Making Access Happen  

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Developmentally Appropriate Practice: What is DAP?

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Big Ideas

Developmentally appropriate practice means teaching and creating learning opportunities to match where children are in their development and understanding, in other words, learning opportunities that are appropriate to their stage of development. The practices include relationships and interactions with others, their environments, and the lessons and activities that make up children’s learning opportunities. This section provides an overview of developmentally appropriate practice and what it means to have a DAP program.

Try It

Ideas on how to use this section:

  1. If you are a trainer, child care / preschool director, or resource specialist, you may use this section of the module or pieces of this section to enhance your trainings of early childhood educators / providers.
  2. If you are a parent or family member, you can review the module to learn more about developmentally appropriate practice and supporting your child.
  3. If you are an early childhood educator, you can go through the practice opportunities built into this section to test your knowledge –
    1. Activity – matching a developmental skill to a child age
    2. Ms. Annie scenario – take a moment to reflect on the scenario with the provided questions and think about what you would do in her situation.
    3. Explore the NAEYC tool on Guidelines for Developmentally Appropriate Practice.
  4. If you are a child care provider, you can earn core knowledge hours by reviewing the sections of the module and take the quiz after each section.
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Here is a printable note-taking form to help you keep track of information, ideas, and other thoughts as you go through the DAP section.

National Association for the Education of Young Children

Office of Head Start DAP statement

NAEYC and the Division of Early Childhood: A joint statement on inclusion