Guiding Principles

The Guiding Principles below are foundational to the Colorado Early Learning and Development Guidelines. These Principles are about children and about the environments that best support children’s growth and development. These Principles highlight aspects of children’s development and early learning experiences that span across the domains. They were adopted from two highly regarded resources, Neurons to Neighborhoods and The Irreducible Needs of Children.

Colorado Early Learning and Development Guidelines are based the following principles:

  1. Nature and nurture affect children’s development. All children are shaped by a dynamic and continuous interaction between biology and experience.
  2. Culture influences every aspect of human development and is reflected in childrearing beliefs and practices designed to promote healthy adaptation.
  3. The growth of self-regulation is a cornerstone of early childhood development that cuts across all domains of behavior.
  4. Children are active participants in their own development, reflecting the intrinsic human drive to explore and master one’s own environment.
  5. Relationships are the building blocks of healthy development.
  6. The broad range of individual differences among young children often makes it difficult to distinguish normal variations and maturational delays from transient disorders and persistent impairments.
  7. The development of children unfolds along individual pathways whose trajectories are characterized by continuities and discontinuities, as well as by a series of significant transitions.
  8. Human development is shaped by the ongoing interplay among sources of vulnerability and sources of resilience.
  9. The timing of early experiences can matter, but, more often than not, the developing child remains vulnerable to risks and open to protective influences throughout the early years of life and into adulthood.
  10. The course of development can be altered in early childhood by effective interventions that change the balance between risk and protection, thereby shifting the odds in favor of more adaptive outcomes.
    (Shonkoff, J.P. & Phillip, D, 2000)

The Guidelines promote environments that foster growth in young children, which include:

  1. Ongoing nurturing relationships that provide the basis for physical and emotional well-being.
  2. Physical protection, safety, and regulation for children’s security.
  3. Experiences that are tailored to individual differences so that children have choices and are respectful of other’s choices.
  4. Developmentally appropriate experiences that build children’s skills.
  5. Limit setting, structure, and expectations that provide a secure environment.
  6. Stable, supportive communitiesand cultural continuity.
    (Brazelton, T.B. & Greenspan, S.I., 2000)