Early Childhood Curriculum Q&A

MSDE Recommended Early Childhood Curriculum

MSDE reviews and recommends publisher developed curriculum that aligns with the Maryland Early Learning Standards in two categories:

  • Curricular resources for programs for infants and toddlers (birth to age 3)
  • Comprehensive curriculum (ages 3, 4, and 5)

The State recommendations provide direction specifically to Head Start, center-based child care centers, non-public pre-kindergarten and kindergarten programs, and other licensed early care and education programs in selecting curricular resources.

Early childhood programs operated by local boards of education are not required to select from the State-recommended list but must certify that the local curriculum is aligned with the Maryland College and Career-Ready Standards.

Are licensed early care and education programs required to use a State-recommended curricular resource for infants and toddlers and/or a comprehensive curriculum for 3, 4, 5 year-olds?

For licensed child care programs participating in Maryland EXCELS and/or pursuing Maryland Accreditation, the use of a State-recommended curriculum, a curriculum developed by a Local School System, or an individually developed curriculum accepted by MSDE, is required for a Quality Rating 5 in Maryland EXCELS and Maryland Accreditation. 

  • Implementing a State-Recommended Curricula: A program may select a State-recommended curricular resource for infants and toddlers (birth to 3) and/or a comprehensive curriculum for 3, 4, 5 year-olds as applicable.

Curriculum selection decisions need to consider the continuity of learning between the various ages of the early childhood program being implemented. If a publisher/vendor has received State recommendation of its curriculum for 4 year-olds but not for 3-year-olds, the program selecting that curriculum may use it in a mixed-age grouping of 3- and 4-year-olds. The program must, however, also provide approved documentation regarding differentiation for 3-year-olds. This accommodation does not apply to curricula that were State-recommended for 5-year-olds only.

  • Individually Developed Curriculum: A program may choose to implement a curriculum that it has developed individually for its own use if it is evaluated and accepted by MSDE. The curriculum must not be a commercially-developed or contain portions of a commercially-developed program that has been purchased. Guidelines for the individually developed curricula option can be found here (PDF).
  • Implementing a Curriculum Developed by a Local School System: A program may choose to adopt the curriculum of the local school system within whose jurisdiction it is operating. It must certify and provide evidence of that curriculum’s implementation.

Looking for more information on the State-recommended curriculum for infants and toddlers? You’ll find all the details here.

If you work with children from birth to age 3, explore Healthy Beginnings: Supporting Development and Learning from Birth through Three Years of Age (PDF) and the Maryland Early Learning Standards.

Program Options for Implementing a Curricular Resource for Infants and Toddlers and a Comprehensive Curriculum for 3, 4, and 5 year-olds

State-Recommended Published Curriculum

Implementation of a State-recommended curricular resource for infants and toddlers and/or a  State-recommended comprehensive curriculum for ages 3, 4, 5 as applicable

Individually Developed Curriculum

Implementation of a curriculum developed by a program and evaluated and accepted by MSDE

Local School System Curriculum

Implementation of the local school system’s curriculum