Rhode Island Early Learning and Development Standards (RIELDS)

The 2023 Rhode Island Early Learning and Development Standards (RIELDS) articulate shared expectations for what young children should know and be able to do from birth to five years of age. The RIELDS serve several purposes - they guide early care and education practices, such as curriculum and assessment choices, to ensure children receive every opportunity to make progress in the designated learning domains. The RIELDS also support understanding among caregivers and family members of key early learning milestones. The standards inform primary grade teachers of the educational trajectory of the state's youngest learners so that teachers are even better prepared to serve all children.

The Rhode Island Board of Education adopted the RIELDS on May 23, 2013. Throughout 2022, the RIELDS were opened for public comment and revision. On January 24th, 2023, the 2023 RIELDS were endorsed by the Council on Elementary and Secondary Education. 

They are intended to be appropriate for all children, including children who are multilingual learners, children with disabilities, and children who are typically developing - recognizing that all children may meet the RIELDS in their own way and at their own pace. 

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Nine Domains of the RIELDS

Physical Health & Motor Development

The emphasis in this domain is on physical health and motor development as an integral part of children’s overall well-being. The healthy development of young children is directly related to practicing healthy behaviors, strengthening large and small muscles, and developing strength and coordination. As their gross and fine motor skills develop, children experience new opportunities to explore and investigate the world around them. Conversely, physical health challenges can impede a child’s development and are associated with poor child outcomes. As such, physical development is critical for development and learning in all other domains. The components within this domain address health and safety practices, gross motor development, and fine motor development.

Social and Emotional Development

Social and emotional development encompasses young children’s evolving capacity to form close and positive adult and peer relationships; to actively explore and act on the environment in the process of learning about the world around them; and express a full range of emotions in socially and culturally appropriate ways. These skills, developed in early childhood, are essential for lifelong learning and positive adaptation. Healthy social and emotional development benefits from consistent, positive interactions with educators, parents/primary caregivers, and other familiar adults who appreciate each child’s individual temperament. This appreciation is key to promoting positive self-esteem, confidence, and trust in relationships. The components within this domain address children’s relationships with others—adults and other children— their personal identity and self-confidence, and their ability to regulate their emotions and behavior.

Language Development

The development of children’s early language skills is critically important for their future academic success. Language development indicators reflect a child’s ability to understand increasingly complex language (receptive language skills), a child’s increasing proficiency when expressing ideas (expressive language skills), and a child’s growing understanding of and ability to follow appropriate social and conversational rules. The components within this domain address receptive and expressive language, pragmatics, and English language development specific to multilingual learners.

Literacy Development

Development in the domain of literacy serves as a foundation for reading and writing acquisition. The development of early literacy skills is critically important for children’s future academic and personal success. Yet children enter kindergarten varying considerably in these skills; and it is difficult for a child who starts behind to close the gap once they enter school (National Early Panel, 2008). The components within this domain address phonological awareness, alphabet knowledge, print awareness, text comprehension and interest, and emergent writing.

Cognitive Development

Development in the domain of cognition involves the processes by which young children grow and change in their abilities to pay attention to and think about the world around them. Infants and young children rely on their senses and relationships with others; exploring objects and materials in different ways and interacting with adults both contribute to children’s cognitive development. Everyday experiences and interactions provide opportunities for young children to learn how to solve problems, differentiate between familiar and unfamiliar people, attend to things they find interesting even when distractions are present, and understand how their actions affect others. The components within this domain address logic and reasoning skills, memory and working memory, attention and inhibitory control, and cognitive flexibility.


The development of mathematical knowledge and skills contributes to children’s ability to make sense of the world and to solve problems they encounter in their everyday lives. Knowledge of basic math concepts and the skill to use math operations to solve problems are fundamental aspects of school readiness and are predictive of later success in school and in life. The components within this domain address number sense and quantity; number relationships and operations; classification and patterning; measurement, comparison, and ordering; and geometry and spatial sense.


From the moment they are born, children share many of the characteristics of young scientists. They are curious and persistent explorers who use their senses to investigate, observe, and make sense of the world around them. As they grow and develop, they become increasingly adept at using the practices that scientists use to learn about the world—including asking questions, planning, and carrying out investigations, collecting and analyzing data, and constructing explanations based on evidence. The RIELDS science domain includes a standard focused on the science and engineering practices as well as standards that address children’s learning of basic concepts in physical, Earth/space and life science. Crosscutting concepts, including cause and effect, patterns, and structure and function (e.g., how something is made relates to how it is used) are also incorporated and embedded within each standard. 

Social Studies

The field of social studies is interdisciplinary, and intertwines concepts relating to government, civics, economics, history, sociology, and geography. Social studies learning supports children’s emerging understanding of social rules, and their ability to recognize and respect personal and collective responsibilities as necessary components for a fair and just society. By engaging with familiar adults and peers through the course of their everyday lives, children across the birth through five continua are introduced to the different perspectives that they and others share and to life within their community – such as an understanding of principles of community care, supply and demand, occupations, and currency (Civics & Government and Economics). In addition, social studies learning helps children to develop an awareness of the passage of time and diversity (History), and place (Geography). 

Creative Arts

The arts provide children with a vehicle and organizing framework to express ideas and feelings. Music, movement, drama, and visual arts stimulate children to use words, manipulate tools and media, and solve problems in ways that simultaneously convey meaning and are aesthetically pleasing. As such, participation in the creative arts is an excellent way for young children to learn and use creative skills in other domains. The component within this domain addresses a child’s willingness to experiment with and participate in the creative arts.

Resources for Educators

The Standards represent expectations for young children’s learning and continual growth in all areas: intellectual, physical, and emotional. Research confirms that successful approaches to supporting early learning are based on knowledge of the whole child. As a result, the revised early learning and development standards feature one notable change from the 2003 standards: play is embedded throughout the learning document rather than being treated as a specific standard.


  • 2013 Rhode Island Early Learning and Development Standards (English)
  • 2013 Rhode Island Early Learning and Development Standards (Spanish)
  • RIELDS Poster (English)
  • RIELDS Poster (Spanish)

Instructional Resources

The RI Early Learning and Development Standards should be used to:

  • Understand the integrated nature of early childhood development
  • Guide early educators in the development of curriculum 
  • Inform families about learning milestones
  • Provide a framework for implementing high-quality early childhood programs
  • Support children's smooth and coordinated transition to Kindergarten

The RI Early Learning and Development Standards are not intended to be used as:

  • Aspecific teaching practice or materials
  • A finite checklist of competencies
  • A stand-alone curriculum or program
  • A stand-alone assessment tool

The Rhode Island Early Learning and Development Standards are organized into domains, components, learning goals and indicators. The nine domains are as follows:

  • Physical Health and Motor Development
  • Social and Emotional Development
  • Language Development
  • Literacy
  • Cognitive Development
  • Mathematics
  • Science
  • Social Studies
  • Creative Arts

Components are specific areas within a domain. For example, the domain of physical health and motor development is divided into three components: health and safety practices, gross motor development, and fine motor development.

Learning Goals state the general competencies, behaviors, knowledge and skills that children develop in increasing degrees with increasing sophistication as they grow. For example, the gross motor development component includes two learning goals:

a) Children develop large muscle control, strength, and coordination

b) Children develop traveling skills

Indicators establish the specific developmental benchmark for the competencies, behaviors, knowledge and skills that most children possess or exhibit at a particular age. Seen altogether, the indicators depict the progression of development over time.

The RIELDS outline a birth-to-60 month continuum, with six developmental benchmarks:

  • 0-9 months
  • 9-18 months
  • 18-24 months
  • 24-36 months 
  • 36-48 months
  • 48-60 months

The Rhode Island Early Learning and Development Standards (RIELDS) provide early childhood professionals with a common understanding of what children should know and be able to do as they exit preschool programs and enter kindergarten.

The RIELDS project supports administrators and classroom professionals to implement curriculum, instruction, child assessment, and family engagement systems aligned with the RIELDS. These courses are aligned with the state's quality rating continuum, including child care licensing regulations and BrightStars. RIDE has developed a menu of seven (7) professional development offerings for teacher assistants, family child care providers, lead teachers, education coordinators, administrators, early intervention practitioners, and special educators.

The RIELDS PD schedule is organized into 4 quarters: Fall (September - November), Winter (December - February), Spring (March - May), and Summer (June - August) with offerings available throughout the year.

Resources for Families

In 2004, parents, early childhood educators, and local experts worked with RIDE to develop the Fun Family Activities for Preschoolers, which encompassed Fun Family Activity Cards for Preschoolers, and later in 2004, a parent training series. Then, in 2013, with the release of new state Standards, called the Early Learning and Development Standards, the cards and trainings were updated to now include activities for children ages birth to 60 months.

Fun Family Activity Cards

Fun Family Activity Cards give parents information and enjoyable ways to support the development and learning of young children at home. The activities are meant to help your child develop skills that are important for future learning and will further support a Standards-based education children may receive in early care and education settings.

Additional Resources

RIDE has also developed a Parent Guide which includes information for families and caregivers on how they can use the Standards with their child, why Standards for children are important, what families should know about selecting a Standards-based early care and education program as well as resources for additional information. The Parent Guide is meant to serve as a brief guide which provides families the key information they should know about the Standards.