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Family and Community Guide for Preschool

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Working Together: To support families, communities, and teachers in realizing the goals of the Colorado Academic Standards (CAS), this guide provides an overview of the learning expectations for preschool. This guide offers some learning experiences students may engage in at school that may also be supported at home.

Why Standards? Created by Coloradans for Colorado students, the Colorado Academic Standards provide a grade-by-grade road map to help ensure students are successful in college, careers, and life. The standards aim to improve what students learn and how they learn in 12 content areas while emphasizing critical thinking, creativity, problem solving, collaboration, and communication as essential skills for life in the 21st century.

Download the full Preschool standards booklet here.

See all of the Family and Community Guides here.

Where can I learn more?

  • As always, the best place to learn about what your child is learning is from your child's teacher and school. The Colorado Academic Standards describe goals, but how those goals are met is a local decision.
  • The Colorado Academic Standards were written for an audience of professional educators, but parents and community members looking to dig deeper may want to read them for themselves. Visit the Standards and Instructional Support homepage for several options for reviewing the Colorado Academic Standards.
  • If you have further questions, please contact the content specialists in the Office of Standards and Instructional Support.

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Comprehensive Health (adopted 2018)

The comprehensive health standards in the elementary years focus on developing individual skills to enhance physical, emotional, and social wellness and using those individual skills in family, school, and community environments. In each grade, the standards ask students to investigate healthy eating and living habits, explore positive communication strategies, examine effective decision-making, and identify ways to ensure personal and community safety. 

Expectations for Preschool Students:

  • Physical and Personal Wellness: Distinguish between healthy and unhealthy foods; develop self-management skills for personal hygiene.
  • Social and Emotional Wellness: Develop healthy relationships and interactions with adults; develop self-concept, self-efficacy, and regulation skills; develop healthy expression of emotions.
  • Prevention and Risk Management: Identify ways to be sage while at play; respect personal space and boundaries.

Throughout Preschool You May Find Students:

  • Distinguishing foods on a continuum from most healthy to least healthy.
  • Demonstrating the ability to identify and choose healthy food.
  • Completing personal care tasks such as using clean tissues, washing hands, handling food hygienically, brushing teeth, and choosing appropriate clothing for the weather.
  • Demonstrating socially appropriate behavior with peers and adults, such as helping, sharing, and taking turns.
  • Resolving conflict with peers alone and/or with adult intervention as appropriate.
  • Demonstrating age-appropriate independence in decision making regarding activities and materials.
  • Expressing a range of emotions appropriately.
  • Following basic safety rules in the classroom.
  • Seeking help from a parent or trusted adult for help and support.

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Computer Science (adopted 2018)

Computer science may be taught at all levels preschool through high school, but the State of Colorado only has standards for computer science in high school.

Read the high school computer science family and community guide.

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Dance (adopted 2022)

The dance standards in the preschool or elementary years focus on general dance knowledge and movement skills that build a strong foundation for more specialized dance studies in later years (i.e., Ballet, Hip Hop, social, or cultural dances, as well as common choreographic structures).  At each grade level students explore, discover, and perform various dances; discuss and create movement using a creative process; develop the ability to communicate, describe, and analyze personal dance preferences while providing constructive feedback about other dance performances.  Learning about dance and the creative process contributes to educating the whole child while helping to develop self-confidence.

Expectations for Preschool Students:

  • Movement, Technique, and Performance (Perform/Present): Students participate in dance activities such as watching or exploring dances; safely perform simple dance steps and movement sequences; use movement to express emotion.
  • Create, Compose, and Choreograph (Create): With guidance from the teacher, students will work together or alone to create and improvise movement to music, percussion instruments, or in silence.
  • Historical and Cultural Context (Know/Comprehend): Students explore and discover cultural dances from different time periods and various countries.
  • Reflect, Connect, and Respond (Critique/Evaluate/Refine): Students express personal reactions to dances that are viewed or performed; describe dance steps and movements from different styles.

Throughout Preschool You May Find Students: 

  • Moving the body safely in time and space.
  • Demonstrating focus and concentration while moving.
  • Improvising and creating simple movements based on an emotion or with objects (i.e., scarves, feathers).
  • Telling simple stories through movement.
  • Repeating movements from various time periods and cultures.
  • Describing simple dance movements.
  • Respectfully watching dance performances.

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Drama and Theatre Arts (adopted 2022)

The Drama and Theatre Arts standards in the preschool and elementary years focus on general drama knowledge and skills that blend basic theatrical elements to ensure a solid foundation for more specialized studies in later grades.  Theatre studies may include technical theatre, stage movement, improvisation, acting, writing, directing, and film studies.  Students will discover acting techniques; create and perform theatrical works; explore various characters, plots, and themes; investigate dramatic texts; discover and describe personal theatrical preferences; explore constructive ways to reflect and respond about the creative process and dramatic works from the past and present. 

Expectations for Preschool Students:

  • Create (Create): With prompting and support from the teacher, students use dialogue, facial expressions, gestures, and simple body movements to express thoughts and feelings about oneself, simple characters, environments, or to tell a story.
  • Perform (Perform/Present): With prompting and support from the teacher, students use creativity and imagination to manipulate materials (classroom chairs become trees in a forest, or a pencil becomes a magic wand); use imagination to create different characters in plays.
  • Critically Respond (Know/Comprehend and Critique/Evaluate/Refine): With prompting and support from the teacher, students respond to theatrical experiences by asking questions, relate the art of theatre to their everyday lives (characters to people, costumes to clothing, sets to locations), and make personal connections to dramatic play.

Throughout Preschool You May Find Students:

  • Using a variety of vocal sounds (loud and angry, soft, and meek) to imitate characters from stories or movies.
  • Showing how people use their bodies and faces to show how they feel (happy, sad, excited, etc.).
  • Using pantomime (body movements and facial expressions) to tell a story without words.
  • Expressing how they felt or what they thought while watching or performing in a creative drama experience.

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Mathematics (adopted 2018)

The mathematics standards in the elementary years focus on number and operations. Ideas from measurement and geometry help students learn about numbers and quantities. In each grade, students make sense of problems, explain their thinking, and describe their world with mathematics.  

Expectations for Preschool Students:

  • Number and Quantity: Count verbally up to at least 20; answer "How many?" questions for 10 objects; associate a quantity with written numerals up to 5.
  • Algebra and Functions: Understand addition as adding more to a group and subtraction as taking away from a group.
  • Data, Statistics, and Probability: Use language like shortest, heavier, biggest, or later to compare quantities, sizes, and times; put up to five objects in order of their size.
  • Geometry: Name circles, squares, rectangles, and triangles and describe them in terms of their number of sides, angles, or their relative size ("the square is bigger than the circle").

Throughout Preschool You May Find Students:

  • Practicing counting out loud or answering questions like, "What comes after three?"
  • Playing games that require counting the number of spaces to move on a game board.
  • Comparing groups of objects by the relative number of pieces ("more" or "fewer") or comparing objects by their size ("bigger," "taller," "heavier," etc.).
  • Answering simple word problems given verbally, like, "If you have three crackers and you eat one, how many crackers will you have left?"
  • Sorting blocks, tiles, or other objects by their sizes and shapes.

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Music (adopted 2022)

The music standards in the elementary years focus on general music knowledge and skills to ensure a solid foundation in music education, which can lead to the opportunity for more musical study in later years. In each elementary grade, students engage with and perform various music styles and genres, examine the language of music through identifying and writing simple music notation, consider simple musical creative processes, and develop the ability to describe their own musical preferences as well as critique the music of others. 

Expectations for Preschool Students:

  • Expression of Music (Perform/Present): Respond to musical sounds, perform/demonstrate simple songs, and respond to teacher feedback to improve musical skills.
  • Creation of Music (Create): Improvise music and sound responses to music.
  • Theory of Music (Know/Comprehend):Recognize a wide variety of sounds and sound sources (voice, instruments); describe and respond to musical elements such as beat (rhythm), tone, speed of music; identify musical opposites-loud/quiet, high/low, long/short.
  • Response to Music (Appreciate and Understand): Express feelings experienced when performing or listening to music; recognize music in daily life.

Throughout Preschool You May Find Students:

  • Reacting to different types of music rhythms and patterns through clapping, moving, and playing; demonstrating musical awareness by moving freely and creatively.
  • Speaking, chanting, and singing expressively; participating in singing games.
  • Experimenting with a variety of instruments (maracas, rhythm sticks, bells, tambourines, drums, sand blocks, and shakers).
  • Listening to music from culturally diverse genres (Popular, Blues, Folk, Patriotic, World); describing music and sources of sound.
  • Discussing or describing connections between music and feelings; discussing music heard in different places (cars, homes, and stores).

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Physical Education (adopted 2018)

The physical education standards in the elementary years focus on enhancing movement concepts and skills, understanding basic health-related components and skill-related components of fitness and how it relates to personal fitness, demonstrating respect, and the ability to follow directions. In each grade, students demonstrate various movement concepts; assess personal behaviors; connect fitness development to body systems; demonstrate respect for self, others, and various physical activity environments; and utilize safety procedures during physical activities.  

Expectations for Preschool Students:

  • Movement Competence and Understanding: Travel in a variety of directions using basic locomotor skills and demonstrate an understanding of personal and general space.
  • Physical and Personal Wellness: Recognize the positive feelings experienced during an after physical activity.
  • Social and Emotional Wellness: Demonstrate an understanding of positive social interaction with teachers and peers.
  • Prevention and Risk Management: Understand basic safety rules and principles.

Throughout Preschool You May Find Students:

  • Moving safely in a large group without bumping into others.
  • Performing movements to the rhythm of music.
  • Demonstrating the relationship of under, over, behind, next to, through, right, left, up, down, forward, backward, and in front of by using the body and an object.
  • Participating in activities that increase the heart rate.
  • Participating in activities that require stretching the muscles.
  • Demonstrating listening to the teacher during group activities.
  • Recognizing basic class rules and protocols.
  • Following teacher directions for safe participation in physical activity.

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Reading, Writing, and Communicating (adopted 2018)

The reading, writing, and communicating standards in preschool are aligned to the expectations within Colorado’s Early Learning and Development Guidelines and the latest revision of the Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework. They outline development expectations and indicators of progress for preschool age students in receptive and expressive language; understanding and obtaining meaning from stories and information from books and other texts; phonological awareness; concepts of early decoding; names and sounds associated with alphabetic knowledge; emerging skills to communicate through written representations, symbols, and letters; and asking a question to identify and define a problem and its possible solution.  

Expectations for Preschool Students:

  • Oral Expression and Listening: Attend to language during conversations, songs, stories or other learning experiences; comprehend complex and varied vocabulary; follow two- to three-step directions; participate in conversations of more than three exchanges with peers and adults; use language to express ideas and needs; understand the difference between a question and a statement; practice asking questions and making statements; and, speak in sentences of five or six words.
  • Reading for All Purposes: Show interest in shared reading experiences and looking at books independently; recognize how books are read, such as front-to-back and one page at a time, and recognize basic characteristics such as title, author, and illustrator; identify and discriminate between words in language, separate syllables in words, and sounds and phonemes in language, such as attention to beginning and ending sounds of words and recognition that different words begin or end with the same sound; and, recognize patterns of sounds in songs, storytelling, and poetry through interactions and meaningful experiences.
  • Writing and Composition: Experiment with writing tools and materials; recognize that writing is a way of communicating for a variety of purposes, such as giving information, sharing stories, or giving an opinion; use scribbles, shapes, pictures, and letters to represent objects, stories, experiences, or ideas; and, copy, trace, or independently write letters or words.
  • Research Inquiry and Design: Differentiate between questions and statements; and, Identify problems and search for solutions by asking questions during collaborative explorations of the topic; begin to state facts about the topic.

Throughout Preschool You May Find Students:

  • Demonstrating interest in different kinds of literature, such as fiction and nonfiction books and poetry, on a range of topics;
  • Making predictions based on illustrations and beginning to identify key features of reality versus fantasy in stories, pictures, and events
  • Retelling stories or information from books through conversation, artistic work, creative movement, or drama.
  • Asking and answering questions and make comments about print materials.

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Science (adopted 2018)

At an early age, all children have the capacity and the natural desire to observe, explore, and discover the world around them (NRC, 2012). The three-dimensional Colorado science standards lay a strong foundation for Colorado students to work and think like scientists and engineers. Across all grades, students explore the disciplinary core ideas in Physical, Life, and Earth and Space sciences by engaging with phenomena in the world around us. Learners in preschool start developing and asking testable questions, collect and analyze different types of evidence, and write and communicate their understanding. We also see strong connections to skills students will use to be successful with literacy and mathematics. Mastery of these standards will result in young learners who have a deep understanding of how scientific knowledge can provide solutions to practical problems we see in our world.  

Expectations for Preschool Students:

  • Physical Science: Make observations and describe properties of materials. Recognize the cause and effect relationships between matter and energy.
  • Life Science: Recognize that all living things have unique characteristics and basic needs and that living things develop in predictable patterns.
  • Earth Science: Learn about the world around them by observing patterns related to changes in weather, seasons, and day and night. Explore natural objects, like rocks, soil, and sand and their different uses.

Throughout Preschool You May Find Students:

  • Investigating different types of energy by exploring shadows and light, observing the sounds different musical instruments make.
  • Discovering what makes an object move faster or slower.
  • Looking at patterns in the weather, and keeping track of how the weather changes from day to day.
  • Observing and engaging with live animals and plants and toys/stuffed animals and discuss the difference between living and nonliving things.
  • Making observations about animals and plants they might see in their local environment.
  • Using their senses and simple tools to explore natural materials.
  • Making observations about daily weather conditions.

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Social Studies (adopted 2018)

The social studies standards in the elementary years begin with individuals and families and move from there to explorations of neighborhoods, communities, the state of Colorado, and the United States. In each grade, students investigate historical events, examine geographic features and resources, consider economic decision-making processes, and define civic roles and responsibilities.  

Expectations for Preschool Students:

  • Recognize change and sequence over time.
  • Develop a spatial understanding of the world around them.
  • Understand that individuals have many wants and have to make choices.
  • Understand one's relationship to the family and community.

Throughout Preschool You May Find Students:

  • Differentiating between past, present, and future; identifying family or personal events that happened in the past.
  • Identifying aspects of the environment such as roads, buildings, trees, gardens, bodies of water, and land formations.
  • Explaining how people make money and use that money to make choices among their various wants.
  • Discussing similarities and respective differences among people within their classroom and community.

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Visual Arts (adopted 2022)

The visual arts standards in Preschool focus on experiences and exploration in art making and with art materials. This helps to develop a foundation and appreciation for visual art. In Preschool, students identify art in their daily surroundings, experience that art can be used to represent things and ideas, explore various art making processes, and begin to see how art and the work of artists is a part of their community.

The Colorado Academic Standards in Visual Arts are organized by elements of the creative process taught in a cyclical, interconnected manner the way artists learn, connect, think, work, refine, share, and reflect. 

Expectations for Preschool Students:

  • Observe and Learn to Comprehend (Know/Comprehend): Identify imagery and art in daily surroundings.
  • Envision and Critique to Reflect (Critique/Evaluate/Refine): Know that art can be used to represent people, places, things, and ideas.
  • Invent and Discover to Create (Create/Present): Create works of art based on personal relevance.
  • Relate and Connect to Transfer (Connect/Apply/Transfer):  Understand that artists have an important role in communities.

Throughout Preschool You May Find Students:

  • Bringing attention to patterns, shapes, lines or colors found in objects and design inside as well as in nature and the outdoor environment; comment or draw attention to a feature of a food item or packaging at snack time; notice and discuss the illustrations in picture books, posters, or art in hallways as inspiration for making original art; help decide which of their art works should be displayed; point out images of personal preference and connect to stories about their life.
  • Telling the story of their own work; show or tell the steps used in making their own art; use the illustrations of books as inspiration to create their own art which may or may not have a story and may be about the experience.
  • Exploring and experimenting with a combination of materials and trying a variety of techniques; learn by discovery such as by finding out what happens when colors are mixed rather than being told ahead of time; make choices about their artwork and envision what might happen if they make changes or additions to a work of art.
  • Explaining what an artist does; identify some of the activities in which artists participate; invite local artists to talk about their art and how they create; use correct names (academic vocabulary) for materials, tools, and actions. 

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World Languages (adopted 2018)

The world language standards are organized in language proficiency range levels. Language proficiency refers to the degree of skill with which a person can use a language to understand, speak, read, write, and listen in real-life situations. Colorado’s standards provide guidance for the introduction of a new language (novice-low) through the minimum proficiency range deemed postsecondary and workforce ready (advanced-low). Progression through levels of proficiency is influenced by program design such as grade levels, competency-based programs, time for language instruction and immersion programs. Language programs in many schools districts have multiple entry points. Both the length and the type of program design impact both language acquisition and proficiency level for students.  

Expectations for Preschool Students:

  • Understand and answer a few simple questions on very familiar topics using practiced or memorized words in the Interpersonal Mode.
  • Understand the general topic in a very familiar context by recognizing practiced or memorized words in texts that are spoken, written, and supported by visuals in the Interpretive Mode.
  • Name very familiar people, places, and objects using practiced or memorized words, phrases, and with the help of visuals in the Presentational Mode.

Throughout Preschool You May Find Students:

  • Recognizing greeting, farewells, and other expressions of courtesy.
  • Following routine oral instructions and direction by responding appropriately.
  • Listening attentively and responding with words or appropriate gestures to songs, poems, and short stories. 
  • Responding nonverbally to oral directions and routine requests in the classroom and public places.
  • Reproducing short memorized responses for classroom activities and beyond.

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