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I am writing this letter to provide you with some suggestions regarding the integration of elements of the standards-based curriculum and developmentally appropriate practices (DAPs) with the new kindergarten curriculum. I have learned that the new reading plan will be implemented in the kindergarten classroom the next year, and I am concerned regarding the use of this standard-based and textbook-based curriculum in the context of DAPs. I have three children, and the eldest two children were taught with the help of DAPs. I noticed significant positive outcomes regarding the development of their reading skills.
Developmentally appropriate practices or DAPs are defined as approaches that are based on the knowledge of particular features of the children’s development at different stages, and these approaches are designed in a specific way to guarantee the children’s learning while being involved inappropriate activities (National Association for the Education of Young Children, 2009, p. 9). The DAPs for this age usually include listening to and retelling stories while children are placed in comfortable environments; recognizing letters and reading in a form of the play; developing the vocabulary while playing.
In Virginia, Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are not adopted, but there are English Standards of Learning (English SOL) that reflect the principles of the CCSS. According to the English SOL, children in the kindergarten are expected to comprehend fictional texts and answer questions, recognize different types of texts, identify relationships, understand the structure of the text, and recognize or read words in the text among other performance expectations (Virginia Department of Education, 2010).
These standards provide educators with the identification of milestones that should be demonstrated by children in the kindergarten. This approach guarantees the high-quality instruction, but there is a concern about how such unified standards and expectations can be adapted to teaching young children.
When DAPs are not integrated into the curriculum to help children achieve the goals set according to the state standards, young students’ self-efficacy regarding their abilities to read is affected (Kim, 2011). Those children who are taught with the help of approaches appropriate for older students cannot follow the pace of learning typical of those students, and they feel frustration (Kostelnik, Soderman, Whiren, & Rupiper, 2011). When practices are not developmentally appropriate, they do not address the young students’ needs and interests regarding the reading (Trivette, Dunst, Hamby, & Meter, 2012). The expected performance results are rather high, and children can fail to achieve these goals when DAPs are ignored.
My suggestions related to the integration of the state-mandated textbook and the standard-based curriculum with DAPs are grounded on the idea that standards provide the explanation of goals and outcomes to achieve; the textbook provides the materials to use, and they are aligned with standards; and DAPs are specific approaches that can be selected by a teacher to reach the set goals using the available sources (National Association for the Education of Young Children, 2015).
Therefore, the first proposition is to use the play as a DAP for teaching the most difficult aspects in the reading. Moreover, it is necessary to differentiate the instruction for children with different levels of skills’ development to support their efforts (Kim, 2011). Finally, reading activities based on using the textbook should be organized in the form of the play in groups and pairs.
From this perspective, it is necessary to apply DAPs in the kindergarten reading program that is based on state standards because these standards define the goals to complete, and a teacher can use any appropriate technique to help children achieve these goals. The focus should be on using the play. Moreover, the differentiated instruction based on the individual approach is also expected. Also, it is possible to use pair and group activities to make students interested in reading.
Kim, H. K. (2011). Developmentally Appropriate Practice (DAP) as defined and interpreted by early childhood pre-service teachers: Beliefs about DAP and influences of teacher education and field experience. SRATE Journal, 20(2), 12-22. Web.
Kostelnik, M., Soderman, A., Whiren, A., & Rupiper, M. (2011). Developmentally appropriate curriculum: Best practices in early childhood education. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson. Web.
National Association for the Education of Young Children. (2009). Developmentally appropriate practice in early childhood programs serving children from birth through age 8. Washington, DC: Author. Web.
National Association for the Education of Young Children. (2015). Developmentally appropriate practice and the Common Core State Standards: Framing the issues. Washington, DC: Author. Web.
Trivette, C. M., Dunst, C. J., Hamby, D. W., & Meter, D. (2012). Relationship between early childhood practitioner beliefs and the adoption of innovative and recommended practices. Research Brief, 6(1), 1-12. Web.
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Virginia Department of Education. (2010). Comparison of Virginia’s 2010 English Standards of Learning with the Common Core State Standards for English and Literacy. Web.