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Nowadays the rapid development of technologies and speeding up of the general tempo of life forced psychologists and teachers look for advanced approaches to children teaching. There have been numerous theories worked out, aiming to encourage early and quick development of children starting from the first months already. In this paper we are going to discuss the basic features of the developmentally appropriate practice, as one of the advanced and successful teaching techniques, its main aims, methods, advantages for all ages of children, in particular for toddlers.
The most capacious definition for developmentally appropriate practice was formulated in the following way: “Developmentally appropriate practice (or DAP) is a perspective within early childhood education whereby a teacher or child caregiver nurtures a child’s social/emotional, physical, and cognitive development by basing all practices and decisions on (1) theories of child development, (2) individually identified strengths and needs of each child uncovered through authentic assessment, and (3) the child’s cultural background as defined by his community, family history, and family structure” (Gestwicki, 8).Usually first described are the advantages of the taken method, we are going to stop at the beginning at the disadvantages of DAP as pointed out by critics, in order to provide a circumstantial response to them further. DAP, as one of the brightest examples of progressive education, is often said to be too difficult for perception of children, i.e. the materials, in the way they are taught, according to developmentally appropriate practice are presented in the way, which is too advanced, and thus the key concepts can not be understood by the learners. Surprisingly, other critics judge DAP as not meeting learning standards due to lower level of material presentation, than it is accepted traditionally.
Further we are going to prove, that none of these statements is correct, because one of the important principles of developmentally appropriate practice is presentation of certain amount of new material, based on the already acquired knowledge and skills of the learners.
For parents and especially teachers it is vitally important to create corresponding environment for development and learning processes of children. Depending on how the relations with adults are formed from the very childhood, children will develop their relations with other members of society in the future. Emotions and intellect are also generated from the first years after the birth. On the other hand, most of the children are able to initiate the activities and communication, they are interested in, and they need for their learning. Thus, teachers, working with small kids are to take into consideration the balance between the children initiatives and guiding them in their learning process.
Most researches proved, that during the first nine years of life, the changes in children perception, cognition, physical and social development are quite predictable. This period is usually called “functioning age of children” (Bredekamp, 13). Teachers however, should take into consideration the fact, that not always biological age of a child corresponds to his functioning age, especially if we are talking about boys, who are usually half a year less mature than girls. Physical, social, emotional and cognitive areas of development do not always have the same functioning age either.