What is a “Developmentally Appropriate Practice?”

Bright Haven may be considered unusual, but there is method to the madness. Our classrooms have a lot of bustle and noise, with active children talking, playing and exploring. Such a classroom environment differs from the traditional grade-school images of a teacher preaching from the blackboard while children sit and listen quietly at their desks.

Research and experience tell us that to be effective with young children, teaching practice needs to be “developmentally appropriate.” What this simply means is that educators need to think first about what young children are like and then create environments and experiences that are in tune with children’s characteristics.

Early childhood is a time of life quite different from adulthood and even from the later school years. Children 3-6 years old learn far better through direct interactive experiences than by listening to someone talk. They learn extraordinarily more through play and exploration. The younger children are, what they are taught needs to be relevant and interesting today, not just in the context of some future learning.

Based on this knowledge, we design our program to fit. It works a lot better than trying to redesign children!

A developmentally appropriate program like ours is also age-appropriate. But that’s not all. To make the program a good place for every child, we gear our classroom environment and activities to their community and families. Learning can be individualized! We’re eager to learn as much as we can about each child’s family, cultural background, past experience, and current circumstances. Then we can create a program that best fits the children and families we serve.