Developmentally appropriate practice (DAP)

 Is a way of teaching that meets  young children where they are—which means that teachers must get to know them well—and enables them to reach goals that are both challenging and achievable. DAP is based on the research on child development and learning and is designed to support the whole child, including their physical, social, emotional, and cognitive development.

DAP teachers create a classroom environment that is safe, supportive, and stimulating. They provide children with opportunities to learn through play, exploration, and inquiry. They also use a variety of teaching methods, including direct instruction, small group instruction, and one-on-one instruction, to meet the individual needs of each child.

DAP teachers are also responsive to the needs of their students. They observe children’s play and interactions to learn about their interests and abilities. They then use this information to plan activities and lessons that are both challenging and engaging.

DAP is important because it helps children learn and grow in a way that is appropriate for their age and developmental stage. DAP also helps children develop the skills they need to succeed in school and in life.

Here are some examples of DAP in the classroom:

  • A teacher provides a variety of materials in the classroom, such as blocks, puzzles, and art supplies, to support children’s learning through play.
  • A teacher works with a small group of children who are struggling with reading to provide them with additional support.
  • A teacher reads a story to the class and then leads a discussion about the characters and the plot.
  • A teacher takes the class on a field trip to the zoo to help them learn about different animals.
  • A teacher provides one-on-one instruction to a child who is learning to tie their shoes.

DAP is a research-based approach to teaching that is beneficial for all children. It helps children learn and grow in a way that is appropriate for their age and developmental stage.


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