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Wisconsin Model Early Learning Standards (WMELS): Birth to First Grade

Location: Wisconsin, US
Authors: Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, Wisconsin Department of Children and Families, Wisconsin Department of Health Services, Wisconsin Head Start State Collaboration Office, Wisconsin Early Childhood Collaborating Partners

The Wisconsin Model Early Learning Standards (WMELS), based on research and supported by evidence-based practices, provide a framework for families and early years professionals to share a common language and responsibility for the well-being of children from birth to first grade; know and understand developmental expectations of young children; and understand the connection among the foundations of early childhood, K-12 educational experiences, and lifelong learning.

The latest version of WMELS includes developmental continuums, sample behaviors of children, and sample strategies for adults. The development of the standards was guided by research in the field and supported by content experts from institutions of higher education in the state. Aligned to the Common Core State Standards, the WMELS are intended to provide early learning opportunities that support children’s continued success in school and future life.

WMELS reflects attention to all the domains of a child’s learning and development and each domain is divided into sub-domains. Sub-domains include developmental expectations, program standards, performance standards, and developmental continuum. Discrete areas of the child’s development are interrelated and include, Health and Physical Development, Social and Emotional Development, Language Development and Communication, Approaches to Learning, and Cognition and General Knowledge.

The Wisconsin Model Early Learning Standards were designed to reflect the shared values and commitments of the citizens of Wisconsin to prepare young children for success in school and later life. Designed for all children, they create a common language among the families and the various programs and services within the early childhood community. They set the stage for the development of appropriate curriculum and the use of assessment practices that support and promote children’s learning and development.


HiMama’s work involves collaborating with early care and education associations to support their efforts in teacher empowerment and parent engagement.