Step 4: Relationships & Interactions

What are the goals in Step 4?

  • Demonstration of continued commitment to providing quality space and materials to support play and learning experiences.
  • Continued verification your program is accurately assessing the needs of the children you care for. 
  • Develop warm and supportive relationships with children and help children develop positive relationships with each other.
  • Place an emphasis on children’s interests, motivations and points of view in daily activities and interactions.
  • Facilitate children’s critical thinking and language development through interactions with children.

Why is Step 4 important?

When adults develop warm and caring relationships with each child, children do better in school. Research shows that children in programs with higher CLASS® scores make greater academic and social gains than those in programs with lower CLASS® scores.

How do I show that I meet the Step 4 Quality Standards?

  • Bright & Early ND Assessor completes a Classroom Assessment Scoring System® (CLASS®) observation in all settings applying for Bright & Early ND Step 4 Quality Assured.
    • The Infant CLASS® is used with children ages birth-18 months.
    • The Toddler CLASS® is used with children ages 19 months-35 months.
    • The Pre-K CLASS® is used with children ages 3-5 years.
      • For Preschool and Center Licensed Programs: Observations will be conducted in each classroom with the appropriate tool reflecting the age group in care. Classroom scores are averaged to calculate a program level score for each tool used. 
      • For Family and Group Licensed Programs: The Bright & Early ND Assessor will alternate between two age levels to capture interactions as experienced by the majority of children. The Bright & Early ND Assessor will determine which tools to use based on the majority of children present on the day of.
  • Complete an Environment Self-Assessment (ESA) proving your program continues to provide quailty 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.
  • Meet Professional Development Quality Standards.
  • Plus, the Health & Safety Quality Standards in Step 1, the Space & Materials Quality Standards in Step 2 and the Activities and Experiences Quality Standards in Step 3.

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!