Developmentally Appropriate Practices (DAP)

in Early Childhood Programs
NAEYC Position Statement
• Context
• Rationale
• NAEYC’s Commitment to Children
When today’s children become adults, they
will need the ability to:
• Communicate well
• Analyze situations
• Access information
• Continue to learn new approaches, skills,
and knowledge
Statement of the position
DAP results from the process of
professionals making decisions about
the well-being and education of
children based on at least three
important kinds of information or
• what is known about child development
and learning- knowledge of age-related
human characteristics
• what is known about the strengths,
interests, and needs of each individual
child in the group
• knowledge of the social and cultural
contexts in which children live
12 Principles of Child
Development and Learning
that Inform DAP
1. Whole Child
Cognitive, physical, social, and emotional
domains are interrelated.
2. Sequential Development
There is a predictable, relatively orderly
sequence of development in all domains.
3. Individual Differences
Development proceeds at varying rates from
child to child as well as unevenly within
different areas of each child’s functioning.
4. Windows of Opportunity
Optimal periods of development exist
in all domains.
Experiences are cumulative.
5. Toward Complexity &
Learning proceeds from
– Behavioral to Symbolic
– External to Internal
– Simple to Complex
6. Multiple Social & Cultural
Family, school, and community present
different and dynamic challenges to the
7. Active and Meaningful Learning
Children are active learners, drawing on direct
physical and social experience as well as culturally
transmitted knowledge to construct their own
understandings of the world around them
8. Nature and Nurture
Development and learning result from
interaction of biological maturation and the
environment, which includes both the
physical and social worlds in which
children live.
9. Play
Play is an important vehicle for children’s
social, emotional, and cognitive
development, as well as a reflection of their
10. Growing Edge
Development advances when children have
opportunities to practice newly acquired
skills as well as when they experience a
challenge just beyond the level of their
present mastery. Therefore, children need to
be challenged but not frustrated.
11. Ways of Knowing
Children demonstrate different modes of
knowing and learning and different ways of
representing what they know.
12. Nurturing Relationships
Children develop and learn best in the context
of a community where they are safe, valued,
their physical needs are met, and they feel
psychologically secure.
• Guidelines for decisions about
developmentally appropriate practices
1) Creating a caring community of learners
2) Teaching to enhance development and
3) Constructing appropriate curriculum
4) Assessing children’s learning and
5) Establishing reciprocal relationships
with families
• Thinking in early childhood practice
– Examples
• Essential policies
• Developmentally Appropriate Practice
for 3- through 5-Year –Olds
– Gross-Motor Development
– Fine-Motor Development
– Language and Communication
– Social and Emotional Development
– Examples of Appropriate and
Inappropriate Practices