What is Developmentally Appropriate Practice?

What is DAP?

Developmentally Appropriate Practice (DAP) is an approach that early care and education professionals use to support the learning and development of young children birth to age nine.

Benefits of DAP

By implementing DAP methods with their young children, parents and caregivers:

    • use strategies and activities that are proven to help young children learn;
    • use hands-on learning activities to help young children develop practical knowledge and skills; and
    • recognize the important role that play has in early childhood learning and development.

What DAP Looks Like

If your child is enrolled or is enrolling in early learning programs, ask your provider how they incorporate DAP into their day-to-day work. Parents and caregivers are also encouraged to incorporate developmentally appropriate activities and methods with their children at home. In developmentally appropriate environments, your child will:

    • move around rather than wait;
    • speak rather than listen passively;
    • use their creativity to create their own books and art;
    • follow a schedule based on their needs;
    • attempt to solve their own problems;
    • explore their own interests;
    • have opportunities to make their own choices; and
    • learn through experience rather than mechanical repetition.

To view the full list, download our printable DAP Guide for Families (PDF).

More Information

For more information, watch this webinar recording of “Advance Developmentally Appropriate Practice: How Young Children Learn.”



Image: A young child stands beside his caregiver, smiling happily together.

Series Navigation

The Developmentally Appropriate Parenting Series highlights several early childhood topics to support parents and caregivers who are caring for young children. Use the list below to navigate through each series topic:

Learn more about the series.

Request free printed materials from our Developmentally Appropriate Parenting Series.


Picture: A young baby looks up at the camera.
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