NAEYC's Statement on Developmentally Appropriate Practice
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Dear NAEYC Members, Friends, and Allies,
As the bedrock principles of early childhood education – and those who stand up to defend those principles – come under renewed attack, we write as current leaders and former governing board presidents of this organization to express our unequivocal support for both the principles and the people.
Decades of research and evidence have confirmed the principles that children can’t learn math, science, and reading if they don’t feel seen, safe, and supported – which is what developmentally appropriate practice (DAP) is all about.
“DAP reinforces the power of relationships and underscores that every child has the right to equitable learning opportunities – in centers, family child care homes, or schools – that fully support their optimal development and learning across all domains and content areas.”
As the publisher of multiple editions of DAP and as a non-partisan organization that has helped hundreds of thousands of early childhood educators create joyful learning environments in which millions of young children and their families have thrived, NAEYC has been at the forefront of building a foundation for high-quality early childhood education over our nearly 100 years of history. We are proud of the ways in which DAP resources have been created for and with educators and families through extensive consensus-building processes. We lift up the ways in which current and past generations of educators and families across states and communities have embraced and relied upon DAP in their centers, classrooms, and homes.
Our nation has a long history of educators, parents, and policymakers who have put their lives and livelihoods on the line in support of progress for children and families; Dr. Barbara Cooper, one of NAEYC’s Governing Board members who was forced out of her state leadership position in Alabama over the use of NAEYC’s Developmentally Appropriate Practice (DAP) book, is the latest but likely not the last. We honor and stand in community with her defense of those principles, and with all the educators who make unique and everyday sacrifices – from their tireless work in the pandemic to their low compensation that subsidizes the cost of child care – even as we collectively work towards the day when these sacrifices will not be needed.
The challenges to developmentally appropriate practice are not new, nor are they about one organization, one leader, or one state. They are about all of us, our best practices, and our collective ability to support, educate, and care for all of our children and their families. That’s why we speak out together today in clarity and commitment to the work of supporting DAP, trusting the expertise of educators and families, and advancing equity in early childhood education, now and in the times ahead.
As part of this effort and to raise our voices together, we urge you to:
- Sign your name onto this statement of support, which we intend to make public within one week
- Share the link with your colleagues and friends inside and outside of early childhood education
- Post on social media–you can take a picture of the DAP book in action, and use hashtags such as #DAPinECE and #EquityinECE
- Make a donation to support our continued work at this critically important time
Thank you for your leadership, and for supporting our collective work to ensure that all young children and families, in all states and communities, can access early learning experiences guided by the principles outlined in developmentally appropriate practice.
Ann McClain Terrell, Past President
Barbara Bowman, Former President
Jerlean Daniel, Former President
Sharon Lynn Kagan, Former President
Tammy Mann, Former President
Amy O’Leary, Former President
Carol Brunson Day, Former President
Kathy Thornburg, Former President
Sue Russell, Former President
Ellen Galinsky, Former President