Washington State Early Learning and Development Guidelines

The Department of Early Learning (DEL), in partnership with the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) and Thrive by Five Washington, has published the Early Learning and Development Guidelines (guidelines) for children from birth through third grade. The guidelines replace the Early Learning and Development Benchmarks, which were first created in 2005 to outline what children know and are able to do at different stages of their development.

The state Department of Early Learning, the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction and Thrive by Five Washington led the recent revision of the guidelines in close partnership with a 51-member workgroup that included statewide representatives from Head Start, the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP), parents, Tribes, child care providers, special needs experts, K-12 staff and our state’s ethnic commissions.

The guidelines:

  • Celebrate Washington's increasingly diverse population.
  • Support ECEAP and Head Start standards.
  • Extend the guidelines through third grade and align with the K-3 learning expectations, including Common Core Standards.
  • Reflect what we've learned about child development since 2005.
  • The guidelines' easy-to-read format also better supports parents as their child’s first and most important teachers with information about what children can do and learn at different stages of development.

How to obtain a copy

Download a PDF of the guidelines by right-clicking on the link and saving it to your computer:
Early Learning and Development Guidelines
Directrices para el Desarrollo y el Aprendizaje Temprano del Estado de Washington

Order hard copies from the state Department of Enterprise Services. The books are free; however, requesters must pay for handling and shipping fees incurred by DES. Order at: myprint.wa.gov

Child development

Without a doubt, the early years—ages birth through five—are the most extraordinary period of growth and development in a child's lifetime. Infants begin life totally dependent on adults and then develop into children who walk, talk, write, express themselves, and communicate with the world around them.
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How people are using the Early Learning and Development Guidelines

We’ve distributed more than 10,000 copies of the Guidelines around the state. Here are some of the ways families, child care providers and others are using them in communities.
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Links to other states’ early learning guidelines

Many states have developed their own early learning guidelines.
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