Child Development Center
Developmentally Appropriate Practice
Our classroom is active and noisy compared to other classrooms due to our developmentally appropriate practices. This means simply that we think first about what young children are like and then create a learning environment and experiences that are in tune with these characteristics. Research has taught us that children at this age learn best through direct interactive experiences. For example, most preschoolers will gain more from stepping or jumping on (alphabet) letters on the floor than encountering them on a cut and paste or circle the right answer work sheet. The activities we suggest need to be relevant and interesting to them now and not just in the context of future learning.
Mixed age grouping allows slightly older children to introduce concepts and themes to younger children that they would not yet come up with on their own. More advanced peers offer the structure for the tiny steps that facilitate learning in a natural manner. Adults tend to be too far advanced to provide this in quite the same way.
Children at this age respond well to having choices, so a variety of learning activities are available and children are free to move among them for the majority of the class time. These choices empower children to take control of their own learning. Children use materials and equipment in far more creative and innovative ways than we could ever plan, and they use the materials in ways that meet their own developmental needs. Research indicates that intrinsic motivation (working on a task because we find it satisfying) is the most effective and engaging way to learn.
Developmentally appropriate also means we look at each child's family, cultural background, past experiences and current circumstances and integrate this knowledge to make the program fit the child.
All these put together provide young children with a learning environment in which they feel comfortable and can function to their fullest capacity because it speaks specifically to who they are at this important time in their lives.