Developmentally appropriate practices include the following teaching
- Active Learning Experiences.
Developmentally appropriate programs promote children's active exploration
of the environment. Children manipulate real objects and learn through
hands-on, direct experiences. The curriculum provides opportunities for
children to explore, reflect, interact, and communicate with other children
and adults (National Association for the Education of Young Children, 1996).
Learning centers are one means of providing active learning experiences.
Field trips, real life experiences--such as cooking, reenacting historical
events, conducting scientific experiments, and participating in community
service projects--are other examples.
- Varied Instructional Strategies. Developmentally appropriate
practice encourages the use of varied instructional strategies to meet
the learning needs of children. Such approaches may include process writing,
skill instruction, guided reading, modeled writing, cooperative learning,
independent learning activities, peer coaching and tutoring, teacher-led
instruction, thematic instruction, projects, learning centers, problem-based
learning, and literature-based instruction (Privett, 1996; Stone,1995;
American Association of School Administrators, 1992). By providing a wide
variety of ways to learn, children with various learning styles are able
to develop their capabilities. Teaching in this way also helps provide
for multiple intelligences, and enables children to view learning in new
- Balance Between Teacher-Directed and Child-Directed Activities.
Developmentally appropriate practice encourages a mixture of teacher-directed
and child-directed activities. Teacher-directed learning involves the teacher
as a facilitator who models learning strategies and gives guided instruction.
Child-directed learning allows the child to assume some responsibility
for learning goals.
- Integrated Curriculum. An integrated
curriculum is one that connects diverse areas of study by cutting across
subject-matter lines and emphasizing unifying concepts. It combines many
subject areas into a cohesive unit of study that is meaningful to students.
An integrated curriculum often relates learning to real life. It also recognizes
the importance of basic skills and the "inclination to use them"
(National Association for the Education of Young Children, 1996).
One technique for integrating curricula is a thematic approach, which
"motivates students to investigate interesting ideas from multiple
perspectives. The central theme becomes the catalyst for developing concepts,
generalizations, skills, and attitudes" (American Association of School
Administrators, 1992, p. 25). Not all integrated curricula revolve around
a theme, however. Whole language and writing across the curriculum are
examples of integrated approaches that may or may not involve a thematic
approach (American Association of School Administrators, 1992).
- Learning Centers. Learning centers are independent stations
set up throughout the classroom where children can go to actually engage
in some learning activity. Children choose the center they will go to and
decide on the amount of time to spend there. The learning center approach
provides a time when children explore and practice skills to their own
satisfaction. These centers provide children with opportunities for hands-on
learning, cooperative learning, social interaction, real-life problem solving,
autonomous learning, and open-ended activities. "Open-ended activities
allow for each child to successfully engage in the activity at whatever
skill level the child happens to be," notes Stone (1995, p. 123).
Learning centers should reflect the goal of active learning; they must
not be workstations full of worksheets for students to complete. Learning
centers offer an opportunity for children to be responsible for their own
learning; this responsibility is the foundation for lifelong learning (Stone,
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