Wisconsin Model Early Learning Standards


The WI Model Early Learning Standards (WMELS) specify developmental expectations for children from birth through the entrance to 1st grade. The standards reflect the domains of a child's learning & development. The domains include: Health & Physical Development; Social & Emotional Development: Language Development & Communication; Approaches to Learning: Cognition & General Knowledge. Each domain is divided into sub-domains which include: developmental expectations, program standards, performance standards & developmental continuum. Samples of children's behavior & adult strategies are also provided.
WMELS detailed description

Based on research and supported by evidence-based practices, WMELS provide a framework for families, professionals & policy makers to:

  • Share a common language & responsibility for the well-being of children from birth to first grade;
  • Know & understand developmental expectations of young children;
  • Understand the connection between the foundations of early childhood, K-12 educational experiences & lifelong learning.

Guiding Principles

  1. All children are capable & competent.
  2. Early relationships matter.
  3. A child's early learning & development is multidimensional.
  4. Expectations for children must be guided by knowledge of child growth & development.
  5. Children are individuals who develop at various rates.
  6. Children are members of cultural groups that share developmental patterns.
  7. Children exhibit a range of skills & competencies within any domain of development.
  8. Children learn through play & the active exploration of their environment.
  9. Parents are children's primary & most important caregivers & educators.


Guidance for reproducing the WI Model Early Learning Standards Materials.

For more information, contact Tiffany Swain, Early Childhood Content Specialist: [email protected]


Updated 6/18/2020

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