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Illinois Early Learning Guidelines

2013 Illinois Early Learning Guidelines
Introductory Material
Introductory Letter

Dear Reader,

It is with great pleasure that we present you with the Illinois Early Learning Guidelines for children from birth to three years of age. These Guidelines are the product of two years of intensive labor by many individuals and organizations. We have all focused on building comprehensive developmental learning standards for our youngest learners that form the foundation for all learning and development that is to follow. The myriad stakeholders involved in this project were driven by the following intentions for the use of the Guidelines:

  • We hope the Guidelines speak to you, putting into words the development you see occurring each day with children from birth to three
  • We hope the Guidelines support you in understanding and discussing child development
  • We hope the Guidelines make you better equipped to plan for intentional interactions with children from birth to three
  • We hope the Guidelines strengthen your commitment to responsive, developmentally appropriate practice with young children
  • We hope the Guidelines enhance your belief system around the individual nature of the developmental trajectory and the crucial role that family and context play in each child’s development

We have had the honor of guiding a process to develop Early Learning Guidelines for birth to three that embody an approach that is responsive to our state early childhood infrastructure’s work and current needs in this area. In this project guidance and management role embedded within the Illinois Early Learning Council, we were able to draw out the best of our colleagues and stakeholders in the areas of knowledge, practice, and cross-system strategizing. Through this work we were establishing a shared set of beliefs around what children from birth to three should know and be able to do and what our responsibility is to seeing these outcomes for children.

Over the course of the two year project term, we asked a lot of everyone involved, and ourselves, and found that a shared commitment to young children drove us to push for the highest quality set of developmental guidelines. Inherent to our definition of quality was the need for this work to cut across all the service systems and sectors serving children from birth to three and their families. Each of these systems and sectors has had a hand in the creation of the Early Learning Guidelines with a careful consideration of the role of this content in their work with children and families. We are eager to continue to learn from one another and support each other in implementing the Guidelines to improve the quality of services delivered to children and families.

With our sincerest thanks,

Jeanna M. Capito
Executive Director
Positive Parenting DuPage

Karen Yarbrough
Director, Policy Planning and Knowledge
Ounce of Prevention Fund


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.