|Developmentally appropriate practice, often shortened to DAP, is an approach to teaching grounded both in the research on how young children develop and learn and in what is known about effective early education. Its framework is designed to promote young children’s optimal learning and development, and it is a critical concept for all early childhood educators to understand.|
Learn more about DAP
At this year’s Institute, more than 200 presentations will explore the theme “Developmentally Appropriate Practice: The Next Era” as well as other critical issues in the field. DAP has guided the planning and implementation of programs for young children since the 1980s. As we move toward the third decade of DAP, it is important that we consider how we are implementing the guidelines and what we are doing to help people in the field understand the full meaning of DAP!
Sessions explore how all early childhood educators from policy makers to teachers can work together to support and implement DAP.
How are teachers and family childcare providers implementing these practices in their work with children and families?
To what degree are center directors and elementary school principals supporting DAP?
Are professional preparation and ongoing professional development programs ensuring that staff have the necessary knowledge, skills, and dispositions?
How are researchers identifying what is needed to ensure DAP?
How are policy makers and other stakeholders facilitating and promoting DAP?
Sessions will address myths and misconceptions about DAP.
There are those who see DAP as “all play, all the time”; yet DAP is about children learning through play—and investigation, exploration, and individualized teaching.
Some see DAP as something that is done “on top of” what teachers do based on their curriculum, assessment system, early learning or content standards, and so on. Actually, DAP is the approach for meeting curriculum goals, embedding assessment in appropriate activities, and meeting standards.
Some see DAP as a reason for exposing children to a limited range of experiences; yet with DAP, teachers use the three core considerations when making decisions regarding a large range of what and how to teach. They consider each child’s developmental level, individual strengths, and the social and cultural context in which each child lives.
In addition to DAP related sessions, the Institute also covers topics such as:
- Current research and issues in higher education
- In-service training programs
- Program administration
- Linguistic and cultural diversity
- Public policy advocacy
- Social and emotional development, and more!