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Developmentally Appropriate Practice

When planning classroom curriculum for young children, it is important to factor in the wide spectrum of abilities and interests of children, as well as activities that are based on the way in which we know children learn. As more and more research becomes available on brain development, we, as early childhood professionals, respond by changing and evolving in how we work with children, and in our approaches to best assist them in reaching their full potentials- cognitively, socially, physically, and emotionally. “Developmentally Appropriate Practice” is more about doing things better-
not “right” or “wrong”.

Developmentally Appropriate Activities and Practices are:

*Based on what we know about how young children learn.
*Relevant to children’s life experiences.
*Based on children’s current knowledge and abilities.
*Respectful of cultural and individual differences and learning styles.
*Responsive to the interests and needs of the children.
*Focused on the learning process, not the end product.
*Thought provoking- stimulating and challenging the minds of young children.
*Based on the philosophy that children are competent and trustworthy, and can make good decisions if given the opportunity and practice.

ALIL Teachers ask ourselves, does the activity:

*Allow children to participate at their own level?
*Allow for flexibility, with no “right” or “wrong” outcome?
*Encourage active learning through participation?
*Allow for socialization?
*Enable children to learn through their senses?
*Allow children to experience things “hands- on”?
*Give children choices?
*Foster children’s positive feelings about themselves?
*Lend itself to being adapted if beneficial?
*Acknowledge the physical needs of children?
*Reflect goals and philosophy of the center?

What would you see in a Developmentally Appropriate Classroom?

*Open-ended art
*Hands-on experiences with real objects.
*Self-help skills/ autonomy
*Large and small group activities based on interest.
*Flexibility
*Media, art supplies open, music, science are all accessible.
*Children are offered choices
*Problem-solving
*Naptime activities
*”Ownership” of the room by children is reflected
*Successful participation at any skill level.