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Unpacking Developmentally Appropriate Practice

by Francis Wardle
May/June 2021
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Article Link: http://exchangepress.com/article/unpacking-developmentally-appropriate-practice/5025922/

In the new edition of NAEYC’s “Position Statement on Developmentally Appropriate Practice 2020,” the term “best practices” is purposefully not used (p. 34). According to the document, this is because referring to a practice as best has historically been used to impose the dominant culture’s view, without considering other approaches for how we raise and teach young children. There is concern that best practices reflect a biased approach to working with young children—a bias of white, educated, middle-class culture (p. 34). The document goes on to argue that there are no best practices; what works effectively with young children depends on the diversity of the children, families, communities and cultures that we serve.

While I have always advocated for the continued deconstruction of how we engage with young children, especially regarding approaches to diversity and academic practice (Wardle, 2017, 2018a, 2018b), I deeply believe that when we discuss how to support and encourage the development and learning of young children, there are absolutes. This article will describe some behaviors I believe are “best practices.” I will present these best practices using a construct called positive and negative instances. This is a way of viewing complex ideas first proposed by Jerome Bruner. According ...

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