Posted in Miscellaneous

The Importance of Developmentally Appropriate Practice

By: Kristie Hinckley

One major topic of ELED 202: Foundations of Child Development is something called Developmentally Appropriate Practice. It means that we, as teachers, need to consider Screen Shot 2015-05-27 at 12.49.51 PMdevelopmental milestones of children in order to effectively teach them. For example, if you were teaching a class full of preschoolers you would not use tall tables and large chairs.

Likewise it would not be wise to expect those same preschoolers to sit in chairs for a long lecture. The following twelve principles are important things to consider as we create lesson plans and teach children.


  1. All domains (cognitive, physical, social, and emotional) are important and closely interrelated. Development and learning in one domain influences what takes place in other domains.
  2. Development follows well documented sequences with later abilities, skills, and knowledge building on those already acquired.
  3. Development and learning proceed at varying rates from child to child, as well as at uneven rates across different areas of a child’s individual functioning. Therefore, accommodations need to be made for each student in the class.
  4. Development and learning result from a dynamic and continuous interaction of biological maturation and experience. We know that nature and nurture both play a big role in child development.
  5. Early experiences have profound effects, both cumulative and delayed, on a child’s development and learning; an optimal period exists for certain types of development and learning to occur.
  6. Development proceeds toward greater complexity, self-regulation, and symbolic or representational capacities. For example, children can eventually use words written on a paper to represent things and ideas.
  7. Children develop best when they have secure and consistent relationships with responsive adults and positive relationships with peers. Even if a child does not have secure relationships at home, a teacher can make a difference by providing him or her with a secure relationship in the classroom.
  8. Development and learning occur in and are influenced by multiple social and cultural contexts. For example, a child might frequently interact with people at church, in school and at home. Children are influenced by the learning that goes on in those different places.
  9. Always seeking to understand the world around them, children learn in a variety of ways; a wide range of teaching strategies and interactions are effective in supporting different types of learning.
  10. Play is an important vehicle for developing self-regulation as well as for promoting language, cognition, and social competence.
  11. Development and learning increase when children are challenged to achieve at a level just beyond their current capability, and also when they have many opportunities to practice newly acquired skills. For example, when learning how to play the piano, teachers often introduce pieces that are slightly more advanced than the level the student is currently at. As the student practices, these pieces become easier and the student’s development and skill increase.
  12. Children’s experiences shape their motivation and approaches to learning. These dispositions and behaviors affect their learning and development.

Which of these principles have you seen manifest in children around you?

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