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Early Childhood Learning Standards and Practices


Wisconsin Model Early Learning Standards (WMELS)

The Wisconsin Model Early Learning Standards have been developed by the Wisconsin state departments of Public Instruction, Children and Families, and Health Services. They reflect shared values and commitments of the citizens of Wisconsin to prepare young children for success in school.

The standards are based upon research conducted into all aspects of children's early learning and development. They encompass guiding principles, developmental expectations, and performance and program standards for delivery of high-quality education and care to young children. They include a broad description of children's growth, to ensure a holistic approach to creating positive early childhood environments. To guide programs serving children from birth to first grade, the standards address approaches to learning, health and physical development, social and emotional development, language development and communication (including early literacy), cognition development (including mathematical and scientific thinking), and general knowledge development. The standards provide a sequenced developmental continuum of sample children's behaviors, and, sample strategies for adults to use to support their development. The continuum begins at an early developmental level and continues to the start of first grade. 

For the standards to have the highest level of impact for young children, families, school districts, child care, Head Start, and other early childhood partners, a shared understanding of the connections among community programs to support the development of young children is vital. To promote this and effective implementation of the standards, programs need to explore how the standards align with other relevant state standards, such as the Wisconsin Academic Standards, and program standards, such as the Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework (HSELOF). The Wisconsin Model Early Learning Standards have been aligned to these and others guiding standards/outcomes that guide programming for young children. To learn more, visit Wisconsin Early Childhood Collaborating Partners-Implementation: Alignment with the Standards.

The Wisconsin Model Early Learning Standards book is available electronically in English and Spanish  or may be ordered online at DPI Publication Sales



For questions about this information, contact Sherry Kimball (608) 267-9625