HELDS Frequently Asked Questions


Click here for a view of the HELDS Quick Summary


What are the HELDS?

The Hawaii Early Learning and Development Standards (HELDS) are a set of research-based standards that identify expectations of knowledge and behavior for children through a chronological continuum.


How are the HELDS intended to be used?

The standards are a source document to guide practitioners to intentionally integrate developmental knowledge with the concepts and skills children need to make progress in all domains of learning and development. The HELDS are designed to be supportive, rather than prescriptive or instructive. Guidance is being developed by various stakeholders to set age-specific and possibly setting specific implementation strategies and guides that identify resources and curriculum ideas and activities.


How are the HELDS organized?

The HELDS are divided into five domains:

  • Physical Well-Being, Health and Motor Development
  • Social and Emotional Development
  • Approaches to Learning
  • Cognition and General Knowledge
    • Mathematics and Numeracy
    • Science
    • Social Studies
    • Creative Arts
  • English Language Arts and Literacy


The HELDS span five age groups*:

  • Infants (children from birth to 12 months old)
  • Younger Toddlers (children 12-24 months old)
  • Older Toddlers (children 24-36 months old)
  • 3-year-olds (children 36-48 months old)
  • 4-year-olds (children 48 months – Kindergarten entry)

*Please note that the standards listed for each age range indicate what the child should be able to do by the end of the age range.


What does “Kindergarten Entry” mean in the last age group?

The HELDS are grouped by children’s ages; however, the HIDOE standards are grouped by grade. Since some children will turn five prior to attending kindergarten, we wanted to address their development in the HELDS.


Is one Domain more important than another?

No one area of development and learning is more important than another.


How were the Domains, Topics and Strands selected?

The 5 domains were organized according to the National Education Goals Panel framework recommendations. The Topics and Strands were named to follow the language used by HIDOE, which includes:

  • Common Core State Standards (CCSS)
  • Hawaii Content & Performance Standards III (HCPS III)
  • General Learning Outcomes (GLOs)
  • National Academy of Science’s K-1 Science Education Framework


Is there a set curriculum that must be used with the HELDS?

No, the HELDS do not mandate specific teaching practices or materials. This is why there are no examples of how to encourage children to develop the indicators or skills identified within the HELDS. the HELDS are designed for all children, not just those enrolled in a specific program setting.


What does “ethical use of technology” mean?

“Technology” is a term used in the Hawaii DOE General Learning Outcomes and refers to all materials and tools used in school, such as books, computers, TVs, DVDs, crayons, pencils, scissors, and glue. “Ethical use” refers to the proper use of these materials and tools.


What does one-to-one correspondence mean?

One-to-one correspondence can be defined as the ability to match each member of one set to the member of an equal set. For example, if a child is given a stack of plates and puts one on each placemat, the child is demonstrating an understanding of one-to-one correspondence.


Why are there not more specific examples of children’s motor development?

The HELDS are designed to be a guide for children’s development, rather than a complete list of skills. In the interest of space and clarity, examples are provided only in instances when the language of the standard may not be widely understood.


What about children who have developmental delays or are English Language Learners (ELL)?

Children are unique and develop at their own pace. However, there is a predictable sequence of milestones in which children develop skills and competencies. All children within an age group should not be expected to arrive at each benchmark at the same time or show the same degree of proficiency. The HELDS are arranged as a continuum that allows teachers to adjust the timeline in a developmentally appropriate way.


How do the HELDS address cultural diversity?

Through the work of the statewide focus groups in July and August 2012, we were able to understand what supplemental materials early childhood practitioners in Hawaii needed. One of the materials that will be developed includes a guide on implementing the HELDS within culturally sensitive context.


Do the HELDS apply to the Hawaiian medium education settings?

One of the recommendations made during the October 2012 Early Learning Advisory Board meeting was to establish an advisory committee under the direction of the Executive Office on Early Learning to answer this question. This group will be charged with recommending if an additional HELDS Domain needs to be created to ensure that they are appropriate for all of Hawaii’s keiki.


Why is the word “emerging” used?

If a child is not yet able to demonstrate a behavior  that can be observed, the skill is defined as “emerging”.


Are the HELDS connected to the DOE’s Standards?

Yes, the HELDS are vertically aligned with three sets of learning standards for kindergarten children currently being implemented in the Hawaii Department of Education:

  • The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for English Language Arts and Literacy and Mathematics
  • The Hawaii Content and Performance Standards (HCPS) III in seven content areas (Social Studies, Science, Health, Physical Education, Fine Arts, World Languages, and Career and Technical Education)
  • General Learner Outcomes (GLOs) that have indicators that identify student effort, work habits, and behavior


Click here for a PDF of the HELDS FAQs.