What Is the Difference Between a Domain, Skill and Goal? [Free Skills & Goals Chart]

by Mother Goose Time on May 26, 2016


As they debate and discuss skills and assessment, teachers use many different words to talk about what and how children learn. Sometimes it sounds complicated and almost like a foreign language...but actually, it can be very simple. This post breaks down the differences between key words like domain, skill, and learning goal.

Let's get started:


Think of a domain like a bucket. Each bucket is titled by a different area of development. Examples include social-emotional, physical, cognitive and language development.

Mother Goose Time curriculum uses a research-based model that includes 7 domains. To read more about each domain, visit the Mother Goose Time website. Other curricula, state governments, or professors may say there are 4, 5, 6 or even 10 domains. It just depends how many "buckets" they feel they need to organize and hold the many types of skills children learn. 

In the United States, every state has defined a different way to organize the skills for young children. This is why we provide an alignment document to show how the domains in Mother Goose Time's model match up to how each State Department has defined the domains. See alignment documents for your state here. 

As you explore the Early Childhood profession, remember that it doesn't matter what we call the domain or how many we have; what really matters is supporting each child's learning using child development research and theories

So, what goes in these domain "buckets"?


There are multiple skills associated with each domain. We number our skills 1-33 for easy reference. A skill is anything we know or learn. Examples include listening comprehension, geography, shapes, fine motor skills, or even music!

We have put 3-8 skills into each domain bucket. Learn more about the skills in each domain here.

Skills are great...but...

What do children do to demonstrate these skills?


A goal is a measurable outcome associated with a particular skill. Typcially, there are 2-3 goals for each skill. For example, one learning goal is that a child can communicate his ideas by saying 2- to 3-word phrases. That is a goal of the skill called "communication." Another example is that a child can maintain attention. This is a goal of the skill called "self-direction."

Remember, the skills are numbered 1-33. When we add the goal together with its skill, we number it with .1, .2 or .3. Goal 1 for skill 1 would be "1.1," goal 2 for skill 1 would be "1.2," etc. 


 Click here to download and print your own quick-reference chart

of all domains, skills and skill goals

covered in the Mother Goose Time curriculum.








Topics: Skills

Join 23,000 other educators and subscribe to weekly updates

What is Inspired Learning? Inspired Learning is the blog written by the Experience Early Learning Co. - publishers of the Mother Goose Time preschool curriculum - to support all early childhood educators. In addition to preschool curriculum, the Experience Early Learning Co. publishes * children's bookspreschool music & dance and * authentic assessment tools.These materials have been serving child care directorsfamily childcare providers, preschool teachers, homeschoolers and parents of young children since 1984. All materials are crafted to inspire both the educators and the children to experience learning through creative expression, play and open-ended discovery. Mother Goose Time preschool curriculum supports a child's social-emotional, physical and cognitive development.