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2013 Illinois Early Learning and Development Standards

Illinois Early Learning & Development Standards
Goals, Standards, and Benchmarks

The state of Illinois recently released the 2013 Illinois Early Learning and Development Standards for Preschool (ages 3 to kindergarten age). These new goals, standards, and benchmarks are a revision of the original Illinois Early Learning Standards document, published in 2002.

For several years the Illinois Early Learning (IEL) Project has hosted a database that allows users to find a wide range of resources (Tip Sheets, videos, Web articles) by individual learning areas, goals, standards, and benchmarks outlined in the 2002 Illinois Early Learning Standards.

IEL staff are working to align resources with the revised learning areas, goals, standards, and benchmarks. In the meantime, IEL is providing this convenient list of goals, standards, and benchmarks in HTML form.


Goal 1 Demonstrate increasing competence in oral communication (listening and speaking).

  • 1.A Demonstrate understanding through age-appropriate responses.
    • 1.A.ECa Follow simple one-, two- and three-step directions.
    • 1.A.ECb Respond appropriately to questions from others.
    • 1.A.ECc Provide comments relevant to the context.
    • 1.A.ECd Identify emotions from facial expressions and body language.
  • 1.B Communicate effectively using language appropriate to the situation and audience.
    • 1.B.ECa Use language for a variety of purposes.
    • 1.B.ECb With teacher assistance, participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners (e.g., peers and adults in both small and large groups) about age-appropriate topics and texts.
    • 1.B.ECc Continue a conversation through two or more exchanges.
    • 1.B.ECd Engage in agreed‐upon rules for discussions (e.g., listening, making eye contact, taking turns speaking).
    1.C Use language to convey information and ideas. 1.D Speak using conventions of Standard English.
    • 1.D.ECa With teacher assistance, use complete sentences in speaking with peers and adults in individual and group situations.
    • 1.D.ECb Speak using age-appropriate conventions of Standard English grammar and usage.
    • 1.D.ECc Understand and use question words in speaking.
    1.E Use increasingly complex phrases, sentences, and vocabulary.
    • 1.E.ECa With teacher assistance, begin to use increasingly complex sentences.
    • 1.E.ECb Exhibit curiosity and interest in learning new words heard in conversations and books.
    • 1.E.ECc With teacher assistance, use new words acquired through conversations and book‐sharing experiences.
    • 1.E.ECd With teacher assistance, explore word relationships to understand the concepts represented by common categories of words (e.g., food, clothing, vehicles).
    • 1.E.ECe With teacher assistance, use adjectives to describe people, places, and things.

Goal 2 Demonstrate understanding and enjoyment of literature.

  • 2.A Demonstrate interest in stories and books.
    • 2.A.ECa Engage in book-sharing experiences with purpose and understanding.
    • 2.A.ECb Look at books independently, pretending to read.
    2.B Recognize key ideas and details in stories.
    • 2.B.ECa With teacher assistance, ask and answer questions about books read aloud. View sample lesson plan
    • 2.B.ECb With teacher assistance, retell familiar stories with three or more key events.
    • 2.B.ECc With teacher assistance, identify main character(s) of the story.
    2.C Recognize concepts of books.
    • 2.C.ECa Interact with a variety of types of texts (e.g., storybooks, poems, rhymes, songs).
    • 2.C.ECb Identify the front and back covers of books and display the correct orientation of books and page-turning skills.
    • 2.C.ECc With teacher assistance, describe the role of an author and illustrator.
    2.D Establish personal connections with books.
    • 2.D.ECa With teacher assistance, discuss illustrations in books and make personal connections to the pictures and story.
    • 2.D.ECb With teacher assistance, compare and contrast two stories relating to the same topic.

Goal 3 Demonstrate interest in and understanding of informational text.

  • 3.A Recognize key ideas and details in nonfiction text.
    • 3.A.ECa With teacher assistance, ask and answer questions about details in a nonfiction book.
    • 3.A.ECb With teacher assistance, retell detail(s) about main topic in a nonfiction book.
    3.B Recognize features of nonfiction books.
    • 3.B.ECa With teacher assistance, identify basic similarities and differences in pictures and information found in two texts on the same topic. View sample lesson plan

Goal 4 Demonstrate increasing awareness of and competence in emergent reading skills and abilities.

  • 4.A Demonstrate understanding of the organization and basic features of print.
    • 4.A.ECa Recognize the differences between print and pictures.
    • 4.A.ECb Begin to follow words from left to right, top to bottom, and page by page.
    • 4.A.ECc Recognize the one‐to‐one relationship between spoken and written words.
    • 4.A.ECd Understand that words are separated by spaces in print.
    • 4.A.ECe Recognize that letters are grouped to form words.
    • 4.A.ECf Differentiate letters from numerals.
    4.B Demonstrate an emerging knowledge and understanding of the alphabet.
    • 4.B.ECa With teacher assistance, recite the alphabet.
    • 4.B.ECb Recognize and name some upper/lowercase letters of the alphabet, especially those in own name.
    • 4.B.ECc With teacher assistance, match some upper/lowercase letters of the alphabet.
    • 4.B.ECd With teacher assistance, begin to form some letters of the alphabet, especially those in own name.
    4.C Demonstrate an emerging understanding of spoken words, syllables, and sounds (phonemes).
    • 4.C.ECa Recognize that sentences are made up of separate words.
    • 4.C.ECb With teacher assistance, recognize and match words that rhyme.
    • 4.C.ECc Demonstrate ability to segment and blend syllables in words (e.g., “trac/tor, tractor”).
    • 4.C.ECd With teacher assistance, isolate and pronounce the initial sounds in words.
    • 4.C.ECe With teacher assistance, blend sounds (phonemes) in one‐syllable words (e.g., /c/ /a/ /t/ = cat).
    • 4.C.ECf With teacher assistance, begin to segment sounds (phonemes) in one-syllable words (e.g., cat = /c/ /a/ /t/).
    • 4.C.ECg With teacher assistance, begin to manipulate sounds (phonemes) in one-syllable words (e.g., changing cat to hat to mat).
    4.D Demonstrate emergent phonics and word-analysis skills.
    • 4.D.ECa Recognize own name and common signs and labels in the environment.View sample lesson plan
    • 4.D.ECb With teacher assistance, demonstrate understanding of the one-to-one correspondence of letters and sounds.
    • 4.D.ECc With teacher assistance, begin to use knowledge of letters and sounds to spell words phonetically.

Goal 5 Demonstrate increasing awareness of and competence in emergent writing skills and abilities.

  • 5.A Demonstrate growing interest and abilities in writing.
    • 5.A.ECa Experiment with writing tools and materials.
    • 5.A.ECb Use scribbles, letterlike forms, or letters/words to represent written language.
    • 5.A.ECc With teacher assistance, write own first name using appropriate upper/lowercase letters.
    5.B Use writing to represent ideas and information.
    • 5.B.ECa With teacher assistance, use a combination of drawing, dictating, or writing to express an opinion about a book or topic.
    • 5.B.ECb With teacher assistance, use a combination of drawing, dictating, or writing to compose informative/explanatory texts in which they name what they are writing about and supply some information about the topic. View sample lesson plan
    • 5.B.ECc With teacher assistance, use a combination of drawing, dictating, or writing to narrate a single event and provide a reaction to what happened.
    5.C Use writing to research and share knowledge.
    • 5.C.ECa Participate in group projects or units of study designed to learn about a topic of interest.
    • 5.C.ECb With teacher assistance, recall factual information and share that information through drawing, dictation, or writing.


Goal 6 Demonstrate and apply a knowledge and sense of numbers, including numeration and operations.

  • 6.A Demonstrate beginning understanding of numbers, number names, and numerals.
    • 6.A.ECa Count with understanding and recognize “how many” in small sets up to 5.
    • 6.A.ECb Use subitizing (the rapid and accurate judgment of how many items there are without counting) to identify the number of objects in sets of 4 or less.
    • 6.A.ECc Understand and appropriately use informal or everyday terms that mean zero, such as “none” or “nothing”.
    • 6.A.ECd Connect numbers to quantities they represent using physical models and informal representations.
    • 6.A.ECe Differentiate numerals from letters and recognize some single‐digit written numerals.
    • 6.A.ECf Verbally recite numbers from 1 to 10.
    • 6.A.ECg Be able to say the number after another in the series up to 9 when given a “running start,” as in “What comes after one, two, three, four…?”.
    6.B Add and subtract to create new numbers and begin to construct sets.
    • 6.B.ECa Recognize that numbers (or sets of objects) can be combined or separated to make another number.
    • 6.B.ECb Show understanding of how to count out and construct sets of objects of a given number up to 5.View sample lesson plan
    • 6.B.ECc Identify the new number created when small sets (up to 5) are combined or separated.
    • 6.B.ECd Informally solve simple mathematical problems presented in a meaningful context.
    • 6.B.ECe Fairly share a set of up to 10 items between two children.
    6.C Begin to make reasonable estimates of numbers.
    • 6.C.ECa Estimate number of objects in a small set.
  • 6.D Compare quantities using appropriate vocabulary terms.
    • 6.D.ECa Compare two collections to see if they are equal or determine which is more, using a procedure of the child’s choice.
    • 6.D.ECb Describe comparisons with appropriate vocabulary, such as “more”, “less”, “greater than”, “fewer”, “equal to”, or “same as”.

Goal 7 Explore measurement of objects and quantities.

  • 7.A Measure objects and quantities using direct comparison methods and nonstandard units.
    • 7.A.ECa Compare, order, and describe objects according to a single attribute.
    • 7.A.ECb Use nonstandard units to measure attributes such as length and capacity.
    • 7.A.ECc Use vocabulary that describes and compares length, height, weight, capacity, and size.View sample lesson plan
    • 7.A.ECd Begin to construct a sense of time through participation in daily activities.
    7.B Begin to make estimates of measurements.
    • 7.B.ECa Practice estimating in everyday play and everyday measurement problems.
    7.C Explore tools used for measurement.
    • 7.C.ECa With teacher assistance, explore use of measuring tools that use standard units to measure objects and quantities that are meaningful to the child.
    • 7.C.ECb Know that different attributes, such as length, weight, and time, are measured using different kinds of units, such as feet, pounds, and seconds.

Goal 8 Identify and describe common attributes, patterns, and relationships in objects.

  • 8.A Explore objects and patterns.
    • 8.A.ECa Sort, order, compare, and describe objects according to characteristics or attribute(s).View sample lesson plan
    • 8.A.ECb Recognize, duplicate, extend, and create simple patterns in various formats.
  • 8.B Describe and document patterns using symbols.
    • 8.B.ECa With adult assistance, represent a simple repeating pattern by verbally describing it or by modeling it with objects or actions.

Goal 9 Explore concepts of geometry and spatial relations.

  • 9.A Recognize, name, and match common shapes.
    • 9.A.ECa Recognize and name common two- and three-dimensional shapes and describe some of their attributes (e.g., number of sides, straight or curved lines).
    • 9.A.ECb Sort collections of two‐ and three‐dimensional shapes by type (e.g., triangles, rectangles, circles, cubes, spheres, pyramids).
    • 9.A.ECc Identify and name some of the faces (flat sides) of common three‐dimensional shapes using two-dimensional shape names.
    • 9.A.ECd Combine two-dimensional shapes to create new shapes.
    • 9.A.ECe Think about/imagine how altering the spatial orientation of a shape will change how it looks (e.g., turning it upside down).
    9.B Demonstrate an understanding of location and ordinal position, using appropriate vocabulary.

Goal 10 Begin to make predictions and collect data information.

  • 10.A Generate questions and processes for answering them.
    • 10.A.ECa With teacher assistance, come up with meaningful questions that can be answered through gathering information.
    • 10.A.ECb Gather data about themselves and their surroundings to answer meaningful questions.
    10.B Organize and describe data and information. 10.C Determine, describe, and apply the probabilities of events.
    • 10.C.ECa Describe likelihood of events with appropriate vocabulary, such as “possible”, “impossible”, “always”, and “never”.


Goal 11 Demonstrate curiosity about the world and begin to use the practices of science and engineering to answer questions and solve problems.

  • 11.A Develop beginning skills in the use of science and engineering practices, such as observing, asking questions, solving problems, and drawing conclusions.
    • 11.A.ECa Express wonder and curiosity about their world by asking questions, solving problems, and designing things.
    • 11.A.ECb Develop and use models to represent their ideas, observations, and explanations through approaches such as drawing, building, or modeling with clay.
    • 11.A.ECc Plan and carry out simple investigations.
    • 11.A.ECd Collect, describe, compare, and record information from observations and investigations.
    • 11.A.ECe Use mathematical and computational thinking.
    • 11.A.ECf Make meaning from experience and information by describing, talking, and thinking about what happened during an investigation.View sample lesson plan
    • 11.A.ECg Generate explanations and communicate ideas and/or conclusions about their investigations.

Goal 12 Explore concepts and information about the physical, earth, and life sciences.

  • 12.A Understand that living things grow and change.
  • 12.B Understand that living things rely on the environment and/or others to live and grow.
  • 12.C Explore the physical properties of objects.
    • 12.C.ECa Identify, describe, and compare the physical properties of objects.
    • 12.C.ECb Experiment with changes in matter when combined with other substances.
  • 12.D Explore concepts of force and motion.
    • 12.D.ECa Describe the effects of forces in nature.
    • 12.D.ECb Explore the effect of force on objects in and outside the early childhood environment.
  • 12.E Explore concepts and information related to the Earth, including ways to take care of our planet.
    • 12.E.ECa Observe and describe characteristics of earth, water, and air.
    • 12.E.ECb Participate in discussions about simple ways to take care of the environment.
  • 12.F Explore changes related to the weather and seasons.
    • 12.F.ECa Observe and discuss changes in weather and seasons using common vocabulary.

Goal 13 Understand important connections and understandings in science and engineering.

  • 13.A Understand rules to follow when investigating and exploring.
    • 13.A.ECa Begin to understand basic safety practices one must follow when exploring and engaging in science and engineering investigations.
  • 13.B Use tools and technology to assist with science and engineering investigations.
    • 13.B.ECa Use nonstandard and standard scientific tools for investigation.
    • 13.B.ECb Become familiar with technological tools that can aid in scientific inquiry.


Goal 14 Understand some concepts related to citizenship.

  • 14.A Understand what it means to be a member of a group and community.
    • 14.A.ECa Recognize the reasons for rules in the home and early childhood environment and for laws in the community.
    • 14.A.ECb Contribute to the well‐being of one’s early childhood environment, school, and community.
  • 14.B Understand the structures and functions of the political systems of Illinois, the United States, and other nations.
  • 14.C Understand ways groups make choices and decisions.
    • 14.C.ECa Participate in voting as a way of making choices.
  • 14.D Understand the role that individuals can play in a group or community.
    • 14.D.ECa Develop an awareness of what it means to be a leader.
    • 14.D.ECb Participate in a variety of roles in the early childhood environment.
  • 14.E Understand United States foreign policy as it relates to other nations and international issues.
  • 14.F Understand the development of United States’ political ideas and traditions.

Goal 15 Explore economic systems and human interdependence.

  • 15.A Explore roles in the economic system and workforce.
    • 15.A.ECa Describe some common jobs and what is needed to perform those jobs.
    • 15.A.ECb Discuss why people work.
  • 15.B Explore issues of limited resources in the early childhood environment and world.
    • 15.B.ECa Understand that some resources and money are limited.
  • 15.C Understand that scarcity necessitates choices by producers.
  • 15.D Explore concepts about trade as an exchange of goods or services.
  • 15.E Understand the impact of government policies and decisions on production and consumption in the economy.

Goal 16 Develop an awareness of the self and his or her uniqueness and individuality.

  • 16.A Explore his or her self and personal history.
  • 16.B Understand the development of significant political events.
  • 16.C Understand the development of economic systems.
  • 16.D Understand Illinois, United States, and world social history.
  • 16.E Understand Illinois, United States, and world environmental history.

Goal 17 Explore geography, the child’s environment, and where people live, work, and play.

  • 17.A Explore environments and where people live.
    • 17.A.ECa Locate objects and places in familiar environments.
    • 17.A.ECb Express beginning geographic thinking.
  • 17.B Analyze and explain characteristics and interactions of the Earth’s physical systems.
  • 17.C Understand relationships between geographic factors and society.
  • 17.D Understand the historical significance of geography.

Goal 18 Explore people and families.

  • 18.A Explore people, their similarities, and their differences.
    • 18.A.ECa Recognize similarities and differences in people.
  • 18.B Develop an awareness of self within the context of family.
    • 18.B.ECa Understand that each of us belongs to a family and recognize that families vary.
    18.C Understand how social systems form and develop over time.


Goal 19 Acquire movement skills and understand concepts needed to explore the environment, support learning, and engage in health‐enhancing physical activity.

  • 19.A Demonstrate physical competency and control of large and small muscles.
    • 19.A.ECa Engage in active play using gross- and fine-motor skills.
    • 19.A.ECb Move with balance and control in a range of physical activities.
    • 19.A.ECc Use strength and control to accomplish tasks.
    • 19.A.ECd Use eye-hand coordination to perform tasks.
    • 19.A.ECe Use writing and drawing tools with some control.
  • 19.B Demonstrate awareness and coordination of body movements.
  • 19.C Demonstrate knowledge of rules and safety during activity.
    • 19.C.ECa Follow simple safety rules while participating in activities.

Goal 20 Develop habits for lifelong fitness.

  • 20.A Achieve and maintain a health‐enhancing level of physical fitness.
    • 20.A.ECa Participate in activities to enhance physical fitness.
    • 20.A.ECb Exhibit increased levels of physical activity.
  • 20.B Assess individual fitness levels.
  • 20.C Set goals based on fitness data and develop, implement, and monitor an individual fitness improvement plan.

Goal 21 Develop team‐building skills by working with others through physical activity.

  • 21.A Demonstrate individual responsibility during group physical activities.
    • 21.A.ECa Follow rules and procedures when participating in group physical activities.
    • 21.A.ECb Follow directions, with occasional adult reminders, during group activities.
  • 21.B Demonstrate cooperative skills during structured group physical activity.
    • 21.B.ECa Demonstrate ability to cooperate with others during group physical activities.

Goal 22 Understand principles of health promotion and the prevention and treatment of illness and injury.

  • 22.A Explain the basic principles of health promotion, illness prevention, treatment, and safety.
    • 22.A.ECa Identify simple practices that promote healthy living and prevent illness.
    • 22.A.ECb Demonstrate personal care and hygiene skills, with adult reminders.
    • 22.A.ECc Identify and follow basic safety rules.
  • 22.B Describe and explain the factors that influence health among individuals, groups, and communities.
  • 22.C Explain how the environment can affect health.

Goal 23 Understand human body systems and factors that influence growth and development.

  • 23.A Describe and explain the structure and functions of the human body systems and how they interrelate.
    • 23.A.ECa Identify body parts and their functions.
  • 23.B Identify ways to keep the body healthy.
  • 23.C Describe factors that affect growth and development.

Goal 24 Promote and enhance health and well‐being through the use of effective communication and decision‐making skills.

  • 24.A Demonstrate procedures for communicating in positive ways, resolving differences, and preventing conflict.
  • 24.B Apply decision-making skills related to the protection and promotion of individual health.
  • 24.C Demonstrate skills essential to enhancing health and avoiding dangerous situations.
    • 24.C.ECa Participate in activities to learn to avoid dangerous situations.


Goal 25 Gain exposure to and explore the arts.

  • 25.A Investigate, begin to appreciate, and participate in the arts.
    • 25.A.ECa Movement and Dance: Build awareness of, explore, and participate in dance and creative movement activities.
    • 25.A.ECb Drama: Begin to appreciate and participate in dramatic activities.
    • 25.A.ECc Music: Begin to appreciate and participate in music activities.View sample lesson plan
    • 25.A.ECd Visual Arts: Investigate and participate in activities using visual arts materials.
  • 25.B Display an awareness of some distinct characteristics of the arts.

Goal 26 Understand that the arts can be used to communicate ideas and emotions.

  • 26.A Understand processes, traditional tools, and modern technologies used in the arts.
  • 26.B Understand ways to express meaning through the arts.

Goal 27 Understand the role of the arts in civilizations, past and present.

  • 27.A Analyze how the arts function in history, society, and everyday life.
  • 27.B Understand how the arts shape and reflect history, society, and everyday life.


Goal 28 Use the home language to communicate within and beyond the classroom.

  • 28.A Use the home language at age-appropriate levels for a variety of social and academic purposes.
    • 28.A.ECa May demonstrate progress and mastery of benchmarks through home language.
    • 28.A.ECb Use home language in family, community, and early childhood settings.
    • 28.A.ECc Develop an awareness of the different contextual and cultural features in the early childhood and community settings the child participates in.

Goal 29 Use the home language to make connections and reinforce knowledge and skills across academic and social areas.

  • 29.A Use the home language to attain benchmarks across all the learning areas and to build upon and develop transferable language and literacy skills.
    • 29.A.ECa Use home cultural and linguistic knowledge to express current understandings and construct new concepts.
    • 29.A.ECb With adult support, begin to bridge home language and English to demonstrate progress in meeting IELDS.
    • 29.A.ECc Exhibit foundational literacy skills in home language to foster transfer to English.


Goal 30 Develop self-management skills to achieve school and life success and develop positive relationships with others.
  • 30.A Identify and manage one’s emotions and behavior.
    • 30.A.ECa Recognize and label basic emotions.
    • 30.A.ECb Use appropriate communication skills when expressing needs, wants, and feelings.
    • 30.A.ECc Express feelings that are appropriate to the situation.
    • 30.A.ECd Begin to understand and follow rules.
    • 30.A.ECe Use materials with purpose, safety, and respect.
    • 30.A.ECf Begin to understand the consequences of his or her behavior.
  • 30.B Recognize own uniqueness and personal qualities.
    • 30.B.ECa Describe self using several basic characteristics.
  • 30.C Demonstrate skills related to successful personal and school outcomes.
    • 30.C.ECa Exhibit eagerness and curiosity as a learner.
    • 30.C.ECb Demonstrate persistence and creativity in seeking solutions to problems.
    • 30.C.ECc Show some initiative, self-direction, and independence in actions.
    • 30.C.ECd Demonstrate engagement and sustained attention in activities.

Goal 31 Use social-awareness and interpersonal skills to establish and maintain positive relationships.

  • 31.A Develop positive relationships with peers and adults.
    • 31.A.ECa Show empathy, sympathy, and caring for others.
    • 31.A.ECb Recognize the feelings and perspectives of others.
    • 31.A.ECc Interact easily with familiar adults.
    • 31.A.ECd Demonstrate attachment to familiar adults.
    • 31.A.ECe Develop positive relationships with peers.
  • 31.B Use communication and social skills to interact effectively with others.
    • 31.B.ECa Interact verbally and nonverbally with other children.
    • 31.B.ECb Engage in cooperative group play.
    • 31.B.ECc Use socially appropriate behavior with peers and adults, such as helping, sharing, and taking turns.
  • 31.C Demonstrate an ability to prevent, manage, and resolve interpersonal conflicts in constructive ways.
    • 31.C.ECa Begin to share materials and experiences and take turns.
    • 31.C.ECb Solve simple conflicts with peers with independence, using gestures or words.
    • 31.C.ECc Seek adult help when needed to resolve conflict.
Goal 32 Demonstrate decision‐making skills and behaviors in personal, school, and community contexts.
  • 32.A Begin to consider ethical, safety, and societal factors in making decisions.
    • 32.A.ECa Participate in discussions about why rules exist.
    • 32.A.ECb Follow rules and make good choices about behavior.
  • 32.B Apply decision‐making skills to deal responsibly with daily academic and social situations.
    • 32.B.ECa Participate in discussions about finding alternative solutions to problems.
  • 32.C Contribute to the well‐being of one’s school and community.

Additional Resources

Visit the Additional Resources page for IELDS Resources.

Tools for Teachers

Links to resources for the Illinois Early Learning and Development Standards created by the Early Childhood Center of Professional Development in Arlington Heights.

IELDS Webinar

This webinar provides a short overview of the Illinois Early Learning and Development Standards. It also provides a tour of the resources available on the Illinois Early Learning Project website that can support the use of the early learning standards in practice and at home.

Print Version

llinois Early Learning and Development Standards for Preschool (ages 3 to kindergarten enrollment age)


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