Developmentally Appropriate Practice (known as DAP) means you use knowledge about child development to create a program that is suitable for the age and stage of development of your group of children. At the same time, your program considers the needs of the individual child.

Programs that incorporate DAP will consider or include the following when creating a curriculum and planning activities:

  • Age appropriateness. You use information about typical development within a specific age span to plan a learning environment and experiences.
  • Individual appropriateness. You understand that each child is unique with his or her own pattern and timing of development. You plan your curriculum to respond to individual differences.
  • Child-guided and teacher-guided experiences. You allow time for children to select activities from the many experiences you have prepared. You plan interactive small-group and large-group activities.
  • Cultural and social responsiveness. You respect the social and cultural context in which children live.
  • Play. You support children’s play as a way for them to learn.

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