Developmentally appropriate practice in the 21st century

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Book Chapter

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Developmentally appropriate practice (DAP) is a set of early childhood curricular recommendations published by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). DAP was introduced in the United States in the late 1980s through Bredekamp’s (1987) seminal work, “Developmentally Appropriate Practice in Early Childhood Programs Serving Children from Birth through Age 8.” Since the initial publication, DAP has been widely accepted as the standard for early childhood educational practice in the United States and in Westernized countries around the world. Whereas proponents of DAP assert its positive influence on children, those more critical of DAP question whether it supports experiences for all young children equally. The aim of this chapter is to (a) describe a developmentally appropriate practice and its theoretical underpinnings, (b) to describe the conceptualization of the child and the role of the adult in DAP, and (c) to synthesize critiques of and recommended changes to DAP.


Sanders, K. & Farago, F. (2017). Developmentally appropriate practice in the 21st century. In M. Fleer & B. van Oers (Eds.), International handbook of early childhood education (pp. 1379-1400). Dordrecht, the Netherlands: Springer.



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