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Core Knowledge Areas

What are Core Knowledge Areas?

Core Knowledge Areas (CKA) establish a set of standards for Early Care and Education that support the professionalism of our field. They form the knowledge base that every early childhood professional working with young children and their families should build from in order to provide quality experiences for children. CKA also provide a foundation for self-assessment and reflection that helps practitioners determine areas of professional competence and areas for further growth. The CKA provide the foundation for Nevada’s Core Competencies.  

Nevada's Core Knowledge Areas (CKA)

To provide a common starting point for effective and appropriate training opportunities, Nevada has identified the following distinct Core Knowledge Areas that serve as the foundation of the Nevada Early Care and Education Professional Career Ladder and the Training Approval System

The Career Ladder is in Adobe® Acrobat Reader format. Download free Acrobat® Reader software.


Revised July 2014

Human Growth and Development

Early childhood educators understand individual variations of developing children birth to age 8, and the multiple influences that affect physical, cognitive, social and emotional growth. They know and apply commonly accepted research and human development theories regarding child growth, development and learning. Understanding the implications of early brain development, they use developmentally appropriate practice to create healthy, respectful, supportive and appropriately challenging environments that promote a broad range of positive developmental outcomes for each child. 

Positive Interactions and Guidance 

Early childhood educators use supportive interactions as the foundation of their work to create positive and warm reciprocal relationships with children birth to age 8. They have realistic expectations regarding children’s behavior and use developmentally appropriate guidance techniques to create an environment that encourages prosocial behavior, conflict resolution, problem solving skills and successful interactions with peers and adults.

Observation and Assessment

Early childhood educators know about and understand the goals, benefits and uses of child and program assessments and use assessment data to design a program that is informed by children's developmental abilities. In partnership with families, they use observation, documentation and other appropriate assessment tools and approaches to improve curriculum and modify learning experiences to meet the development and learning needs of each child.

Environment and Curriculum

Early childhood educators understand that the foundation of curriculum planning and implementation is established through the knowledge of child growth and development. They know, understand and use a broad repertoire of developmentally appropriate teaching and learning approaches as well as integrate age-appropriate guidelines and content standards into curriculum planning. Using strategies and tools that are characteristic of healthy, respectful, supportive and appropriately challenging learning environments, they intentionally design, implement and evaluate developmentally meaningful curriculum and reflect on their own practice to promote positive outcomes for each child.  

Health, Safety and Nutrition

Early childhood educators understand that children’s physical and emotional health and safety is vital for fostering competence in all developmental areas. They know their reporting responsibilities under applicable laws and regulations and develop procedures and environments that ensure safety, promote sound health practices, encourage healthy nutrition and foster the physical and emotional well-being of each child.

Family and Community Relationships 

Early childhood educators understand that the family serves as the primary context for children's development. As such, they support and engage families through culturally sensitive practices and reciprocal relationships that acknowledge and respect diversity in backgrounds, family structure, and the developmental needs of each child. They create meaningful family and community involvement, connect families to community resources and keep abreast of opportunities to collaborate with other family and community organizations.

Leadership and Professional Development  

Early childhood educators identify and involve themselves with the early childhood profession and demonstrate their commitment to children, families, and communities by upholding ethical standards and other professional guidelines related to their practice. Engaging in continuous, collaborative learning, they participate in ongoing professional development and seek appropriate leadership roles to dialogue with others, both within and outside the field, around common issues to advance best practices. Knowing about central policy issues in the field, they serve as advocates for children, families and the profession.

Management and Administration  

Early childhood administrators foster an organizational climate in which supportive relationships and positive communication among employees, families and community colleagues are valued. They understand fundamental management principles, theories, responsibilities, and ethics and use this knowledge to implement best business and early childhood practices. They utilize program data to plan, assess, and modify the program on a continual basis to meet high quality standards, provide leadership to guide employee professional development and advocacy, as well as model developmentally appropriate practice to promote positive outcomes for each child.