The first four years of life is a period of rapid development for young children. Recent research supports that every
child is born with well-developed senses and reflexes. Beginning at birth, young infants are able to form relationships with
adults, develop trust, and explore the world. With adequate nutrition, an appropriate environment, and nurturing by responsive adults, young children become actively engaged in exploration and in learning about their environments. Each child’s special temperament and family context ensure that, while development will follow a somewhat predictable sequence, the child’s development will be unique.
Florida Early Learning and Developmental Standards is a comprehensive document containing age appropriate information and reflections about how young children explore, create, and think. The Standards are grounded in Florida’s conviction that children’s early experiences are directly related to later success in school, in the workforce, and in life. The information in this document is offered to parents, caregivers, and teachers so that their interactions with young children in the home, and in school readiness, Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten (VPK), and other early care and education programs can build upon children’s emerging talents and strengths in appropriate and enriching ways.
This document is the latest in a series of steps that Florida has taken to support early learning programs in collaboration
with public and private partners. The School Readiness Act, Section 411.01 of the Florida Statutes, created the Partnership for School Readiness (now called the Agency for Workforce Innovation’s Office of Early Learning, or OEL). The Act also called for the creation of standards for school readiness programs. In 2000, the Partnership approved standards for five-year-olds, which were augmented in 2001 by standards for three- and four-year-olds. In 2004, the Office of Early Learning adopted the Florida Birth to Three Learning and Developmental Standards, and in 2005, the Florida Department of Education’s Office of Early Learning established the Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten Standards, which were revised in 2008.
Since these various Standards were published, caregivers and teachers, parents, and experts have provided suggestions
for improvement. In 2007, the Agency created a Steering Committee to provide guidance for a comprehensive set of Standards that would provide a developmentally appropriate educational path for Florida’s children from birth through age four.
Florida’s Birth through Five Early Learning and Development Standards are organized into five domains or
development. These domains include: Physical Development; Cognition and General Knowledge; Social and Emotional
Development; Language and Communication; and Approaches to Learning. Each domain is broken down into sub-domains
that focus on specific areas, and the Standards themselves are found within those sub-domains. Four behavioral examples are
provided to help the reader understand each standard.
To make the Standards useful for parents, caregivers, and teachers, a series of Questions to Ask Yourself are included
in each domain. Suggestions for integrating the standards into daily interactions with young children can also be found in the
Environmental Considerations sections for each domain. Members of Florida’s Head Start/Early Head Start community will find
a correlation between the Florida standards and the Head Start Program Performance Standards at the end of each domain.
The Standards can be used in multiple ways. First, they are designed to help parents, caregivers, and teachers
create intentional and appropriate experiences for young children, based on an understanding of each child’s developmental
accomplishments and anticipated next steps.
Second, the Standards can help adults understand what young children may be able to do and
inappropriate expectations. While the standards are not designed to be an assessment tool, they can serve to enhance adults’
understanding of the order of development during the early years.
The Standards can also be a useful tool for enriching the experiences of young children with special needs.
Understanding and planning for those who develop at a different rate or sequence can help all young children who participate in
early care and education programs.
Fourth, the standards create a common language for parents, caregivers, and teachers. A hallmark of sound early
experiences is that the adults who care about and for young children work together to ensure a seamless and enriching set of
early experiences based on nurturing relationships and active exploration of an ever-changing world. Having a shared basis for
communication increases the probability that these adult partnerships will be successful.
The Florida Birth through Five Early Learning and Development Standards are based on principles that incorporate our
collective knowledge about child development and sound professional practice. These principles reflect a shared position about
early learning and development.