Child Development

Zero To Kindergarten In 7 Steps

Understanding the 7 Domains of ELORS
with San Diego Preschool, Children’s Paradise

Have you been in your preschooler’s classroom and seen the letters ELORS posted?

Or maybe you’ve been reading up on the quality of the preschools in your area and keep seeing the letters pop up?

Whatever it is, when you have a preschooler, it’s likely that you’ve at some point come across the letters ELORS.

kindergarten readiness

Image from Teachers Pay Teachers

But what, exactly, do they stand for?

ELORS, or Early Learning Observation Rating Scale, was designed to collect and share information from both parents and teachers that might call attention to potential learning disabilities in preschoolers.

The system was designed to help parents and teachers decide whether specific preschoolers would benefit from additional educational support.

For the program to be most effective, it is advised that the teacher and parent work together to determine whether or not there is anything of concern that needs to be brought to attention.

In most cases, observation occurs when the preschooler is four-years-old, or during the year leading up to their first year of kindergarten.

If this is you and your child is coming up on their penultimate year at their San Diego preschool, then be prepared to cover these seven different developmental domains that make up the ELORS.

Take a look at the seven domains and familiarize yourself with the observable skills and behaviors that are specific to each domain.

Perceptual and Motor

The perceptual and motor skills, much like they sound, take a closer look at the preschooler’s fine and gross motor skills, along with coordination, tactile deftness, and vision. Preschoolers that are not strong in this category will exhibit problems with their hand-eye coordination, balance, sense of shape, and their willingness to explore different materials and textures, and/or their large muscle coordination. By the time a preschooler enters kindergarten, they should have control over most of the things that fall in this category and display interest in age appropriate materials and drawing. If you believe that your preschooler has exhibited problems in this area, then be sure to address them with your child’s preschool teacher to perform further assessment.


When it comes to your preschooler’s self-management skills, you should pay the most attention to their self-regulation skills,

kindergarten readiness

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work habits, and their response to the learning environment. In their last year of preschool your child should be capable of some level of delayed gratification (resisting the urge to throw a tantrum when things don’t go their way) and of understanding consequences that come when tantrums are thrown. They should also be able to recognize routine, particularly when it comes to the school hours, and understanding that certain times are for specific activities. Having a handle on their self-management will serve your child well when they enter kindergarten, as they will need to be capable of adjusting to a new routine, new teacher, and increased workload.

Social and Emotional

Just like it sounds, the social and emotional domain of the ELORS focuses on your child’s social interactions and ability to manage and interpret emotional cues from others. This includes your child’s desire and ability to make and maintain friendships, while also being able to understand reciprocity with their peers and cooperation. Likewise, your child should show an average-to-normal desire to participate in group activities and play with their classmates. Be mindful that as your child enters elementary school, they will be encouraged to participate in more and more activities involving others, meaning that they will need to be on the same—or close to—level of their fellow preschoolers.

kindergarten readiness

Image from the Self Regulated Teacher

Early Math

If you’ve been in a kindergarten classroom lately, then you know that the mathematic level has increased exponentially in recent years. Because of this, preschools have begun introducing math concepts earlier and earlier, resulting in higher functioning kindergartners than ever before. For this reason, the ELORS has a domain dedicated to the fundamentals of mathematics, taking care to be sure that preschoolers entering kindergarten are fully prepared for the rigors of the coming course-load. The early math domain takes a particular interest in things like comparison, number recognition and naming, spatial orientation, and counting. For example, your preschooler should have a basic understanding of what a number looks like and what the name of that number is, things like up and down, and bigger and smaller. Your preschool teacher will likely have a feeling for how well your child does in each of these areas, but you should also be aware of them to keep an eye out for signs of trouble on your own.

Early Literacy

Like math, literacy has also begun to take on a life of its own in the kindergarten classroom. Unlike twenty-five years ago, kindergartners are now taught how to form sentences early on, encouraging growth from an early age. For this reason, preschoolers are expected to have a general understanding of sounds, syllables, and the alphabet. They should also have an interest in learning about the written word by way of being eager to write or read within groups and on their own. Preschoolers should be able to clap in time to syllables, have a basic knowledge of reading (reading left to right, up to down), recognize letters in short words, and should be capable of recalling their written name.

kindergarten readiness

Image from Life, Love, and Thyme

Receptive Language

Recall of common sounds, listening comprehension, a shift in auditory attention, and recognizing patterns are all a part of receptive language learning and thus fall under its domain. Receptive language is addressing whether or not the preschooler is capable of sorting sounds out in their heads and understanding where those sounds might be coming from. Things like being able to shift your attention from one speaker to another show a sense of receptive language at work. However, children that are incapable of following a basic conversation are less likely to handle the stress that comes from a classroom setting. Ensuring that your child is capable of participating in receptive language early on will help them do better in their transition from pre-k to k.

Expressive Language

Language is a tricky part of a child’s development, if only because it requires a very basic understanding of so many things. Sentence syntax, vocabulary, communication between listeners, and word retrieval are all key in a child’s language development. Even as an adult, I can say that linguistic theory (the study of language) was one of the hardest classes I took during my time in school. Yet, despite the difficulty that comes with language, it is a crucial development in a human. Prior to kindergarten, your child should have a very basic understanding of syntax (the order of the words in a sentence), the words they use to communicate, how they communicate to different people, and an ability to recall a set of vocabulary (however minimal) from the bank inside their head. This will help make certain that your preschooler is prepared for communicating with their peers and other adults on a day-to-day basis while they attend school.

As mentioned above, your preschool teacher will be working hard to keep an eye on every student to search for any kind of problems in any of the seven domains, but they need your help too!

Does difficulty in one area automatically mean your child has a developmental problem?


Be mindful that these are guidelines to search for learning disabilities, not to diagnose them. If your child exhibits difficulties in any of the above areas then they will likely seek the help of a specialist to make sure that they’re ready for kindergarten. Regardless, take a look at Get Ready To Read’s full list of the seven domains and their definitions to get a better understanding of what to look for beforehand.


kindergarten readiness

Image from Burgin Independent School


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