DAP: Recommendations for Schools, Family Child Care Homes, and Other Program Settings
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The following recommendations focus on ways that all program settings can support educators in implementing developmentally appropriate practice. In large programs, the leadership (e.g., directors, principals, and administrators) may be responsible for programmatic administrative aspects discussed here while in small programs and family child care homes, the educator may hold these responsibilities in addition to providing care of children and directing education for the program.
A. Support educators’ access to higher education and professional development opportunities that allow them to build the knowledge, skills, and dispositions identified in the Professional Standards and Competencies for Early Childhood Educators, and ensure they are prepared to carry out each of these guidelines. This may include providing coaching, mentoring, planning time, and release time to support educators in their ongoing professional development journeys.
B. Support and incentivize professional development for administrators, supervisors, and those responsible for assessment and evaluation of early childhood educators to ensure they understand the principles and guidelines of developmentally appropriate practice and use them to inform decisions regarding program implementation.
C. Strive to ensure that program policies facilitate and support strong, continuous relationships between teaching staff and children by offering working conditions and compensation (wages and benefits) that attract and retain a diverse and qualified staff. Policies should ensure continuity of care for children, with groups and child-to-staff ratios that meet the profession’s guidelines. Across all levels of seniority, staff should reflect the diversity (including race and ethnicity, language, and gender) of the community and children served.
D. Seek and maintain early learning program accreditation based on systems that are built to support developmentally appropriate practice.
E. Strive to ensure that the school or program provides equitable learning opportunities to all children to help them achieve their full potential and avoids the use of suspension or expulsion.
F. Ensure that the curriculum promotes all domains of development while providing a coherent and flexible framework that supports educators in making adaptations to meet the unique interests and needs of the children they are serving.
G. Provide mentoring and coaching for educators and administrators to encourage reflection and continuous learning about the children, families, and communities served. Educators also require ongoing opportunities to reflect on their practice, conduct teacher research, and extend and deepen their repertoire of effective teaching strategies. Peer support and coaching groups across age spans and grade levels can be an important way to support educators’ use of developmentally appropriate practices and support the coherence and continuity of children’s learning experiences.
H. Actively engage family members and the broader community in all aspects of program planning and implementation, recognizing and taking into account the systemic inequities that can make it difficult for members of traditionally marginalized groups to participate.
I. Cultivate relationships with community resources, including local libraries, museums, public parks, physical and mental health consultants, and government services that can support the program and families as well as strengthen civic connections.