Thoughtful Parenting: Guidelines available to help kids grow, succeed

Stephanie Martin/For the Steamboat Today

The early years (from a child’s birth to age 8) are critically important for all areas of learning and development. That means health and physical development, emotional and behavioral development, logic and reasoning and academic development. This lays the foundation for future academic achievement and a successful and happy future for Colorado’s kids.

We know that 85 percent of a baby’s intellect, personality and social skills are developed in the first three years of life. Those skills and personality traits continue to develop throughout a child’s early years. No matter how we interact with children from birth to age 8 — whether we’re experts, first-time parents or involved relatives, friends and neighbors — we all play a role in giving kids a healthy start. That is why Colorado has developed the Early Learning and Development Guidelines. The straightforward, step-by-step directions bring together widely embraced strategies to help children from birth to age 8 develop successfully. They provide practical tips that anyone can use to help kids grow intellectually, physically and emotionally.

The guidelines were created from the bottom up by Coloradans who work with young children across the state. They reflect the broad consensus of these local experts based on a wealth of research. For the first time, experts from across Colorado have woven together their knowledge about these important years, creating a cohesive and comprehensive set of guidelines. This doesn’t replace other broadly accepted models and strategies currently in use across Colorado. Rather, it builds on them and demonstrates how they can work together to be even more effective. The guidelines are aligned with successful existing programs, creating continuity and making connections among them.

By providing these resources to families, providers can ensure that we’re all working together as allies to support young children’s development. These are guidelines, not rigid standards that dictate a one-size-fits-all approach to a child’s development. They recognize that every child is different and may develop in different ways and at varied paces and in different learning environments. They respond and can be adapted to children with different abilities, cultures and languages. Families easily can incorporate the guidelines into their everyday activities.

The guidelines are divided into different ages and inform adults about what most kids can do at certain ages, and how we can help them learn. The guidelines also offer tips for children of different cultures, languages and abilities. By providing these resources to families, providers can ensure that we’re all working together to support young children’s development. Teaching isn’t just for teachers, and the guidelines give everyone a great resource to help Colorado’s kids have a strong start.

To learn more, visit, where you can find tip sheets for different ages and the full electronic version of the guidelines. This website and all of its materials are also available in Spanish.

Stephanie Martin is the program administrator for Routt County’s Early Childhood Council, First Impressions of Routt County. For more information about First Impressions, visit and “like” First Impressions of Routt County on Facebook.

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