Developmentally appropriate practices (DAP) ensure that early childhood education offers opportunities for kids to learn age – appropriate development skills.After all, it is senseless to expect a four -year old to learn in the same manner as a fourteen-year-old!
A successful teacher knows how to choose a strategy that fits correctly a given child in a given situation. Before setting learning goals, it is extremely important to have a clear idea of what the little ones have already acquired in terms of skills and knowledge. Close observation and flexible practice help teachers determine which approach would be effective for a group of kids.
Ten successful DAP teaching techniques
1. Acknowledge: Let the little ones know that you observe them with full attention. They will be happy when you sit nearby, notice their actions and make positive comments.
2. Encourage: You should always encourage effort and persistence instead of merely evaluating and praising what the little ones have done.
3.Give constructive feedback: Instead of making general comments, offer activity-specific feedback in a constructive manner. (“The ball did not reach the boundary, James! You could hit it harder.”
4.Be a model: You should be for them a model of positive attitude to emulate. Show them by doing instead of giving instructions after instructions. (“Well, that did not work and I should think about the reason why. Try again.” “I apologize, Ben, I honestly missed what you said. Can you please tell me again?”)
5.Demonstrate the right way of doing: Kids learn fast when you demonstrate the right way of doing things. This normally involves a process of completion of things in steps in a particular way (for example writing the letter M).
6.Create challenges: Challenges ensure that the tasks given go beyond what students can normally accomplish. For instance, lay down on a table a number of sticks and ask the children to count them along with you. Then remove some from the table, and ask a few of them to tell you the number of sticks left. This is a great strategy to help children learn how to count; they will do a simple subtraction as well to give the right answer.
7.Ask questions to provoke thinking: It is necessary that kids develop critical thinking from an early age. Asking provoking questions will be useful in this respect. (For instance, “If you are not allowed to speak with your partners, in what other ways could you communicate with them?”)
8.Offer helpful hints: Drop a hint or two to help the little learners go beyond their current level of competence. (“Is there any word you can think of that can rhyme with your name, Bratt? How about mat? What else do you think can rhyme with Bratt and mat?”)
9.Give facts: Give correct information and facts directly to children, providing verbal labels. For instance, “This thing that appears to be a mouse with a small tail is actually known as a vole.”
10.Give proper directions: It is best to give them proper directions for right behavior or action. (“Touch every block just once while counting them.”)
DAP teachers should know closely their students to identify what strategies would work best for them. However, for a successful implementation of these strategies and best learning outcomes, it is very important to create (i) a caring environment, (ii) a well-planned curriculum and (iii) a strong relationship with the children’s families.