Education Professionals - Teaching Staff & Administrators

New Mexico Early Learning Guidelines: Birth through Kindergarten

A collaborative effort of the New Mexico State Children, Youth and Families Department, Department of Health and Public Education Department. Early learning guidelines serve as a framework to capture some of the important aspects of development in the early years. They describe what young children know and can do during the early years of development. The guidelines are designed to give reasonable expectations for children at different ages so that teachers and others can have criteria to refer to as they observe children in action, determine their levels of performance and plan curricular interventions to help them grow, develop, and learn to their fullest potential.

Essential Element I: Foundations of Quality

Full Participation of Each Child

Full participation refers to the range of approaches that promote engagement in play, learning, development, and a sense of belonging for each child.


  • Family engagement 
  • Inclusive practices for children with developmental delays or disabilities
  • Culture and language including the support of dual language learners (DLL)
  • Promoting social relationships

Professional Qualifications

Definition: On-going training, professional development, higher education, and teacher licensure ensure that those working with young children have adequate knowledge to provide a developmentally appropriate program that supports each learner.

Essential Element II: Quality Practices That Support Children's Growth, Development, and Learning

Intentional Teaching: Authentic Observation Documentation and Curriculum Planning Process

Definition: New Mexico has created a comprehensive system for utilizing the New Mexico Early Learning Guidelines: Birth through Kindergarten as the framework and criteria for an authentic assessment process and curriculum planning.

Intentional Leadership: Continuous Quality Improvement

Definition: Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) is a proven strategy to increase and sustain efforts to improve a program’s quality. CQI is considered to be an appropriate approach for a Tiered Quality Rating and Improvement System (TQRIS) system because it provides a clear framework for programs that are moving from one level of quality to the next. CQI uses data to inform and guide a program’s efforts to improve its quality, thereby influencing positive outcomes for children. CQI is a four-step cycle:

  1. PLAN—establishing a plan of action by identifying, describing, and analyzing strengths and needs
  2. DO—implementing the plan of action and making programmatic changes
  3. STUDY—reflecting on the actions taken and learning from what has been done
  4. ACT—implementing successful changes into daily practice and determining what needs to be done next