The importance of Developmental Appropriate Practices (DAP) in early childhood classrooms cannot be overstated. Early childhood in the education field is considered from birth through eight years old. Young children learn through exploring their environment. From the time a child is born the are exploring with the vocal cry’s, eyes by looking around, and taste by putting everything in their mouths. It continues until they reach kindergarten where they explore through play and asking lost of questions. Any parent can tell you they hear “why” constantly throughout the day. This is that sense of wonder that a DAP classroom can foster. A DAP classroom is one where the teacher understands the developmental needs of children this age and provides a classroom that fosters learning through play.
A DAP classroom is one where children most often:
- Lead … rather than follow the teacher
- Create … rather than duplicate
- Move … rather than wait
- Make the lines … rather than color in the lines
- Speak … rather than listen passively
- Initiate … rather than imitate
- Raise questions … rather than answer the teacher’s questions
- Solve their own problems … rather than the teacher’s problems
- Make art … rather than do crafts
- Emphasize the process … rather than the product
- Use authentic skills … rather than drill and practice
- Make books … rather than fill in workbooks
- Decide … rather than submit
- Choose wisely … rather than being told
- Make a plan … rather than follow the teacher’s plan
- Try again … rather than fail
These are the skills that children will need to work in the 21st Century. The teacher serves more as a facilitator than a teacher. The classroom is arranged in activity areas where the child can engage in learning activities. At Partners In Learning we understand this need and are excited about having a DAP Kindergarten classroom.
As a DAP Kindergarten classroom it will aim to provide young children with the highest quality education by the inclusion of accepted child development theory relating to learning, the acceptance that each child has individual traits and learning styles, the use of play as an educational tool and the understanding that cultures, communities and families influence the child’s development. It will be 21st Century at it best!
Norma Honeycutt is the Executive Director of Partners In Learning Child Development & Family Resource Center. Norma is one of the states strongest advocates for children with special needs serving on boards and commissions including the North Carolina Child Care Commission, Rowan County NCPreK Advisory Committee, and Rowan County Local Interagency Coordinating Council. Norma is also a CBRS therapist and facilitates support groups, activities, and other programs for families of children with special needs.