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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 NEL?

To help teachers provide high-quality early childhood education, we’ve developed the NEL Framework for children aged 4 to 6.

The NEL Framework shapes curriculum development at MOE Kindergarten. We also share resources and guidelines based on the framework with preschools across Singapore.

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 curious, active and competent learners. Preschool education should:

  • Nurture their curiosity so they can explore and discover the world.
  • Encourage active learning so they can learn by experimenting and experiencing.
  • Foster their competence so they can develop their thinking and reasoning skills.

Preschool learning goals

Teachers and parents should provide children with opportunities to work towards goals in these 6 key learning areas:

Aesthetics and creative expression
  • Enjoy art, music and movement activities.
  • Express ideas and feelings through art, music and movement.
  • Create art, music and movement using experimentation and imagination.
  • Share ideas and feelings about art, music and movement.
Discovery of the world
  • Show an interest in the world they live in.
  • Find out why things happen and how things work through simple investigations.
  • Develop a positive attitude towards the world around them.
Language and literacy
  • Listen for information and enjoyment.
  • Speak to convey meaning and communicate with others.
  • Read with understanding and for enjoyment.
  • Use drawing, mark-making, symbols and writing (with conventional and invented spelling) to communicate ideas and information.
  • Have an interest in learning their Mother Tongue Language (MTL).
  • Develop foundational MTL language and literacy skills. 
  • Be aware of local ethnic culture.
Motor skills development
  • Enjoy participating in a variety of physical activities.
  • Demonstrate control, coordination and balance in gross motor tasks.
  • Demonstrate control and coordination in fine motor tasks.
  • Develop healthy habits and safety awareness at home, school and public places.
Numeracy
  • Recognise simple number patterns and relationships in order to use them, such as matching and sorting.
  • Use numbers in daily experiences.
  • Recognise and use basic shapes and spatial concepts in daily experiences.
Social and emotional development
  • Develop an awareness of personal identity.
  • Manage their own emotions and behaviours.
  • Show respect for diversity.
  • Communicate, interact and build relationships with others. 
  • Take responsibility for their actions.

Achieving learning goals

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

  • Developing learning dispositions, or positive behaviours and attitudes towards learning.
  • The iTeach principles, to guide teachers as they plan, design and implement learning experiences for preschool children.
  • Resources and activity ideas to make learning fun and effective.

How to help your child

You can support your child’s development through:

  • Encouraging exploration and questions.
  • Engaging your child in play and problem-solving.
  • Asking your child about their thoughts, feelings, problems and challenges.
  • Regularly speaking with your child’s teachers.

Learn more about the NEL Framework guide for parents .

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