The Head Start Child Development and Early Learning Framework

How Do Preschool Programs Support School Readiness?

The revised Head Start Child Development and Early Learning Framework represents the foundation of the Head Start Approach to School Readiness. It aligns with and builds from the five essential, or core, domains of birth to five school readiness, to identify critical areas of learning and development for 3 to 5 year children, including dual language learners and children with disabilities. The Framework guides curriculum selection, implementation, and assessment and can be used when planning and assessing teaching and learning experiences and children's progress toward school readiness goals.

School Readiness Goals

Regulation 45 CFR Chapter XIII Part 1307 requires all agencies to establish school readiness goals, defined as "the expectations of children's status and progress across domains of language and literacy development, cognition and general knowledge, approaches to learning, physical health and well-being and motor development, and social and emotional development that will improve readiness for kindergarten goals" (Part 1307.2).

Each agency must utilize the five domains, represented by the inner wheel of the Framework as the basis for agency preschool school readiness goals. Agencies should articulate how the curriculum and child assessment(s) address or align with the established goals, and how parents are involved in this process. Head Start programs are expected to:

  1. Adopt and align established OHS goals from the revised Framework.
  2. Create and implement a plan of action for achieving the goals.
  3. Assess child progress on an ongoing basis and aggregate and analyze data three times per year.
  4. Examine data for patterns of progress for groups of children in order to develop and implement a plan for program improvement (ACF-PI-HS-11-04).

In order to help address school readiness requirements, the Office of Head Start will continue to communicate and support local programs, and will guide the efforts of the Training and Technical Assistance (T/TA) Network. Communications will support programs' continued efforts to build their systems and to deliver quality services to children, families, and communities.

Core Strategies to Promote School Readiness

In order to help prepare children to be successful when they enter school, Head Start programs may implement core strategies such as the following:

  • Implementing an integrated curriculum that addresses the essential domains of school readiness in the Head Start Child Development and Early Learning Framework.
  • Aggregating and analyzing child-level assessment data at least three times per year (except for programs operating less than 90 days, which must do so at least twice within the operating program period) and using that data in combination with other program data to determine grantees progress toward meeting its goals, to inform parents and the community of results, and to direct continuous improvement related to curriculum, instruction, professional development, program design and other program decisions (45 CFR Chapter XIII 1307.3 (2)(i), as amended).
  • Providing early learning coaching to staff across program options and settings.
  • Establishing individualized Wellness Plans that promote healthy development for every child.
  • Ensuring a parent partnership process that promotes an understanding of their child's progress, provides support, and encourages learning and leadership.
  • Providing ongoing communication with local schools to exchange information about children and programs and to align services for early learning, health, and family engagement.
  • Creating a learning community among staff to promote innovation, continuous improvement, and integrated services across education, family services, and health.

Select any domain area to find strategies and resources for each domain element.

Framework symbol legend
Transparent image Transparent image Social and Emotional Development section Creative Arts Expression section Approaches to Learning section Language Development section Literacy Knowledge and Skills section Logic and Reasoning section Mathematics Knowledge and Skills section Science Knowledge and Skills section Social Studies Knowledge and Skills section Physical Development and Health section English Language Development section

English Language Development

The 10 domains above apply to all children. One domain, English Language Development, applies only to children who are dual language learners (DLLs). These children speak a language other than English at home.

 

 

How Do Preschool Programs Support School Readiness? [PDF, 248KB]

Head Start Approach to School Readiness – Full Text [PDF, 473KB]

The Head Start Child Development and Early Learning Framework (Revised Sept 2011) [PDF, 1.6MB]

The Head Start Child Development and Early Learning Framework (En Español) (Revised Sept 2011) [PDF, 473KB]

 

Webcast on Revised Framework

This webcast introduces the Framework and includes:

  • an overview of the revisions—what's new and what's the same;
  • descriptions of the three new domains and their rationale;
  • the relationship of the Framework to program operations, program planning, and quality improvement; and
  • how the Framework brings additional focus to school readiness for preschool children

000106-HS Child Develop Framework-2011

Read the transcript [PDF, 58 KB] | Download the video [MP4, 106 MB]

 

The Head Start Child Development and Early Learning Framework. HHS/ACF/OHS. 2010. English. Streaming Video. 00:23:53.

Announcement of Revised Child Outcomes Framework

Yvette Sanchez Fuentes, Director of the Office of Head Start, announces the revision of the Head Start Child Outcomes Framework, now called the Head Start Child Development and Early Learning Framework. The Head Start Child Development and Early Learning Framework is an important tool that helps programs to promote continuous quality improvements and child well-being and success.

000348-Yvette Sanchez Fuentes - Head Start Child Development and Early Learning Framework Video-2009

Read the transcript [PDF, 48.6 KB] | Download the video [MP4, 13.8 MB]

 

Head Start Child Development and Early Learning Framework: A Message from Yvette Sanchez Fuentes. HHS/ACF/OHS. 2010. English. Streaming video. 00:03:30.

The Head Start Child Development and Early Learning Framework: How Do Preschool Programs Support School Readiness? Head Start Approach to School Readiness. HHS/ACF/OHS. 2012. English.

Last Reviewed: April 2013

Last Updated: May 30, 2014