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Foreword to Preschool Foundations, Volume 3

Foreword to Volume 3 of the Preschool Learning Foundations by the California State Superintendent of Public Instruction.

A Message from the
State Superintendent of Public Instruction

I am delighted to present the California Preschool Learning Foundations (Volume 3). This publication is part of a three-volume series designed to improve early learning and development for California’s preschool children.

Young children are naturally eager to learn. We encounter their amazing curiosity at every turn. Their wonder about the world extends to understanding of human traditions and activity. They also ask about how the physical world works. However, even with their great curiosity about the world of people and things, not all young children enter kindergarten ready for school. All too often, some already lag behind their classmates, which may adversely affect their continued learning and development in kindergarten and beyond. High-quality preschool teaching connects with young children’s strong interest in concepts and processes from the history–social science and science domains while contributing to long-range social and academic success.

Children who attend high-quality preschools benefit from rich opportunities to learn through play. Their play focuses on the world around them—for example, social roles rooted in human history and culture and the life of their community. They also playfully experiment with living and nonliving things and discover how they change. Children thrive when offered a curriculum that integrates all domains in a way that is culturally and linguistically meaningful and appropriate to their development.

With the goal of ensuring that all preschools in California offer high-quality programs, the California Department of Education collaborated with leading early childhood educators, researchers, advocates, and parents to develop Volume 3 of the preschool learning foundations.

The foundations outline key knowledge and skills that most children can acquire when provided with the kinds of interactions, instruction, and environments shown by research to promote early learning and development. Volume 3 focuses on two domains: history–social science and science. These domains have received less attention than some other domains, but their importance has been increasingly recognized by early childhood education experts.

As research that is summarized in this volume indicates, young children are naturally drawn to concepts and processes in history–social science and science. They look to their families and their teachers to help them explore these learning domains. High-quality teaching builds on children’s interests and engages them in making sense of social and physical phenomena.

Efforts to provide children with high-quality preschool experiences fit into the overall mission of both the Department and the federal Head Start program. Learning and development that occurs before a child enters preschool is as important as the learning and development that occurs during the school years. A continuum of learning and development begins early in life and continues through higher education. Understanding the links between the different ages and different early childhood services allows educators to see how to build on children’s earlier learning and prepare children for the next educational challenge. To foster greater understanding of children’s learning and development during the first five years, this volume explains the connections among the infant/toddler learning and development foundations, preschool learning foundations, Common Core State Standards, kindergarten content standards, and the Head Start Child Development and Early Education Framework. An investment in high-quality care and education programs throughout the early years will promote learning for all children and ensure school readiness when they enter kindergarten.

These foundations will help guide and support all California preschools in providing developmentally appropriate instruction and activities that engage young hearts and minds. Such learning will lead to children’s well-being and success throughout life.

Tom Torlakson
State Superintendent of Public Instruction

Questions:   Early Education Division | 916-322-6233
Last Reviewed: Tuesday, November 21, 2023
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