1) Review: Introduction, Description, Objectives, and Key Concepts of lesson
2) Read: Material in Your Essential Library
4) Complete: Activity 1: Identifying Developmentally Appropriate Practice
5) Complete: Activity 2: Adapting and Extending Developmentally Appropriate Practice
This lesson complements the previous lesson. In lesson 3.1, the focus was developmental domains and advances in neuroscience as they inform education. In lesson 3.2, the focus is the application of that knowledge—the use of developmentally appropriate practice. As with 3.1, the literature is from the field of early childhood education, with a focus on making sure people can compare and contrast early education (philosophy, practices, and teaching strategies) with later points in the P-12 continuum. This lesson delves into the ways developmentally appropriate practice can be scaffolded to support learners as they progress from grade-level-to-grade-level.
After completing this lesson, participants should be able to:
Adapted from the NAEYC website section on the Developmentally Appropriate Practices,
Key Messages of the Position
Developmentally appropriate practice requires both meeting children where they are—which means that teachers must get to know them well—and enabling them to reach goals that are both challenging and achievable
Developmentally appropriate practice has three components: developmentally appropriate, individually appropriate, and appropriate to the social and cultural contexts of children and families. All teaching practices should be appropriate to children’s age and development, attuned to them as unique individuals, and responsive to the social and cultural contexts in which they live. Developmentally appropriate practice does not mean making things easier for children. Rather, it means ensuring that goals and experiences are suited to their learning and development and challenging enough to promote their progress and interest. Recommended practice is based on knowledge—not on assumptions—of how children learn and develop at different age levels. The research base yields major principles in human development and learning. Those principles, along with evidence about curriculum and teaching effectiveness, form a solid basis for decision making in early care and education.
All curricula and teaching strategies should be developmentally and individually appropriate
Effective, developmentally appropriate curricula experiences and teaching strategies are based on what is known about the interrelationships among developmental domains and the scope and sequences of skill acquisition within domains at different age levels, so that children’s later abilities and understandings can be built on those already acquired. At the same time, the rate and pattern of each child’s learning is unique. Effective teachers promote learning by setting challenging but achievable goals and providing the right amount and type of support to help children achieve those goals. At the same time, curricula, experiences, and teaching strategies must be responsive to individual differences across children. For example, a five year old may be functioning at the developmental level of a three year old. An effective teacher must provide the type of experiences and activities that reflect the rate and pattern of each child’s learning and vary teaching strategies and the amount and type of support needed to learn for each child.
Learning experiences should be aligned across the continuum
Children’s learning experiences across the early childhood years (birth to age 8) need to be integrated and aligned, particularly between prekindergarten and the K–3 grades. Education quality and outcomes would improve substantially if elementary teachers incorporated the best of preschool’s emphases and practices (e.g., attention to the whole child; integrated, meaningful learning; parent engagement) and if preschool teachers made more use of those elementary-grade practices that are valuable for younger children, as well (e.g., robust content, attention to learning progressions in curriculum and teaching).
Adult-child interactions are key
A teacher’s moment-by-moment actions and interactions with children are the most powerful determinant of learning outcomes and development. Curriculum is very important, but what the teacher does is paramount. Both child-guided and teacher-guided experiences are vital to children’s development and learning. Developmentally appropriate programs provide substantial periods of time when children may select activities to pursue from among the rich choices teachers have prepared in various centers in the room along with strategic scaffolding and support. In addition to these activities, children ages 3–8 benefit from planned, teacher-guided, interactive small-group and large-group experiences. The key is to have a balance of both types of learning and to identify those skills that children learn best through teacher-guided activities and those learned best through child-guided activities.
Play-based learning supports growth in all developmental domains
Rather than diminishing children’s learning by reducing the time devoted to academic activities, play promotes key abilities that enable children to learn successfully. In high-level dramatic play, for example, the collaborative planning of roles and scenarios and the impulse control required to stay within the play’s constraints develop children’s self-regulation, symbolic thinking, memory, and language—capacities critical to later learning, social competence, and school success. Because of how they spend their time outside of school, many young children now lack the ability to play at the high level of complexity and engagement that affords so many cognitive, social, and emotional benefits. As a result, it is vital for early childhood settings to provide opportunities for sustained high-level play and for teachers to actively support children’s progress toward such play.
School principals and early childhood program directors must support teachers
To ensure that teachers are able to provide care and education of high quality, they must be well prepared, participate in ongoing professional development, and receive sufficient support and compensation.
LINC has identified the following resources as the most essential current resources to help you inform yourself on this topic. You should peruse each of these resources prior to teaching this lesson. If you would like to complete additional research in this topic, there are optional resources in the Additional Resources for Further Study section.
Copple, C., & Bredekamp, S. (Eds.). (2009). (2009). Developmentally appropriate practice in early childhood programs serving children from birth through age eight. Washington D. C.: National Association for the Education of Young Children.
Para eLink website. Development of Adaptive Behavior. This website includes a definition of the adaptive domains and short descriptions of each of its domains.
Vosniadou, S. How Children Learn.(2001.) Brussels, Belgium. International Bureau of Education: Educational Practice Series-7. 28 pages.
To synthesize the material completed thus far in this lesson, consider the following through either small group discussion or individual writing response:
The post-lesson activity should be done after completing the lesson. It is designed to provide students with an opportunity to identify developmentally appropriate practice in the classroom based on their newly acquired knowledge of DAP.
The post-lesson activity is designed to help students adapt and extend the tenets of developmentally appropriate practice beyond the early childhood years and throughout the P-12 continuum