Friday, January 11, 2013

Community Based Professional Development

Recently I have been helping a colleague of mine promote an upcoming series that launches later this month.  It's focus:  Developmentally Appropriate Practice.  Now that is a mouthful to say 10 times fast!  DAP for short.  Still...  professional jargon can be hard to interpret and difficult to promote easily unless the audience already knows what it is.  The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) published a book on the subject and promotes this as where we should all be headed with the little ones in our classrooms and homes. NAEYC defines DAP for as the following:

Developmentally appropriate practice, often shortened to DAP, is an approach to teaching grounded both in the research on how young children develop and learn and in what is known about effective early education. Its framework is designed to promote young children’s optimal learning and development.
DAP involves teachers meeting young children where they are (by stage of development), both as individuals and as part of a group; and helping each child meet challenging and achievable learning goals.

Have you unwrapped these best concepts with your friends and colleagues yet? It is a wonderful way to look at brain development, play, and the activities you enjoy best with the children you care for in a light that honors you as a professional. 

If they have opened a new box of crayons and experimented with big blank pieces of paper or if they have built tall towers of cereal boxes and cans from the cupboards and promptly climbed into the empty space afterward, they know what DAP is.  Have you offered up boxes of hats and old shoes and maybe a fancy shirt or two for dress up?  Are there any spaces where you could clear away an area to create a space with a masking tape outline on the floor?  For what, you ask...  A spaceship.. An airplane... A gym.  Who knows but the little ones allowed in - and maybe you if you invite them!

Consider songs and time outside.  Remember the time for books and dancing.  Sometimes they enjoy exploring books with you and having time to discover letters and words around the room - and sometimes they enjoy showing you what they find.  It is about looking for bugs and wondering where the water went.  And... being exhausted long before those little ones are ever ready to come inside to wash hands and faces for healthy snacks.

Most importantly, DAP is all grounded in research, and you can share ideas with your friends and colleagues...  The NAEYC book will be provided to you so I encourage you to join us for discussion and share your experiences.  The First Things First Yuma Regional Partnership Council, along with Eight - Arizona PBS invites to you find out more and register for the first session, January 19!