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Preschool Desired Results (including information specific to literacy educators)

While the State of California has yet to develop content standards for pre-kindergarten curriculum, the Department of Education does have a collection of Desired Results standards used to "document the progress made by children and families in achieving desired results and by which they can retrieve information to help practitioners improve child care and development services." A complete description of the Desired Results system can be found here, and clicking on the link at the bottom of the page will bring you to materials and forms related to the program, where you can find the Desired Results Developmental Profile: Preschool Instrument*, among many other useful sources. While the form the California Department of Education provides is an evaluation rather than a prescription, I think it's really very helpful to early childhood educators for several reasons:

1. A LOT of examples are provided, so you don't have to figure out on your own how the abstract skills apply to your kids. You can just read the examples and decide which one seems more appropriate.

2. You'll notice that a very large proportion of the evaluation is focused on personal and social competence. This reflects the recognition that these types of skills are at the forefront of preschool education - if you feel sometimes like you're focusing on these skills it's not necessarily because you're doing something wrong, it's because preschool students are primed to learn them. Delays in social development will inhibit students' learning when they get to kindergarten.

3. Pages 34 to 38 contain the evaluation for preschoolers' effectiveness in literacy learning. You can look at the examples to get ideas for supportive teaching. I really recommend that, if nothing else, you take a look at this. It can also help you figure out how to most appropriately engage students in "rich language."

4. You'll notice that the evaluation presents skills as a progression: For example, a child exploring language "produces phrases and simple sentences that communicate basic ideas and needs," and a child integrating language skills "uses more complex language or vocabulary to describe events that are imaginary, to explain, or to predict." If a child you are working with is only using language in an exploratory way, they may be frustrated if you insist on prompting them to use more complex language. Skills are acquired incrementally, and frustrated students connect that frustrated feeling to school (or, g-d forbid, reading).

I hope that seeing things like this can give you some guidance for what your students are capable of so that you can feel more comfortable with how you teach. When you have an understanding of the developmental levels of students it is much easier to teach in a way that will help them to learn best.

*Clicking on this link will reroute you to File DEN, a website I have been using for about two and a half years to host files. I can attest to the safety of their site: I have never experienced any problems with them, and definitely recommend their service. They allow hotlinking for all allowed file extensions, including videos and music files; and provide 1GB of personal storage space, a 50mb maximum file size limit, and 5GB of monthly bandwidth. All this is part of their free account - they offer additional services for those who are willing to pay for the service.

Nevada Preschool Content Standards and Literacy Teaching

Confident understanding of cognitive and social development is essential for effective teaching; Teachers who routinely teach above or below their students' "levels" will experience frustrated and embarrassed students who, instead of learning curriculum content, are learning that school is a place to feel confused and useless. I work in an early literacy supplemental preschool program and so literacy education is at the forefront of my interests at the moment. This post is useful to anyone who is involved with children, but it is written for early childhood educators who are unfamiliar with developmental standards.


The following are the standards for skills preschool students should have by the end of their pre-kindergarten education that specifically apply to literacy. A complete description of all areas of curriculum can be found here.

I would really recommend going to the site and looking at listening and speaking standards and social-emotional standards - these can give you ideas of what sort of skills you can expect of your students and also what behaviors you need to support. Honestly, for preschoolers, most of the valuable learning that takes place is in social-emotional development; preschoolers’ brains and bodies are made for playing with their friends.

Teaching skills more advanced that those outlined here are not BAD, per se (challenging students is a good thing), but if students appear frustrated and resistant behaviours increase it may be an indication that students are not ready to learn those particular skills.


Content Standard 1.0: Students know and use word analysis skills and strategies to comprehend new words encountered in text.
-Recognize environmental print and symbols (print and other symbols, other than books, found in the physical environment, such as street signs, billboards, cereal boxes, beverages, commercial logos, etc.).
-Identify some letters in own name.
-Identify the initial sound of own name.
-Demonstrate an awareness that print carries a message.

Content Standard 2.0: Students use reading process skills and strategies to build comprehension.
-Use pictures to aid comprehension.
-Ask questions or make comments pertinent to the story being read.
-Identify the front of the book and know how to turn the pages when reading.

Content Standard 3.0: Students read to comprehend, interpret, and evaluate literature from a variety of authors, cultures, and times.
-Retell a story with the aid of pictures, props, or a book.
-Predict what will happen next in a story and respond.
-Listen and respond to rhythm or rhyme.
-Listen and respond to age-appropriate material for a variety of purposes.
-Listen and respond to poetry and prose.

Content Standard 4.0: Students read to comprehend, interpret, and evaluate informational texts for specific purposes.
-Demonstrate an understanding that printed material provides information.
-Recall information from an event, text, or picture.
-Respond to or ask a question about an event, text, or picture.
-Follow, with teacher assistance, a simple pictoral direction.


Content Standard 5.0: Students write a variety of texts that inform, persuade, describe, evaluate, or tell a story and are appropriate to purpose and audience. (All children this age are not developmentally ready to produce representational work.)
-Experiment with writing tools and materials in response to information.
-Experiment with writing tools and materials to communicate.
-Experiment with writing tools and materials in response to a familiar experience.
-Experiment with writing tools and materials in response to literature.

Content Standard 6.0: Students write with a clear focus and logical development, evaluating, revising, and editing for organization, style, tone, and word choice.
-Share ideas for class writing.
-Organize ideas, through group discussion, with teacher assistance.
-Dictate words, phrases, or sentences to an adult recording on paper.
-Share drawings with others.

Content Standard 7.0: Students write using standard English grammar, usage, punctuation, capitalization, and spelling.
-Attempt, with a model, to write the first letter of first name.
-Attempt to spell own first name.
-Use letter-like approximation to write name and/or other words or ideas.
-Demonstrate beginning techniques for using various writing materials.
-Trace and progress to copying basic shapes (eg horizontal line, vertical line, X, plus sign, circle, etc).