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What are Developmentally Appropriate Practices (DAP)
Developmentally appropriate practices (DAP) encompass teaching and learning approaches that are an essential aspect of education. They help ensure that students are learning in a way that is well-suited to their developmental stage. These practices take into account the cognitive, physical, social and emotional development of students, and are particularly important for young children.
One of the most important principles of developmentally appropriate teaching is that it is tailored to the individual needs of each student. This means that teachers must be aware of the unique strengths and weaknesses of each child and use this information to create a learning environment that is tailored to their individual needs. This can be done using formative assessments, which allow teachers to continuously monitor and adjust instruction to better meet the needs of each student.
Another key principle of developmentally appropriate teaching is that it is hands-on and experiential. Young children learn best through hands-on activities that allow them to explore and discover new concepts and ideas. This can be done by using manipulatives, such as blocks and other building materials, or by field trips and other real-world experiences.
Social and emotional development is also an important aspect of developmentally appropriate teaching. Teachers should create a positive and supportive learning environment, where children feel safe and secure. They should also help children develop positive relationships with their peers and teachers, and teach them social skills such as sharing and cooperation.
While developmentally appropriate practices are widely accepted as an effective approach to teaching young children, there are some arguments against their use. One is that DAP can be too focused on the child’s current developmental stage, and may not adequately prepare them for future stages. This can lead to a lack of academic rigor and a lack of preparation for future academic challenges.
A further argument is that DAP can be too permissive, and may not provide enough structure or discipline for children. This can lead to children who may struggle to follow rules and routines.
Additionally, DAP can be costly and time-consuming to implement. They may require specialised training for teachers, as well as additional materials and resources. This can be a significant burden for schools and other organisations that are working with limited budgets.
Finally, DAP can be culturally biased and not inclusive of the different cultural backgrounds of the students. For example, some cultures might value different aspects of learning, like memorisation over exploration.
It is important to note that these arguments are not necessarily evidence-based, and there is a large body of research that supports the use of DAP in education. However, it is crucial for educators and administrators to be aware of these arguments and consider them when making decisions about instruction and curriculum.
Finally, it is important for teachers to be flexible and responsive to the needs of their students. This means being open to changing their teaching methods as needed and being willing to adapt their instruction to better meet the needs of the children in their class.
Bredekamp, S., & Copple, C. (1997). Developmentally appropriate practice in early childhood programs. Washington, DC: National Association for the Education of Young Children.
Darling-Hammond, L. (2017). Teacher education around the world: What can we learn from international practice? European Journal of Teacher Education, 40(1), 3-35.
National Association for the Education of Young Children. (2009). Developmentally appropriate practice in early childhood programs. Washington, DC: National Association for the Education of Young Children.
Neuman, S.B., & Roskos, K. (2015). Learning and teaching early math: The learning trajectories approach. Routledge.
Puckeet, M.B., & Black, K.E. (2013). Developmentally appropriate practice in early childhood programs. Cengage Learning.
Yoshida, R.K., (2017). Cultural responsiveness in early childhood education. Teachers College Press.