State of Alaska




For over ten thousand years all across Alaska, children were raised in loving families with traditional values such as cooperation, humor, patience, strength, hard work, respect for elders, nature, and each other. More recently, people from all over the world were drawn by the beauty and opportunities of this land to come live and raise a family here. While drawing on the rich traditional ways of teaching children, the Alaska Early Learning Guidelines also brings the most current child development practices built on knowledge of brain development. Alaska’s future depends on the health and well-being of our youngest children. We know good health, positive experiences, and nurturing relationships create a strong foundation for lifelong learning. We also know a child’s brain develops more rapidly in the first few years of life than at any other time. The foundation built in early childhood impacts later health and well-being as well as success in school, the workforce, and in life. Raising our children well is a great responsibility for parents, early educators, and communities. The hope of the Alaska Early Learning Guidelines is to offer support to all adults that play important roles in the lives of young children.


Alaska’s Early Learning Guidelines were developed to help families, early educators, and communities work together to support children’s early learning and growth by:

  • Helping clarify the complexities, progression, and connection of learning from birth to kindergarten age,
  • Honoring and embracing the tremendous diversity and individuality of children and families,
  • Supporting parents and early educators to observe, recognize and celebrate children’s growth and plan for the next stage of development,
  • Providing practical ideas to support children’s learning,
  • Showing the alignment of early childhood education with K-12 standards,
  • Strengthening the relationship between early childhood and K-12 so schools are ready for children and children are ready for school.

Culturally responsive practice

Alaska’s Early Learning Guidelines are designed to strengthen culturally responsive practices: recognizing the diverse cultures of children as strengths, building understanding and respect in children for their own and other cultures, and empowering children through the cultural values and touchstones of their family heritage.

All children develop within their own family, social, and cultural experiences, which makes them unique. With the wealth of cultures in Alaska and great diversity in our state, it is vitally important for children to appreciate other cultures in addition to their own. Today’s children must develop respect and appreciation for people with ideas and experiences that are both similar to and different from their own.

One’s identity is shaped by many factors including gender, race, cultural and family background, language, religion, abilities, life experiences, and circumstances. Family and cultural stories help children build strong and positive identities, especially if their culture is different from the dominant culture in their region. By including all children’s cultures as much as possible in the learning environment, early educators help foster positive identities, which leads to academic success.

Cultural diversity in Alaska contributes to the diverse approaches to learning. For example, many native cultures have been developed around subsistence activities, which involve more hands-on and kinesthetic learning Subsistence cultures also value communal effort to accomplish a goal. Kinesthetic learning, building relationships, the value of teamwork, and communal effort create positive learning environments for all children.

Alaska Native Languages map

Krauss, Michael, Gary Holton, Jim Kerr, and Colin T. West. 2011. Indigenous Peoples and Languages of Alaska. Fairbanks and Anchorage: Alaska Native Language Center and UAA Institute of Social and Economic Research. LEARN MORE

Children watch a fish being processed by an adult

CHildren learn best...

1. When they are healthy, safe, well rested, and have regular balanced meals. Basic needs must be met in order to learn. Adults guide and support their lifelong healthy habits.

2. Through relationships with caring adults. When children feel secure, they learn to regulate their emotions, and become curious, confident, communicators.

3. When they have opportunities for play and active exploration of their environment. A sense of wonder is a powerful foundation for children’s learning.

4. In their own unique ways, on their own timeline. The rate of development varies for each child, and learning may be uneven over time, or across different learning domains. All children need support to grow and learn in inclusive settings.

5. When adults in their lives learn and plan together for their growth and development. Just as children’s learning is continuous and builds from simple to complex, adult knowledge of best practices in child development continues to grow. When parents and early educators communicate well, they can best support each child to reach their full potential.

6. When they are supported by their communities. When the community supports children’s growth with access to high quality early learning opportunities and family supports, the health and well-being of children thrives.

Domains and goals

Domain 1: Physical well-being, health and motor development

1: Physical activities

2: Gross motor skills

3: Stamina

4: Fine motor skills

5: Sensory motor skills

6: Health skills and routines

7: Nutrition

8: Safety

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Domain 2: Social and emotional development

9: Positive relationships with adults

10: Positive relationships with other children

11: Behavior and its effects

12: Group participation

13: Diverse settings

14: Empathy

15: Similarities and differences in people

16: Awareness of self

17: Motivation, behavior and social environment

18: Rules and routines

19: Feelings and impulses

20: Emotions

21: Family characteristics and functions

22: Community, interdependence & social roles

23: Civic responsibility

24: Cultural awareness

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Domain 3: Approaches to learning

25: Curiosity

26: Persistence

27: Initiative

28: Creativity and imagination

29: Play and exploration

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Domain 4: General knowledge and cognition

30: Reasoning and critical thinking

31: Problem solving

32: Symbols to represent objects

33: Fantasy and reality

34: Numbers and counting

35: Measurement

36: Sorting, classifying and organizing

37: Observation & manipulation

38: Predictions and experiments

39: Natural world

40: Past, present, and future

41: Location and spatial relationships

42: People, places, and geography

43: Economic concepts

44: Relationships: Humans and environment

45: Technology use

46: Creative arts

47: Arts appreciation

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Domain 5: Communication, language, and literacy

48: Social communication

49: Receptive language

50: Expressive language

51: Reading

52: Writing

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Download the Alaska Early Learning Guidelines

Alaska Early Learning Guidelines Cover
Full publication
Alaska Early Learning Guidelines Birth to 9 Months Cover

0-9 months

Alaska Early Learning Guidelines 18 to 36 Months Cover

18-36 months

Alaska Early Learning Guidelines 9 to 18 MonthsCover

9-18 months

Alaska Early Learning Guidelines 36-60+ MonthsCover

36-60+ months