Birth to Five



The State of Iowa has written Iowa Early Learning Standards (IELS) for children ages birth to five years. 

These standards fulfill a requirement of the federal government.  Standards are �statements that describe expectations for the learning and development of young children�� (Early Childhood Education Assessment Consortium, 2003).


It is hoped that the document will assist teachers, parents, the public, and policymakers in better understanding the development of and support for young children.


With foundational knowledge that young children:

  • are born learning
  • learn best through responsive and consistent relationships with adults
  • learn through play 
  • need cultural supports
  • deserve individualized care, resources and accommodations
  • should be observed and assessed on an on-going basis and in natural settings

these standards will assist in creating rich learning environments based upon the individual needs of each child. 


The IELS will help to identify the knowledge, skills, motivation, and attitudes of children ages birth to five.  The standards fall into six developmental areas, or domains:

1.      Physical well-being and motor development

2.      Approaches to learning

3.      Social and emotional development

4.      Communication, language, and literacy

5.      Mathematics and science

6.      Creative arts


One section of the document is devoted to infants and toddlers.  And another section focuses on preschool aged children. But the writing groups of the standards were careful to bridge the developmental span of young children. Each standard has an explanation (rationale) of the research behind it, benchmarks (descriptions of knowledge or skills), examples of benchmarks, and caregiving supports.


We hope that you will find this new tool helpful in your work with or supporting the young children of Iowa!


Download the Iowa Early Learning Standards

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