Early Childhood Standards & Instructional Supports

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Virginia's Early Learning and Development Standards (ELDS), Birth-Five Learning Guidelines

Virginia has a unified set of comprehensive early learning and development standards for young children, birth to age five.

A core component of a high-quality early education experience is that children are provided opportunities, experiences, and materials that allow them to engage deeply within developmental/early learning domains to build their school readiness skills. Virginia's Early Learning and Development Standards (ELDS), Birth-Five Learning Guidelines articulate the skills and knowledge young children need to demonstrate by the end of preschool in order to be successful in kindergarten.

The standards are intended to help early childhood educators understand the basics of child development implement effective classroom activities, and engage in high-quality teacher child interactions.

Screen Shot 2023-05-02 at 12.21.21 AMThe Virginia's Early Learning and Development Standards (ELDS), Birth-Five Learning Guidelines (Spanish) focus on five Areas of Development:

  1. Approaches to Play and Learning
  2. Social and Emotional Development
  3. Communication, Language, and Literacy Development 
  4. Health and Physical Development
  5. Cognitive Development (Science, Social Sciences: People, Community and Culture, Mathematics and Fine Arts) 

With the goal of ensuring all Virginia children have an opportunity to enter kindergarten ready to thrive, the standards have been developed to support birth to five programs to:

  • Use quality instructional tools and engage in aligned professional development, 

  • Individualize care and instruction to meet the needs of all learners, and 

  • Promote holistic and intentional learning and development at each age and stage.

Virginia's ELDS act as a foundational set of classroom guidelines that support the Commonwealth’s unified quality measurement system known as VQB5. 

The ELDS Micro-credential

Through participation in the Micro-credential, early childhood caregivers and educators will:  

  • Describe the factors that shape and promote child development and learning.  

  • Use the ELDS to prepare every child to enter Kindergarten ready to thrive.  

  • Describe the learning and development standards and how they relate to school readiness strategies.  

  • Understand the open-source Early Childhood Education (ECE) resources that promote school readiness for children including resources like Virginia Kindergarten Readiness Program (VKRP).  

Available to all publicly-funded early childhood professionals, interested participants may register for annual cohorts of learners. The course is available at no-cost, is non-credit-bearing, online, self-, and competency-based. To find out more contact Rebecca Shaffer: Rebecca.Shaffer@doe.virginia.gov

The ECE Resource Hub  

This early childhood resource hub offers educators and families monthly resources to support children birth to five, including booklists, read aloud guides, and lesson plans to support developmental skills. 

Resources to Support English Language Learners (ELLs)  

Virginia educators have free access the WIDA Early Years Making Connections and self-paced eLearning modules.  

The Making Connections document is:

  • Aligned to VA’s ELDS.
  • Offers suggestions, tools and sample plans for supporting learning for multilingual children. Supports positive teacher-child interaction  
  • WIDA Early Years resources feature language development strategies that are benefit all children, regardless of language backgrounds. Visit the resource library. 

WIDA hosted a webinar this fall focused on language-centered approaches to engaging with families of multilingual children. Educators and leaders explore research-based recommendations for supporting language development for multilingual children ages 0-5 and discuss connections to local family engagement policies and practices.  View the pre-recorded webinar. 

Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation (ECMHC) 

The Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation (ECMHC) is an intervention strategy that aims to promote young children’s social-emotional development and mental health well-being. 

The piloting of an ECMHC model began during the 2021-2022 School Year by the Child Development Resources (CDR) (specifically the Virginia Infant Toddler Specialist Network (VA ITSN)) and The University of Virginia's Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning (UVA-CASTL) and continues be offered both virtually and in-person (for some areas of Virginia).

Early childhood education programs serving children ages birth-to-five (infant, toddler, and/or preschool) that are receiving any public funds are eligible to participate in the Virginia ECMHC program.

This document provides answers to frequently asked questions about Virginia's ECMHC Pilot Program for the 2022-2023 School Year. The document includes information about the ECMHC program model, benefits, format and eligibility criteria: 

The following resources provide an overview of three social-emotional supports available to publicly-funded birth to five educators/programs, including Virginia's ECMHC Pilot Program: 

Early Learning Support Webinars