The growth that happens in the first three years of life lays the foundation for later learning; therefore it is important to consider the alignment of the Early Learning Guidelines with the learning standards and guidelines for children in older age groups. Vertical alignment refers to the process of ensuring guidelines for one age period are in sync with guidelines from the age periods that come before it and/or those periods that follow after.
An understanding of the learning and growth from birth to three is fundamental to understanding and supporting the growth and development expected in all future age periods. In general, while the Standards and Guidelines for the younger ages are more oriented toward a developmental approach to learning and growth, standards for the K–12 period become more oriented toward academic or subject matter content.
Ensuring “vertical” alignment was a priority throughout the development of these Guidelines. This was done through content configuration and the careful consideration of age appropriate indicators. The content of the Early Learning Guidelines outlines growth and development from birth to age three and is the essential building block upon which all other development progresses.
Just as the domains of development cannot be fully detangled from one another, the learning that happens within a specific domain of the early learning guidelines for children birth to three informs learning and development beyond any one other specific domain in the learning standards for later ages. For example, while there is a direct correlation between language development happening from birth to three years and the fulfillment of the Language Arts benchmarks outlined in the Illinois State Board of Education’s standards for Kindergarteners, the acquisition of language that happens in the first three years of life allows for all learning that happens subsequently far beyond those specific benchmarks for Language Arts—including, at minimum, Math, Science, Social Studies, Fine Arts, and Foreign Language.
In Illinois, the guidelines and standards in place for children from three to four years old include the Illinois Early Learning Standards and the Head Start Child Outcomes Framework. Next, vertical alignment considers the Illinois Early Learning Standards for Kindergarten and the content areas covered by these standards, which are designed for children age five and six. Following these standards are the Illinois Learning Standards that cover elementary through high school and include Social Emotional Learning, and the Common Core Standards.
|Set of Standards||Includes:|
|Illinois Learning Standards, including new Common Core Standards (Early Elementary through High School)||
|Illinois Early Learning Standards for Kindergarten (Age 5 to 6)||
|Head Start Child Outcome Framework (Age 3 to 5)||
|Illinois Early Learning Standards for 3- to 4-Year-Olds (Age 3 to 4)||
|Illinois Early Learning Guidelines for Children Birth to Age 3 (Birth to age 3)||
IEL is providing access to a PDF of the full 170-page printed version of the Guidelines:
This webinar provides a short overview of the Illinois Early Learning Guidelines for Children Birth to Age Three. It also provides a tour of the resources available on the Illinois Early Learning Project website that can support the use of the guidelines in practice and at home.
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