Step 3: Activities & Experiences

What are the goals in Step 3?

  • Use a curriculum that supports each child’s development. The curriculum is aligned with the Birth to Three Early Learning Guidelines and the Three to Five Early Learning Guidelines.
  • Use the approved assessment tool to learn about each child’s development. Use the results of the assessment to: 
    • set goals with families for each child’s learning and development
    • plan learning activities that build upon each child’s strengths and provide opportunities for further growth
    • recognize any areas of concern regarding individual child development 
  • Demonstrate continued commitment to providing quality space and materials.

Why is Step 3 important?

Development is so important in the early years that we do not simply want to hope that children get all of the experiences they need to learn. Instead, we want to put a long-term plan in place to make sure learning happens. We call this plan for the children’s learning the “curriculum”. Assessment shows you if your curriculum is working. By using an assessment tool, you can see progress in children’s development over time.

How do I show that I meet the Step 3 Quality Standards?

  • Continue to meet the Health & Safety Standards in Step 1 and the Space & Materials Quality Standards in Step 2.
  • Complete an Environment Self-Assessment (ESA) proving your program continues to provide quality space and materials for the children in your care. One ESA must be completed for each separate classroom or group of children in the program, available under our Helpful Resources page.
    • Each completed ESA will require a minimum of three set goals for continued quality improvement.
  • Use a curriculum that aligns with the North Dakota Early Learning Guidelines as reflected through the Curriculum Alignment Worksheet. The Curriculum Alignment Worksheet is designed to help your program determine how your curriculum aligns with the ND Early Learning Guidelines. Bright & Early ND does not require programs to use a specific curriculum. Rather, curricula should reflect the values and philosophy of the program, the children, and families served. 
    • Bright & Early ND will use this Curriculum Alignment Rubric (PDF, 245 KB) to review the Curriculum Alignment Worksheet your program submits.
  • Adopt Teaching Strategies GOLD® as your assessment tool and create a financial sustainability plan for ongoing use. There are many great assessment tools on the market but GOLD® fits our state the best due to the accessibility of online training, the compatibility with many curricula and the ability to prove interrater reliability for all Lead Teachers, Directors, Family Child Care Providers, and Preschool Teachers. Programs will access GOLD® online through MyTeachingStrategies
  • Observe children regularly and record information in MyTeachingStrategies™.
  • Program completes and finalizes GOLD® checkpoints during the three yearly periods (fall, winter, spring) in MyTeachingStrategies™.
  • Meet Professional Development Quality Standards.

Ready for the next Step?

The Bright & Early ND Quality Rating process is implemented during four cycles, referred to as cohorts. Think of this period as time where you will work with a Coach, learn from other programs, pinpoint your strengths, take training and reach your quality goals! Cohorts are available throughout the year, specific dates and time frames are listed below:

Application Due:
Cohort Starts: 
Cohort Ends: 
Quality Standards Inventory Due: 
December 9th  January 1st  September 30th  September 1st 
March 9th April 1st  December 31st  December 1st 
June 9th July 1st  March 31st  March 1st 
September 9th October 1st  June 30th  June 1st 

Programs can apply for Bright & Early ND cohorts at anytime, but are only reviewed four times per year (December 15th, March 15th, June 15th, September 15th). Upon application review, a member of the Bright & Early ND Team will contact you 2 weeks prior to the start of the cohort to inform you of your application status.

Apply Today!

Check out the Bright & Early ND Helpful Resources for a step-by-step tutorial on 'How to Apply for a Bright & Early ND Cohort'. Don't forget to bookmark this page to stay connected to the most current Bright & Early ND resources and information!