Guidelines for Developmentally Appropriate Practices
The context in which early childhood programs operate today is
characterized by ongoing discussion between parents, teachers, and
the research community about how best to teach young children and
what sort of practice is most likely to contribute to their
development and learning. Since the original NAEYC developmentally
appropriate practice guidelines were published in 1987, a considerable
number of studies have examined the topic.
Recent data shows that many teachers who say they believe in
developmentally appropriate practice do not have developmentally
appropriate classrooms. A recent study of kindergarten teachers
found that more than half demonstrated conflicts between their
philosophy of early childhood education and their classroom practices.
Data also indicates that teachers who receive inservice training on
developmentally appropriate practices via workshops, site visits, and
journal reflections reported a greater tendency to use these
practices in the classroom.
There is no singular formula for developmentally appropriate
practice. Rather, teachers use these strategies to make day-to-day
decisions based on the individual children, their families, and the
social and cultural context.
Following are the five basic guidelines for developmentally
Create a caring community of learners. Developmentally
appropriate practices supports the development of relationships
between adults and children, among children, among teachers, and
between families and teachers.
Teach to enhance development and learning. Early childhood
teachers strive to achieve a balance between guiding children’s
learning and following their lead.
Construct appropriate curriculum. The content of early
childhood curriculum includes the subject matter, social or cultural
values, parents’ input, and the age and experience of the children.
Assess children's learning and development. Assessment of
individual children’s development and learning is essential for
planning and implementing appropriate curriculum.
Establish mutually beneficial relationships with families.
Developmentally appropriate practices evolve from a deep knowledge of
individual children and the context within which they develop and
learn. The younger the child, the more necessary it is for care
givers and teachers to acquire this knowledge through relationships
with children’s families.
Developmentally appropriate practices will continue to receive
close scrutiny--which is a plus--because the more we learn about
teaching and learning in early childhood environments, the better our
children will grow and prosper.
Bredekamp, S., & Copple, C., eds. 1997. Developmentally
appropriate practice in early childhood programs. Rev. ed.
Washington, DC: NAEYC. #234/$8
Bredekamp, S. & Rosegrant, T., eds. 1992. Reaching Potentials:
Appropriate Curriculum and Assessment for Young Children, Vol. 1.
Washington, DC: NAEYC. #225/$7
Bredekamp, S. & Rosegrant, T., eds. 1995. Reaching Potentials:
Appropriate Curriculum and Assessment for Young Children, Vol. 2.
Washington, DC: NAEYC. #227/$8
Dunn, L. & Kontos, S. 1997. What Have We Learned about
Developmentally Appropriate Practice?, Young Children, 52(5):4-13.