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The notion of cultural and social context comes from psychologists, who studied the neighborhoods, where children grow up, it includes their family, house, people in the closest surrounding. Knowledge of social and cultural context of each child is rather important for teachers, applying DAP, as it helps them to make their educational practices relevant and meaningful.
Thus, based on the information about all the above mentioned areas, including age – related characteristics, specific features of character, family background, cultural context, previous experiences and education, teachers are able to make developmentally appropriate practices really useful and effective for the learners. One of the basic aims of DAP is decision making. “To recap this decision-making process: An effective teacher begins by thinking about what children of the age and developmental status represented in that program’s group are typically like” (Bredekamp, 113). Further, the work of the teacher is split into several steps, like for example defining the curriculum, types of activities, routines, which correspond to the information, which was gathered before. The teacher is working with a group of children, but at the same time he should consider each child individually, as a part of specific culture, family, social group and so on. Past experience of each learner is important for working out the strategy of presenting the new experiences to him. All this preparation is important for the teacher, who would afterwards be able to help his learners to make developmentally appropriate decisions.
There are a lot of advantages in application of DAP. First of all children feel themselves much better in the environment initiated by them, and not in the didactic one; secondly, cognitive development of the learners, i.e. creativity, language development, children’s perception have wider possibilities for realization and development; finally, absolute individual approach to each learner guarantees positive results and progress for every child. Even if there are group tasks, these are various groups, pairs, so that grouping strategies do not hinder consideration of individuality of each learner.
However, DAP received enough critics as well, for example such approaches are said to present ideas and concepts, which are too advanced for the children of certain age, and thus can not meet the teaching standards. A lot of researchers agree, that theoretically DAP are really good approaches to education, but the problem lies in preparation of the teaching staff so well, that the teachers would be able to apply all these practices in the correct way.
Overall, we have studied the main issues, related to developmentally appropriate practices, the main characteristics and potential of this approach; we traced the examples of advantages and disadvantages in application of these practices. Finally we can conclude, that under the condition of proper preparation of teachers, provision of all the necessary information and skills to them, DAP could be of great use in educational process of any group of learners of any age, social background, cultural and social origins.
Bredekamp, V.S., Copple, C. “Developmentally Appropriate Practice in Early Childhood Programs”. Washington, DC: NAEYC, 1997
Gestwicki, C. Developmentally Appropriated Practice. Delmar Thomson Learning, 2006