In their first few years, children learn more and at a much faster pace than at any other time in their lives. The South Dakota Early Learning Guidelines were developed to provide a compilation of appropriate skills and knowledge children can attain with support by the time they have finished their preschool years. Children learn these skills primarily through play and experiences guided by parents and by skilled professionals. Guidelines are designed to be used in all settings that include children 3 to 5 years of age, by preschool teachers, home and center childcare providers, parents, Head Start staff, administrators, early childhood special educators, librarians, and all who work with preschool-aged children.

The state of South Dakota offers a variety of early childhood programs. These programs offer information and visiting programs to assist parents in acquiring the skills to help make the most of these crucial early-learning years. These programs help parents learn about child development by suggesting activities that encourage language development, intellectual growth, social and motor skills, and strengthen the parent-child relationship.

Monitor your child’s development! Go to, on left side look for child development and click on ages and stages.

Find an Early Childhood Program that serves you!

Bright Start: ( One of the top priorities of the Bright Start Initiative is to assure that every baby born in South Dakota has the opportunity for a good start in life. Bright Start is an early childhood initiative incorporating the following components: Home Visitation; Newborn Hearing Screenings; Early Intervention Screenings; Immunizations; Web Site; Parent/Infant Welcome Box; Monthly Parent Update; Responsive Parenting Seminars.

Head Start/Early Head Start: ( Head Start is a comprehensive program that provides educational, nutritional, health and social services to preschool aged (3-5) children from low income families. The program strengthens relationships within the family by encouraging parent involvement in all aspects of a child’s development and in the Head Start program itself. Early Head Start serves expectant parents and their infants and toddlers. To find a program nearest you ()

Birth to Three Connections: ( The state of South Dakota participates in a federal program called the Early Intervention Program for Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities (Part C). In South Dakota we call this program the Birth to 3 program. Parents, teachers and health care providers know that children who receive early intervention services as early in their lives as possible are healthier and better learners . The state of South Dakota is committed to providing services to young children and their families. For more information or to see if your child is eligible go to website (above) and click on parent information.