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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?

    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.

  2. 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 or other special needs. 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.

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

    The preschool foundations 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.

  4. 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.

  5. How will teachers, families, and directors obtain training on the foundations?

    The California Department of Education’s Early Learning and Care Division (ELCD) 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 the Placer County Office of Education about their Family Child Care at Its Best Program 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 all nine domains found in the preschool foundations.

    Families now have access to knowledge of the preschool foundations through the All About Young Children website External link opens in new window or tab.. Information is available in 8 languages.

  6. 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© (DRDP) Preschool 2010 (DRDP–PS 2010) and DRDP (2015), the child observational assessment tool, is aligned with the California Preschool Learning Foundations. California State Preschool Programs are required to use this foundations-aligned instrument.

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

    The California Infant/Toddler Learning and Development Foundations and the California Preschool Learning Foundations, Volumes 1-3, 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 DRDP (2015) is a child observational assessment tool that is aligned with the California Infant/Toddler and Preschool Learning Foundations. The DRDP provides teachers with a means to assess children’s learning along a continuum of developmental levels. The foundations and the DRDP are used together to plan the environment, play, learning activities, and instruction to meet the needs of the children and provide high-quality experiences. DRDP (2015) provides measures for dual–language learners and for children with special needs.

  8. 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.

  9. 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 ELCD 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).

  10. 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.

  11. 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, guided by the preschool learning foundations and frameworks, can help achieve that goal. Those preschool programs that strengthen children’s readiness for school operate with a more optimal understanding about what children need to learn before they start school. The preschool foundations, frameworks, and the aligned DRDP (2010) and DRDP (2015) will provide the detail and a developmental continuum to assist quality programs prepare children for transitional kindergarten and their ability to be successful in grades K-3.

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

    The Alignment of the California Preschool Learning Foundations with Key Early Education Resources, second edition (print format only) illustrates how the preschool foundations align with California state Kindergarten content standards, the common core state standards, the infant toddler foundations and the Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework.

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

    No. 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. To assess children’s developmental progress in these domains, early care and education professionals are encouraged to use the DRDP.

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

    No. Programs should provide high-quality, age-appropriate preschool experiences for children. Teaching young children to pass tests is not developmentally appropriate. 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 intentionally plan for as they design and create their curriculum and learning activities. Guidance is provided in the preschool curriculum framework publications (volumes 1, 2, and 3) on curriculum planning and teaching strategies to ensure optimal learning and development for all children.

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

    No. The State Board of Education (SBE) 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 ELCD at the California Department of Education.

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

    No. The CDE 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.

  17. 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 Prekindergarten Learning and Development Guidelines (2000) is replaced by the California Preschool Program Guidelines (Fall 2014), which provides guidance to early care and education 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.

  18. 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 English-language development. The Preschool English Learners (PEL) 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.

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

    No. The CDE 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.

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

    The DRDP (2015) is aligned with the California Preschool Learning Foundations, Volumes 1-3. As part of alignment, four measures were developed for use with preschool age children and 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:   Early Learning and Care Division | | 916-322-6233
Last Reviewed: Wednesday, March 4, 2020
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