Head Start

Early Learning Outcomes

Developed by the Office of Head Start, the Early Learning Outcomes Framework is a guide for what children should know and be able to do during their early years. Head Start is a federal program that provides comprehensive early childhood education, health, nutrition, and parent involvement services to low-income children and their families.

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Head Startapproaches to learningsocial and emotional…emotional and behavioral…cognitive self-regulation…initiative and curiositycreativityrelationships with adultsrelationships with other…emotional functioningsense of identity and…child manages emotions…child follows classroom…child appropriately…child manages actions,…child demonstrates an…child maintains focus and…child persists in taskschild holds information in…child demonstrates…child demonstrates…child shows interest in…child expresses creativity…child uses imagination in…child engages in and…child engages in prosocial…child engages in and…child engages in…child uses basic…child expresses a broad…child expresses care and…child manages emotions…child recognizes self as a…child expresses confidence…child has sense of…

Breakdown by Domain

Domain Key


Key Features

Context & Culture

  • Calls attention to the existence and importance of individual differences in development
  • Includes specific recommendations for supporting dual language learners and children with disabilities
  • Offers examples of how culture, background, language, and beliefs may influence how children develop skills in particular areas
  • Available in Spanish
  • Describes the role of social contexts and learning climates on development of skills

Developmental Perspective

  • Includes a learning progression for each sub-domain with differentiated learning expectations and behavioral indicators for ages 0-9 months, 8-18 months, 16-36 months, 3-4 years, and 4-5 years
  • Provides general information about what occurs during various developmental stages in early childhood

Associated Outcomes

  • Provides some information about the impact of early learning experiences on school success

Available Resources

Support Materials

  • Informational videos, webinars, and handouts
  • Digital resources including an interactive online version of the framework and a mobile app that provides on-the-go access to early learning goals and teaching practices
  • Implementation Toolkit designed to help educators align their early childhood program and practices with the framework
  • Podcast series featuring childhood experts sharing practical information about how to apply the framework to specific populations and contexts
  • Tools for identifying areas and opportunities for alignment with state early childhood standards

Programs & Strategies

  • Effective Practice Guides provide early childhood practitioners with teaching practices to support skill development in each domain

Measurement Tools

  • No information or tools provided

Key Publications

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