Jana Rice M.Ed.
Instructor, Child Development/Education
Developmentally Appropriate Practice (DAP)
in Early Childhood Programs
PAEYC Spring Conference
April 18, 2009
What is Developmentally Appropriate
NAEYC Position Statement DAP
Key Messages of the Position Statement
DAP Video Training Clip
“Your Baby’s Development” Handouts
Zero to Three web site
Baby Brain Map
Why is DAP important?
It’s a call to reduce
Critical Issues in the Current Context
1. Reducing learning gaps and increasing the
achievement of all children.
2. Creating improved, better connected
educations for preschool and elementary
3. Recognizing teacher knowledge and
decision making as vital to educational
1. What is known about child
development and learning—
referring to knowledge of
that permits general
predictions about what
experiences are likely to best
promote children’s learning
3 Core Considerations in DAP
2. What is known about each child as an individual—referring to
what practitioners learn about each child that has implications for
how to best adapt and be responsive to that individual variation.
3. What is known about the social and
cultural contexts in which children
live—referring to the values,
expectations, and behavioral and
linguistic conventions that shape
children’s lives at home and in their
communities that practitioners must
strive to understand in order to
ensure that learning experiences in
the program or school are meaningful,
relevant, and respectful for each child
When thinking about how to
Ongoing observations about a child’s unique skills, progress,
interests, resources and needs is at the heart of individualizing
Some of these strategies include:
• Recording children’s behavior to identify current functioning and emerging skills.
• Communicating with parents and other caregivers about behavior in the home and
• Identifying different ways children learn and expanding the experiences to
incorporate different learning styles; and
• Modifying the materials, experiences, or environment to encourage new skills.
Learning and development are
most likely to occur when:
– New experiences build on
what a child already knows
and is able to do.
– Those learning experiences
also entail the child
stretching a reasonable
amount in acquiring new
skills, abilities, or
After the child reaches
that new level of mastery
in skill or understanding,
– The teacher reflects
on what goals should
– And the cycle
children’s learning in
Such effective teaching doesn’t happen by
– A hallmark of developmentally
appropriate teaching is
– Good teachers are intentional in
everything they do—setting up the
classroom, planning curriculum,
making use of various teaching
strategies, assessing children,
interacting with them, and working
with their families.
– Intentional teachers are purposeful
and thoughtful about the actions
– Teachers direct their teaching
toward the goals the program is
trying to help the children reach.
1. Creating a caring
community of learners.
2. Teaching to enhance
Guidelines for developmentally appropriate practice
Each person needs 5 post-it notes.
There are 5 charts posted around the room.
Each chart contains one of the guidelines for developmentally appropriate practice.
Your task is to write down one thing you do as a teacher to meet each of these
guidelines (include the age you care for).
Then place each post-it on the proper chart.
After the post-its are in place, we will go in groups of 5-10 people and read the ideas
Write down at least 2 ideas you want to try in your classroom on Monday morning or
in the future!
Young children need and deserve professionals
who are both caring and informed.
• NAEYC, Developmentally Appropriate
Practice in Early Childhood Programs, 3rd
edition, 2009; www.naeyc.org
• Zero to Three, www.zerotothree.org
• Developmental Screening, Assessment, and
Evaluation: Key Elements Individualizing
Curricula in Early Head Start Programs,
Early Head Start National Resource Center,