What does "developmentally appropriate practice" mean?

• Developmentally appropriate practice (or DAP) is a way of teaching that meets young children where they are — which means that teachers must get to know them well — and enables them to reach goals that are both challenging and achievable.
• All teaching practices should be appropriate to children’s age and developmental status, attuned to them as unique individuals, and responsive to the social and cultural contexts in which they live.
• DAP does not mean making things easier for children. Rather, it means ensuring that goals and experiences are suited to their learning and development and challenging enough to promote their progress and interest.
• DAP is based on knowledge — not on assumptions — of how children learn and develop. The research base yields major principles in human development and learning. Those principles, along with evidence about curriculum and teaching effectiveness, form a solid basis for decision making in early care and education.
For more specifics about developmentally appropriate practice, read the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)’s position statement.