New School Year; Guidance from DAP
As teachers and children transition to new programs, schools, and classrooms, we share this selection of tips and resources about developmentally appropriate practice (DAP). Educators can use this information all year long to support both their work with young children and their own journeys as early childhood educators.
Make sure you are reading the most up-to-date versions of the DAP position statement and book.
NAEYC’s DAP position statement (updated in 2020) and book, Developmentally Appropriate Practice in Early Childhood Programs Serving Children from Birth Through Age 8, Fourth Edition (2022), contain many updates. Most significant, the position statement and book reflect new research on the importance of cultural contexts for children, families, educators, and schools. They also highlight new research that reflects a strengths-based approach as well as research from the brain sciences. The previous editions are over 10 years old, so make sure you are looking at the most recent updates.
Find supports at NAEYC.org to help you use and understand DAP.
NAEYC offers resources for early childhood educators and faculty and students in higher education. These include
- DAP book study guide: Educators committed to transforming teaching and classrooms with DAP can engage in a yearlong book study using Developmentally Appropriate Practice in Early Childhood Programs Serving Children from Birth Through Age 8, Fourth Edition.
- Faculty resources: Faculty can use Developmentally Appropriate Practice in Early Childhood Programs Serving Children from Birth Through Age 8, Fourth Edition as a core text along with new, free, online faculty resources. These include suggested activities, assignments, and reflections that correspond to specific content in the book as well as a test bank to create quick quizzes. In addition, the Casebook: Developmentally Appropriate Practice in Early Childhood Programs Serving Children from Birth Through Age 8 is now available for purchase as a companion to the DAP book or as a stand-alone study.
- Focus on DAP in preschool: Directors, instructional leads, and preschool educators can engage in a practical exploration of what DAP looks like in the preschool classroom with Focus on Developmentally Appropriate Practice: Equitable and Joyful Learning in Preschool. This book is a great introduction to DAP for preschool educators. It includes reflection questions to use in staff meetings and with smaller groups.
In addition to these key resources, the DAP content on NAEYC’s website contains additional information and supports.
What about Young Children and Teaching Young Children articles? Do they also reflect DAP?
Yes, Young Children and Teaching Young Children articles expand upon many of the ideas in DAP. Here are a few. (You can browse the archive to see many more.)
- “Listen to What We Hear: Developing Community Responsive Listening Centers,” by Emily Brown Hoffman and Kristin Cipollone
- “Now Read This! Supporting Positive Racial Identity with Literacy-Based Math,” by Toni Denese Sturdivant
- “Instead of Discipline, Use Guidance,” by Dan Gartrell
- The Embracing Anti-Bias Education cluster in Young Children
- “Culturally Appropriate Positive Guidance with Young Children,” by Zeynep Isik-Ercan
I want resources to share how play and intentional teaching are both so important to young children’s learning. What do you recommend?
Play and joyful learning are emphasized throughout DAP. Play promotes joyful learning that fosters self-regulation, language, cognitive, and social competencies as well as content knowledge across disciplines. Here are some key resources highlighting the role of play in young children’s learning:
- “The Case of Brain Science and Guided Play: A Developing Story,” by Brenna Hassinger-Das, Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, and Roberta Michnick Golinkoff
- “The Power of Play in the Kindergarten Classroom: Transforming Centers into Places of Engaged Learning,” by Amy Blessing
- “Observing, Planning, Guiding: How an Intentional Teacher Meets Standards Through Play,” by Patricia McDonald
- “Both/And: Early Childhood Education Needs Both Play and Equity,” by Ijumaa Jordan
I want to share about how I think about DAP in my classroom and in my teaching. How can I do that?
Susan Friedman is Senior Director, Publishing and Professional Learning at NAEYC.