Introduction learning at an earlier age. They know the value of play and its connection to
learning for preschoolers and kindergartners.
The field of early childhood education has strong, research-based
guidelines for best practices in curriculum and assessment, as outlined
in the third edition of Developmentally Appropriate Practice (Copple and
Bredekamp 2009). These recommendations emphasize that teachers rec-
ognize the learning styles and needs of children at different ages, as well
as focus on each child’s unique capabilities and cultural background. They
do not endorse pushing down curricular practices. Instead, they define
practices that are just right for preschoolers and kindergartners.
Play is still seen as a primary vehicle for learning even into kinder-
garten and the primary grades. Playtime is supported by an ever-growing
body of research documenting the benefit of high-level play for children.
Teacher intentionality is defined as facilitating learning through play expe-
riences as well as teacher-led group times. The value of planning engaging
activities that can address a range of individual children’s abilities and the
value of giving children choices are the focus throughout the Developmen-
tally Appropriate Practice position statement and guidebook. Moreover, the
connection between joy and learning is emphasized.
Excellent teachers know . . . it’s both joy and learning. . . . They go
hand in hand. . . . Teachers are always more effective when they
tap into this natural love of learning rather than dividing work and
enjoyment. As some early childhood educators like to put it, chil-
dren love nothing better than “hard fun.” (Copple and Bredekamp
Embracing developmentally appropriate practices does not mean
teachers of preschoolers and kindergartners need to give up the fun in
teaching this age group. Instead, teachers are clear about why they encour-
age play, plan specific activities, and work with children to help them get
along with each other and love learning.
Frameworks for Play, Observation, and Learning
This book presents several frameworks for planning and reflection that at-
tempt to capture what should really happen in preschool and kindergarten