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Preschool Learning Foundations, Volume 1


A Message from the
State Superintendent of Public Instruction

I am delighted to present the California Preschool Learning Foundations (Volume 1), a publication that I believe will be instrumental in improving early learning and development for California’s preschool children.

Young children are naturally eager to learn. However, not all of them are ready for school. All too often, children entering school for the first time as kindergarteners are already lagging behind their classmates, and this disadvantage can affect them socially and academically long past kindergarten. Children who have had the benefit of attending high-quality preschools are more comfortable in their surroundings, have been exposed to books, have learned how to play cooperatively, and are accustomed to learning with others.

Research shows that all children can benefit from participating in high-quality preschool programs. And a recent study by the RAND Corporation shows that closing the school “readiness” gap will help to close the achievement gap, in which far too many socioeconomically disadvantaged students and far too many African American and Latino children are lagging behind and achieving below their abilities. Not all preschool programs are equally effective, however. Those that strengthen children’s school readiness operate with an in-depth understanding of what children need to learn before they start school.

With a goal of ensuring that all preschools in California offer such high-quality programs, the California Department of Education, during a three-yearlong collaborative effort with leading early childhood educators, researchers, advocates, and parents, developed these preschool learning foundations.

The foundations outline key knowledge and skills that most children can achieve when provided with the kinds of interactions, instruction, and environments research has shown to promote early learning and development. The foundations can 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 when given the benefits of a high-quality preschool program.

These foundations focus on four domains: social-emotional development, language and literacy, English-language development, and mathematics. They provide a comprehensive understanding of what children learn in these four domains.

It is my hope that these foundations will help guide and support all California preschools as they offer developmentally appropriate activities and instruction that are both purposeful and playful, instilling in our young children a love of learning that will last a lifetime.

JACK O’CONNELL
Former State Superintendent of Public Instruction

Questions:   Early Learning and Care Division | ELCDPublications@cde.ca.gov | 916-322-6233
Last Reviewed: Wednesday, March 4, 2020
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