Powered by the NAEYC, Al Iman Schools delivers Developmentally Appropriate Practices (DAP). To start with, this is an approach to teaching grounded 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, both as individuals and as part of a group; and helping each child meet challenging and achievable learning goals. Developmentally appropriate practice is the foundation for all of NAEYC’s work.

What Educators and Parents Think

“We know the way we teach, reading and writing is different from what you may expect and what you did as kids. But your child is on track to be a successful reader. There’s no rush; give him time to enjoy what he’s learning. Which is actually a lot and right on schedule. Surely you will be pleased to see him love reading on his own in a year or two. Our most important job right now is to keep reading and learning about reading fun. By doing so, your child can make progress every day. That’s developmentally appropriate practice.” (Educator)

“I know how you feel. When I first started learning about the best ways to teach reading, I was surprised too. I thought we would focus on repeating the alphabet and doing worksheets like I did when I was in school. Research actually shows that the way children learn when they are in preschool is simply different from the way they learn when they’re older. In terms of reading, our most important job right now is to make sure preschoolers love books. We do that by reading them great stories and letting them choose books that they find interesting.” (Parent)

We understand why parents might be concerned when they don’t see teachers focusing on literacy in the way they expect. For example say by tracing letters or memorizing sight words. In this era of academic anxiety, parents are sometimes looking for skills in preschool that usually come later. We are here to explain that children learn differently before age 8 than they do after age 8. Also that early learners are at the younger side of even the early learning spectrum.

Developmentally appropriate practice is about making sure children have fun so that they will learn. Preschoolers can’t learn on demand—they learn because they want to. Teachers take play really seriously. We use play intentionally to ensure each child makes progress toward specific learning goals. Teachers use documentation to show children’s progress. For example, drawings or notes comparing what they did at the beginning verses to work done later in the year.

Our educators have access to the Teaching Young Children (TYC). The award-winning magazine for classroom educators. This highlights current thinking on best practices in early childhood education, innovations in the field, research and its implications, and interesting ideas for and from preschool teachers. Moreover, we have access to resources and up to date guidelines on the best practices through the membership to NAEYC.