The Illinois Early Learning Standards and Guidelines provide reasonable expectations for children’s growth, development, and learning in the infant, toddler, and preschool years. When used as part of an infant, toddler or preschool program, the development standards and early learning guidelines provide guidance to teachers in early childhood programs to create and sustain developmentally appropriate experiences for young children that will strengthen their intellectual dispositions and support their continuing success as learners and students. The age-appropriate benchmarks in the IELDS enable educators to reflect upon and evaluate the experiences they provide for all preschool children.
The purpose of the standards and guidelines is to assist the Illinois early childhood community in providing high-quality programs and services for children from birth to kindergarten. The development standards for preschool-aged children are organized to parallel content in the Illinois State Goals for Learning and demonstrate alignment to the Illinois Kindergarten Standards and the Common Core State Standards for Kindergarten.
The standards and guidelines are meant to be used to enhance planning for programs for young children, to enrich play-based curricular practices, and to support the growth of each child to his or her fullest potential. They are designed to provide a cohesive analysis of children’s development with common expectations and common language. They are broad statements that provide teachers with useful information and direction that are needed as part of the daily early childhood environment. Educators can refer to the standards and guidelines when determining appropriate expectations for young children, when planning for individual children’s needs, when implementing a play-based curriculum, and when using authentic observational assessment procedures.