DAP, or developmentally appropriate practice, is a vital part of the early childhood education space for both teachers and their students. DAP is a “framework designed to promote young children’s optimal learning and development.” In an effort to meet this goal, early childhood educators need to take into consideration the individual child’s cultural practices, the individual child as a whole, and also child development as a whole. Essentially, early childhood educators need to create goals for each child that are not only reachable, but also provide some kind of challenge. This means that the teaching must be “intentional and effective.” Therefore, early childhood educators must create goals around decision making, and be skilled in making decisions themselves.
Developmentally appropriate practices are weaved into the curriculum and routines in early childhood settings. The NAEYC sets standards for teaching and learning, which in turn includes the goals within developmentally appropriate practices. For example, the issue of school readiness in the United States is a large problem that can easily be addressed by focusing on standards such as developmentally appropriate practices, which are vital to the standards set by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (Assignment 2.2).
In my own experience, I witnessed a teacher taking developmentally appropriate practices seriously. I attended my sister’s “graduation” from T-K, and the teacher took into consideration the culture and individuality of a student who came from households where English was not regularly spoken. There were multiple who came up to speak in Spanish, along with an interpreter for the family of a child who has Deaf parents. She had taken into consideration the differences in language, and the cultural differences that those languages bring. She created an environment where everyone was welcomed, and no one was left behind due to differences in how they communicated. She created a community based off of kindness and caring, took into consideration cultural differences, and created valuable relationships with both the families and their children. These are all important factors of developmentally appropriate practices.
With all of this being said, developmentally appropriate practices are important because they take into consideration the whole child, their individual differences in cultural experiences, and child development as a whole. They align with standards for high quality education that all students deserve, and are goals that can be reached to accommodate every party involved.
Maren Hoflund MT HHP, is a massage therapist and holistic health practitioner based in San Diego. This her self created space where she explores topics such as mental and physical health, self care, spirituality, and child development; in addition to her poetry and prose.