Developmental Education

What is Developmentally Appropriate Education?

Developmentally Appropriate Education is about brain development. It examines and explores what cognitive and motor skills children are able to do at specific ages. This approach to designing curriculum is endorsed by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).

After extensive research, NAEYC established a framework utilizing developmentally appropriate practices. These guidelines are based on extensive research regarding educational effectiveness and the promotion of young children’s optimal learning and development and are considered “best practice” in early childhood education. 

Here are the NAEYC Guidelines for developmentally appropriate practice:

  1. Creating a caring community of learners
  2. Teaching to enhance development and learning
  3. Planning curriculum to achieve important goals
  4. Assessing children’s development and learning
  5. Establishing reciprocal relationships with families

Below are the principles as defined by NAEYC that informs practice:

  1. All the domains of development and learning — physical, social and emotional, and cognitive — are important, and they are closely interrelated. Children’s development and learning in one domain influences and are influenced by what takes place in other domains.
  2. Many aspects of children’s learning and development follow 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.
  4. Development and learning result from a dynamic and continuous interaction of biological maturation and experience.
  5. Early experiences have profound effects, both cumulative and delayed, on a child’s development and learning; and optimal periods exist for certain types of development and learning to occur.
  6. Development proceeds toward greater complexity, self-regulation, and symbolic or representational capacities.
  7. Children develop best when they have secure, consistent relationships with responsive adults and opportunities for positive relationships with peers.
  8. Development and learning occur in and are influenced by multiple social and cultural contexts.
  9. Always mentally active in seeking to understand the world around them, chil- dren learn in a variety of ways; a wide range of teaching strategies and interac-tions are effective in supporting all these kinds 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 advance when children are challenged to achieve at a level just beyond their current mastery,and also when they have many opportunities to practice newly acquired skills.
  12. Children’s experiences shape their motivation and approaches to learning, such as persistence, initiative, and flexibility; in turn, these dispositions and behaviors affect their learning and development.