Developmentally appropriate practice is a phrase often used to describe Jean Piaget’s focus on children’s stages of development, which emphasizes the importance of matching instruction to children’s readiness to learn. The difficulty is the educator’s ability to understand when a child has reached a developmental stage that requires new strategies and materials to challenge the child.
This educator awareness is a critical factor in choosing an early childhood center. To accomplish goals that are developmentally appropriate, the following features should be in place:
• First, teachers are well prepared with academic and classroom management skills that nurture and support all children. (In addition to academic credentials, teachers should participate in on-going educational development.)
• Second, ratios allow for individual attention as well as one-on-one and small group instruction.
• Third, teachers are aware of each child’s development, serving the purpose of persistent, informal assessment. (This teacher awareness creates opportunities for teachers to present materials at individually challenging levels.)
• Fourth, curricular materials and activities provide opportunities for children to explore independently and socially with peers. (These materials should span the academic disciplines including core subjects as well as the arts.)
• Fifth, a school is an emotionally appealing place to learn. (Children deserve to discover in classrooms with ample space and natural lighting.)
Each of the above factors is important when evaluating appropriate learning opportunities. Without effective teachers, ratios that support personalized learning, and an inviting learning environment, children’s opportunities are compromised.
Developmentally appropriate practice is a phrase that carries profound meaning. Dancing Moose is committed to follow through with all of the basic tenets that allow children to maximize their learning potential.