ERIC Number: ED413106
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1997-Oct
Developmentally Appropriate Practice: What Does Research Tell Us? ERIC Digest.
Dunn, Loraine; Kontos, Susan
Those who advocate for developmentally appropriate practice (DAP) do so based on the conviction that these classroom practices enhance children's development and facilitate learning. This ERIC Digest examines recent research on DAP and social-emotional and cognitive development, and describes what we have learned about DAP in early childhood classrooms. The earliest studies on DAP focused on stress and emotional development. Researchers have documented that children exhibit more stress in didactic environments than in child-initiated environments. Research also indicates that classrooms characterized by child initiation appear to facilitate children's creative development and are associated with better language outcomes. Young children in DAP programs also seem more confident in their own cognitive skills. Studies also indicate that a didactic approach is not necessary to promote children's learning of academic skills, and studies following children over time suggest there may be academic benefits to DAP in the long run. Research on DAP in the classroom indicates specific results. First, developmentally appropriate practices are not the norm in early childhood programs. Although teachers endorse this pedagogical method, they often struggle with implementation. Second, parents and teachers may not agree on the value of DAP. Helping parents understand the link between DAP and basic skill acquisition may prevent potential tensions between parents and teachers over instructional methods. Third, developmentally appropriate practices create a positive classroom climate conducive to children's healthy emotional development. Fourth, researchers have only scratched the surface in understanding how developmentally appropriate practices influence children's social development. Taken together, the research favors DAP. In general, child-initiated environments were associated with higher levels of cognitive functioning. While academic environments sometimes may result in higher levels of achievement, this achievement may come at emotional costs to the child. (LPP)
Descriptors: Academic Achievement, Child Development, Childhood Needs, Classroom Environment, Classroom Techniques, Cognitive Development, Developmental Programs, Developmentally Appropriate Practices, Early Childhood Education, Educational Practices, Educational Quality, Emotional Development, Instructional Effectiveness, Outcomes of Education, Parent Attitudes, Parent Teacher Cooperation, Preschool Children, Preschool Education, Social Development, Stress Variables, Teaching Methods
Publication Type: ERIC Publications; ERIC Digests in Full Text; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: Office of Educational Research and Improvement (ED), Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: ERIC Clearinghouse on Elementary and Early Childhood Education, Champaign, IL.