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Use chapter 11 of the book to complete this assignment. 

Effective Practices
in Early Childhood
Building a Foundation

Su e Bredeka m p
Early Childhood Education Consultant

Third Edition

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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Bredekamp, Sue.
Effective practices in early childhood education : building a foundation / Sue Bredekamp, Early Childhood Education Consultant. —
Third edition.
pages cm
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 978-0-13-395670-2—ISBN 0-13-395670-9 1. Early childhood education—United States. 2. Child development—United States.
I. Title.
LB1140.23.B72 2015


10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Student Edition
ISBN 10: 0-13-395670-9
ISBN 13: 978-0-13-395670-2

Loose-Leaf Version
ISBN 10: 0-13-411549-X
ISBN 13: 978-0-13-411549-8

ISBN 10: 0-13-430324-5
ISBN 13: 978-0-13-430324-6

A01_BRED6702_03_SE_FM.indd 2 10/9/15 1:37 PM

To Joe Bredekamp, for a lifetime of love, friendship, wonderful memories, and tolerance
of craziness, and to Darby whose unconditional love enriches our lives every day.


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About the author
Dr. Sue Bredekamp is an early childhood education specialist from the Washington,
D.C., area who serves as a consultant on developmentally appropriate practice, curricu-
lum, teaching, and teacher education for state and national organizations such as NAEYC,
Head Start, the Council for Professional Recognition, and Sesame Street. From 1981 to
1998, she was Director of Accreditation and Professional Development for NAEYC where
she developed and directed their national accreditation system for early childhood centers
and schools. Dr. Bredekamp is the editor of NAEYC’s best-selling, highly influential publi-
cation, Developmentally Appropriate Practice in Early Childhood Programs.

Dr. Bredekamp is Chair of the Board of the HighScope Educational Research Foun-
dation. She was a member of the National Research Council’s (NRC) Committee on
Early Childhood Mathematics, which produced a landmark report, Mathematics in Early
Childhood: Paths toward Excellence and Equity. Dr. Bredekamp serves on several advisory
boards and is a frequent keynote speaker and author of numerous books and articles re-
lated to standards for professional practice and teacher education. She has been a visiting
lecturer at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia; Monash University in Melbourne;
University of Alaska; and University of Hawaii. She holds a PhD in Curriculum and In-
struction from the University of Maryland. The McCormick Center for Early Childhood
Leadership at National Louis University recognized Dr. Bredekamp with its Visionary
Leadership Award in 2014. For 45 years, Dr. Bredekamp has worked for and with young
children toward the goal of improving the quality and effectiveness of early childhood
education programs.

About the contributor
Dr. Kathleen (Kate) Cranley Gallagher is an educational psychologist and scientist
at Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute at University of North Caro-
lina at Chapel Hill. She is a Clinical Associate Professor in the School of Education at
UNC, where she teaches undergraduate and graduate early childhood professionals.
Dr. Gallagher has herself been an early childhood professional for over 30 years; she has
taught in and administered diverse programs for children birth to 8 years of age, with and
without disabilities. Dr. Gallagher’s publications and applied work focus on developing,
implementing and evaluating evidence-based interventions to support social- emotional
well-being and development for young children, their families and early childhood pro-
fessionals. Dr. Gallagher has served on state advisory panels, developing standards and
assessments for early childhood education and health and is a founding member of the
North Carolina Infant Mental Health Association. She developed Be Well to Teach Well,
a program designed to support the well-being and of early childhood professionals.
Dr. Gallagher is an accomplished teacher and frequently invited speaker nationally,
and presented a keynote address at the International Preschool Teachers’ Conference in
Hangzhou, China as a guest of Zhejiang Normal University. She delivered a TEDx talk,
entitled, The Healthy Child: Assembly Required in which Dr. Gallagher argued that the
single most important feat of construction that our society undertakes is the assembly
required to build physically, emotionally, cognitively, and socially healthy children. She
lives in Carrboro, North Carolina, with her husband, John, and enjoys time with her two
adult children, Jack and Bridget.


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In the previous editions of this book, I described the challenge of my first day of

teaching preschool in a child care center many years ago. It was the hardest job I have ever

had, primarily because my bachelor’s degree in English did not prepare me for it. I didn’t

know enough about child development, how and what to teach, how to communicate with

families, how to positively guide children’s behavior—the list goes on and on. Feeling com-

pletely incompetent, I seriously thought about not going back the next day. Then I realized

that although I had a choice not to return, the children did not. They deserved a better

teacher than I was at that time. As a result, I continued teaching, went back to school, and

set out to learn as much as possible about child development and how best to teach young

children. And I have been learning ever since. In short, my initial motivation in writing

this book was a personal one—to help ensure that new teachers get off to a better start

than I did and that the children do, too.

In the decades since I entered the early childhood profession, however, there has been

an explosion of new knowledge and research, and a huge increase in public recognition

and support for early education. A great many parents, policy makers, and researchers

now consider early childhood programs essential for fostering school readiness and long-

term success in life. Economists and business leaders consider high-quality child care and

early education a necessary investment in the future of our country. Nobel Prize–winning

economist James Heckman believes that investing in early education is a cost-effective

strategy that will improve educational and health outcomes, strengthen the economy, help

solve America’s social problems, and produce a more capable, productive workforce.

But the power of early education depends on the quality of interactions teachers have

with children, and the effectiveness of their instructional practices. To achieve their po-

tential, children need and deserve highly competent, well-educated teachers. My goal in

writing this book is to help all teachers, whether beginning or continuing their profession-

al journeys, gain access to the exciting new knowledge about child development, engaging

and challenging curriculum content, and effective ways of teaching. Today, our profes-

sion has a deep responsibility to meet the expectations of families, the general public, and

policy makers and to fulfill the promise that has been made to children.

My hope is that every teacher embraces new knowledge as well as the enduring values

of early childhood education, and encounters the sheer joy of teaching young children.

Every child needs and deserves a highly qualified teacher from day one.


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New to This Edition
This is the first edition of Effective Practices in Early Childhood Education: Building a
Foundation offered in REVELTM.

REVELTM is Pearson’s newest way of delivering our respected content. Fully digital
and highly engaging, REVEL offers an immersive learning experience designed for the
way today’s students read, think, and learn. Enlivening course content with media inter-
actives and assessments, REVEL empowers educators to increase engagement with the
course, and to better connect with students.

REVEL offers:
Dynamic content matched to the way today’s students read, think, and learn

• Integrated Videos and Interactive Media Integrated within the narrative, videos
empower students to engage with concepts and take an active role in learning.
REVEL’s unique presentation of media as an intrinsic part of course content brings
the hallmark features of Pearson’s bestselling titles to life.

• Quizzing and Short-Answer Response Opportunities Located throughout
REVEL, quizzing affords students opportunities to check their understanding at
regular intervals before moving on. Quizzes are in multiple-choice and short-answer
response formats.

• Chapter Quiz “Demonstrate Your Learning” end-of-chapter multiple-choice ques-
tions allow students to check their understanding on chapter concepts.

Additional Significant Changes to this Edition
• A new feature, “Promoting Play,” in every chapter addressing a different issue re-

lated to supporting children’s learning through play or protecting children’s right to
play. See the Special Features page at the end of the Table of Contents for a list of all
of the feature topics by chapter.

• Revised Chapter 3 with examination of current issues such as the Common Core
State Standards and accountability through the lens of developmentally appropriate

• New sections on the implications of the Common Core State Standards for curricu-
lum and teaching in preschool through grade 3 in Chapter 10 on planning curricu-
lum, Chapter 11 on assessment, Chapter 12 on language and literacy, and Chapter
13 on mathematics.

• Updated Chapter 1 with discussion of new policy initiatives, changing demograph-
ics, new research on the effectiveness of early education, and trends in the field.

• Updated Language Lenses on research-based classroom practices for effectively
teaching dual language learners.

• New examples of developmentally appropriate use of digital media with children,
teachers, and families throughout the text.

• Reorganized content by moving sections on developmentally appropriate learning
environments, materials, and schedule to Chapter 3, Developmentally Appropriate

• Reorganized Chapter 10, Planning Effective Curriculum, to include discussion of
Reggio Emilia.


A01_BRED6702_03_SE_FM.indd 6 10/9/15 1:37 PM

• Updated research and new examples of effective practices for children with diverse
abilities, particularly children with autism spectrum disorder.

• Expanded discussion of current research on brain development and executive
function and implications for teaching.

• New artifacts and examples of children’s work, especially from children in the
primary grades.

Book Organization Reflects
Guidelines for Developmentally
Appropriate Practice
This book is designed to teach the concept of developmentally appropriate practice for
students because an understanding of its principles is the foundation on which to build
early childhood programs and schools for children from birth through age 8. Chapters
are organized according to NAEYC’s guidelines for developmentally appropriate practice,
which I have coauthored for 30 years.

Part 1, Foundations of Early Childhood Education, describes the current profession
and the issues and trends effecting it today (Chapter 1), the rich history from which
developmentally appropriate practices evolved (Chapter 2), and an overview of its
principles and guidelines, which are described in depth in later chapters (Chapter 3).

Part 2, Dimensions of Developmentally Appropriate Practice, includes chapters
describing the key factors teachers must consider as they make professional decisions.
Chapter 4 presents an overview of current knowledge about how all children develop and
learn. Chapter 5 addresses the unique, individual differences among children, including
children with diverse abilities. Chapter 6 discusses the critical role of social, cultural, and
linguistic contexts on all children’s development and learning and how teachers must
embrace a diverse society to help every child succeed in school and life.

Part 3, Intentional Teaching: How to Teach, describes the role of the teacher in
implementing developmentally appropriate practices. Each of the interconnected aspects
of the teacher’s role is addressed in separate chapters: building effective partnerships with
families (Chapter 7), creating a caring community of learners and guiding young children
(Chapter 8); teaching to enhance learning and development (Chapter 9); planning effective
curriculum (Chapter 10); and assessing children’s learning and development (Chapter 11).

Part 4, Implementing an Effective Curriculum: What to Teach, describes both
how and what to teach children from birth through age 8 in language, literacy, the arts,
mathematics, science, technology, social-emotional development, social studies, physical
development, and health. Each chapter demonstrates how the continuum of children’s
development determines the appropriateness of curriculum content and intentional,
effective teaching strategies for children of different ages.

Early childhood educators join this profession and stay in it because they believe their
work can make a difference in the lives of children and their families. But to make a last-
ing difference, our practices must be effective—they must contribute to children’s learning
and development. This book reflects this core goal by building on the basic framework
of developmentally appropriate practice while going beyond to emphasize intentional
teaching, challenging and interesting curriculum, and evidence-based, effective practices
for a new generation of early childhood educators. Each of these key themes is discussed
on the following pages.


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Part 2 Learning and Developing from Birth to Age 8: Who We Teach118

gets over the last hurdle herself. Ave gives him a big smile as she pushes off with her feet
and makes a circle around the room.

By giving Ave “a leg up,” Khari helped her accomplish a goal that she couldn’t do on
her own, but could achieve with his assistance. Vygotsky (1978) identified this as the
zone of proximal development (ZPD)—the distance between the actual developmental
level an individual has achieved (their independent level of problem solving) and the
level of potential development they could achieve with adult guidance or through
collaboration with other children. The assistance, guidance, and direction teachers pro-
vide children in their ZPD is called scaffolding. To gain deeper understanding of how
children learn in their ZPD, read the feature Becoming an Intentional Teacher: Teaching
in the “Zone.”

Social Construction of Knowledge Scaffolding does not mean that teachers
control or shape learning, as behaviorists believe (see p. 124). Instead, children learn by
solving problems collaboratively with the teacher’s support or by working with peers,
which is called co-construction, or social construction of knowledge.

zone of proximal development
(ZPD) The distance between
the actual developmental level
an individual has achieved (her
independent level of problem
solving) and the level of po-
tential development she could
achieve with adult guidance
or through collaboration with
other children.

scaffolding The assistance,
guidance, and direction teach-
ers provide children to help
them accomplish a task or
learn a skill (within their ZPD)
that they could not achieve on
their own.

co-construction Children
learning by solving prob-
lems collaboratively with the
teacher’s support or by working
with peers; also called social
construction of knowledge.

Becoming an Intentional Teacher
Teaching in the “Zone”
Here’s What Happened In my kindergarten, we are
working on the basic mathematical number operations—
adding and subtracting. In our classroom, children work in
centers for part of the morning. Through assessments that I
do during center time, I learned that Miguel can add two sin-
gle-digit numbers on his own. I also learned that he is strug-
gling with subtracting single-digit numbers, but is successful
when I talk through the subtraction activities with him. I also
observed that Miguel is able to subtract more successfully
when the problem is applied, such as when he is playing
cashier and giving “change” in our Home Improvement Store
center. Miguel especially likes to play there because his Dad
works in construction. I decided on a three-pronged approach
to support his understanding and application of subtraction:

1) I set aside 5–10 minutes twice a week to work individ-
ually with Miguel. Using manipulatives, including an
abacus and small counting trains. Miguel loves trains!
During this time, I verbally support Miguel’s grouping
and counting, using short word problems and number

2) I also intentionally join Miguel and other children in
the Home Improvement Store at center time. I intro-
duce the concept of “Supply Lists” to the center, using
cards with pictures and labels of the different supplies.
Children can add nuts, bolts, and tools to their baskets,
according to the list, and return (subtract) things they
no longer need for their building projects. As Miguel
purchases and returns items for his building project, I
support and make explicit his adding and subtracting,
pointing out to Miguel how successfully he uses math
for his project.

3) Finally, during the morning math challenge, I pair
Miguel with a friend who understands subtraction con-
cepts well, and is very verbal. I have them work together

to solve the problem, ex-
plaining each of their steps.

After about two weeks of this more
intensive approach, Miguel demonstrates ability to subtract
single-digit numbers on his own, and begins to experiment
with double-digit numbers. He insists on being the employee
at checkout in the Home Improvement Store to showcase his
adding and subtracting.

Here’s What I Was Thinking As a kindergarten teach-
er, I know that understanding and applying these founda-
tional mathematical concepts is essential for building chil-
dren’s later competence in math. I also understand that
children learn best in the context of supportive relation-
ships, and I structure interactions in my classroom to in-
tentionally support each learner. I do this by: (1) assessing
each child’s level of independent performance on a skill,
(2) assessing each child’s level of supported (with help)
performance on a skill, and (3) developing lessons that al-
low a child to practice in their supported level, until the
child can do the skill independently. I then set the next
higher level of skill as the child’s goal skill.

Vygotsky used the term zone of proximal development
(ZPD) to describe the child’s skill level when supported by
an adult or more experienced peer. He believed that by as-
sessing only what a child knows, a teacher does not have
information on how to support the child’s progress. But by
assessing a child’s ZPD, I am able to structure for progres-
sive development and learning.

Reflection How did this teacher use assessment to
guide her intentional teaching? What other strategies could
she have used to teach Miguel in his Zone of Proximal

Intentional Teaching of Young Children
This text builds on the framework of developmentally appropriate practice emphasizing
that effective teachers are intentional, thoughtful, and purposeful in everything they do.

Intentional teachers know not only what to do with children
but also why they are doing it and can explain the rationale
for the decisions they make to other teachers, administrators,
and families. To help students understand this concept,
Becoming an Intentional Teacher features reveal what
teachers are thinking in classroom situations, how and why
they select the strategies they do, and challenge students to
reflect further on these scenarios.

Part 1 Foundations of Early Childhood Education84

should not be viewed in isolation. All three considerations, in fact, interact with and
influence each other; they are always intertwined in shaping children’s development and
behavior. For example, children all over the world follow a similar developmental pat-
tern when learning language. They all progress from cooing, to babbling, to one-word
utterances, to telegraphic speech (“Daddy up”), to short sentences, and finally to more
complex sentences. However, a wide range of individual variation exists in language
acquisition of children who are roughly the same age, because of differences in language
experience as well as developmental variation. At age 3, Joey speaks in three-word ut-
terances, whereas his same-age cousin, Michael, expounds in paragraphs. Finally, each
child speaks the language, including the dialect, of his or her own cultural group. Six-
year-old Amelia speaks English to her mother and Spanish to her father. All of these fac-
tors influence children’s language development and how teachers think about supporting
it optimally for all children.

Now let’s look at how the meshing of the three considerations plays out in the deci-
sions of one primary grade teacher:

Frida Lopez has 22 children in her first-grade class. Her first challenge each year is to
get to know the children well. She meets with their families, engages in one-on-one
conversations with children, observes their behavior and skills throughout the day,
and sets up specific tasks to evaluate their skills such as literacy tasks or solving math
problems with counters.

As she gets to know her students, she regularly assesses their abilities and in-
terests in relation to what she knows from her study of child development, the cur-
riculum goals, and her experiences teaching other 6- and 7-year-olds. She finds that
a few children exceed her expectations in reading or social skills, whereas others are
significantly behind their peers in some areas. Each child has a unique personality
and profile of abilities, and Frida becomes more aware of these.

Neela has Down syndrome, and Frida has already met with her parents and the
team of special education professionals who create and implement an individualized
educational plan for her. After a few weeks, Frida becomes concerned that another
child, Almonzo, might have an undiagnosed language delay. In the case of the six
children whose home languages are not ones Frida knows, she recognizes that she
must take extra steps to find out about them. Using community volunteers and, in
one case, a paid translator, Frida connects with the families of her students to build
relationships and to learn what capabilities the children exhibit in their homes and

So we see that in meeting the children, Frida seamlessly draws on her knowledge
of child development and learning, as well as her knowledge of them as individuals and
members of cultural groups. Precisely because children are so different and their abilities
vary so greatly, Frida will need to draw from a wide repertoire of teaching strategies to
help them achieve developmentally appropriate goals.

So far we have described the areas of knowledge that teachers consider in making
decisions about developmentally appropriate practice—what teachers need to know and
think about. Now we turn to the work of the teachers—what do early childhood teachers
do? What are the dimensions of practice that describe the teacher’s role?

? Check Your Understanding 3.3: Developmentally Appropriate Decision Making

The Complex Role of the Teacher
According to the NAEYC’s (2009) guidelines for developmentally appropriate practice,
the complex job of an early childhood teacher has five interrelated dimensions: (1)
creating a caring community of learners, (2) teaching to enhance learning and devel-
opment, (3) planning curriculum to achieve important goals, (4) assessing children’s
learning and development, and (5) establishing reciprocal relationships with families.

M03_BRED6702_03_SE_C03.indd 84 10/8/15 11:56 AM

Effective teachers are informed decision makers who adapt
for individual differences, including for children with dis-
abilities and special needs. Check Your Understanding
features engage students in assessing their own learning.
Some questions involve critical thinking about a complex
teaching situation or issue confronting the early childhood
field. These quizzes appear only in REVELTM and include

Chapter 3 Understanding and Applying Developmentally Appropriate Practice 99

Key Terms
¦ age appropriate
¦ assessment
¦ caring community of

¦ culturally appropriate

¦ culture
¦ curriculum
¦ developmentally appro-

priate practice (DAP)
¦ individually appropriate

¦ intentional teachers
¦ learning centers
¦ position statement

¦ push-down curriculum
¦ reciprocal relationships
¦ scientifically based


Carter, M., & Curtis, D. (2014). Designs for living and
learning: Transforming early childhood environments.
St. Paul, MN: Redleaf Press.

Copple, C., & Bredekamp, S. (Eds.). (2009). Devel-
opmentally appropriate practice in early childhood
programs serving children from birth through age 8
(3rd ed.). Washington, DC: National Association for the
Education of Young Children.

Epstein, A. S. (2014). The intentional teacher: Choosing
the best strategies for young children’s learning (Rev.
ed.). Washington, DC: National Association for the Edu-
cation of Young Children.

ASCD Whole Child Initiative
This website provides resources promoting elementary
education that supports all areas of children’s develop-
ment and learning.

National Association for the Education of Young
NAEYC’s website has a special section on resources for
developmentally appropriate practice and play, plus cop-
ies of all their position statements.

ZERO to THREE—National Center for Infants,
Toddlers, and Families
This website provides resources and practical tips for
working with infants, toddlers, and their families.

Readings and Websites

Demonstrate Your Learning
Click here to assess how well you’ve learned the content in this chapter.


Intentional teachers must reflect and apply their knowl-
edge using a broad repertoire of effective teaching strat-
egies. Demonstrate Your Learning features at the end
of each chapter require students to practice these skills.
This end-of-chapter quiz appears only in REVELTM and
includes feedback.


A01_BRED6702_03_SE_FM.indd 8 10/9/15 1:37 PM

Chapter 3 Understanding and Applying Developmentally Appropriate Practice 81

quietly with a puzzle or pegboard. A second grader loves to read and spends all of her free
time with a book, while another struggles with reading but looks forward to math because
it’s her best subject.

The term individually appropriate refers to teachers using what they know about the
personality, strengths, interests, and abilities of each individual child in the group to adapt
for and be responsive to individual variation. Consider, for instance, two tricycle riders:
The fearless rider may need more careful supervision to prevent injury, while the warier
child may need extra encouragement and support to develop his large motor skills. Similar-
ly, some children will need enriched experiences to accelerate their language development,
while a few may need individual support to continue to build on their precocious reading
ability. A withdrawn, timid child may need a great deal of emotional support to cope with
life’s challenges, while another needs help controlling aggression to make friends.

With the individual differences that exist, teachers clearly cannot expect all children
in a group to learn the same thing in the same way at the same time. Even when the
teacher introduces a concept or reads a book to a whole group, each child will take away
something different from the learning experience. Therefore, to help children progress,

individually appropriate
Information about the strengths,
interests, abilities, and needs
of each individual child in the
group that enables teachers to
adapt to and be responsive to
individual variation.

People sometimes wonder if developmentally appro-
priate practices are effective for children with dis-
abilities. The fact is that the basic elements of de-
velopmentally appropriate practice are necessary for
inclusion to succeed. Consider the following example:

Isaac is 4 years old and has a diagnosis of autism.
He is sitting on a brightly colored carpet square
between two of his preschool peers at circle time.
His teacher is reading a book the class made called
Friends, Friends, Who Do You See? It is adapted
from Brown Bear, Brown Bear (Martin, 1996), but
features pictures of the children in the class paired
with their names. Isaac loves the book, and reads
along with the teacher. As the teacher reads each
child’s name in the story, he or she stands up and
moves. After the story, it is time for singing. Isaac
knows this because circle time happens in a similar
routine each day.