In November, NAEYC issued its 4th edition of the Developmentally Appropriate Practice position statement. This is must-read content for every intentional educator, and all who lead early learning programs or educate our workforce.
The statement itself is brief:
Each and every child, birth through age 8, 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. Children are born eager to learn; they take delight exploring their world and making connections. The degree to which early learning programs support children’s delight and wonder in learning reflects the quality of that setting. Educators who engage in developmentally appropriate practice foster young children’s joyful learning and maximize the opportunities for each and every child to achieve their full potential.NAEYC (2020). Developmentally Appropriate Practice: A Position Statement of the National association for the Education of Young Children. .
However, the Position Statement paper (also in Spanish) goes much deeper, and outlines many of the tensions and realities that present challenges to educators and to our field. (You may find it easier to navigate this lengthy document when reading on-line in the web-based version of the Position Statement.)
As before, the DAP position statement includes three core considerations:
- Commonality in children’s development and learning which apply to all children.
- Individuality: the characteristics unique to each child that have implications for how best to support their development and learning.
- Context: the social and cultural contexts of the child, the educator, and the program.
The position statement document acknowledges and articulates the ways in which the contexts of children and educators influence how we work with children.
From the document, on the role of social and cultural contexts:
One of the key updates in this revision is the expansion of the core consideration regarding the social and cultural contexts of development and learning. As noted in the first core consideration on commonality, the fact that development and learning are embedded in social and cultural contexts is true of all individuals. Context includes both one’s personal cultural context (that is, the complex set of ways of knowing the world that reflect one’s family and other primary caregivers and their traditions and values) and the broader multifaceted and intersecting (for example, social, racial, economic, historical, and political) cultural contexts in which each of us live. In both the individual- and societal- definitions, these are dynamic rather than static contexts that shape and are shaped by individual members as well as other factors.
Early childhood educators must also be aware that they themselves—and their programs as a whole—bring their own experiences and contexts, in both the narrower and broader definitions, to their decision-making. This is particularly important to consider when educators do not share the cultural contexts of the children they serve. Yet even when educators appear to share the cultural contexts of children, they can sometimes experience a disconnection between their professional and cultural knowledge.
To fully support each child’s optimal development and learning in an increasingly diverse society, early childhood educators need to understand the implications of these contexts. By recognizing that children’s experiences may vary by their social identities (for example, by race or ethnicity, language, gender, class, ability, family composition, and economic status, among others), with different and intersecting impacts on their development and learning, educators can make adaptations to affirm and support positive development of each child’s multiple social identities. Additionally, educators must be aware of, and counter, their own and larger societal biases that may undermine a child’s positive development and well-being. Early childhood educators have a professional responsibility to be life-long learners who are able to foster life-long learning in children; in this, they must keep abreast of research developments, while also learning continuously from families and communities they serveNAEYC (2020). DEVELOPMENTALLY APPROPRIATE PRACTICE: A POSITION STATEMENT OF THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR THE EDUCATION OF YOUNG CHILDREN.
MDAEYC is proud to be a state Affiliate of NAEYC, and we are proud that the DAP position statement reflects and conveys our deep commitment to equity in early childhood education. This is a core value for MDAEYC, and it is gratifying to see this explicitly articulated in the updated DAP position statement.
Also, NAEYC is offering an on-demand training on the revised DAP position statement: Join ECE experts Sue Bredekamp, PhD, Marie Masterson, PhD, and Iheoma Iruka, PhD and preschool teachers, Garnett Booker and Megan King, to gain insight and practical take-aways on NAEYC’s newly revised DAP position statement. This is a good opportunity for educators to dig deeper into the position statement and get “credit” (professional learning documentation) for their work.