• benchmarks: the standards by which something can be judged. Benchmark behaviors are those behaviors that are typical, and against which most behaviors can be measured
  • developmentally appropriate practices: teaching and learning experiences grounded in the way in which we know that children learn, based on understanding the characteristics of a “typically-developing” child
  • executive function: all the cognitive processes that help a child behave and think in an organized way
  • self-regulated learners: children who have learned to manage strong emotions, control impulses, and stay on task with minimum distraction
  • social competencies: skills needed for successful social interaction; in young children these include making simple decisions, interacting with others in productive ways, and being able to resolve conflicts in appropriate ways (by using their words and negotiating and not being aggressive)


Before watching this video, read the text below. When instructed, watch the video from the beginning to end.

Developmentally appropriate practice is carefully planned, intentional teaching based on what is known about the developmental stages and ages of the children we teach. The goal is to bring children to their full potential—cognitively, socially, emotionally, and physically.

Effective early childhood educators understand what is typical at each age and stage of a child’s development while also being aware that each child is different. They get to know each child individually so that they can build on a child’s prior knowledge, skills, developmental level, and interests, and address the full range of abilities each child brings to the learning environment.

To provide developmentally appropriate instruction, you should understand how preschool-age children typically think and behave, recognize that each child has different strengths, and work towards developing each child’s ability to self-regulate.

In this 45-minute, self-paced tutorial, you will explore best practices in providing developmentally appropriate learning. Three short videos will show seasoned educators using best practices in action. After watching each video, you’ll review and reflect on what you’ve seen and heard.

During this tutorial, you will:

  • Explore the best practices for providing developmentally appropriate learning.
  • Discuss the ways a “typically-developing” young child thinks about the world.
  • Discover how to identify, develop, and utilize children’s strengths to address their weaknesses.
  • Examine strategies for developing children’s abilities to self-regulate emotions and behaviors.
  • Apply new knowledge to current practices.

First, do a self-assessment to discover what your strengths are and to identify specific skills you'd like to work on.

  1. Download and print the Self-Assessment (PDF).
  2. Complete the first half now, before you begin the training.
  3. Save the sheet with your answers. At the end of the training, you'll complete the second half, compare your "before" and "after" responses, and find out how far you've progressed.

Watch an overview of Providing Developmentally Appropriate Learning featuring Eleonora Villegas-Reimers, Associate Professor of Education at Wheelock College in Boston, Massachusetts.

Download and print the Learning Log (PDF). Use it during the tutorial to answer questions, reflect upon the materials presented, and jot down ideas and insights about how to apply what you have learned to your own learning environment.

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on LinkedIn Email this page Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on LinkedIn Email this page