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Letter from the Secretary

SD Department of Education
Nov. 2017  
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South Dakota Early Learning Guidelines updated

Revised and expanded to include birth to kindergarten, the South Dakota Early Learning Guidelines are for early childhood professionals, teachers, caregivers, parents and all adults who nurture and support the development of young children.

This revision of the Early Learning Guidelines also included the addition of two new appendices: "Supporting Children with Disabilities" and "Supporting Dual Language Learners."

The document describes developmentally appropriate goals for children’s development and learning at each age level: infant, toddler and preschooler. The guidelines are adapted, with permission, from the North Carolina Foundations for Early Learning. The late Dr. Gera Jacobs, University of South Dakota professor of early childhood, was the author and project coordinator of a panel of professionals and parents from throughout the state who contributed to the document.

“Updating South Dakota’s Early Learning Guidelines brought together stakeholders from across our state,” said Kristi Swier, Head Start State Collaboration Director. “The finished project represents a shared vision for our youngest learners. Quality care and education in these formative early years sets children up for success throughout their school years and beyond.”

Among those making use of the updated guidelines are School Administrators of South Dakota, through their new Preschool Levels of Excellence program, which launched this school year. Carmen Stewart, Head Start Director with the University of South Dakota, helped develop the Levels of Excellence and served on the South Dakota Early Learning Guidelines review panel.

“The South Dakota Early Learning Guidelines are included in the Levels of Excellence tool in several places,” Stewart said. “For instance, they are specifically mentioned under Curriculum. To reach the exemplary level, a preschool program must demonstrate that ‘a clearly stated framework/curriculum is utilized in an ongoing and consistent basis and is aligned with the South Dakota Early Learning Guidelines.’ In addition, several of the strategies or indicators found in the Early Learning Guidelines are listed as evidence to look for in the Levels of Excellence.”

A link to the South Dakota Early Learning Guidelines is provided as a resource to administrators going through the training to use the Levels of Excellence tool and will be listed on the SASD website as a resource for local school district administrators.


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