State of Maine Early Childhood Learning Guidelines March 2005 Maine Department of Education Maine Department of Health and Human Services The Whole Child

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State of Maine

Early Childhood

Learning Guidelines

March 2005

Maine Department of Education

Maine Department of Health and Human Services

The Whole Child


The State of Maine Early Childhood Learning Guidelines serves as a guide for state and local early care and education practitioners’ efforts to improve early childhood professional practice and programs for young children ages three through their entrance into kindergarten. This document considers the core elements contained in the State of Maine Learning Results (K-12). The Guidelines reflect current research on early learning and best practice in early education. The document can be used within and across a wide range of early learning settings—public preschool, Head Start, subsidized child care programs, private child care programs, nursery schools, family child care homes, and informal care settings. The Early Childhood Learning Guidelines are intended to effect greater collaboration and consistency across systems by aligning practice across all early childhood settings and the early grades.

These guidelines recognize that learning in early childhood environments lays a critical foundation for the young child’s later success in school, work, citizenship, and personal fulfillment. Research in brain development has shown that crucial early neural development occurs at critical “windows of opportunity” during a child’s early years. The child’s environment and relationships with his/her family and other adults during the infant/toddler and preschool years will either support and nurture development or put it at risk.

The Task Force that developed the State of Maine Early Childhood Learning Guidelines (3-5) acknowledges that play, in concert with adult planning, guidance, support, and follow-up, is a vital experience of early development and promotes development of the whole child. It is important that children explore and apply new skills through experiences that are interesting, satisfying, and respectful of their desire to touch, hear, see, smell and taste. It is also important that we recognize their natural drive to use both their small and large muscles throughout each day. Through play in a content-rich environment, children not only develop social and motor skills, but also begin to make sense of the world around them, building the foundations they will need to become capable, enthusiastic learners and responsible, healthy adults.
The format of the Early Childhood Learning Guidelines includes indicators within domains with cross-reference to the State of Maine Learning Results by content area and/or cluster in the Appendix. The Task Force felt it important to point out this connection to clarify the importance of early learning as the groundwork for the child’s learning from age five through the high school years. Early childhood professionals who use them will easily see these as the first steps on the child’s kindergarten through 12th grade educational continuum. The Task Force also recognizes that children learn at their own pace, and that some of the expectations in each domain will be applicable to children at a younger developmental stage, while others will be appropriate for children closer to kindergarten entry.


Early Childhood Learning Guidelines are intended to:

  • provide early childhood practitioners and families with guidance as they design learning environments, shape curriculum, lead professional development initiatives, build intentionality into teaching practice, and/or support children’s learning at home. Since effective early childhood learning environments for young children incorporate an integrated, holistic approach to teaching children and address each child’s social, emotional, physical and intellectual development, each of the Early Childhood Learning Guidelines8 domains and their indicators cannot be addressed in isolation. Learning goals must also consider that although developmental stages are predictable, each child develops at his/her own rate for development is influenced by many factors: genetics, prenatal care, birth, temperament, attachment to families and out-of-home caregivers, and early experiences.

  • serve only as a guide for best practice, and are not intended to be used for any form of standardized assessment, to impose specific curriculum standards in a rigid manner, nor for comparison of one child to another.

  • support and flow into the State of Maine Learning Results
    by identifying the knowledge and skills essential to prepare young children for school and to give them the tools they need to succeed socially, emotionally, physically, and intellectually. By creating guidelines that align with the State of Maine Learning Results, the Task Force hopes that schools will, in turn, be ready for young children when they enter kindergarten.


The State of Maine Early Childhood Learning Guidelines Task Force began meeting in Fall 2002 in response to federal initiatives encouraging states to develop early learning guidelines that focus early childhood professionals on preparing young children to succeed in school. National legislation and initiatives—the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001; the Good Start, Grow Smart Initiative; Head Start Child Outcomes Framework—point to the need to strengthen school readiness efforts across local, state, and federal early care and education systems.

As part of the Good Start, Grow Smart Initiative, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Child Care Bureau has asked states to include in their biannual Child Care and Development Plan their progress in creating voluntary quality-related guidelines that align with the State’s K-12 educational standards. For early childhood education, this includes language, literacy, and pre-reading and numeracy. Good Start, Grow Smart also calls on states to coordinate early education programs with public school standards, to help prepare children to enter school.

Within this context, the Maine Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Child Care and Head Start convened an Early Childhood Learning Guidelines Task Force comprised of a diverse group of early education leaders including representation from the Maine Department of Education. The group was charged with developing a developmentally appropriate set of early learning guidelines that would be grounded in best practice and research, while serving to align what children are learning before they enter kindergarten with what is expected of them once they enter school. The Task Force drew from a rich array of existing professional standards and research on early learning and development, as well as from the expertise of its own members.
The document underwent rigorous review by a panel of 50 state and national experts with knowledge of early childhood development and teaching practice, as well as specific content areas. In addition, two forums were convened to solicit input from nearly 200 early childhood practitioners. Suggestions from each of these groups were incorporated into the final document.
The Early Childhood Learning Guidelines were piloted in three areas of the state. Practitioners from public pre-K programs, Head Start, child care centers, family child care homes and nursery schools were all part of the pilot project. A curriculum to train practitioners to implement the Early Childhood Learning Guidelines in their classrooms or homes was developed and evaluated. Members of the pilot also evaluated the age-appropriateness of the guidelines.


The organization of the State of Maine Early Childhood Learning Guidelines is designed with eight domains – Personal and Social Development, Approaches to Learning, Creative Arts, Early Language and Literacy, Health and Physical Education, Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies. Within each domain there are one or more domain elements, such as Numbers and Number Sense, Shape and Size, Mathematical Decision-Making and Patterns within the Mathematics domain. Indicators of what children should know and be able to do when they enter kindergarten are the next level.

These indicators are cross-referenced to the State of Maine Learning Results (K-12) by content area and/or cluster. While the Early Childhood Learning Guidelines focus on some of the same content areas as the State of Maine Learning Results (K-12), it also recognizes other aspects of development that are critical to young children’s learning. Therefore, two additional areas: Personal and Social Development and Approaches to Learning were added. Because these are viewed as the building blocks for all the other content areas, they are placed as the first two sections of these Early Childhood Learning Guidelines. For the young child, theses areas are essential foundations for development and learning across the other domains.
The indicators are also cross-referenced to the Head Start Child Outcomes Framework that includes indicators that are already being used in Maine Head Start programs. These cross- references to Maine Learning Results and the Head Start outcomes are found in Appendix A.

The following outcomes developed for Early Intervention programs by the Early Childhood Outcomes Center at the Frank Porter Graham Center at the University of North Carolina are also included in these Guidelines:

  1. Children have positive social relationships

  2. Children acquire and use knowledge and skills, and

  3. Children take action to meet their needs.

Essential Practices

  • The Whole Child—An Integrated Approach

While the division of learning into domains is necessary to organize the guidelines, learning for the young child is not isolated by domains, but occurs across areas. Because the domains are interconnected, and because children learn by constructing new knowledge from existing knowledge, early childhood professionals and families must approach the Early Childhood Learning Guidelines with an interdisciplinary and constructivist perspective. The design of the learning environment and curriculum should consider and support the development of the whole child—intellectually, physically, socially, and emotionally.

In high quality early learning environments, both learning and assessment are successfully integrated across several domains at the same time. For example, a science project may also build literacy, numeracy, communication, and social skills as children document and track their experimentation and observations.

Early education practitioners are encouraged to approach the Early Childhood Learning Guidelines from a multidisciplinary perspective when designing their curriculum and planning activities. Young children engaged in active learning will integrate knowledge and skills across domains.

  • For All Children

One of the most important considerations in the development of the Early Childhood Learning Guidelines was ensuring that it would apply to all children from three years of age to their entrance into kindergarten. These Learning Guidelines present goals and a continuum for what all children—including young children with unique learning needs and those with disabilities—should be able to do. Children develop at different rates and have different physical, emotional, and intellectual abilities. The early learning environment should incorporate appropriate adaptations to meet the needs of each individual child and enable them to achieve to the maximum level of their abilities.
In order to provide young children with age-appropriate opportunities to develop the attitudes, skills, and knowledge for school and life success, early childhood professionals have an important responsibility to design environments, curriculum, and assessment and to adjust their teaching practices to meet the needs of a diverse group of children. It is critical for the early childhood professional to implement a comprehensive, individualized approach to observing, assessing, and planning for each child and his/her unique needs, culture, and abilities.

In today’s diverse communities, young children have varied family, cultural, and linguistic experiences. Children whose home language is other than English face the challenge of experiencing an early childhood learning environment that may not be consistent with their home culture and language. As early childhood professionals work to incorporate practices that support all of the Early Childhood Learning Guidelines, they should demonstrate a respect for and appreciation of the language skills, knowledge, and culture that the young child learning English brings to the early childhood environment, while encouraging the development of the child's home language.

Children with diagnosed disabilities have rights under federal and state special education law, including the right to a free appropriate public education in the least restrictive setting and access to the general education curriculum. A continuum of services and supports, and appropriate adaptations and modifications to the environment, materials, and teaching approaches are necessary to ensure that all learners, including young children with disabilities, can demonstrate what they know and can do. In working with a child with disabilities, as with all children, the early childhood professional should demonstrate an ability to design alternative ways for each child to best meet the expectations, using information based on each child’s way of attending, organizing information, communicating and interacting.

  • Learning Happens Within Relationships

Young children’s social and emotional development is the foundation for their cognitive development. Children learn best in an environment where their psychological needs are being met because they feel safe, valued as unique individuals, while they are actively engaged in acquiring new skills and knowledge. Early learning is enhanced by curiosity, creativity, independence, cooperativeness, and persistence.

Children are dependent upon their interactions with peers and adults to construct a sense of self and to view themselves as learners. Early childhood practitioners are aware of the importance of children developing a strong and positive self-concept as well as appropriate self-control and growth in their awareness of their responsibilities when interacting with others. Children are more likely to do well in school when they have a positive sense of personal well-being, developed through consistent caring relationships in their early years. Children also do better in school settings when they have the social skills and behaviors that enable them to development meaningful relationships with adults and peers.

  • Experiential Learning

Children are active learners. Children learn through experiences with people, objects and things in their world. Experiences through play, knowledge, curiosity and sense of wonder are foundations for children’s learning. The early childhood environment should provide opportunities for children to explore materials and engage in concrete activities and to interact with peers and adults to construct their own understanding about the world around them. The best foundation for later learning is provided when children have multiple and varied opportunities to interact with their environment.
Play, as noted on page 1, is the vehicle for learning and development across domains. It is a dynamic process that allows children to practice skills they will need later in life. Early childhood practitioners are encouraged to create environments that support meaningful play as the key medium for learning.

  • Intentionality

The Early Childhood Learning Guidelines provide a common framework for developmentally appropriate expectations for children ages three and four. Individual early childhood practitioners can develop curriculum and plan assessment appropriate to their setting and related to the expectations. They are not locked into a set curriculum but rather can design activities within any number of topics that will give children opportunities to meet the indicators individually and at their own pace. The indicators can be used to help early childhood practitioners define what they want young children to know and be able to do. Learning activities can then be designed to help children reach the expectations.

  • Partnerships with Families

The early childhood practitioner is most effective when young children are viewed in the context of their families and culture. It is within the family that children’s attitudes toward learning and their understanding of the world begin. The language and culture that children bring with them to the early learning environment is the prism through which they view the world around them and through which they interpret and learn. Through ongoing communication with families, early childhood professionals expand on what children are learning in the home and support the development of families as equal partners in the child’s education. Viewing families with respect and equality fosters and maximizes cooperative involvement critical to the child’s school success.

The Early Childhood Learning Guidelines are intended for families, as well as practitioners. Families can draw on the domains and indicators to guide them as they support their child’s development at home and partner with practitioners.

  • Assessment

These Learning Results are just one part of ensuring high-quality early childhood learning environments for children in the State of Maine. The implementation of research-based,

appropriately applied child assessment is also critical to ensuring quality. Multiple approaches to assessment (e.g., portfolios, observation and narratives) provide professionals and families with the information they need to individualize their work with children and to adapt curriculum and daily activities to meet the needs and abilities of each child. It is essential that each early childhood learning environment and its professionals carefully design systems and multiple approaches—including alternative approaches adapted to children with disabilities— to assessing children to obtain information that enhances teaching strategies and curriculum.

Implementation and Resources

Implementation of the Early Childhood Learning Guidelines may vary, as each early education setting is unique. Early childhood professionals and families will establish their own unique approach to such issues as curriculum development, child assessment, planning, child observation, professional development, and designing the learning environment.

A “crosswalk” between these Guidelines and the Maine Learning Results and the Head Start Path to Positive Child Outcomes defines clearly how the indicators in this document not only align with indicators already being used in Head Start programs but also provide the foundation for later learning.

The Early Childhood Learning Guidelines contains a rich bibliography that professionals and families can draw on to guide their practice. It is important to note that the Learning Guidelines is not a curriculum. A full curriculum contains detail about what children should know and scaffolded approaches and sequences to helping children gain skills and knowledge. It often prescribes materials and methods. These Learning Guidelines describe child outcomes for all young children for practitioners and families to draw on as they design and shape curriculum and child assessment approaches.

Fully meeting the Learning Guidelines will present challenges even for the most highly skilled early childhood practitioner. They can be most fully exercised through sound developmentally appropriate practice that encourages children’s play, natural curiosity, and enthusiasm for learning. With the creation of the Learning Guidelines, practitioners are challenged to consider ways to build greater intentionality into their practice, observe and assess children’s development, implement scaffolded learning strategies, design a rich learning environment, offer varied and stimulating play experiences, and select age-appropriate materials to support children’s learning and school readiness.
The Early Childhood Learning Guidelines should generate ongoing discussion among early childhood professionals. Such discussion and reflection about practice serves to deepen knowledge and understanding about how the Learning Guidelines can be deep-rooted in curriculum, teaching practice, planning, and assessment.

Personal and Social Development

According to Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, the foundations for each individual’s personal and social development lie in providing basic physiological (food, shelter) and safety (security/stability) and relationship (belonging/love) needs early in life. Maslow’s theory suggests that all people need a safe and nurturing environment to achieve their full potential. When the environment in which a child develops is safe and nurturing, the building blocks for learning are laid. Such a foundation enables a child to become a full contributing member of the community with a healthy sense of self and social skills to navigate a complex society. The personal and social skills gained in the early years, through play, exploration, and interaction, enable the child to become a responsible and respectful member of a group while developing their own skills, interests, and ambitions.

Personal and Social Development

Children develop:


A) Self Control

Seeks adult help when needed for emotional support

Demonstrates increasing competency in recognizing own and others’ emotions
Demonstrates increasing competency in describing own and others’ emotions

Shows progress in expressing feelings, needs, and opinions in difficult situations and conflicts without harming themselves, others, or property

Demonstrates increasing capacity to follow rules and routines
Uses materials and equipment purposefully, safely, and respectfully

B) Self Concept

Develops and communicates a growing awareness of self as having certain abilities, characteristics, preferences, and rights (ex., makes choices during the day based on personal interests)
Separates from family to participate in early education setting
Increases ability to adjust to new situations

Explores and experiments with new interests

Develops a growing understanding of how own actions affect others

Begins to accept the consequences of own actions

Expresses pride in accomplishments

C) Social Competence

Demonstrates an understanding of and follows through with basic responsibilities (ex., dressing, clean-up)

Interacts appropriately with familiar adult(s)

Interacts with one or more children

Interacts respectfully and cooperatively with adults and peers

Increases abilities to participate successfully as a member of a group through sustaining interactions with peers such as helping, sharing, and discussing

Listens with interest and understanding to directions

Listens with interest and understanding during conversations

Shows increasing abilities to use compromise and discussion in play, and resolution of conflicts with peers

Demonstrates some understanding of others’ rights, uniqueness, and individuality

Approaches to Learning

The young child is, by nature, curious and inquisitive. A well-designed, intentional learning environment is one in which early childhood professionals play a key role in facilitating children’s play and in assessing and building on their strengths, interests, learning, and knowledge. Such learning environments, with family support and involvement, stimulate children to explore, initiate, and problem solve, extending the child’s curiosity and encouraging further questions and reflection. In such an environment, and together with meaningful communication with families, children develop the learning attitudes and skills needed to succeed in school and to remain active learners through their entire life.

Approaches to Learning

Children develop:


A) Initiative and Curiosity

Expresses (verbally or nonverbally) an eagerness to participate in and learn about a widening range of topics, ideas, and tasks

Finds more than one solution to a question, task, or problem

Recognizes and solves problems through active exploration, including trial and error, and interactions and discussions with peers and adults

Approaches tasks and activities with increasing flexibility, imagination, and inventiveness

Engages in individual or group activities that express real life experiences, ideas, knowledge, feelings, and fantasy

Participates in an increasing variety of tasks and activities

B) Persistence and Reflection

Persists in and completes an increasing variety of tasks, activities, projects, and experiences

Sets goals, develops plans, and completes tasks

Demonstrates a capacity to maintain concentration for a meaningful period of time on a task, set of directions, or interactions, despite distractions and interruptions

Applies prior experiences, senses, and knowledge to new learning situations

Considers and implements different approaches to carrying out a task

Alters approach to tasks when initial approach does not work

Recognizes and solves problems independently through trial and error and by interacting with peers and adults

Seeks help appropriately from another child or an adult when encountering a problem

Discusses or documents important aspects of an experience and identifies what was learned

Demonstrates new learnings by changing his/her approach and/or behavior

Creative Arts
The creative arts (music, visual arts, dance, theater) appeal to young children’s different senses and are expressed through different materials and activities offered daily in the early childhood learning environment. The arts offer an outlet for emotional, creative, and physical expression, and also help young children to understand their world, acquire verbal and non-verbal abilities, problem solve, and develop confidence, self-esteem, cooperation, discipline, and self-motivation. Experience in the arts lays a foundation for lifelong use and enjoyment of many of expressive, analytical, and developmental tools valuable in their daily lives. Yet, most importantly, young children should experience the arts as a source of enjoyment, expression, and creativity.

Creative Arts

Children develop skills, knowledge and appreciation of the arts by:


Participating with increasing interest and enjoyment in a variety of music, movement, visual art, drama activities, e.g., singing, finger plays, easel painting, dramatic play.

Moves in time to music

Shows increasing ability in keeping/moving in time to different patterns of beat and rhythm in music

Uses different art media and materials, e.g. paint, crayons, Playdough, paper, glue; in a variety of ways for creative expression and presentation

Progresses in abilities to create drawings, paintings, and other art creations that reflect more detail, creativity, and/or realism

Identifies shapes, textures, and colors

Tells about and/or role-plays characters from stories, people in own or imagined community, people and events from own or imagined experience

Uses props to enhance role playing and dramatic play

Begins to understand and develop the vocabulary to share opinions about artistic creations and experiences

Early Language and Literacy

To develop good thinking strategies, the early learning environment must engage young children as active learners. Young children form a strong foundation for English language arts when their emergent literacy skills (reading, writing, and speaking) are developed to build their beginning reading and writing abilities. Hands-on exposure to books and language arts, creative expression through play, and guided encouragement from adults develop the child’s verbal and writing skills as well as a love of reading and the spoken word. They provide the child not only with the tools for lifelong learning, but also with the ability to become a critical thinker and effective communicator. The early childhood learning environment provides children with opportunities to explore and understand the basic elements of spoken and written language and the ways in which these are used.

To succeed in school and life, young children must develop linguistic and cultural skills to communicate successfully in a diverse society. Language and communication are at the heart of the human experience, whether communication takes place face-to-face, in writing, or across the centuries through the reading of literature.

The early learning environment should integrate language experiences throughout the curriculum—building children’s vocabulary, skills in constructing sentences (grammar) and composing their thoughts (content). While some children whose home language is English may be interested and ready to learn words of another language, many children in today’s early childhood settings are English language learners—speaking a language other than English in their homes. The goal of all early childhood learning environments is to help all children gain proficiency in English, while honoring their home language and culture.

*Please note: When using American Sign Language, modifications will need to be made in the communication terminology used in the following content standards and performance indicators.

Early Language and Literacy
Children develop knowledge and skills related to:


A) Communicating and Listening

Asks and answers simple questions about self and family by using learned phrases and recalled vocabulary

Develops increasing abilities to understand and use language to communicate information, experiences, ideas, feelings, opinions, needs, questions, and for other varied purposes

Communicates clearly enough to be understood by familiar and unfamiliar listeners
Uses an increasingly complex and varied spoken vocabulary
Progresses in listening to and understanding the English language while maintaining home language, when the two are not the same
Demonstrates increased proficiency in home and English languages (English Language Learner)

B) Book Knowledge and Appreciation
Understanding and appreciation that books and other forms of print have a purpose.

Seeks out and enjoys experiences with pictures, books, and other print materials, e.g., asks for a story to be read, looks at pictures in magazines

Handles and cares for books;

Listens to and communicates information about favorite books

Knows that books provide information about the world. Understands that a book has a title, author and illustrator

Knows to view one page at a time in sequence from front to back.

Incorporates some literacy activities into dramatic play, e.g., pretends to read a book, write on paper, or use written signs or labels.

C) Comprehension

Understanding that spoken and written words have meaning.

Identifies objects from books
Retells information from a story

Demonstrates understanding of basic plots of simple stories in a variety of ways (ex., retelling, role play, illustrating, responding to questions)

Make reasonable predictions about what will happen next or how things might have turned out differently in a story
Makes observations about the use of words and pictures

Understands the main idea of simple information

D) Sounds in Spoken Language

Phonological Awareness

(the ability to hear and work with the sounds of spoken language)

Phonemic Awareness (understanding that spoken words are made up of separate, small sounds)

  • Recites simple poems or nursery rhymes

  • Develops an awareness of word sounds and rhythms of language, e.g., rhyming, singing

  • Knows that different words can begin with the same sound

  • Recognizes that sounds are associated with letters of the alphabet and that they form words

  • Recognizes characteristic sounds and rhythms of language, including the relationship between sounds and letters.

E) Print Concepts
Understanding that words they see in print and words they speak and hear are related.

  • Recognizes own written name

  • Identifies some labels and signs, e.g., stop, go, exit

  • Recognizes that letters are grouped to form words.

F) Alphabet Knowledge

Recognizing that sounds are associated with letters of the alphabet and that they form words

  • Identifies some letters of the alphabet

G) Early Writing

Using symbols to represent words and ideas.

  • Tells about experiences and discoveries, both orally and in writing, which could include child’s own invented, emergent writing.

  • Experiments with growing variety of writing tools, materials, and resources, including adaptive communication and writing devices

  • Understands that writing is a way of communicating (ex., dictates ideas or events)

§Uses scribbles, shapes, or pictures to represent thoughts or ideas

  • Copies or prints own name

  • Engages in writing using letter-like symbols to make letters or words.

Health and Physical Education

Young children begin to learn that health practices can affect their health and set a pattern for their lives. Adult modeling and discussion about good health practices helps equip young children with the knowledge and skills to thrive physically, mentally, emotionally, and socially. This helps young children meet the challenges of growing up—understanding the benefits of safety, prevention, good hygiene, and appropriate medical care. Through health education, young children become aware of the dimensions of good health: physical soundness and vigor; mental alertness and ability to concentrate; expressing emotions in a healthy way; resiliency; and positive relations with others.

Health and Physical Education

Children develop knowledge and skills related to:


A) Healthy Habits

  • Makes known health-related needs and/or interests and considers possible options, e.g., when thirsty, asks for water

  • Uses basic personal hygiene practices and understands that those practices help to maintain good health

  • Tries a variety of nutritious foods and knows the difference between healthful foods and those with little nutritional value

  • Regularly participates in active games, outdoor play and other forms of exercise that enhance physical fitness

  • Practices safety skills for different situations, e.g., crossing street, using seatbelts, awareness of strangers

  • Links particular community helpers with given situations/needs, e.g., police officer, firefighter, nurse

B) Gross and Find Motor Skills

  • Moves with an awareness of personal space in relationship to others

  • Demonstrates progress with non-locomotor skills (moving in place, e.g., turning, twisting)

  • Shows increasing levels of proficiency, control and balance in walking, climbing, running, jumping, hopping, skipping, marching, and galloping

  • Demonstrates increasing abilities to coordinate movements in throwing, catching, kicking, bouncing balls, and using the slide and swing
  • Makes successful transitions between sequential motor skills, e.g., demonstrates progress in running and jumping

  • Demonstrates cooperative skills (following rules, taking turns, sharing equipment, etc.) while participating in physical activities

  • Grows in eye-hand coordination in building with blocks, putting together puzzles, reproducing shapes and patterns, stringing beads and using scissors

  • Develops increasing strength, dexterity, and control needed to use tools, e.g., such as scissors, paper punch, and stapler

  • Progresses in abilities to use writing, drawing and art tools including pencils, markers, chalk, paint brushes, and various types of adaptive technology as needed

  • Uses standard and/or adaptive early childhood motor equipment safely and appropriately

The early learning environment should provide young children with rich opportunities to discover fundamental mathematical concepts and the relevance math has to daily life. Learning environments should offer a variety of tools, such as measuring cups, balance scales, blocks, cubes, and other hands-on materials. Skillful early childhood professionals help children understand the usefulness of such tools and encourage their problem-solving skills. Such teaching practices lead to the enjoyment and appreciation of mathematics through purposeful activities, and prepare young children for a future in which mathematics and problem-solving strategies will be increasingly important in all areas of endeavor.


Children develop knowledge and skills related to:


A) Numbers and Number Sense
  • Demonstrates an increasing ability to count in sequence to 10 and beyond

§Matches a number of objects with written numeral (ex., one dog and written numeral “1”)

  • Understands that numbers have multiple uses, e.g., measurement, recipes, prices, and ages (self and peers), phone numbers and street numbers

  • Demonstrates increasing interest and awareness of numbers and counting as a means for solving problems and determining quantity

  • Identifies positions of objects in a sequence, e.g., first, second, third, last

  • Uses one-to-one correspondence in counting objects and matching groups of objects

  • Shows growth in matching, sorting, putting in a series, and regrouping objects according to one or two attributes such as color, shape, or size

  • Demonstrates understanding of concepts whole and part

B) Shape and Size

  • Builds increasing understanding of directionality, order and position of objects and words such as up, down, inside, outside, next to, in front, behind, on top of, under

  • Recognizes, names, matches, and sorts simple shapes

  • Begins to determine whether two objects are the same size and shape

  • Matches two dimensional geometric shapes (ex., puzzles, non-interlocking puzzles)

  • Recognizes and compares objects based on differences in length, volume, weight, width (thick and thin)

  • Uses non-standard units of measurement (ex., books, hands, blocks) to measure objects

  • Recognizes some basic concepts of time and sequence, e.g., morning, afternoon, yesterday, today, tomorrow, before, after

  • Describes simple navigation activities (ex., how to get from the block area to the housekeeping corner; how to get from one room to another)

C) Mathematical


  • Responds to questions that can be answered with information gained through data analysis (ex., How many different kinds of footwear are children wearing? How many children are wearing red sneakers?)

  • Makes two and three dimensional depictions, such as graphs and charts, of information gathered from immediate surroundings (ex., number of people in family, how many buttons on clothes)

  • Uses planning to acquire a desired outcome (ex., selecting appropriate types and quantities of materials)

D) Patterns

·Begins to recognize, copy, extend, and create simple patterns (ex., sounds, objects, shapes)

·Matches and sorts objects



Children develop knowledge and skills related to:


A) Scientific Knowledge

  • Knows differences between living and non-living things
  • Sorts living things by characteristics such as movement, environment,or body covering,e.g hair, feathers,scales

  • Knows that animals live in different habitats on earth

  • Knows that living things are made up of different parts

  • Recognizes that most things are made of parts and that they may not work if parts are missing.

  • Identifies body parts and knows their functions

  • Knows that plants and animals need food, water, air, and sun to survive

  • Shows interest in and discovers relationships and patterns (e.g., butterfly wings, leaves)

  • Expands knowledge of and respect for their environment

B) Scientific Process

  • Demonstrates curiosity about the natural environment.

  • Explores and experiments with different materials, objects and situations.

  • Asks questions and proposes ways to answer them.

  • Identifies problems and proposes ways to solve them.

  • Makes predictions and tests them.

  • Observes and discusses changes that occur in their world, e.g., plant growth, colors of foliage, stages of living things (caterpillar/butterfly), night and day, seasons, weather, a new building in the community.

  • Observes and describes the physical properties of objects.

  • Observes, describes and investigates changes in materials and cause and effect relationships, ex., cooking eggs, melting ice, making playdough.

  • Uses simple tools such as measuring devices to observe differences, similarities, and change.

  • Develops growing abilities to collect, describe, and record information through a variety of means including observation, discussion, drawings, maps, and charts.

  • Makes generalizations or conclusions based on experiences.

The early childhood learning environment offers many opportunities for young children to explore, experience and question, thereby laying the foundation for an understanding of the scientific and technological aspects of their world. A rich science curriculum provides children with the tools and techniques of early science inquiry, and stimulates them to construct theories and knowledge about the world around them through every day experience. The early childhood professional encourages active learning through both individual and cooperative exploration, building on children’s innate curiosity and desire to understand the world in which they live. Through inquiry and experimentation, children also build literacy, numeracy, and communication skills as they pose questions and formulate and explore their theories about the physical world in which they live.

Social Studies

Young children’s neighborhoods and communities help them to form an understanding about the larger world. Their understanding of and ability to participate cooperatively in family and group settings enables children to develop, practice, and apply skills required to be full participants in a democratic society.

Social Studies

Children develop understanding of the larger world through activities related to:


Families and Communities

  • Develops understanding of self as part of a family, group, community, and culture.

  • Demonstrates a beginning understanding family/non-family.

  • Demonstrates a beginning understanding of the concept of generations.

  • Demonstrates a beginning understanding of past, present, and future.

  • Understands and discusses why certain responsibilities are important (ex., cleaning up, caring for pets).

  • Demonstrates the knowledge and skills needed to perform particular jobs and tasks (ex., helps with making snacks, setting table)

  • Notices and expresses interest in different careers and workers’ roles

  • Dramatizes the ways people work and various aspects of their jobs.

  • .

Explores and discusses various ways people communicate, how they travel and how they live/work.

  • Identifies tools and technology used at home, school, and work.

  • Demonstrates interest in simple maps and other visuals to describe geographic location, direction, distance, size, and shape.

  • Understands that there are other cultures with different languages foods, art, music, forms of shelter

  • .

Appreciates a language with the dress, holidays, and music of a country or region with a different language.

  • Identifies unique products of another culture such as toys, food, songs, currency, and crafts.

  • Knows and discusses where some products come from.

  • Understands the basic relationship of money to the purchase of food, shelter, goods, and services

  • .

  • Demonstrates awareness of the need to protect the natural environment.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Maine Early Childhood Learning Guidelines


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