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age appropriate

  • 1.  age appropriate

    Posted 02-26-2021 07:56 AM
    Hi there!  I am currently enrolled in a course that is teaching me how to become a certified CLASS Observer.  In one of our breakout rooms yesterday, a person who is working on her doctorate in Education told us that it is no longer appropriate to use the terms "age-appropriate" or "developmentally appropriate".  I was surprised to hear that.  I tried to google the statement to see what I could read on the subject but I couldn't find anything referencing her statement.  Is there anyone out there who has heard this and can elaborate on it?  I am very interested in learning if this is true and the reasoning to go along with it if it is.

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    Cynthia Mendez
    Early Childhood Specialist
    Smith Brown RCMA
    Arcadia FL
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  • 2.  RE: age appropriate

    Posted 02-27-2021 08:35 AM
    Following

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    Jaclyn (Jaci) Finneman
    Owner/Parenting Coach & Consultant
    Hello World, LLC
    South Haven MN
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  • 3.  RE: age appropriate

    Posted 02-27-2021 08:59 AM
    Cynthia, if you still have contact with this participant, can you follow-up to ask for more clarity around her statement? I know that the revised DAP position statement has evolved to reflect the most current research influencing the core considerations of human development: commonality, individuality and social/cultural context.

    I'm curious to hear what others have heard on this topic as well!

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    Erin Murray
    Education Consultant
    Moorestown, NJ
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  • 4.  RE: age appropriate

    Posted 02-27-2021 12:15 PM
    I echo Erin's comment. Were these terms inappropriate, I can't imagine NAEYC would have recently adopted a new position statement on Developmentally Appropriate Practice. If you can, try to get clarity around that individual's comment and share it with us. Now I'm curious!

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    James DeSimone
    Early Childhood Curriculum Supervisor
    Mt. Laurel Township School District
    Collingswood NJ
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  • 5.  RE: age appropriate

    Posted 02-28-2021 11:59 AM

    I too am very interested in the critique of the phrase: Developmentally Appropriate Practice. I can understand that we want to move away from the phrase "Age Appropriate" because humans develop at different rates and in different ways, not necessarily tied to age.

    For example, my daughter's 5th grade teacher was very frustrated with her and informed me that "5th graders don't behave like that." A 5th grader with ADHD/Trauma experiences, as we are all aware, may well exhibit executive function skill levels seen more commonly in younger children. However, my daughter was completely (if frustratingly) behaving exactly as a 5th grader with impulsivity challenges would tend to behave. (Developmentally)

    I wonder if we are carelessly using the phrase Developmentally Appropriate Practice, not as it was intended: to look at where each child is developmentally and calibrating our expectations and responses to the child's developmental level. Are we falling back into old thought patterns; judging if we think the child is acting in an "age appropriate" way but using the phrase Developmentally Appropriate Practice because we have changed our speech patterns?



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    Karen Lefkovitz
    Independent Consultant
    Philadelphia PA
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  • 6.  RE: age appropriate

    Posted 03-01-2021 12:22 AM
    Dear Cynthia & Karen etal.,
    Thank you for starting this discussion. I hope you and your families are all well. If I'm understanding you, and I think I am, is that instead of "falling back" into an old pattern, we need to move forward to a new way of framing best practice as individually appropriate practice Anything else is essentially generalizing, stereotyping - we need to understand each individual's development which is along a path and includes the past and present with guiding/nurturing/educating/caring for individuals as they progress towards their future destinations/goals being our purpose. Karen, the example you provided is perfect, the lesson being that using age, as well as,  "assessments" of current cognitive, social, emotional "development" (i.e. where an individual child "is") that are devoid of knowledge and understanding (and caring for) where a child has come from (i.e. how an individual child got there) are inherently incomplete and may be subject to our own prejudgements. Again, thank you starting the conversation.

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    Alan Guttman
    Baltimore MD
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  • 7.  RE: age appropriate

    Posted 03-01-2021 10:48 AM
    I think there is actually some value to understanding "age appropriateness." Humans do go through some predictable stages in all areas of development, after all. But I tell my students to think of that as "book knowledge."  If you apply only "book knowledge" to the children you care for and teach, that is inappropriate.  It's adding in what you know about individual children (including their family culture and the wider culture) that makes your practices developmentally appropriate.

    In the case of the 5th-grade teacher, I suspect she was using her own opinion about how 5th graders should act, not science and research.

    ------------------------------
    Cathy McAuliffe, PhD
    Adjunct Professor
    NorthWest Arkansas Community College
    Bentonville, Arkansas
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  • 8.  RE: age appropriate

    Posted 03-01-2021 08:32 AM
    It is my understanding that the term Developmentally Appropriate was a positive term to aide in understanding of what is appropriate to use to individualize experiences for children. For example it would be developmentally appropriate for me to introduce scissors to a child that has displayed the fine motor skills to handle scissors. It would not be Developmentally appropriate for me to introduce scissors to a child no matter what the age if the basic skill to handle scissors safely had not already been displayed. Developmentally Appropriate has to do with individual skill and not age.

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    Inez Owens
    Step Forward
    E Cleveland OH
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  • 9.  RE: age appropriate

    Posted 03-01-2021 01:14 PM
    I agree with this statement, very well said.

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    Scarlett Botkin
    Director
    St. Peter's Early Childhood Development Center
    Katy
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  • 10.  RE: age appropriate

    Posted 03-02-2021 06:19 PM
    I would love someone from NAEYC to respond to this. I am somewhat concerned that the comments being expressed do not portray the full meaning of developmentally appropriate as it is meant to be used in its definition from NAEYC. I am a very long term member of the association and have experienced DAP since its inception and through its various revisions.

    It is my understanding that in order fot a teacher to put DAP into practice appropriately, there are three major aspects  that must be considered. Yes, one aspect is what is considered generally age appropriate behavior (ages and stages for young children).  However, that is only one aspect of appropriate curriculum.  Equally important is individual appropriateness----what makes sense for each individual child based upon their unique characteristics.  The third consideration is around taking into account the  child and families cultural experience. Each of these is a consideration for  the decision process In order to provide developmentally appropriate practice for young children. An appropriate curriculum. Is implemented only after considering all of these things together and implementing. what is in the best interest of each child.

    I am sure that someone from NAEYC can explain this more effectively but for now this is food for thoughtt.

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    Sue Connor
    consultant
    Riverside RI
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  • 11.  RE: age appropriate

    Posted 03-02-2021 06:20 PM
    I would love someone from NAEYC to respond to this. I am somewhat concerned that the comments being expressed do not portray the full meaning of developmentally appropriate as it is meant to be used in its definition from NAEYC. I am a very long term member of the association and have experienced DAP since its inception and through its various revisions.

    It is my understanding that in order fot a teacher to put DAP into practice appropriately, there are three major aspects  that must be considered. Yes, one aspect is what is considered generally age appropriate behavior (ages and stages for young children).  However, that is only one aspect of appropriate curriculum.  Equally important is individual appropriateness----what makes sense for each individual child based upon their unique characteristics.  The third consideration is around taking into account the  child and families cultural experience. Each of these is a consideration for  the decision process In order to provide developmentally appropriate practice for young children. An appropriate curriculum. Is implemented only after considering all of these things together and implementing. what is in the best interest of each child.

    I am sure that someone from NAEYC can explain this more effectively but for now this is food for thoughtt.

    ------------------------------
    Sue Connor
    consultant
    Riverside RI
    ------------------------------



  • 12.  RE: age appropriate

    Posted 03-02-2021 06:38 PM
    While it seems none of us agree with the individual who said that the term Developmentally Appropriate Practice was outmoded, I think this has led to an interesting conversation. I’m heartened to read the affirmations about how important DAP is to working with young children.




  • 13.  RE: age appropriate

    Posted 03-04-2021 04:32 AM
    I don't know if someone from NAEYC will be able to take the time to respond here... But there is an upcoming DAP Symposium taking place on June 9-10, 2021, during which....

    "DAP Symposium participants will hear directly from the authors on the "why" behind the changes that appear in the new statement, and have online access to over 25 NAEYC-curated sessions presented by early learning industry thought leaders. Opening and closing sessions over the two days will share the summative recommendations for meeting the intent of DAP."

    Perhaps that will be a good opportunity to further consider & discuss the original poster's question and to better understand the recent revisions to the DAP Position Statement, that will be reflected in the new, 4th edition of Developmentally Appropriate Practice in Early Childhood Programs.

    Let's all Save the Date!
    https://www.naeyc.org/DAP-Symposium




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    Deborah Musika
    Executive Director -
    Montgomery County
    Partnership for Children
    Troy, NC
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  • 14.  RE: age appropriate

    Posted 03-04-2021 04:50 PM
    I have truly enjoyed and appreciated this conversation!  Thank you Deborah for this information and link to the DAP Symposium.  I'm very interested after reading this thread!

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    Christina Thompson
    Education Specialist
    Shine Indiana SPARK Learning Lab
    Indianapolis IN
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  • 15.  RE: age appropriate

    Posted 03-10-2021 08:26 AM
    Hello Karen, thank you for your response to the original message. You gave me something positive to look at things from a different perspective (age-appropriate or appropriate for that person or child).
    Thank you

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    Kimberly Harley-Roseboro
    LEAP
    Statesville NC
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  • 16.  RE: age appropriate

    Posted 03-01-2021 11:25 AM
    I have heard the term "atypical" used, as in "The child's development is atypical." meaning they learn differently than other children.

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    Trudy Eby
    Early Literacy Specialist
    School District of Lancaster
    Lancaster PA
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  • 17.  RE: age appropriate

    Posted 03-04-2021 09:56 AM
    This is a great discussion! Like others in the discussion there are a couple of wonders that I have. I wonder what alternative term would be used for "developmentally appropriate" and I wonder in what context "developmentally appropriate" was thought of when discussing education and how that may have been interpreted as negative.

    I think to a couple of points already made, the DAP position statement and guidelines share that DAP encompass or takes into consideration many aspects of the child's life and environment like, "the commonalities of children's development and learning and how those commonalities take unique forms as they reflect the social and cultural frameworks in which they occur." I can also see, like Karen shared, how the term "age-appropriate" would have a negative impact since all children develop at their own pace.
    I would say it's important to keep in mind that the term "developmentally appropriate", as positioned by NAEYC, encompasses many things and is not solely tied to a child's age.

    To share a personal story, I remember as a new infant and toddler teacher it was very overwhelming for me to grasp the many different terms, concepts or teaching practices in early childhood education; what it all meant, how to define and implement and how to describe the work that my colleagues and I did.  It took many years to feel comfortable in the ever-evolving area of education. I think these conversations are important when breaking down all the work and considerations that educators and professionals in the early education field take on.

    I also encourage attending the DAP Symposium ! This conversation will definitely be kept in my mind!
    Thank you for sharing this topic Cynthia, and I look forward to more conversations!


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    Mary Samour
    Online Community Manager
    National Association for the Education of Young Children
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  • 18.  RE: age appropriate

    Posted 03-04-2021 12:07 PM
    Dear Mary,
    I hope you and your family are all well. Yes, I'll be the first to say, "Guilty" - of not having thoroughly read NAEYC's DAP revised position paper. It is robust and embraces everything and more of what is being discussed in this thread. Thank you and other posters for reminding us that reading the actual paper is important. That said, I am still very much enjoying the breadth and depth of this discussion and it's a good way for all of us to "level-set" what need to be at our core. Finally, thank YOU for managing this "space".

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    Alan Guttman
    Baltimore MD
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  • 19.  RE: age appropriate

    Posted 03-04-2021 11:27 AM
    DAP has a long history of critique, much of which has been addressed in its current iteration.

    One alternative term I've heard from the field of childhood studies is "contextually appropriate practice." Here's a paper to reference: https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Culturally-Inclusive-and-Contextually-Appropriate-Nganga-Akpovo/4e4970d519571dba919f2666e598e4f3b6e02ed5

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    Encian Pastel
    Children's Community Center, Gender Justice in Early Childhood, Bay Area Childcare Collective
    Richmond CA
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  • 20.  RE: age appropriate

    Posted 03-04-2021 11:51 AM
    Dear Encian etal.,
    Good morning. I hope you and your family are all well. Thanks so much for adding this valuable piece to the discussion. And thanks for the link to the position statement. Contextually Appropriate Practice reminds of me of Paulo Freire.  Though Freire, in his book, "Pedagogy of the Oppressed, is focused on adult literacy, his principles and practices may be applicable in thinking about what is contextually appropriate when teaching young children. If you were not aware of or have not read this relatively short, easy to read book, first published in 1970, I highly recommend it.

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    Alan Guttman
    Baltimore MD
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  • 21.  RE: age appropriate

    Posted 03-04-2021 03:16 PM

    Hi everyone,


    Just thought I'd add some more points from the position statement. We have been watching this conversation with interest and many thanks to everyone who has contributed their thoughts and ideas. We do encourage people to look at the recently revised DAP Position Statement itself. I have read the position statement many times and find that every time I consider a new question such as: "is saying age appropriate no longer something to do?" I find new insights and ideas.


    Here are some thoughts and excerpts from the position statement that might provide some guidance on this conversation.


    About using the term age appropriate:


    Principle 4 from the 9 Principles on Child Development and Learning reads:

    "Although general progressions of development and learning can be identified, variations due to cultural contexts, experiences, and individual differences must also be considered."  


    The section further discusses how child development takes place on a continuum and does differ among children of the same age:

    "Development and learning also occur at varying rates from child to child and at uneven rates across different areas for each child. Children's demonstrated abilities and skills are often fluid and may vary from day to day based on individual or contextual factors. For example, because children are still developing the ability to direct their attention, a distraction in the environment may result in a child successfully completing a puzzle one day but not the next. In addition, some regression in observed skills is common before new developments are fully achieved.43 For all of these reasons, the notion of "stages" of development has limited utility; a more helpful concept may be to think of waves of development that allow for considerable overlap without rigid boundaries.44 "


    We are tending not to use the terms ages and stages or age appropriate because of this. Of course there are still generalities that apply to age groups. These are commonalities, as described in the Core Considerations but these commonalities always need to be considered in relation to individuality and context which are also described in the core considerations.



    Saying something is developmentally appropriate:

    The section on History and Context describes why NAEYC moved away from the use of the term Best Practice. 


    Here is an excerpt:


    "Unlike previous editions, this revision purposefully does not use the term "best practice." Rather, quality practices informed by evidence, research, and professional judgement are referred to as guidelines for early childhood educators' professional practice and are directly aligned to the Professional Standards and Competencies for Early Childhood Educators. This reframing reflects the concern that, especially when applied to specific practices, 'best' has often been used in the United States to reflect the dominant culture's assumptions."


    I would emphasize that what is developmentally appropriate really does depend on the specific situation and contexts. What is developmentally appropriate in one setting with one group of children may not be developmentally appropriate in another. Perhaps this is what the person was referring to?

    Susan Friedman
    NAEYC



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    Susan Friedman
    National Association for the Education of Young Children
    Washington DC
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  • 22.  RE: age appropriate

    Posted 03-06-2021 09:59 AM
    This is a very interesting discussion.

    I have been in the ECE field for over 50 years. Fifteen of those years were as the Chair of the Education Division at Bloomfield College. I do not know why someone would tell you that DAP is outdated. Perhaps what is going on in this conversation is a misunderstanding of DAP. In all my classes at the College, DAP was defined in three ways: individually appropriate, age-appropriate, and culturally appropriate. This triad was in the earlier DAP documents with which I am familiar. I am not sure why NAEYC has moved away from looking at DAP this way or feels it needs to be altered. Perhaps, NAEYC realized that the general public misperceives the meaning of DAP. And, of course, experience, plays a big role in how development unfolds but there are some basic features that are fairly common across all groups but with variations in the way development is expressed at the individual level.

    I am also concerned and have always been concerned about the term "best practice" and how it is interpreted. What determines "best practice"? Is it quantitative research that measures children's progress in distinct academic areas or are best practices more inclusive of all areas of classroom life? What is the evidence used to determine if a practice is "best"? I think we need to broaden our view of what are quality practices and environments for young children's learning and teaching. More work on this is needed. The definition restricts the inclusion of philosophical programs that do not follow the dominant thinking about teaching and learning in the United States.

    ------------------------------
    Nora Krieger, PhD
    Associate Professor Emerita/Past Chair NJEEPRE
    Bloomfield College/NJ Educators Exploring the Practices of Reggio Emilia
    Highland Park, NJ
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  • 23.  RE: age appropriate

    Posted 03-06-2021 10:18 AM
    Dear Susan:

    Thank you for the links in your response.

    After clicking on the link to the new DAP document, I would like to congratulate NAEYC for the revision of the DAP document. I just now read the part about DAP and agree entirely with it. The new document expands on and clarifies what was in the earlier document - rather than moving away from the 3-part definition of DAP. I especially think the focus on the role of play is very important. For a while now, I have been struck by the movement away from informal and play-based learning across the country and especially in the public schools to which many programs for 3 and 4-year-olds have moved.  Putting these programs under the jurisdiction of the public schools has led to changes in expectations and teaching practices that are not in sync with the position statements from NAEYC.

    What I do wish is that we move away from endorsing commercial programs as the only choices for early childhood programs. There are many philosophical orientations that encompass excellent ECE practices that do not need to be tied to a commercially written program. When those commercial programs receive an endorsement from and then are required by State commissions and boards to be the only EC curriculum to be used in early childhood programs, we often violate part(s) of the DAP definition and core considerations. Teachers who have a high level of preparation in early childhood education and child development are able to make professional decisions that promote the development of the children who they teach without authorizing a particular commercial curriculum.

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    Nora Krieger, PhD
    Associate Professor Emerita/Past Chair NJEEPRE
    Bloomfield College/NJ Educators Exploring the Practices of Reggio Emilia
    Highland Park, NJ
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  • 24.  RE: age appropriate

    Posted 03-08-2021 09:32 AM
    Hi there Susan!  Thank you so much for taking the time to help answer the questions that I posed.  I am excited to read the revised DAP and to share this information with my colleagues.

    Thank you to all who contributed to this post.  It has been wonderful to read all of the responses!


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    Cynthia Mendez
    Early Childhood Specialist
    Smith Brown RCMA
    Arcadia FL
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  • 25.  RE: age appropriate

    Posted 03-05-2021 10:03 AM
    I think we need to make the term "Current Developmentally Appropriate Practice." Jack Shonkoff at Harvard and Daniel Willingham at the University of Virginia have warned us that we're ten to fifteen years behind the science of early childhood education. It's science that is helping us be culturally appropriate. We're doing a great job, but we can do better.

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    Jack Wright
    Child Development Consultant
    Success With Children
    St Ignatius MT
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  • 26.  RE: age appropriate

    Posted 03-07-2021 11:45 AM
    I hope there are others in NAEYC that work in special education. I believe the underlying issue here is what happens if a child is considered to be delayed either compared to age or development or culturally or others.

    This is a critical issue that needs to be addressed. If a child is considered to have a "difference" or "delay" or "disorder" then what? Lets address this issue. As a parent of a special needs child and as a professional working for 25 years in the field I have seen both parents benefit from early childhood special needs and those who avoided it. Many of the parents who delayed getting their young child help through the Early Intervention Program or Preschool Special Ed suffered since their child did not develop to their potential. Then they had serious regrets but it was too late because they missed the golden window of opportunity by intervening early when we can make the biggest difference in a young child's life.

    Let's discuss this, ideally in a live event/forum with folks with different perspectives. It's a really important topic and we professionals can make a dramatic difference in a child's life to help a child achieve their full potential if we address issues very thoughtfully and very well when the child is very young.

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    Scott Mesh, PhD, CEO
    Los Niños Services (NYC) www.losninos.com
    Young Child Expo & Conference www.youngchildexpo.com
    scott.mesh@losninos.com
    https://www.linkedin.com/in/scottmeshnyc/
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  • 27.  RE: age appropriate

    Posted 03-08-2021 10:32 AM
    I would so love to discuss this topic. I have been blessed to work the last 25 years of my career in schools that serve all children in a program that is inclusive. I think there are many avenues we have to work on to truly be able to support families with what they want and need for their children, for all children.
    • Inclusive programs have to be high-quality - after all a child is a child first and foremost.
    • Programs need to inspire trust from the families, the staff members need to respect the wishes of the families as well as be able to be straightforward if needed. For example, if your child requires special education services this is what they will get, if you do not wish for the services this is what your child will get in the classroom. In our schools, this person is usually the Social Worker. 
    • We have to remember this is the parent and the child's first experience in the education system, they do not know how it works for their child. Some parents have had their own bad experiences with special education. 
    • Pediatricians and medical providers need to be knowledgeable about what programs are available for families and to help promote what the family is looking for to fill their needs.
    • We have to respect the decisions of the family if a program really is providing DAP and the family sees how all children are being included and their needs are provided for it might be the baby steps the family needs to move forward with services for their child. 
    I love discussing this it's such an interesting and complicated topic, with the most wonderful outcomes. I have always felt that preschool/early intervention is just magical.

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    Terri Kelley
    Elizabeth CO
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