The Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) is pleased to announce new Massachusetts Standards for Preschool and Kindergarten in the Domains of Social and Emotional Learning, and Approaches to Play and Learning. These Standards bring attention to these critical areas of development and learning, and further support a learning continuum from birth through school age and give the early childhood field a framework for best practices to support the development of these important competencies. The Social and Emotional Learning, and Approaches to Play and Learning Standards were developed as a collaborative initiative between the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) with funding from the Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge Grant.  EEC has adopted these Standards to promote early educational practices underlying emotional well-being, pro-social behavior and social competence, outcomes essential for students’ later success in school and in relationships throughout life.

The Social and Emotional Learning Standards focus on the following areas:  Self-Knowledge, Self-Management, Social Knowledge, Relationship Skills, and Responsible Decision-Making.  The Approaches to Play and Learning Standards focus on the following areas:  Initiative, Curiosity, Engagement/Persistence, Creativity, Cooperative Play and Learning, Problem Solving, Organizational Skills, and Memory. The Standards have been translated into multiple languages (Spanish, Chinese, Haitian Creole and Portuguese).

These Standards are grounded in the following foundational documents: the Early Learning Guidelines for Infants and Toddlers; the Guidelines for Preschool Learning Experiences; the Kindergarten Learning Experiences Guidelines; the Head Start Child Development and Early Learning Framework; the Massachusetts Curriculum Framework for English Language Arts and Literacy: Standards for Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten; and the Massachusetts Curriculum Framework for Mathematics: Standards for Prekindergarten and Kindergarten. 

The Standards give the field a framework for supporting the development of these important competencies and should be considered in the context of the larger developmental continuum for these two domains.  Supporting children’s social and emotional learning and approaches to play and learning should be embedded across all developmental domains and all curriculum areas.  "Building Supportive Environments" is a companion document to the Massachusetts  Standards for Preschool and Kindergarten Social and Emotional Learning and Approaches to Play and Learning that provides guidance on creating the conditions for effective use of the Standards.

The Massachusetts Standards for Preschool and Kindergarten Social and Emotional Learning and Approaches to Play and Learning and "Building Supportive Environments" all represent the efforts of interagency collaboration, consultation with national experts, and extensive input from the diverse early childhood field and work of knowledgeable early childhood professionals.

The Department of Early Education and Care and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education are currently working with a vendor to develop high quality trainings for early educators, Kindergarten teachers, administrators, directors and family engagement practitioners. These professional development trainings will be offered in 2016 and will provide opportunities for the field to better understand and implement the Standards.