The Maine Early Learning and Development Standards (MELDS) are the state’s learning standards for children ages three-five. Building from the Infant Toddler MELDS (IT MELDS) and bridging developmental expectations to the Maine Learning Results (MLRs), the MELDS inform all early childhood professionals about the typically developing expectations of young children as well as curriculum and assessment practices.
The MELDS Steering Committee is now accepting applications from individuals interested in being part of the review process to serve as participants on one of the writing teams, or as a targeted reviewer. The Steering Committee is seeking professionals in the field of Early Care and Education that work or have worked with or on behalf of children. Prospective participants must apply no later than February 21, 2023.
To understand the details of participation, please read the following Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):
Q: What are the Maine Early Learning Development Standards (MELDS)?
A: Early Learning and Development Standards describe the concepts and skills children develop and learn along the developmental continuum from birth to kindergarten entry. Their purpose is to support the development and well-being of young children and to foster their learning.
The standards promote the understanding of early learning and development, provide a comprehensive and coherent set of early childhood educational expectations for children’s development and learning, and guide the design and implementation of curriculum, assessment, and instructional practices with young children.
Maine’s Early Learning and Development Standards (MELDS) serve as a guide for state and local early childhood educators’ efforts to improve practice and programs for young children during their preschool years. The Infant/Toddler MELDS is a companion tool for ages birth-36 months.
Q: Who should consider participating?
A: In order to develop an evidence-based set of standards, we are seeking a diverse population of professionals from the Early Care and Education (ECE) field:
- Child Care and School Administrators
- Child Care Health Consultants
- Child Care Providers and staff of all licensed programs (family, small facility, facility, nursery school, out of school time programs)
- Child Care Providers and staff from licensed exempt programs
- Early educators within the school setting (Pre-K through 3rd grade)
- Ed Techs
- English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) Professionals
- Head Start staff
- Higher education professionals and their students within or specializing in the ECE/ECS field
- Individuals that provide professional development to the Early Care and Education field
- Parents, Guardians, Caregivers, or Family Members
- Special Education Teachers / Specialists
- Student and School Support Specialists: Speech, Occupational and Physical Therapists, School Counselors, School Social Workers, Interventionists, Title I staff
- Other professionals serving families of young children
Q: What are writing teams and what is the time commitment?
A: Each of the domains of development will need a team of professionals to review content for relevance and alignment to current research in order for the MELDS to provide early childhood educators with guidance as they design inclusive environments, shape curriculum, lead professional development initiatives, build intentionality into teaching practice, engage families, and support children’s learning at home. The domains include:
- Social and Emotional Development
- Goal Areas: Trust and emotional security, self-regulation; sense of self, self-awareness, and self-concept, relationships with adults, relationships with children
- Approaches to Learning
- Goal Areas: Engagement and persistence, initiative and curiosity, creativity
- Early Language and Literacy
- Goal Areas: Language comprehension (receptive language), language expression (Expressive/productive communication), emergent literacy
- Physical Development and Health
- Goal Areas: Perceptual development, gross motor (large muscle), fine motor (small muscle), self-help and adaptive skills
- Cognitive Development
- Goal Areas: exploration and inquiry, concept development and working memory, reflection and problem-solving, mathematical thinking, scientific reasoning, social studies learning
In addition to the domains of development, there are additional sections of the document that will need review. Those sections include:
- Introduction, History, Key Components of Early Learning Standards,
- Purpose Statement and Potential Users, Guiding Principles and Universal Design for Learning
- Introduction to the Stages of Development Ages 3-5
Time Commitment: The facilitator(s) for each writing team will determine the time necessary for both whole group and individual review. Participants should expect this to be no more than two hours per week. Writing teams will convene in March and work through June.
Q: What are targeted reviewers and what is the time commitment?
A: Targeted reviewers will review the updated sections provided to them and offer structured feedback. Targeted reviewers will begin review once the initial updates have been made to provide feedback to the Steering Committee.
The time commitment will be less for targeted reviewers than writing team participants, however the window for review and feedback will be shorter and more time sensitive (approximate document turnaround time of two weeks).
Q: What will I earn in exchange for my time and expertise?
A: Not only will individuals be afforded an opportunity to participate in furthering the field of Early Care and Education, but each participant will also be awarded contact hours at the completion of the writing team cycle based on attendance and at the discretion of the team leader.
Contact hours may be used for furthering education, documentation of professional development experiences, or for continuing education credits (CEUs) and/or training hour conversion.
Q: Why is periodic updating of learning and development standards important?
A: Research in the field of early care and education is constantly evolving. A regular process of updating early learning and development standards helps to ensure their validity and alignment with other sets of standards across the birth to grade 12 spans. The updated MELDS will result in a child-centered tool that will inform program development, instruction, assessment, policy decisions, and professional learning for early care and education efforts across Maine.
Q: What is the overall timeline for the MELDS revision?
A: MELDS revision began in the Fall of 2022 with the creation of the Steering Committee. This group has been meeting regularly to discuss the current format of Maine’s MELDS as well as to review feedback from the field, other states’ Early Learning and Development Standards and national research trends/findings. The remaining work is set to unfold on the following timeline:
- January-February 2023: Recruit writing team members and targeted reviewers
- February 2023: Assign Steering Committee members and teams to review the current standards
- March-June 2023: Teams will work to review terminology, assure alignment to Maine’s Infant/Toddler MELDS and to the Maine Learning Results, and review for readability, diversity, inclusion and ease of use
- July-August 2023: A final version will be translated and introduced to the field for further use
Thank you for time and consideration. If you have any questions, please contact the Department of Education’s Early Childhood Specialist, Nicole.Madore@maine.gov or the Office of Child and Family Services First4ME Program Manager, Megan.Swanson@maine.gov