Wisconsin Model Early Learning Standards


Download the Wisconsin Model Early Learning Standards for free:

English Version 2017 - 5th Edition (pdf) 

Modelo de Normas de Aprendizaje Temprano del Estado de Wisconsin - Segunda edición en español (pdf)

Visit WDPI Publication Sales to purchase a printed copy of the WMELS book.


The Wisconsin Model Early Learning Standards are designed to outline developmental expectations for children from birth through the entrance to 1st grade. 

Purpose of the Wisconsin Model Early Learning Standards

The goal is to provide a framework for families, professionals, and policymakers to: 

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

Domains of child development outlined in the Wisconsin Model Early Learning Standards

WMELS reflect the following domains of a child’s learning and development:

  • Health and Physical Development 
  • Social and Emotional Development 
  • Language Development and Communication
  • Approaches to Learning
  • Cognition and General Knowledge 

The domains listed above are divided into sub-domains

Each of the developmental domains is organized through the use of these subdomains:

  • Developmental Expectations
  • Program Standards
  • Performance Standards
  • Developmental Continuum 

Wisconsin Model Early Learning Standards were developed with the following Guiding Principles (doc)

  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 (pdf) 

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


Updated 6/28/2023

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