Developmentally Appropriate Practice Handouts

Developmentally Appropriate Practice
Developmentally Appropriate Practice
 Term coined by NAEYC in 1986
 Describes teaching techniques that identify and foster the developmental needs of children, both
individually and in groups
 A set of guidelines suggesting curriculum content and practice serving children birth through age
Why is there a need for DAP?--Trends of Concern
 “Pushing down” of curriculum from the primary grades into kindergarten and preschool
 Greater emphasis on teacher-directed instruction with young children
 Emphasis on workbooks and ditto masters with young children
 Entry tests for kindergarten
 Increased emphasis on paper-pencil tests with young children
 Parents’ demands for more academics in preschool and kindergarten
 Greater emphasis on retention
 Teachers feeling pressure to engage in practices they believe are not in the best interest of young
 Children’s symptoms related to stress
Education Associations Endorsing DAP Guidelines
 National Council for the Social Studies
 National Council of Teachers of Mathematics
 Association for Childhood Education International
 Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development
 National Association of State Boards of Education
 National Association of Elementary School Principles
 National Education Association
Core Considerations for Teacher Decision-Making in DAP
 Knowledge of how children develop and learn
 Knowledge about the strengths, needs, and interests of individual children
 Knowledge about the social and cultural contexts in which children live
DAP is Age Appropriate
 Understanding what children are like within a general age range—expectations of what might be
interesting, safe, achievable, and challenging for children to do
 Developing activities, routines, and expectations that accommodate and complement these
DAP is Individually Appropriate
 Recognition that each child is a unique person with an individual pattern and timing of growth,
personality, and learning style
 Recognize variations in levels of previous knowledge and skill
 Individual variations considered in the design, application, and evaluation of activities,
interactions, and expectations
DAP is Socially and Culturally Appropriate
 Understanding and respecting the values, expectations, and behavioral and linguistic conventions
that shape children’s lives at home and in their communities
 Ensuring that learning experiences are meaningful, relevant, and respectful for each child and
Developmentally Appropriate Practice
Fundamental Practices Associated with DAP Philosophy
1. Addressing the “whole child”
2. Individualizing the program to suit particular children
3. Recognizing the importance of child-initiated activity
4. Recognizing the significance of play as a vehicle for learning
5. Creating flexible, stimulating classroom environments
6. Using an integrated curriculum
7. Learning by doing
8. Giving children choices about what and how they learn
9. Continually assessing individual children and the program as a whole
10. Forming partnerships with family
Judgment to Determine Developmental Appropriateness
1. Is this practice in keeping with what I know about child development and learning?
2. Does this practice take into account children’s individual strengths and needs?
3. Does this practice demonstrate respect for children’s social and cultural lives?
Empirical Support for DAP-Cognitive Outcomes
 Children’s creative-thinking and problem-solving skills are enhanced in DAP preschool or
primary classrooms
 Children display a better grasp of mathematical concepts and are more adept at generalizing
numeracy skills across situations
 Score higher on mathematics achievement tests in second grade
 Demonstrate better letter-word identification and better comprehension of literature
 Demonstrate better listening skills and are more verbally adept
 Didactic methods have short-term effects but do not sustain benefits by end of second grade
Social Outcomes
 Children exhibit fewer negative social behaviors, better social problem-solving skills, and more
 Exhibit fewer stress-related behaviors
 More positive self-esteem
 More favorable attitudes toward school and teachers
Diversity Issues--Positive results evident for
 boys and girls
 children from high and low income families
 Children with European American, Native American, and African American backgrounds
 In developmentally inappropriate programs, females, children of higher socioeconomic status,
and White children all perform better and report less stress than do males, children of lower
socioeconomic status, Native American, and African American children
Child’s ability to understand and represent the world
 Concrete  abstract
 Simple  complex
 Here and now  there and then
Developmentally Appropriate Practice
Research findings:
a. Children had more confidence in their own
cognitive skills
b. Children display more stress during transitions
c. Children exhibit more stress during
workbook/worksheet activities
d. Mixed results in terms of advantages in
academic skills
e. Preferred by many parents, especially lowincome and minority parents
f. Children had more positive attitudes about school
g. Children scored higher on measures of creativity
or divergent thinking
h. Children had better verbal skills
i. 20% - 33% of ECE programs studied were of this
j. 80 % of kindergarten programs studied were of
this type
k. 66% - 80% of ECE programs studied were of
this type
l. Children more willing to attempt challenging
academic tasks
m. Children less dependent on adult permission and
n. Children had higher expectations for their own
o. Children from low-SES families exhibit more
p. Mixed results in terms of advantages in
academic skills
q. Children’s receptive language was better
r. 20% of kindergarten programs studied were of
this type
s. Children exhibit more overall stress
t. Boys exhibit more stress than girls
Developmentally appropriate classrooms:
child-initiated activities
integrated curriculum
small-group instruction
Less appropriate classrooms:
narrow, isolated academic skill-oriented
primarily large group instruction
Which of the above research findings do you think
are associated with developmentally appropriate
early childhood classrooms? (List by alphabet
Which of the above research findings do you think
are associated with developmentally inappropriate
early childhood classrooms? (List by alphabet
Dunn, L., & Kontos, S. (1997). What have we learned about developmentally appropriate practice?
Young Children, 52 (5), 4 – 13.
Kostelnik, J.J., Soderman, A. K., Whiren, A. P. (2007). Developmentally appropriate curriculum. Upper
Saddle River, NJ: Merrill Prentice Hall.
Journals to read for more information on DAP:
Child Development
Early Childhood Education Journal
Early Education and Development
Journal of Early Childhood Teacher Education
Journal of Research in Childhood Education
Young Children
Childhood Education
Early Childhood Research Quarterly
Educational Leadership
Journal of Educational Research
Journal of Teacher Education