Developmentally Approriate Care: What Does it Mean?

Childcare professionals use the term ‘developmentally appropriate care’ quite frequently. The term referred to 360° childcare considers development on many levels including social, emotional, physical and intellectual.

Caring for children in a uniform manner is not sufficient. Guidelines on how to best take care of a child do exist, as do those that refer to different levels of care, depending on the different stages of development. These are merely guidelines, to assist parents and care providers in understanding children better while helping them towards development in all aspects of their lives.

Listed below are guidelines which focus on developmental appropriateness:

1. Age appropriateness – deals with growth and change which take place in children during the early stages of their lives

2. Individual appropriateness – each child has their own growth patterns and timing.

Developmentally appropriate care for infants and toddlers

The environment is the initial channel through which infants and toddlers learn basic things. By interacting with adults, their sense of trust is built. Adults who are consistently around the child must spend ample time with them, playing, talking to them and holding them. It is the adult who is an infant’s primary teacher. Simple things like toilet training, dressing, feeding must be taught, and the child must be allowed to carry out these tasks by themselves when ready.

Toddlers need a fair amount of resources to learn new things. Music, pictures, games are important towards their development as is space for them to run around and explore. Reading aloud to them and teaching them new words helps improve their language.

Developmentally appropriate care for three to five year olds
Blocks, puzzles, toys, story-telling are all ideal learning activities for three year olds. This will help enhance their language skills, motor skills and movement.

Four year olds are able to identify colours, shapes and objects. They will enjoy little projects like cutting paper, pasting, colouring, etc.
The memory and motor skills in five years olds are constantly developing, so adults must be willing and amiable to listen to them, encourage them on and build confidence.