Early Childhood Standards, Curriculum & Instruction
A core component of a high-quality early education experience is that children are provided opportunities, experiences and materials that allow them to engage deeply within developmental/early learning domains to build their school readiness skills. Virginia's Early Learning and Development Standards, Birth-Five Learning Guidelines articulate the skills and knowledge young children need to demonstrate by the end of preschool in order to be successful in kindergarten. Using effective curricula helps ensure that children are afforded the opportunities, activities and interactions within the classroom that support their learning and development of critical school readiness skills.
Virginia's Early Learning and Development Standards (ELDS), Birth-Five Learning Guidelines
Virginia has a new set of comprehensive early learning and development standards for young children, birth to age five! The new standards, Virginia's Early Learning and Development Standards (ELDS), Birth-Five Learning Guidelines-This is a PDF document., focus on five "Areas of Development": Approaches to Play and Learning, Social and Emotional Development, Communication, Language, and Literacy Development, Health and Physical Development and Cognitive Development (Science, Social Sciences: People, Community and Culture, Mathematics and Fine Arts).
With the goal of ensuring all Virginia children have equitable opportunity to enter kindergarten ready to thrive, these new standards have been developed to support birth to five programs to:
- Understand child development and provide developmentally-appropriate practice,
- Use quality instructional tools and engage in aligned professional development,
- Individualize care and instruction to meet the needs of all learners, and
- Promote holistic and intentional learning and development at each age and stage.
Important to Note: Virginia's new early learning and development standards were approved by the Board of Education on March 18, 2021 and are the replacement for the Foundation Blocks for Early Learning: Comprehensive Standards for Four-Year-Olds and Milestones of Child Development documents. Effective Fall 2021, all birth to five programs are expected to implement the new standards.
For more information read the press release: Board of Education Approves New Early Childhood Learning and Development Standards-This is a Word document..
This document is Virginia's new set of comprehensive early learning and development standards for young children, birth to age five.
- Virginia's Early Learning and Development Standards (ELDS), Birth-Five Learning Guidelines-This is a PDF document.
The following resources provide introductory and implementation guidance information related to Virginia's Early Learning and Development Standards, Birth-Five Learning Guidelines:
- ELDS Introductory and Implementation Guidance Webinar (24.04 minutes)
- ELDS Introductory and Implementation Guidance Presentation-This is a PDF document.
Early Childhood Curriculum
Teachers need effective early childhood curricula that provide stimulating and engaging learning experiences which are proven to promote school readiness. Using a research-based, integrated and comprehensive curriculum package effectively helps ensure children are engaged in developmentally appropriate, child-led and adult-guided activities that promote their school readiness skills.
Virginia's Early Learning and Development Standards, Birth-Five Learning Guidelines (below) are intended to help early childhood educators implement a comprehensive curriculum and effective classroom activities. A program’s curriculum may include one or more commercial curricula, locally developed curriculum and other instructional materials.
Virginia has been reviewing curriculum at the state level to encourage more programs to use quality instructional tools. A curriculum review process helps programs to identify and implement curricula to best support the learning and development of their children.
Birth to five programs currently operating in Virginia that do not yet have an approved curriculum-This is a Word document. in use may be eligible for a comprehensive and expert-led review of their curriculum by the VDOE. Interested programs should first review the Overview of the Curriculum Process for Practice Year 1-This is a Word document.. Effective July 1, 2021, VDOE’s new, multi-level process begins with an interested program leader’s review and completion of the Curriculum Pre-Submission Checklist for Birth to Five Programs.
Note: Completion of the Curriculum Pre-Submission Checklist does not guarantee a comprehensive review will be conducted by VDOE. In 2021-2022, programs that are participating in Practice Year 1 of VQB5 will be prioritized for a curriculum review if eligible.
Programs that do not have a curriculum that meets VDOE’s Baseline Criteria for High-Quality Birth to Five Curriculum-This is a Word document. as listed in the pre-submission checklist should NOT rush to purchase a new product. Additional support in obtaining an appropriate curriculum will be forthcoming from the VDOE.
VDOE-Approved Curriculum List for Birth to Five Programs
This document includes a list of currently approved early childhood curriculum options. This document will be updated on a monthly basis.
The following document describes Virginia's early childhood curriculum options for VQB5 Practice Year 1.
As a follow up to the Quality Matters: Practice Years Update Webinar, VDOE has released a pre-recorded webinar which focuses on the multiple ways Virginia is expanding access to quality early childhood curriculum options for programs participating in VQB5.
- VQB5 Curriculum Options and Access (Practice Years 1 and 2) Pre-Recorded Webinar (32:48 minutes)
- Presentation Slides-This is a PDF document.
Research shows that participation in programs with typically developing peers is beneficial to both children with and without disabilities. For those with disabilities, inclusion enhances language and social skills. Children without disabilities appreciate diversity and show greater empathy. Please see the EC Inclusive Practices page for resources.
Virginia Early Childhood Inclusion Guidance Document
This guidance document is designed to assist Virginia’s school divisions and early childhood communities in identifying, developing and sustaining inclusive opportunities within high-quality, early childhood programs for children with disabilities.
Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation (ECMHC)
House Joint Resolution 51 (HJ51-This is a PDF document. was passed by the Virginia General Assembly in the 2020 legislative session, establishing the support, need, and research-base for a statewide Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation (ECMHC) program to prevent young childrens' suspension and expulsion from early learning programs. ECMHC is an intervention strategy that aims to promote young children’s social-emotional development and mental health well-being.
Following HJ51 recommendations, an ECMHC model is being piloted during the 2021-2022 School Year by the Virginia Infant Toddler Specialist Network (VA ITSN) and The University of Virginia's Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning (UVA-CASTL) in two Preschool Development, Birth to Five (PDG B-5) Communities: Henrico (including the City of Richmond; Charles City; and Goochland, Hanover, Henrico, New Kent, and Powhatan counties) and Chesterfield (including the City of Colonial Heights and Chesterfield County).
Early childhood education programs serving children ages birth-to-five (infant, toddler, and/or preschool) that are within the target region and are receiving anypublic funds (including but not limited to child care subsidy, Virginia Preschool Initiative (VPI) and Head Start/Early Head Start funding) are eligible to participate in the ECMHC program.
Virginia Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation (ECMHC) Pilot Program Frequently Asked Questions
This document provides answers to frequently asked questions about Virginia's ECMHC Pilot Program for the 2021-2022 School Year. The document includes information about the ECMHC program model, benefits, format and eligibility criteria:
- Virginia Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation (ECMHC) Pilot Program Frequently Asked Questions-This is a PDF document.
- Parent Organizer with Educational Resources (POWER) – This webpage provides a number of resources for parents of children with disabilities and is organized by early childhood, elementary, middle and high school
- Formed Families Forward
- New Path – The ARC of Virginia
- Beach Center on Disabilities
- Family Connect: For Parents of Children with Visual Impairments
- Medical Home Plus Virginia
- Parent Educational Advocacy Training Center (PEATC)
- Research and Training Center on Family Support and Children's Mental Health
- Syndromes Without a Name (SWAN) (SWAN)
- MATRIX Parent Network and Resource Center Blog
School Readiness/Early Childhood Assessment
- Virginia Kindergarten Readiness Program (VKRP) - Virginia's state readiness assessment system; provides targeted instructional resources for literacy, mathematics, self-regulation and social skill development for preschoolers and kindergarteners.
Reading & Literacy
- Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening (PALS)
- Center for the Improvement of Early Reading Achievement (CIERA) - The national center for research on early reading, representing a consortium of educators from five universities
- Virginia Center for Young Readers
- National Reading Panel
- National Center for Family Literacy
- Center for Early Literacy Learning (CELL)
- CONNECT, The Center to Mobilize Early Childhood Knowledge, Online Module – Dialogic Reading Practices
Suspension & Expulsion Prevention
- Guidelines for the Prevention of Suspension and Expulsion of Young Children: Supporting Children with Challenging Behaviors in Early Childhood Settings (Word) – The guidelines are provided to assist program leaders, educators and families in supporting the healthy development of young children in early child care and education programs. Guiding principles, definitions, best practices for promoting positive behavior, suggested steps to prevent suspensions and expulsions, and resources for promoting social-emotional development are included in this document.
Social Emotional Development and Mental Health
- ECE Resource Hub - Provides access to a monthly set of free resources designed to help early childhood educators better foster social-emotional development and learning for children ages birth to five.
- Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning
- Technical Assistance Center on Social Emotional Intervention (TACSEI)
- Campaign for Children’s Mental Health
- Kids Mental Health Info – Early Childhood
- Positive Behavioral Intervention & Supports US Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP)
- Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL)