From an academic perspective on the philosophies and methodologies of early childhood education and human development, we believe that Developmentally Appropriate Practice (DAP) is the theory that most closely describes God’s design.
The basic tenants of DAP are as follows:
- The domains of development are: physical, social, emotional and cognitive. They are closely related and dependent on each other. Thus, we teach to the “whole child” and include all of the domains – to which we add one other – spiritual.
- Development occurs in a relatively predictable and orderly sequence in the first nine years of life.
- Development proceeds at varying rates from child to child as well as unevenly within different areas of each child’s functioning.
- Early experiences have both cumulative and delayed effects on individual children’s development: optimal periods exist for certain types of development and learning.
- Development proceeds in predictable directions toward greater complexity, organization and internalization.
- Development and learning occur in and are influenced by multiple social and cultural contexts.
- Children are active learners, drawing on direct physical and social experience as well as culturally transmitted knowledge to construct their own understandings of the world around them.
- Human beings are products of both heredity (biological maturation) and the environment and these forces are interrelated.
- Play is an important vehicle for children’s social, emotional and cognitive development, as well as a reflection of their development. Play gives children opportunities to understand the world, interact with others in social ways, express and control emotions and develop their symbolic capabilities. Children’s play also gives adults insights into children’s development and opportunities to support the development of new strategies.
- Development advances when children have opportunities to practice newly acquired skills as well as when they experience a challenge just beyond the level of their present mastery.
- Children demonstrate different modes of knowing and learning and different ways of representing what they know. Humans possess at least seven intelligences: Verbal/Linguistic, Logical/Mathematical, Visual/Spatial, Bodily/Kinesthetic, Musical/Rhythmic, Naturalist/Scientific, Interpersonal and Intrapersonal.
- Children develop and learn best in the context of a community where they are safe and valued, their physical needs are met and they feel psychologically secure.