direct the movements of their fingers, hands, and wrists
to perform more complex tasks, including drawing fine details or
stringing small beads. Children can practice and refine both their
fine and gross motor skills during a variety of learning experiences
and while performing self-help routines, such as eating with a fork
or putting on clothes.
The fourth element of perceptual, motor, and physical development
is health, safety, and nutrition. Children’s physical well-being depends
on a number of factors, including their knowledge and use of safe,
healthy behaviors and routines. For example, toddlers are learning
how to use a toothbrush with adult guidance. As preschoolers
become more coordinated, they can add toothpaste to their own
toothbrush. Children’s ability to keep themselves safe and healthy,
such as communicating to adults when they are hungry or sick, is
extremely important in its own right and contributes to learning and
development in all areas.
For many reasons, the rate and the path of perceptual, motor, and
physical development vary in young children. Cultural and individual differences must be taken into account. In some cultures,
children use brushes to write their names or utensils to eat that
require a great deal of hand-eye coordination. Their fine motor
development may differ from other children because of their life
experiences. Children’s food preferences are culturally-based, and
they may reject foods that are usually considered healthy in other
cultures. Children with disabilities may require more individualized
instruction or accommodations. For example, children with physical disabilities may need adaptations, modifications, or assistive
technology to help them move or hold implements. Children with
sensory-motor integration challenges also may need accommodations. With appropriate support, all children can achieve strong
outcomes in perceptual, motor, and physical development.
The development of gross
motor skills enables
children to explore
their environment and
experiment with different
ways of moving their
bodies. As children develop
more coordinated and
complex large muscle
movements, they can
participate in a variety
of physical activities.
▲ INFANT/TODDLER
68 | Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework: Ages Birth to Five
PERCEPTUAL, MOTOR, AND PHYSICAL DEVELOPMENT
▲ Domain: Perceptual, Motor, and Physical Development
SUB-DOMAIN: PERCEPTION
▲ Goal IT-PMP 1. Child uses perceptual information to understand objects, experiences, and interactions.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
Birth to 9 Months 8 to 18 Months 16 to 36 Months By 36 Months
Uses perceptual information
to organize basic
understanding of objects
when given opportunities to
observe, handle, and use
objects, including recognizing
differences in texture and
how things feel.
Uses perceptual information
about properties of objects
in matching and associating
them with each other through
play and interaction with an
adult, such as using a play
bottle to feed a baby doll.
Observes others making things
happen to understand the
cause and effect relationship
of intention and action, such as
seeing an adult prepare to go
outside and then going to get
their own jacket.
S Combines information
gained through the senses
to understand objects,
experiences, and interactions.
S Adjusts ways of interacting
with materials based on
sensory and perceptual
information, such as pressing
harder on clay than on play
dough to make something.
S Modifies responses in social
situations based on perceptual
information, especially when
meeting new people, such
as hiding their face from an
unfamiliar person.
▲ Goal IT-PMP 2. Child uses perceptual information in directing own actions, experiences, and interactions.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
Birth to 9 Months 8 to 18 Months 16 to 36 Months By 36 Months
Adjusts balance and movement
with the changing size and
proportion of own body in
response to opportunities in
the environment.
Uses depth perception, scans
for obstacles, and makes a
plan on how to move based
on that information while
learning to crawl, walk, or
move in another way.
Coordinates perceptual
information and motor actions
to participate in play and daily
routines, such as singing songs
with hand motions or practicing
self-care skills.
S Adjusts walking or running
to the type of surface, such
as a rocky, sandy, or slippery
surface.
S Handles or explores objects
or materials in different ways
depending on perceptual
information about the objects
or materials, such as fragile,
messy, or sticky properties.
▲ INFANT/TODDLER
Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework: Ages Birth to Five | 69
PERCEPTUAL, MOTOR, AND PHYSICAL DEVELOPMENT
▲ Domain: Perceptual, Motor, and Physical Development
SUB-DOMAIN: GROSS MOTOR
▲ Goal IT-PMP 3. Child demonstrates effective and efficient use of large muscles for movement and position.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
Birth to 9 Months 8 to 18 Months 16 to 36 Months By 36 Months
Explores new body positions
and movements, such as
rolling over, sitting, crawling,
hitting or kicking at objects to
achieve goals.
Moves from crawling to
cruising to walking, learning
new muscle coordination for
each new skill, and how to
manage changing ground
surfaces.
Gains control of a variety of
postures and movements
including stooping, going from
sitting to standing, running, and
jumping.
S Coordinates movements and
actions for a purpose.
S Walks and runs, adjusting
speed or direction depending
on the situation.
▲ Goal IT-PMP 4. Child demonstrates effective and efficient use of large muscles to explore the environment.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
Birth to 9 Months 8 to 18 Months 16 to 36 Months By 36 Months
Uses each new posture
(raising head, rolling onto
back, sitting) to learn new
ways to explore the
environment. For example,
sits up to be able to reach for
or hold objects.
Uses body position, balance,
and especially movement
to explore and examine
materials, activities, and
spaces.
Uses a variety of increasingly
complex movements, body
positions, and postures to
participate in active and quiet,
indoor and outdoor play.
S Explores environments using
motor skills, such as throwing,
kicking, jumping, climbing,
carrying, and running.
S Experiments with different
ways of moving the body,
such as dancing around the
room.
▲ Goal IT-PMP 5. Child uses sensory information and body awareness to understand how their body relates to
the environment.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
Birth to 9 Months 8 to 18 Months 16 to 36 Months By 36 Months
Responds to sounds and
sights in the environment by
orienting head or body to
understand the information in
the event. For example, a
young infant will turn towards
an adult and re-position their
body to be picked up.
Shows awareness as an
accomplished crawler or
walker of new challenges or
dangers in the environment,
such as steep inclines or
drop-offs.
Shows understanding of what
size openings are needed for
their body to move through.
Learns about body size, such as
doll clothes won’t fit on a child’s
body or a child’s body won’t fit
on dollhouse furniture.
S Maintains balance and
posture while seated and
concentrating, such as
working with clay, blocks, or
markers or looking at a book.
S Adjusts position of body to fit
through or into small spaces.
▲ INFANT/TODDLER
70 | Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework: Ages Birth to Five
PERCEPTUAL, MOTOR, AND PHYSICAL DEVELOPMENT
▲ Domain: Perceptual, Motor, and Physical Development
SUB-DOMAIN: FINE MOTOR
▲ Goal IT-PMP 6. Child coordinates hand and eye movements to perform actions.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
Birth to 9 Months 8 to 18 Months 16 to 36 Months By 36 Months
Coordinates hands and eyes
when reaching for and
holding stable or moving
objects.
Uses hand-eye coordination
for more complex actions,
such as releasing objects into
a container, or stacking cups,
rings or blocks, or picking up
pieces of food one by one.
Uses hand-eye coordination
when participating in routines,
play and activities, such as
putting on a mitten, painting
at an easel, putting pieces of
a puzzle together, or folding
paper.
S Uses hand-eye coordination
to manipulate objects and
materials such as completing
puzzles or threading beads
with large holes.
S Uses hand-eye coordination
in handling books, such as
turning pages, pointing to a
picture, or looking for favorite
page.
▲ Goal IT-PMP 7. Child uses hands for exploration, play, and daily routines.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
Birth to 9 Months 8 to 18 Months 16 to 36 Months By 36 Months
Uses single actions to explore
shape, size, texture, or
weight of objects, such as
turning an object over or
around, or dropping or
pushing away an object.
Explores properties of objects
and materials by using
various hand actions, such as
pulling at them, picking them
up to examine them, pointing
to learn their names, turning
knobs on objects, or turning
pages in a board book.
Plans ways to use hands for
various activities, such as
stacking, building, connecting,
drawing, painting, and doing
self-care skills or routines.
S Uses hands efficiently for a
variety of actions or activities,
such as building with blocks,
wiping up a spill, or feeding self.
S Coordinates use of both
hands to put things together,
such as connecting blocks or
linking toys.
▲ Goal IT-PMP 8. Child adjusts reach and grasp to use tools.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
Birth to 9 Months 8 to 18 Months 16 to 36 Months By 36 Months
Uses increasingly refined
grasps, matching the grasp to
the task, such as using an
index finger and thumb to
pick up pieces of cereal or
using the whole hand to bang
objects together.
Extends reach by using
simple tools, such as a pull
string, stick, or rake to pull a
distant object closer.
Adjusts grasp to use different
tools for different purposes,
such as a spoon, paintbrush, or
marker.
S Adjusts grasp with ease to
new tools and materials.
S Uses pincer grasp with thumb
and fingers to manipulate
small objects or handle tools,
such as stringing small beads.
S Uses hand tools in a variety
of ways, such as a rolling pin
with clay or play dough, or a
toy shovel with sand.
▲ INFANT/TODDLER
Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework: Ages Birth to Five | 71
PERCEPTUAL, MOTOR, AND PHYSICAL DEVELOPMENT
▲ Domain: Perceptual, Motor, and Physical Development
SUB-DOMAIN: HEALTH, SAFETY, AND NUTRITION
▲ Goal IT-PMP 9. Child demonstrates healthy behaviors with increasing independence as part of everyday routines.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
Birth to 9 Months 8 to 18 Months 16 to 36 Months By 36 Months
Emerging Anticipates and cooperates
in daily routines, such as
washing hands, blowing
nose, or holding a toothbrush
with assistance from adults.
Participates in healthy
care routines with more
independence, such as
washing hands, blowing nose,
brushing teeth, or drinking
from a cup.
S Shows increasing
independence in self-care
routines with guidance from
adults.
S Puts on or takes off some
articles of clothing, such as
shoes, socks, coat, or hat.
▲ Goal IT-PMP 10. Child uses safe behaviors with support from adults.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
Birth to 9 Months 8 to 18 Months 16 to 36 Months By 36 Months
Emerging Emerging Accepts adult guidance,
support, and protection when
encountering unsafe situations.
Learns some differences
between safe and unsafe play
behaviors, such as not to stand
on chairs or tables, or not to put
small objects in mouth.
S Cooperates with adults when
in unsafe situations, such as
taking an adult’s hand to cross
a street or being cautious
around an unfamiliar dog.
S Shows some understanding
of safe and unsafe behaviors,
such as not touching a hot
stove.
▲ Goal IT-PMP 11. Child demonstrates increasing interest in engaging in healthy eating habits and making
nutritious food choices.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
Birth to 9 Months 8 to 18 Months 16 to 36 Months By 36 Months
Emerging Shows interest in new foods
that are offered.
Shows willingness to try new
nutritious foods when offered
on multiple occasions.
Sometimes makes nutritious
choices about which foods
to eat when offered several
choices, with support from
an adult.
S Expresses preferences about
foods, specifically likes or
dislikes, sometimes based on
whether the food is nutritious.
S Sometimes makes nutritious
choices with support from an
adult.
S Communicates to adults when
hungry, thirsty, or has had
enough to eat.
● PRESCHOOL
72 | Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework: Ages Birth to Five
PERCEPTUAL, MOTOR, AND PHYSICAL DEVELOPMENT
● Domain: Perceptual, Motor, and Physical Development
SUB-DOMAIN: GROSS MOTOR
● Goal P-PMP 1. Child demonstrates control, strength, and coordination of large muscles.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
36 to 48 Months 48 to 60 Months By 60 Months
Balances, such as on one leg or a
beam, for short periods with some
assistance. Performs some skills, such
as jumping for height and hopping, but
these skills may not be consistently
demonstrated. Engages in physical
activity that requires strength and
stamina for at least brief periods.
Balances, such as on one leg or on
a beam, for longer periods of time
both when standing still and when
moving from one position to another.
Demonstrates more coordinated
movement when engaging in skills,
such as jumping for height and distance,
hopping, and running. Engages in more
complex movements, such as riding a
tricycle, with ease. Engages in physical
activities of increasing levels of intensity
for sustained periods of time.
z Demonstrates balance in large-muscle
movement, such as walking on a log
without falling or balancing on one leg.
z Performs activities that combine and
coordinate large muscle movements,
including swinging on a swing, climbing
a ladder, or dancing to music.
z Demonstrates strength and stamina
that allow for participation in a range
of physical activities, such as running
around playing tag.
● Goal P-PMP 2. Child uses perceptual information to guide motions and interactions with objects and other people.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
36 to 48 Months 48 to 60 Months By 60 Months
Somewhat aware of own body, space,
and relationship to other objects. May
have difficulty consistently coordinating
motions and interactions with objects
and other people.
Shows increasing awareness of body,
space, and relationship to other
objects in ways that allow for more
coordinated movements, actions, and
interactions with others.
z Demonstrates awareness of own body and
other people’s space during interactions.
z Moves body in relation to objects to
effectively perform tasks, such as
moving body in position to kick a ball.
z When asked, can move own body in
front of, to the side, or behind something
or someone else, such as getting in line
with other children.
z Changes directions when moving with
little difficulty.
Some preschoolers may have Individualized Education
Programs (IEPs) that include goals for gross motor
development. Working with specialists, adults can
design experiences, such as an obstacle course in
the outdoor play area, that will promote strong child
outcomes for all children.
● PRESCHOOL
Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework: Ages Birth to Five | 73
PERCEPTUAL, MOTOR, AND PHYSICAL DEVELOPMENT
● Domain: Perceptual, Motor, and Physical Development
SUB-DOMAIN: FINE MOTOR
● Goal P-PMP 3. Child demonstrates increasing control, strength, and coordination of small muscles.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
36 to 48 Months 48 to 60 Months By 60 Months
Performs simple hand-eye tasks, such
as drawing simple shapes like circles
and cutting paper with scissors. May
demonstrate limited precision and
control in more complex tasks.
Performs tasks that require more
complex hand-eye coordination, such
as cutting out shapes and drawing
letter-like forms, with moderate levels
of precision and control.
z Easily coordinates hand and eye
movements to carry out tasks, such as
working on puzzles or stringing beads
together.
z Uses a pincer grip to hold and
manipulate tools for writing, drawing,
and painting.
z Uses coordinated movements to
complete complex tasks, such as cutting
along a line, pouring, or buttoning.

Preschoolers exhibit complex fine motor coordination when using tools to
complete tasks.
● PRESCHOOL
74 | Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework: Ages Birth to Five
PERCEPTUAL, MOTOR, AND PHYSICAL DEVELOPMENT
● Domain: Perceptual, Motor, and Physical Development
SUB-DOMAIN: HEALTH, SAFETY, AND NUTRITION
● Goal P-PMP 4. Child demonstrates personal hygiene and self-care skills.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
36 to 48 Months 48 to 60 Months By 60 Months
Shows an awareness of personal
hygiene and self-care skills, such as
telling an adult it is important to wash
hands before eating. May not complete
or exhibit these skills regularly without
adult guidance and supervision.
Begins to take more responsibility for
personal hygiene and self-care skills.
Sometimes completes them without adult
prompting.
z Washes hands with soap and water.
Knows to do this before eating, after
using the bathroom, or after blowing
nose.
z Demonstrates increasing ability to take
responsibility for participating in personal
self-care skills, such as brushing teeth or
getting dressed.
● Goal P-PMP 5. Child develops knowledge and skills that help promote nutritious food choices and eating habits.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
36 to 48 Months 48 to 60 Months By 60 Months
Demonstrates a basic knowledge
of the role of foods and nutrition in
healthy development. Often requires
adult guidance and supervision to
make healthy eating choices.
Demonstrates an increasing
understanding of the ways in which
foods and nutrition help the body grow
and be healthy. Makes healthy eating
choices both independently and with
support.
z Identifies a variety of healthy and
unhealthy foods.
z Demonstrates basic understanding that
eating a variety of foods helps the body
grow and be healthy.
z Moderates food consumption based on
awareness of own hunger and fullness.
Preschoolers show increasing
responsibility for personal
hygiene and exhibit greater
coordination needed for selfcare skills.
● PRESCHOOL
Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework: Ages Birth to Five | 75
PERCEPTUAL, MOTOR, AND PHYSICAL DEVELOPMENT
● Domain: Perceptual, Motor, and Physical Development
SUB-DOMAIN: HEALTH, SAFETY, AND NUTRITION (continued)
● Goal P-PMP 6. Child demonstrates knowledge of personal safety practices and routines.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESSION INDICATORS
36 to 48 Months 48 to 60 Months By 60 Months
Shows awareness of a growing number
of personal safety practices and
routines. Looks to adults for support in
enacting these.
Exhibits increasing independence
in following basic personal safety
practices and routines. Follows adult
guidance around more complex
practices.
z Identifies, avoids, and alerts others to
danger, such as keeping a safe distance
from swings.
z Identifies and follows basic safety rules
with adult guidance and support, such
as transportation and street safety
practices.

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