Individualization and DAP

The following comes from the NAEYC position statement on Developmentally Appropriate Practice with Infants and Toddlers

DAP with Infants and Toddlers, Ages Birth – 3–3
The earliest years are all about relationships. Infants and toddlers crave and develop attachments to the special people in their lives. Depending on how parents, early childhood educators, and others treat them, babies also develop expectations about people and themselves.
  • Young infants (0 to 9 months) seek security.
  • Mobile infants (8 to 18 months) are eager to explore.
  • Toddlers (16 to 36 months) are working on their identity; they want to know who they are and who’s in charge.
In child care programs, relationships with families are critical. Caring teachers and caregivers learn from the experiences, knowledge, culture, and child rearing beliefs of family members.

Partnerships grow when teachers value the family as the primary source of information about the child and as the constant in the baby’s life, and when families value the knowledge and personal characteristics of their child’s teachers. Good communication is essential.

This got me thinking about providing individualized care in a group setting.

Recently, I was visiting an “older infants” room in a center setting (6 mos.-1 year).  It was a lovely room with all of the appropriate bells and whistles I’ve come to expect in quality child care.  What surprised me was that the teachers fed the children simultaneously, changed them on the same schedule, and put them down for their naps all at the same time.  This is contrary to everything I’ve learned about caring for infants and toddlers “on demand.”

Nowhere is individualized care more important than in the infant and toddler setting.  Regardless of how the teachers managed to get all 6 babies on the same schedule, I can’t imagine that is best for all of them.  I am quite sure it is nice for the teachers.

The earliest mathematical concepts are reinforced for infants through a consistency of care.  Babies come to expect that when they are hungry they eat, and when they are tired they sleep.  When they are changed, there is a system in place that is consistent and follows a set order.  These set structures build trust between the infant and her  provider and ultimately create a sequence of events that is constant and predictable.

These relationships between people and events are logico-mathematical in nature and are paramount to children’s overall well-being.  For me NAEYC is really clear on this.  Developmentally Appropriate Practice asks that we consider the child in light of her/his family and culture.  Providing individual care for children under three should still be a priority, shouldn’t it?

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