The advice, which was due to be released at the start of term, comes in response to concerns that unmanageable workloads and excessive paperwork could affect the quality of teaching in classrooms.
It stresses the importance of numeracy and literacy and provides practical guidance for teachers on planning and assessment.
It is aimed at schools, nurseries, youth workers, colleges and local authorities.
The publication addresses fears raised by teachers over Scotland’s Curriculum for Excellence, which they claim is “over-bureaucratic” and has created a “climate of fear”.
“The difficulty teachers have had in the past is the mixed messages from government, inspectors, local authorities and head teachers that have just added to workload,” said Seamus Searson, general secretary of the Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association.
“People at all levels have lacked confidence to say ‘stop’ to the range of demands. In many cases a climate of fear has been generated.
“We are hopeful that this document will send a message to teachers that the focus is on teaching and learning and not long paper trails.”
Chief inspector of education and chief executive of Education Scotland Dr Bill Maxwell says the latest directions will alleviate some of the demands on teachers by cutting ”clutter in the system”.
He added: “I am confident that it will empower teachers to spend their time doing what matters most: improving outcomes for all young people in Scotland.”
Deputy First Minister and education secretary John Swinney said: “The statement sets out clearly and concisely what teachers should and shouldn’t be focusing on.
“It will empower them to spend their time teaching and giving our children the best possible opportunities to learn.”
Labour’s Iain Gray added: “No warm words from John Swinney or guidance from Education Scotland can substitute for ending SNP cuts to education budgets, or replace the 4,200 teachers we have seen cut from schools.”
Despite the new advice, teachers last night said they will hold a ballot on industrial action over teacher workload.
The Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association will send out the first postal ballots for action on 14 September with a closing date of 30 September.