Building a high-quality early education program starts with establishing comprehensive learning objectives. Creating a structured curriculum built on appropriate preschool educational objectives will help you ensure that your children learn essential skills that support their cognitive, social, and emotional development and prepare them for kindergarten.
What are learning objectives in early childhood education?
Learning objectives are statements that describe the knowledge and skills that children should be able to exhibit after being taught a lesson. Preschool learning objectives help you evaluate the effectiveness of your curriculum and create focused lesson plans that help your children develop physically, cognitively, and emotionally so they are well-prepared for kindergarten.
Preschool concepts and learning objectives
Before entering kindergarten, children should have foundational knowledge and practice in social-emotional skills, problem-solving skills, self-care skills, and pre-academic skills such as early math, science, and literacy. Ensuring children received daily opportunities to learn and practice these skills will give them a strong academic start.
Early science concepts
Teaching preschoolers early science concepts encourage their curiosity, helps them develop critical thinking skills, and improves their communication. Preschoolers can learn basic science concepts by conducting simple experiments. For example, children can conduct experiments to explore whether objects float or sink in water. Teaching preschoolers early science concepts using interactive experiments gives them opportunities to explore materials, make predictions, and learn about cause-and-effect relationships.
Early literacy concepts
Early literacy objectives focus on helping preschoolers develop skills that will prepare them for learning to read in kindergarten. These objectives should teach children to care for books, recognize letter sounds and simple rhymes, and trace the letters in their first names.
You can create a language-rich environment using rhyming games, sing-alongs, circle time discussions, and stories.
Number awareness and early math concepts
Number awareness and early math skills help children begin to understand the relationship between numbers and simple mathematical concepts. These skills set the foundation for more advanced mathematical lessons that children will learn in elementary school.
Early academics should play a vital role in the preschool program. Some preschool goals and objectives that teach children early math skills include:
- Recognizing numbers
- Reciting numbers from one to ten
- One-to-one correspondence
- Identifying patterns of two objects
- Identifying two-dimensional shapes
- Sorting objects by shape or color
Personal care and hygiene
Focusing on wellness and healthy living will help raise healthy preschoolers who thrive in school. Some examples of preschool goals and objectives include:
- Eating nutritional foods
- Caring for personal belongings
- Washing hands
- Brushing teeth twice daily
- Getting dressed
- Properly blowing their noses
- Covering their mouth while coughing and sneezing
Music and movement
Music and movement lessons help children develop their gross motor and fine motor skills and foster their social-emotional development, cognitive development, spatial awareness, and creativity.
Examples of music and movement objectives include:
- Making sounds with instruments
- Singing along to simple songs like The Wheels on the Bus
- Exploring movements with scarves
- Dancing along to songs like Hokey Pokey
- Imitating simple rhythms
Learning to recognize emotions helps preschoolers develop social skills. You can teach children social-emotional skills by:
- Modeling positive interactions with the children and adults in the classroom
- Planning activities that promote labeling feelings and expanding their feelings
- Giving positive feedback for prosocial behavior
- Providing support when children are resolving a conflict or experiencing intense emotions
Your preschool curriculum can teach young children to practice active listening skills and how to engage in group discussions by expressing their thoughts, questions, and feelings in response to their teachers and peers. Listening skills help children follow directions and form strong relationships with teachers and other children.
Examples of listening objectives include:
- Playing listening games like “Telephone”
- Making eye contact and actively listening during conversations
- Repeating simple instructions after they are given
- Being silent after hearing a familiar prompt for listening, such as a teacher clapping her hands and counting to three
- Making appropriate sounds when prompted while being read a story (For example, “The cow is in the barn. What sound does a cow make?”)
Communication skills help children share their wants, feelings, needs, opinions, and questions with others. As your children communicate with one another, you can provide feedback that helps them better express themselves.
Examples of communication objectives include:
- Verbally and nonverbally communicating likes and dislikes
- Initiating conversations with other children and teachers
- Identifying spatial concepts (e.g., up, down, above, below)
- Anticipating events in a familiar story by explaining what happens next
- Using gestures to communicate
Fine motor skills
Fine motor skills, such as opening a lunch container, turning a door knob, and opening a zipper, help children navigate their environment, complete self-care tasks, and interact with other children during play activities.
Examples of fine motor skill objectives include:
- Holding a pencil or crayon
- Buttoning or zipping clothing
- Holding utensils properly
- Molding clay
- Completing wooden peg and interlocking puzzles
- Scooping sand
- Building a tower and other structures
Problem-solving skills are necessary for every aspect of life. Teachers can help preschoolers develop problem-solving skills by asking open-ended questions when needing to resolve a conflict or find a solution to a problem.
Examples of problem-solving objectives include:
- Resolving conflicts with peers
- Engaging in activities such as nesting toy cups inside one another or completing puzzles
- Showing persistence to solve a problem
- Asking for support from teachers and peers after attempting to solve a problem
- Make predictions
For ideas on how to design meaningful learning experiences to support your preschool learning objectives, download our free list of activities across developmental domains for inspiration.
Make learning flexible
Although children are eager to learn, their aptitude and motivation are not always the same. So it is essential to implement multiple approaches to learning. Adopting a one-size-fits-all strategy for teaching your children will ultimately undermine your efforts.
Your preschool program should promote each child's desire to learn and help each child develop a positive attitude toward learning. Your program's objectives should:
- Meet your state's early learning standards
- Provide numerous opportunities for children to experiment with different open-ended materials
- Keep children engaged with new and varied experiences and challenges
- Provide developmentally appropriate activities
Developing learning objectives for your preschool curriculum will keep your lessons focused and in line with educational standards. When developing your curriculum, consider the skills your children need to master and design learning experiences that will support their growth across all developmental domains.