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Foreword

California Infant/Toddler Learning & Development Foundations.

A Message from the
State Superintendent of Public Instruction

I am delighted to present the California Infant/Toddler Learning and Development Foundations, a publication I believe will contribute to providing high-quality care and education for our youngest children.

The first three years are a crucial time of development. Research on brain development indicates that the brains of infants and toddlers are twice as active as those of adults. By the time children reach the age of three, they have become competent in at least one language, formed a sense of self, learned about basic concepts such as cause-and-effect and quantity, and developed numerous large- and small-muscle skills.

More than half of California’s infants and toddlers are cared for in child care centers, in family child care homes, and by relatives or neighbors outside the home. Research shows that good care and education contribute to children’s social-emotional, language, cognitive, and perceptual and motor development. High-quality infant/toddler programs provide children with caring relationships, environments, and materials that enrich learning and development. Those programs also develop partnerships with families to connect children’s home experiences with experiences in the infant/toddler setting. Partnerships with families are the cornerstone of culturally sensitive care, which is critically important for children’s social-emotional well-being and overall learning. With a goal of ensuring that all infant/toddler programs in California offer high-quality care, the California Department of Education collaborated with leading early childhood educators and researchers to develop these learning and development foundations.

The foundations focus on four domains: social-emotional development, language development, cognitive development, and perceptual and motor development. The foundations provide a comprehensive understanding of young children’s learning and development during the first three years of life.

It is my hope that these foundations will help all California infant/toddler programs to offer developmentally appropriate and supportive care for our youngest children. By fostering the learning and development described in this publication, infant/toddler care professionals will contribute to children’s well-being and lay the foundation for children’s future success.

Jack O’Connell
Former State Superintendent of Public Instruction

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Questions:   Early Learning and Care Division | ELCDPublications@cde.ca.gov | 916-322-6233
Last Reviewed: Friday, January 19, 2024
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