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California Preschool Learning Foundations


Frequently Asked Questions

  1. How many foundations publications are there? What domains of development do they cover?
  2. Which children are addressed by the preschool learning foundations?
  3. Why are the foundations organized by age rather than along a continuum across ages three, four, and five?
  4. Who was involved in the development of the California Preschool Learning Foundations?
  5. How will teachers and directors obtain training on the foundations?
  6. When will the preschool learning foundations be required?
  7. How does the Desired Results Developmental Profile© relate to the foundations?
  8. Are the preschool learning foundations part of the Federal Program Monitoring/Contract Monitoring Review process?
  9. How will the state monitor if children are meeting the foundations?
  10. What is the role of “play”? Is there balance between child-initiated and teacher-directed practices?
  11. How do the preschool learning foundations relate to the K-12 system?
  12. How are foundations aligned to California’s content standards for kindergarten?
  13. Will foundations be used to keep track of children’s progress?
  14. What type of programs will be required to use them?
  15. Will the foundations require that teachers focus on teaching skills so children can pass a test?
  16. Will the foundations be adopted by the State Board of Education (SBE)?
  17. Will the state require programs to use one commercial curriculum?
  18. How do the Preschool Learning Foundations relate to the Prekindergarten Learning and Development Guidelines? Will the Prekindergarten Learning and Development Guidelines be revised?
  19. How do the English-language development foundations relate to the Preschool EL Resource Guide (Title: Preschool English Learners: Principles and Practices to Promote Language, Literacy, and Learning)?
  20. How does one determine whether a child is an English learner?
  21. How does one assess and monitor children's progress on the preschool English-language development foundations?

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  1. How many foundations publications are there? What domains of development do they cover?

There are 3 volumes of the preschool foundations, covering 9 domains. The California Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume One covers Social-Emotional Development, Language and Literacy, English-Language Development, and Mathematics. The California Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 2 covers Visual and Performing Arts, Physical Development, and Health. The California Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 3 covers the domains of History-Social Science and Science.

  1. Which children are addressed by the preschool learning foundations?

The preschool learning foundations define age-appropriate expectations about what children should know and be able to do at around 48 and 60 months of age. These ages are meant to describe children at the end of their first and second year of preschool. The preschool foundations include research-based approaches aimed at all preschool children, including dual language learners and children with disabilities. Based on current research and evidence about preschool children’s development, they describe the wide range of knowledge and skills that all preschool children typically attain in high-quality preschool programs, regardless of funding source or format.

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  1. Why are the foundations organized by age rather than along a continuum across ages three, four, and five?

The foundations for social-emotional development, language and literacy, and mathematics focus on 48 and 60 months of age because they correspond to the end of the first and second years of enrollment in preschool. It is essential for teachers and parents to understand what children should know and be able to do at specific ages so that they can provide appropriate support. English learners enter preschool with different levels of experience with English, as well as with varying skills with their primary languages. The English-language development foundations describe what children typically demonstrate at three different levels of successive English-language development; beginning, middle, and later. Each of the foundations describes the competencies - knowledge and skills - that all preschool children typically attain in high-quality preschool programs. In addition, teachers need to know where each child is on a continuum of learning throughout the child’s time in preschool.

  1. Who was involved in the development of the California Preschool Learning Foundations?

Early childhood education researchers, college faculty, program directors, site supervisors, teachers, and other stakeholders were involved in the process of developing and reviewing each volume of the foundations. Each publication of the foundations was developed over the course of several years using an inclusive and deliberative input process, including many statewide stakeholder meetings, public input sessions, public hearings, and public comment through the California Department of Education's (CDE) Web site. Input from the various review opportunities was considered and incorporated as appropriate. For a complete list of those involved in the development of the foundations, please refer to the Acknowledgments pages in the front of each volume of the foundations.

  1. How will teachers and directors obtain training on the foundations?

The California Department of Education’s Child Development Division (CDD) sponsors a variety of training opportunities aimed at a variety of early childhood professionals.

For teachers and administrators working in programs with preschool aged children, the California Preschool Instructional Network (CPIN) provides in depth training on all nine domains of the foundations and framework as well as onsite technical assistance. Information sessions, trainings, and other professional development opportunities provide an overview of what the foundations are, and also more focused training on specific foundation domains and practical application in early learning settings. For program directors, preschool teachers, and family child care providers, check with the California Preschool Instructional Network (CPIN) External link opens in new window or tab. to find the professional development opportunities in your area.

For college faculty, visit the California Faculty Initiative Project External link opens in new window or tab. . The Faculty Initiative Project offers opportunities for college faculty to learn about the Preschool Learning Foundations and has created instructional guides that facilitate integration of content on the foundations into unit-bearing coursework.

For specific training for family child care home providers, check with UC Davis, Center for Excellence in Child Development about their Family Child Care at Its Best Series External link opens in new window or tab. .

California Early Childhood Online (CECO) External link opens in new window or tab. provides free, easy-to-use online modules that provide an overview of the preschool foundations. The domains of all three volumes of the foundations will be available by January 2014.

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  1. When will the preschool learning foundations be required?

The preschool learning foundations are not required in the same sense to which K-12 standards are. They have been developed to inform the early childhood field about the knowledge and skills that young children are expected to display with appropriate support. Training opportunities allow educators to consider how knowledge of the foundations will inform their curriculum planning for groups of children and individuals and affect their setting's learning environments. The Desired Results Developmental Profile© Preschool 2010 (DRDP–PS 2010), the child observational assessment tool, is aligned with the California Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1. California State Preschool Programs are required to use this foundations-aligned instrument.

  1. How does the Desired Results Developmental Profile© relate to the foundations?

The California Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1 focuses on four domains: social-emotional development, language and literacy, English-language development, and mathematics. The foundations provide early childhood educators, parents, and the public with a clear understanding of the wide range of knowledge and skills that preschool children typically attain after the first and second year of participation in a high-quality preschool setting. The Desired Results Developmental Profile – Preschool 2010 (DRDP–PS 2010) is a child observational assessment tool that is aligned with the California Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1. The DRDP–PS 2010 provides teachers with a means to assess children’s learning along a continuum of four different developmental levels. The foundations and the DRDP–PS 2010 are used together to plan the environment, play, learning activities and instruction to meet the needs of the children and provide a high-quality preschool experience.

  1. Are the preschool learning foundations and frameworks part of the Federal Program Monitoring/Contract Monitoring Review process?

The Federal Program Monitoring/Contract Monitoring Review (FPM/CMR) process uses the foundations-aligned DRDP-2010.

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  1. How does the state monitor its funded programs to determine if programs are appropriately applying the content of the foundations and framework, ensuring ongoing program improvement?

The CDD will continue to monitor programs through the use of the FPM/CMR system. Programs can track children’s developmental progress by utilizing the Desired Results Developmental Profile (DRDP 2010).

  1. What is the role of “play”? Is there balance between child-initiated and teacher-directed practices?

Play is integral to all children’s learning and development. Teachers should provide ongoing appropriate activities for children that encourage learning through play. Early childhood research suggests a balance between child-initiated and teacher-directed activities that are purposeful and intentional. The social-emotional development foundations provide guidance on the role of play in children’s learning.

  1. How do the preschool learning foundations and frameworks relate to the K-12 system?                     

All too often, children entering school for the first time as kindergarteners are already lagging behind their classmates. This disadvantage, called the school readiness gap, can affect them socially and academically long past kindergarten. Studies show that closing the school readiness gap will help to close the achievement gap. High-quality preschools, in combination with preschool learning foundations and frameworks, can help achieve that goal. Those preschool programs that strengthen children’s school readiness operate with a depth of understanding about what children need to learn before they start school. The foundations and the aligned DRDP 2010 will provide the detail and a developmental continuum to assist quality programs prepare children for K-3.

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  1. How are foundations aligned to California’s content standards for kindergarten?

The language and literacy (L&L), English-language development (ELD), and mathematics foundations have been closely aligned to the kindergarten content standards, with a few intentional exceptions. The L&L foundations use similar strand names as the kindergarten content standards (Listening and Speaking, Reading, and Writing). But, due to the importance of language development for preschool children, the strands have been reordered to begin with Listening and Speaking. Both the preschool ELD foundations and the kindergarten ELD standards acknowledge the broad variability in English-language development among children, and thus provide a developmental progression that allows teachers to adapt their instruction for individual differences. The preschool ELD foundations are also organized around strands and substrands similar to those in the kindergarten ELD standards. The preschool mathematics strands are Number Sense, Algebra and Functions (Classification and Patterning), Measurement, Geometry, and Mathematical Reasoning. It was determined that Patterning fit best in the preschool Algebra and Functions strand, rather than in the kindergarten strand of Statistics, Data Analysis, and Probability, since Patterning sets the foundation for later algebraic thinking. The preschool mathematics domain does not include foundations related to Statistics, Data Analysis, and Probability.

  1. Will foundations be used to keep track of children’s progress?

The foundations should not be used as a tracking tool, since they are not an assessment. Foundations should be used by teachers and parents to guide expectations, instruction, planning, and professional development so that all children can be ready for school.

  1. What type of programs will be required to use them?

The foundations are currently being used by all of the Child Development Division’s state-funded programs for preschool-age children. They are also available for use in any other preschool program. The foundations describe the wide range of knowledge and skills that all preschool children typically attain in high-quality preschool programs.

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  1. Do the foundations require that teachers focus on teaching skills so children can pass a test?

Programs should provide high-quality, age-appropriate preschool experiences for children. The foundations, as well as the examples listed in the foundations publications, are not provided as discrete skills. They describe children’s typical knowledge and skills that teachers need to plan for in the design and delivery of comprehensive lessons. Guidance will be provided in the preschool curriculum framework publications on instructional strategies to ensure optimal learning and development for all children.

  1. Have the foundations been adopted by the State Board of Education (SBE)?

The State Board of Education oversees and adopts policies, regulations, and guidance for kindergarten through grade 12. Preschool education is not under the jurisdiction of the SBE, but is by statute and regulation the responsibility of the State Superintendent of Public Instruction. The State Superintendent of Public Instruction has approved the foundations, because he oversees the work of the Child Development Division at the California Department of Education.

  1. Does the state require programs to use one commercial curriculum?

The California Department of Education does not approve texts, materials, or particular curriculum for preschool programs. These are all local decisions. The curriculum framework will provide guidance for using the foundations in program planning, instructional strategies and professional development.

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  1. How do the Preschool Learning Foundations relate to the Prekindergarten Learning and Development Guidelines? Will the Prekindergarten Learning and Development Guidelines be revised?

The foundations describe competencies – knowledge and skills – that most children can be expected to exhibit in a high-quality program as they complete their first and second year of preschool. The foundations provide teachers with a view of what children can do at around 48 months of age and at around 60 months of age. The Prekindergarten Learning and Development Guidelines (2000) present a broad picture of high-quality programs that can be implemented to meet the needs of California’s diverse preschool settings. The Prekindergarten Learning and Development Guidelines will be replaced by the California Preschool Program Guidelines, now in production and due to be released in 2014. The California Preschool Program Guidelines will provide guidance to administrators on how to develop high-quality preschool programs to support children’s optimal learning and development. This new publication is aligned with the preschool learning foundations and includes two featured chapters: 1) Dual Language Learners, and 2) Using Technology and Interactive Media with Preschool Aged Children.

  1. How do the English-language development foundations relate to the Preschool English Language Learners (PEL) Resource Guide (Title: Preschool English Learners: Principles and Practices to Promote Language, Literacy, and Learning)?

The English-language development (ELD) foundations describe what children typically demonstrate at three different levels of successive English-language development. The Preschool English Learners Resource Guide reinforces the information in the introduction to the ELD foundations, and includes additional material about family and community language practices, simultaneous second language acquisition, and supporting the English-language learner with special needs. The four stages of successive or sequential second language acquisition found in the EL Resource Guide (home language, observational/listening, telegraphic/formulaic and fluid stages) are approximately “parallel” to the three levels in the ELD foundations: beginning level -home language and observational/listening stage; middle level -observational/listening and telegraphic/formulaic stages; and later level –fluid stage. The guide includes information on creating a supportive classroom environment, strategies to strengthen children's language acquisition, as well as the crucial role of the family in the education of children whose home language is not English.

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  1. Does the CDE provide guidance on how to determine if a child is an English learner?

The California Department of Education has not adopted or recommended a formal process or instrument to determine who is a preschool English learner. English learners are children whose families use a language other than English at home and whose primary or first language is a language other than English. Families are the best source of information concerning preschool children’s early experiences with language learning. If the family reports that a preschool child’s primary language is other than English, the child is considered an English learner, that is, a dual language learner.

English learners enter preschool with different levels of experience with English, as well as with varying skills with their primary languages. For example, a three-year-old English learner may begin preschool after attending a childcare program for twelve months where the adult teachers and some children speak English. This child may already know some English vocabulary and may be able to communicate in English using simple phrases. In contrast, a four-year-old English learner may enter preschool after being cared for only at home by family members who speak a language other than English. This latter child may begin preschool trying to communicate with adults and other children using the primary language. It is important to note that, regardless of children’s prior experience with English, they learn English at different rates from one another. In addition, individual children’s progress in one area of learning may occur at a different rate than in other areas of learning.

  1. Does the CDE provide guidance on how to assess and monitor children's progress on the preschool English-language development foundations?

The Desired Results Developmental Profile© - Preschool 2010 (DRDP–PS 2010) is aligned to the California Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1. As part of alignment, four measures were developed that focus on the English-language development (ELD) of children whose home language is not English. These measures allow preschool teachers to observe and track children’s progress in reaching the competencies described in the preschool ELD foundations. English learners may demonstrate their competence in any of the DRDP measures using their home language or English.

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Questions:   Child Development Division | psfoundations@cde.ca.gov |916-322-6233
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