Our emotional, social, intellectual, physical and health needs must be satisfied in order for us to grow, learn and thrive. Research tells us that:
Learning starts with families and in communities.
Children learn through relationships, play, and active exploration.
Every child and family has unique gifts and abilities.
Children learn best when they are healthy, safe, and free of hunger.
Learning is interrelated and builds upon prior learning and development.
Young children can learn more than one language.
Building “executive function” (the command and control center of the brain) is crucial for development and learning.
Children learn in and through their environment.
Developmentally Appropriate Practices
The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) provides care providers with guidelines for applying research directly to practice. The guidelines are referred to as Developmentally Appropriate Practices, or DAP.
There are three core considerations for DAP:
Knowledge of child development and learning helps us decide which experiences are best for children at specific times in their lives.
We learn about each child’s interests, abilities, and progress when we continually observe a child’s play and interactions.
By getting to know the children’s families and learning about the values, expectations, and factors that shape their lives at home and in their communities, we will be able to provide meaningful, relevant and respectful learning experiences for each child.
Teachers help ensure Developmentally Appropriate Practices when they intentionally meet young children where they are developmentally, and help the children achieve learning goals that are both basic and challenging.
Developmental milestonesare “an action or ability marking a significant stage in development.” These markers of development:
Are specific skills that are usually achieved by a certain age.
Occur in all developmental domains-- physical, social, emotional, intellectual and cognitive.
Are used to measure children’s achievements and needs, giving families accurate feedback on their child’s development.
Red flags are warning signs that development may be delayed or atypical. These red flags are noticed when children don’t meet milestones as expected. Each child’s development is unique and develops in a continuum. But if a child shows a pattern of not being able to do things that most other children are doing at the same age, it may indicate that further assessment is needed. Red flags are cause for action but not alarm! Children benefit most when caregivers can identify potential delays and signs of challenges as early as possible. Remember it is not your role to diagnose children but to refer them for further assessment and possible early intervention.
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