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Illinois Early Learning Guidelines

2013 Illinois Early Learning Guidelines
Introductory Material
Development of the Guidelines

The Illinois Early Learning Guidelines were developed in collaboration with key Illinois stakeholders in the infant-toddler field. Early childhood leaders, educators, practitioners, and policy experts came together to ensure the creation of an accessible and user-friendly document, presenting evidence-based and up-to-date information on infant-toddler development for parents, caregivers, early childhood professionals, and policy makers. The structure of the group stemmed from the Illinois Early Learning Council—Infant Toddler Committee. Within this committee, a Workgroup formed to create the vision for the Guidelines. The vision of the group was to ensure a document that could align with and integrate into the complex system of services for children birth to three in the state, and fulfill the ultimate goals of improving program quality, growing provider capacity, and strengthening the current systems.

The leadership group of the Workgroup then began coordinating the development of the Guidelines, with input from the Workgroup and from the six writing teams, which were small sub-groups of the Workgroup. The writing teams were tasked with providing input and review of developmentally appropriate content. This collaborative approach in writing the Guidelines allowed for important decisions to be made by a diverse range of professionals representing different areas of the field. This collaboration resulted in the creation of Guidelines that:

  1. Create a foundational understanding for families, providers, and professionals in the field of what children from birth to age three are expected to know and do across multiple developmental domains.
  2. Improve the quality of care and learning through more intentional and appropriate practices to support development from birth to three.
  3. Develop a more qualified workforce.
  4. Enhance the current system of early childhood services by aligning birth-to-three developmental standards with existing standards and practices for older children and across system components.
  5. Serve as a resource for those informing decision makers involved with developing and implementing policies for children from birth to three.

The Guidelines are NOT intended to replace any existing resources that are currently used in birth-to-three programs and are not an exhaustive resource or checklist for children’s development. The Guidelines are NOT a:

  • Curriculum
  • Program model
  • Developmental Screening Tool
  • Developmental Assessment Tool
  • Professional Development Curriculum

The Guidelines are designed to complement these educational tools and provide a cohesive analysis of children’s development with common expectations and common language.


IEL Resources

  • List of standards
    IEL has created a convenient HTML list of the standards included in the Illinois Early Learning Guidelines.
    English | Spanish
  • IEL FAQ: What Do Parents Need to Know About the Illinois Early Learning Guidelines for Children Birth to Age 3? About

Guidelines Posters and Brochures

  • Guidelines poster
    IEL has a large poster that lists all of the standards in the Guidelines.
    English | Spanish
  • Guidelines brochure
    This handy pamphlet, which also lists all the standards, can be handed out to parents and others interested in learning more about the Guidelines.
    English | Spanish
  • Order online
    Use our online form and IEL will mail up to 10 posters and 20 brochures free of charge to any address within the state of Illinois.

Additional Resources

Print Version

IEL is providing access to a PDF of the full 170-page printed version of the Guidelines:

Guidelines Webinar

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.


Find resources related to the Illinois Early Learning Birth to 3 Guidelines:


The opinions, resources, and referrals provided on the IEL Web site are intended for informational purposes only and are not intended to take the place of medical or legal advice, or of other appropriate services. We encourage you to seek direct local assistance from a qualified professional if necessary before taking action.

The content of the IEL Web site does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Illinois Early Learning Project, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, or the Illinois State Board of Education; nor does the mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the Illinois Early Learning Project, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, or the Illinois State Board of Education.