Monday, September 10, 2012

Developmentally Appropriate Practices

Being an Early Childhood Education major means we focus on Developmentally Appropriate Practices (DAP for short). Whilst discussing DAP in my curriculum class today we focused on what common misconceptions are, what it actually is, and why it's effective.

So many people think of teaching as babysitting. The teachers sit and let the kids run the classroom and play all day while they don't learn anything. OR the teacher is extremely strict and just lectures the whole time. This is where DAP comes in. it's not a curriculum, but a pedagogical philosophy; a holistic approach to teaching where we incorporate the whole child as well as all of the subjects; an approach that requires a highly organized classroom where everything is intentional, even the child-directed activities.

By the "whole child" i mean all aspects of their being: physical, social, emotional, cognitive, and spiritual. The spiritual aspect is tricky to incorporate due to the strict rules of religion in the classroom. But what i've learned is that the spiritual aspect is when we, as educators, are treating our children like children of God, because that's what they are. When you have that one child who's just being a pill, think of him in that light and your entire perspective changes. Your intentions change because you know the greater purpose in your teaching.

The holistic approach involves various styles of instruction as well the Common Core subjects and the "extras". You can include dance and music in your Math, English, and Science lessons. in fact, sometimes it's more effective. You can also integrate those subjects so that your students are getting a more well-rounded understanding of them.

The classroom is organized to facilitate large group, small group, and one-on-one interactions. There are areas for play, reading, and writing. The decorations encourage learning. Everything is deliberate. Even the way the tables are set just so because you don't want to provide a runway for children to be running all about the classroom. The teacher's questions and activities are intentional in their educational purpose.

To the observer, it may look like chaos. Sometimes it might be. But the well-trained educators can make play educational in purpose. They can take the moments when students get distracted and turn them into teaching moments. Rather than get frustrated that it's taking extra time away from the planned lesson, they can find a way to incorporate the lesson objectives into that discussion.

i don't know what you call babysitting but this sure isn't it.

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