children raising their hand

Research shows that what happens during the first five years of life is critical to healthy child development. Head Start's comprehensive focus on the five central domains of birth to 5 development is essential to children getting ready for school.

Head Start programs offer services that support families and strengthen communities so that children are healthy, safe, and ready to learn. They focus on early identification, treatment, and health promotion. Staff use these health strategies to make sure children engage in learning. They are critical parts of Head Start's school readiness activities.



Approaches to Learning

Focuses on how children learn. It refers to the skills and behaviors that children use to engage in learning. This domain incorporates emotional, behavioral, and cognitive self-regulation under a single umbrella to guide teaching practices that support the development of these skills. This domain also includes initiative, curiosity, and creativity. 

Language and Literacy 

Refers to emerging abilities in listening and understanding (receptive language) and in using language (expressive language). For Infants and Toddlers this includes their development of emergent Literacy Skills. For Preschoolers this includes their development of Phonological Awareness, Print and Alphabet Knowledge, Writing, Comprehension  and Text Structure.

Social Emotional Development

Refers to a child's ability to create and sustain meaningful relationships with adults and other children. Infants and toddlers develop relationship-building skills and behaviors through their earliest interactions with important adults in their lives.

Cognitive Development

Includes reasoning, memory, problem-solving, and thinking skills that help young children understand and organize their world. For preschoolers, this evolves into complex mathematical thinking and scientific reasoning.

Perceptual, Motor, and Physical Development 

This area of development is represented as four elements: perception, gross motor, fine motor, and health, safety, and nutrition. This domain is foundational to children's learning in all areas because it permits children to fully explore and function in their environment.

Information in this section is from The Head Start An Office of the Administration for Children and Families Early Childhood Learning & Knowlege Center (ECLKC)  Website

Interactive Early Learning Outcomes Framework. (2015). Retrieved July 20, 2016, from