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Preschool Learning Objectives

Preschool learning objectives are specific goals that define what children will learn. By establishing clear learning objectives, teachers can support children’s growth and development.

Preschool Learning Objectives

Preschool Learning Objectives

Building a high-quality early education program starts with establishing comprehensive learning objectives. These learning objectives serve as a roadmap for educators, outlining the key skills and knowledge that children will acquire during their time in preschool. By creating a structured preschool curriculum built on appropriate educational objectives, you can help ensure that your children learn the essential skills to support their cognitive, social, and emotional development and prepare them for kindergarten.

In this article, we'll explore the importance of preschool learning objectives and how they shape young children's educational experiences. 

children sitting in a circle raising their hands Source

What are learning objectives in early childhood education?

Learning objectives are specific goals and targets set by educators to define what children will achieve during their time in preschool. These objectives of preschool education encompass various areas of development, including cognitive, social-emotional, physical, and language aspects. They provide a clear framework for teachers to design age-appropriate activities and experiences that support children's growth and learning.

Teachers often structure lesson plans around specific objectives or goals that describe what children will learn at the end of a lesson. Preschool learning objectives are often informed by what children in a specific age group are typically learning or mastering and education standards set by your state or program.  For example, a lesson involving counting items in a sensory bin could be connected to the learning goal of counting numbers one through five.

Preschool learning objectives and concepts

Early education programs prepare children for future academic success by equipping them with the foundational knowledge and skills they'll need for kindergarten. By incorporating a variety of learning objectives that focus on different developmental domains such as social-emotional skills, cognitive and problem-solving skills, and pre-academic skills such as early math, science, and literacy, educators can ensure children receive daily opportunities to learn and practice these skills. 

Below we discuss preschool goals and objectives examples across various subject areas.

Cognitive development 

Cognitive development objectives focus on building foundational skills like language and literacy, numeracy, problem-solving, and critical thinking. These objectives aim to stimulate children's curiosity, encourage exploration, and foster a love for learning. By setting cognitive objectives, educators ensure that children are equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge to succeed academically as they progress through their educational journey.

Social-emotional development

In preschool, children develop important social skills that help them learn to communicate with others, cooperate, and recognize and manage emotions. Social-emotional objectives help children build positive relationships with peers and adults, develop resilience, and cultivate a strong sense of self.

Some common social-emotional learning objectives could include:

  • Taking turns going down a slide on the playground
  • Identifying the emotions of characters in a book 
  • Listening when someone is speaking 
  • Sharing a toy with a peer

Physical development 

Physical development objectives focus on enhancing children's gross motor and fine motor skills. Preschool learning environments provide opportunities for children to engage in activities that promote physical fitness, coordination, balance, and control. These objectives lay the foundation for a healthy lifestyle and support children's overall well-being.

Language development

Preschool is a critical time for young children to develop their communication and language skills. Language learning objectives in preschool focus on laying the foundation for strong language abilities, including vocabulary expansion, sentence construction, listening comprehension, and verbal expression.

Creative development

Creative development objectives encourage children to express themselves through art, music, dance, and imaginative play. These objectives nurture children's creativity, imagination, self-expression, and problem-solving abilities. They provide opportunities for children to explore their interests, discover their talents, and develop a lifelong appreciation for the arts.

Examples of objectives focused on creative development include:

  • Making sounds with instruments
  • Creating process art
  • Dancing along to songs or clapping along to simple rhythms
  • Engaging in imaginative storytelling and role-playing

Child using an abacusSource

Early science concepts

Teaching preschoolers early science concepts encourages their curiosity, helps them develop critical thinking skills, and improves their communication. Preschoolers can learn basic science concepts by conducting simple experiments such as exploring whether objects float or sink in water. Interactive science activities give children opportunities to explore materials, make predictions, and learn about cause-and-effect relationships.

Early literacy concepts

Early literacy objectives focus on helping preschoolers develop the skills that will prepare them for future reading and writing. Literacy activities teach children concepts like print awareness and how to recognize letter sounds and exposes them to simple rhymes and new vocabulary words. You can create a language-rich environment using rhyming games, sing-alongs, circle time discussions, and stories.

Early math concepts

Early math skills help children begin to develop number sense or the ability to understand and use numbers. These skills involve things like recognizing and interpreting numbers, grasping concepts such as "more" and "less", and counting with whole numbers. The early math skills children learn in preschool will set the foundation for more advanced mathematical lessons.

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:

  • Learning about nutrition and healthy foods
  • Caring for personal belongings
  • Washing hands 
  • Brushing teeth twice daily 
  • Getting dressed
  • Covering their mouth while coughing and sneezing

Listening skills

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:

  • 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 their hands and counting to three


Teaching helping a group of children with a shape puzzle Source

Evaluate your teaching methods

Learning objectives serve as a valuable tool for teachers to evaluate their teaching methods and lesson plans. By aligning your instructional strategies with learning objectives, you can assess the effectiveness of your teaching and make necessary adjustments to improve student learning outcomes. Here are some ways to use learning objectives for evaluation:

  • Align lesson plans with learning objectives: Review the content, activities, and assessments you have planned and determine if the objectives are adequately addressed and if the instructional strategies used are appropriate for achieving those objectives. This evaluation ensures that the lesson plans are purposeful and directly contribute to the intended learning outcomes.
  • Reflect on teaching approach: Use learning objectives as a guide for self-reflection and self-assessment. You can determine if children are meeting the intended objectives and identify areas where further instruction or support is needed. 
  • Adjust instructional strategies: If you find that children are not meeting learning goals, you can use this information to adjust your strategies in the classroom. You may need to modify your teaching methods, provide additional resources or examples, or incorporate different types of activities to better support student learning.
  • Identify areas for improvement: By regularly evaluating the alignment between objectives and instructional methods and monitoring progress, you can identify areas for improvement and implement changes to enhance teaching effectiveness.

With brightwheel's Experience Curriculum, teachers can save time by matching lessons in the app to the materials in the monthly curriculum kits and can easily track observations and progress with daily embedded assessment to monitor each child's growth. You can also capture learning progress with photos directly in the brightwheel app and share with families, keeping them engaged in their child's daily learning. 

Track children's progress

Setting clear learning objectives are also useful for tracking children's growth and development. Teachers can utilize learning objectives as a framework to monitor individual students' advancement across various areas of development. Here's how to use learning objectives to track children's progress:

  • Baseline assessment: At the beginning of a unit, you can assess each child's starting point by evaluating their abilities and skills related to the learning objectives. This baseline assessment provides a benchmark against which future progress can be measured.
  • Progress monitoring: Throughout the year, you can track children's progress by regularly assessing their performance in relation to the learning objectives. This can be done through formal assessments, observations, checklists, portfolios, or work samples. 
  • Documentation: Learning objectives can be utilized to document children's growth and development over time. This documentation can include anecdotal records, photographs, videos, or samples of work that showcase progress in different areas. 
  • Goal setting: Learning objectives provide a clear roadmap for goal setting with children and their families. Teachers can involve children and families in setting individual goals based on the learning objectives, encouraging them to take ownership of their growth and development. 
  • Communication with families: Learning objectives serve as a valuable tool for communicating children's growth and development with their families. Teachers can share progress reports, conduct parent-teacher conferences, or provide regular updates on how each child is meeting the learning objectives. This collaboration fosters a supportive partnership between teachers and families in promoting children's ongoing growth.

Final thoughts

Preschool learning objectives are essential because they provide a clear roadmap for educators to guide children's learning and prepare them for future academic success. Developing learning objectives for your preschool curriculum will help children master key skills and support their growth across all developmental domains. By leveraging learning objectives to track progress and evaluate lesson plans, teachers can gain valuable insights into their teaching practices and ensure each child is meeting desired learning outcomes.

Brightwheel is the complete solution for early education providers, enabling you to streamline your center’s operations and build a stand-out reputation. Brightwheel connects the most critical aspects of running your center—including sign in and out, parent communications, tuition billing, and licensing and compliance—in one easy-to-use tool, along with providing best-in-class customer support and coaching. Brightwheel is trusted by thousands of early education centers and millions of parents. Learn more at

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