Step 4: Relationships & Interactions

What are the goals in Step 4? 

  • 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.
  • Demonstrate 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. 

Why is Step 4 important?

All children benefit from being in warm, supportive environments where they can develop strong relationships with their caregivers and peers. In addition, research shows that children in programs with higher CLASS® scores have better social, emotional, and academic outcomes.

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

  • Showcase your relationships and interactions through a Classroom Assessment Scoring System® (CLASS®) observation. CLASS® is a research-based method of measuring, evaluation, and improving interactions. 
  • Programs will receive onsite CLASS® observations and must earn an average program score of the following:
 Infant CLASS®
Toddler CLASS®
Responsive Caregiving 4.0 Emotional Support 5.0  Emotional Support 5.0 
  Engaged Support for Learning 3.5 Classroom Organization 5.0 
    Instructional Support 3.0
    • For Preschool and Center Licensed Programs: Observations will be conducted in each classroom with the tool that best reflects 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: Observations will be conducted program-wide with the tools that best reflect the age groups in care. A total of two tools will be used throughout the observation. 
  • 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!