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Last Updated: 13 January 2023

Nurturing Early Learners (NEL) Framework

Learn about what makes a good preschool education, and how our Nurturing Early Learners (NEL) Framework supports preschool curriculum development in Singapore.

What is the NEL Framework?

The NEL Framework helps preschool teachers provide high-quality early childhood education and shapes the development of preschool curriculum for children aged four to six.

The NEL Framework shapes curriculum development at MOE Kindergarten (MK). Our MK educators also share resources and guidelines based on the framework with preschools across Singapore.The key messages of the NEL Framework are the following:

  1. To give every child a good start, preschool education nurtures the joy of learning and children’s holistic development.
  2. Character-building and lifelong learning starts at preschool.
  3. Teachers play an important role together with parents to support children’s learning and development.

Tip: Are you an educator? Visit the NEL Portal for more detailed information and downloadable curriculum resources.

How children learn

We believe that preschool children are joyful, curious, active and competent learners and they learn, play and grow in a diverse and multi-cultural community. Preschool education should:

  • Promote the joy of learning so they are excited to learn and make sense of the world around them.
  • Nurture values, social and emotional competencies and learning dispositions so that they can adopt the right attitudes and behaviours to learn and live harmoniously with others.
  • Encourage active learning so they can learn by experimenting and experiencing.

Key Stage Outcomes of Preschool Education

The Key Stage Outcomes of Preschool Education reflect the importance of the holistic development of children, emphasising the need for them to build up confidence and social skills in the preschool years. They also indicate the necessary knowledge, skills and dispositions to prepare children for lifelong learning.

At the end of preschool education, children should:

  • Know what is right and what is wrong
  • Be able to share and play with others
  • Be able to show care and respect for others
  • Be curious and able to explore
  • Be able to communicate their thoughts and feelings
  • Be comfortable and happy with themselves
  • Have developed physical co-ordination, healthy habits, and enjoy a variety of arts experiences
  • Love their families, friends, teachers and people in their community

Values, Social and Emotional Competencies and Learning Dispositions

It is important to nurture values, social and emotional competencies and learning dispositions in young children. These three aspects of development are core to children’s holistic development. They set the stage for character building and lifelong learning, shaping children’s attitudes, behaviours and decisions that they make in their daily interactions.

  • Values shape how children use the knowledge and skills they have learned; whether they act on when they should or need to. The core values are respect, responsibility, care and honesty.
  • Social and emotional competencies complement values by providing children with the knowledge, skills and dispositions to understand themselves and to relate positively and constructively with others. These competencies include self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship management and responsible decision-making.
  • Positive learning dispositions place children in good stead to embrace lifelong learning. These learning dispositions include perseverance, reflectiveness, appreciation, inventiveness, sense of wonder and curiosity and engagement.

Preschool learning goals

Teachers and parents should provide children with opportunities to work towards goals in these five learning areas:

Aesthetics and creative expression
  • Enjoy participating in art and music and movement activities
  • Express ideas and feelings through art and music and movement
  • Appreciate art and music and movement
Discovery of the world
  • Show curiosity and an interest in the world they live in
  • Use essential process skills to make sense of the world around them
  • Develop a sense of responsibility, care and respect for the world around them
Health, safety and motor skills development
  • Develop healthy habits and safety awareness at home, in school and at public places
  • Enjoy participating in a variety of physical activities
  • Demonstrate control, coordination and balance in gross motor activities
  • Demonstrate control and coordination in fine motor activities
Language and literacy

English Language

  • Listen for enjoyment and information
  • Speak with confidence to convey meaning and communicate with others
  • Read with enjoyment and understanding
  • Use symbols, letter-like shapes, letters and words with invented and conventional spelling to communicate ideas and information

Mother Tongue Language

  • Enjoy and show an interest in learning Mother Tongue Language (MTL)
  • Develop foundational language and literacy skills in Mother Tongue Language
  • Develop an awareness of their local ethnic culture
  • Enjoy learning and using numeracy concepts and skills in daily experiences
  • Understand relationships and patterns
  • Develop counting skills and number sense
  • Understand basic shapes and spatial concepts

Achieving learning goals

Our NEL Framework encourages teachers to help children achieve these goals through:

  • nurturing values, social and emotional competencies and learning dispositions through children’s daily learning experiences, across the five learning areas.
  • using the iTeach principles to plan, design and implement learning experiences for preschool children. The principles are:

    • integrated approach to teaching and learning
    • Teachers as facilitators of children’s learning
    • engaging children in learning through purposeful play
    • authentic learning through quality interactions
    • children as constructors of knowledge
    • holistic development

Supporting your children’s learning and development

Parents play an important role in supporting your child’s development in their preschool years and helping them to transit well into primary school. They can:

  • Pay equal attention to your child’s cognitive and non-cognitive development
  • Collaborate with your children preschool and primary school teachers to develop in your child a positive attitude towards learning
  • Encourage your child to explore and ask questions to enrich their learning experiences beyond school

If you're an educator, visit the NEL Portal for more detailed information.