Developmentally Appropriate Practice

As NAEYC defines it, “developmentally appropriate practice (DAP) is a framework of principles and guidelines for best practice in the care and education of young children, birth through age 8. It is grounded both in the research on how young children develop and learn and in what is known about education effectiveness. The principles and guidelines outline practice that promotes young children’s optimal learning and development.”


Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences Theory

The theory of multiple intelligences was developed in 1983 by Dr. Howard Gardner, professor of education at Harvard University.  Dr. Gardner proposed eight different intelligences to account for a broader range of human potential in children and adults. At Spirit at Play we seek to cater to each child’s strengths while working to nurture and develop all the multiple intelligences. We keep all these intelligences in mind during our lesson planning:
– Visual-spatial

– Verbal-linguistic

– Logical-mathematical

– Bodily-kinesthetic

– Musical-rhythmic

– Interpersonal

– Intrapersonal

– Naturalistic

– Emotional Intelligence


Reggio Emilia Philosophy


A program that is Reggio-inspired encourages the children to express themselves through the “hundred languages of children”– words, movement, painting, sculpture, song, sketching, dramatic play, collage, etc.  Reggio adds whole other layers of aesthetics and communication to the daily early childhood curriculum; Reggio-inspired classrooms include authentic materials, and children’s words are valued and documented. The Reggio Emilia philosophy includes the Project Approach, which is child-directed learning, where the teacher operates as a learner as well as a researcher. Documentation takes a variety of forms from transcribed conversations to inspire future lesson plans, bulletin boards, Bookworks, daily emails which log classroom events, reflections, and dates on artwork, etc.  All forms of documentation are displayed, revisited, and reflected upon on an ongoing basis. When teachers document, they must listen; Reggio is occasionally called the pedagogy of listening, because teachers who listen can teach better. Listening and documenting encourages metacognition in both children and adults. In a Reggio-inspired classroom, the environment is viewed as the third teacher; as a result, the teachers give a lot of attention to creating an environment that provides opportunities for exploration, and the classroom setup is very purposeful. The image of the child in the Reggio philosophy is that children are competent and full of potential. The environment is then meant to reflect that view by presenting authentic natural materials like woven baskets and glass, an environment that makes learning enjoyable and shows the children that they are respected. Materials are designed to be accessible, aesthetically pleasing, and stimulating.


“…a hundred worlds to discover

a hundred worlds to invent

a hundred worlds to dream.”

—Loris Malaguzzi, pioneer of the preschools around Reggio Emilia in Italy


The Project Approach

The project method is an educational enterprise in which children solve a practical problem over a period of several days or weeks. It often involves building or creating something, but could be an activity as well. The projects may be suggested by the teacher, but they are planned and executed as far as possible by the students themselves, individually or in groups. Project work focuses on applying, not imparting, specific knowledge or skills, and on improving student involvement and motivation in order to foster independent thinking, self-confidence, and social responsibility.