Developmentally Appropriate Practices and Play

Developmentally Appropriate Practices and Play

Chil­dren have chang­ing phys­i­cal, cog­ni­tive, emo­tional, lan­guage and social capa­bil­i­ties that occur in the con­text of fam­ily, cul­ture, com­mu­nity, past expe­ri­ences and cir­cum­stances. Play reflects their development.

Dur­ing the ear­li­est stages the child per­ceives things like a solip­sist who is unaware of him­self as sub­ject and is famil­iar only with his own actions.” ~ Jean Piaget

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Devel­op­men­tally appro­pri­ate prac­tices are based on how chil­dren develop and learn, and match it to strate­gies and con­tent. It is impor­tant to respect their chang­ing capa­bil­i­ties and view them in the con­text of fam­ily, cul­ture, com­mu­nity, past expe­ri­ences and circumstances.

Play is impor­tant for children’s social, emo­tional and cog­ni­tive devel­op­ment. Devel­op­ment is the inter­ac­tion between bio­log­i­cal mat­u­ra­tion and the envi­ron­ment.  Phys­i­cal, cog­ni­tive, emo­tional, lan­guage and social devel­op­ment are inter­re­lated and devel­op­ment in one area influ­ences the other. Skills, abil­i­ties and knowl­edge are built in a sequence. Devel­op­ment is uneven in dif­fer­ent areas and occurs at vary­ing rates; how­ever, children’s early expe­ri­ences are cumu­la­tive and could affect their devel­op­ment. Devel­op­ment moves from easy to com­plex and from con­crete expe­ri­ences to abstract thought.

Chil­dren are active learn­ers and learn­ing occurs in social and cul­tural set­tings. Chil­dren need oppor­tu­ni­ties to prac­tice skills in an envi­ron­ment that pro­vides oppor­tu­ni­ties and chal­lenges. Remem­ber that chil­dren present what they know in dif­fer­ent ways and play reflects their development.


Well­housen, K. & Crowther, I. (2004). Cre­at­ing Effec­tive Learn­ing Envi­ron­ments. Cen­gage Learn­ing. New York.