Exploring Effects of Developmentally Appropriate Practices in Cyprus

Embed Size (px)

Text of Exploring Effects of Developmentally Appropriate Practices in Cyprus

  • This article was downloaded by: [University of Guelph]On: 15 November 2014, At: 23:04Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954Registered office: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH,UK

    Early Education andDevelopmentPublication details, including instructions forauthors and subscription information:http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/heed20

    Exploring Effects ofDevelopmentally AppropriatePractices in CyprusMonica Shiakou a & Jay Belsky aa Institute for the Study of Children, Families &Social Issues, University of LondonPublished online: 04 Aug 2009.

    To cite this article: Monica Shiakou & Jay Belsky (2009) Exploring Effects ofDevelopmentally Appropriate Practices in Cyprus, Early Education and Development,20:4, 565-583, DOI: 10.1080/10409280802356679

    To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10409280802356679

    PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLE

    Taylor & Francis makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of all theinformation (the Content) contained in the publications on our platform.However, Taylor & Francis, our agents, and our licensors make norepresentations or warranties whatsoever as to the accuracy, completeness,or suitability for any purpose of the Content. Any opinions and viewsexpressed in this publication are the opinions and views of the authors, andare not the views of or endorsed by Taylor & Francis. The accuracy of theContent should not be relied upon and should be independently verified withprimary sources of information. Taylor and Francis shall not be liable for anylosses, actions, claims, proceedings, demands, costs, expenses, damages,and other liabilities whatsoever or howsoever caused arising directly orindirectly in connection with, in relation to or arising out of the use of theContent.

    http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/heed20http://www.tandfonline.com/action/showCitFormats?doi=10.1080/10409280802356679http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10409280802356679

  • This article may be used for research, teaching, and private study purposes.Any substantial or systematic reproduction, redistribution, reselling, loan,sub-licensing, systematic supply, or distribution in any form to anyone isexpressly forbidden. Terms & Conditions of access and use can be found athttp://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditions

    Dow

    nloa

    ded

    by [

    Uni

    vers

    ity o

    f G

    uelp

    h] a

    t 23:

    05 1

    5 N

    ovem

    ber

    2014

    http://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditions

  • DEVELOPMENTALLY APPROPRIATE PRACTICE IN CYPRUSSHIAKOU AND BELSKY

    Exploring Effects of DevelopmentallyAppropriate Practices in Cyprus

    Monica Shiakou and Jay BelskyInstitute for the Study of Children, Families & Social Issues

    University of London

    Research Findings: This study, undertaken in Nicosia, Cyprus, sought to evaluatesome of the hypothesized developmental benefits of developmentally appropriatepractices (DAP) by investigating how the pedagogical attitudes and practices ofGreek/Cypriot parents (n = 142) and teachers (n = 16) relate to 4- to 7-year-olds (n =142) socialemotional functioning at the end of the academic year. After taking intoaccount potentially confounding effects of parenting attitudes and practices, only afew classroomenvironment effects were detected; virtually all of these proved in-consistent with theoretical expectations, though upon reflection they proved less sur-prising than first imagined. Practice or Policy: Results are discussed in terms of theevidence base of DAP.

    Some critics of contemporary childhood argue that academic training is increas-ingly replacing childrens play and experiential hands-on learning in the earlyyears of childrens lives (Pellegrini, Kato, Blatchford, & Baines, 2002; Ranz-Smith, 2007). Education is now seen by these critics as a race, and the earlier youbegin, the sooner and the better you finish. As a result, academic pressure on, andtesting of, children begins as young as the age of 3, and childrens lives often seemoverscheduled with adult-organized activities. What is often overlooked, critics ofthis new world of childhood contend, is the close link between play and healthy de-velopment. Notably, a substantial body of research has revealed beneficial effectsof play on cognitive development, including language skills, problem solving, per-spective taking, representational skills, memory, and creativity (e.g., Davidson,

    EARLY EDUCATION AND DEVELOPMENT, 20(4), 565583Copyright 2009 Taylor & Francis Group, LLCISSN: 1040-9289 print / 1556-6935 onlineDOI: 10.1080/10409280802356679

    Correspondence regarding this article should be addressed to Monica Shiakou, Institute for theStudy of Children, Families & Social Issues, Birkbeck College, University of London, 7 BedfordSquare, London, WC1B 3RA, United Kingdom. E-mail: mshiakou@hotmail.com

    Dow

    nloa

    ded

    by [

    Uni

    vers

    ity o

    f G

    uelp

    h] a

    t 23:

    05 1

    5 N

    ovem

    ber

    2014

  • 1998; Newman, 1990; Russ, Robins, & Christiano, 1999; Singer, Singer, Plaskon,& Schweder, 2003).

    Despite research chronicling the developmental benefits of play, many parentsin many cultures today believe that play is distinct from learning, simply a way forchildren to let off steam, just for amusement (Farver & Howes, 1993; Farver &Wimbarti, 1995). What may be more surprising is that many preschools and kin-dergartens seem to share and put into practice such beliefs. These schools oftenplace direct instruction and structured learning high on their list of important activ-ities for children to do, regarding play as a mere break from learning (Ranz-Smith,2007). Such programs have been deemed by some as engaging in developmentallyinappropriate practices (DIP) for young children, in contrast to more child-initi-ated, less formal developmentally appropriate practices (DAP), in which play isviewed as an integral part of the curriculum and discovery learning is emphasized(Bredekamp, 1987).

    How does exposure to developmentally appropriate and inappropriate practicespotentially affect childrens development? That is the question this article seeks toaddress by presenting results of a study carried out in Nicosia, Cyprus. The out-comes selected for measurement, based on results of related research (see below),include confidence in learning, feelings toward school, anxiety in testing, and so-cial skills. Children with greater exposure to DAP and/or less exposure to DIPwere expected to score higher on all these constructs, except for anxiety in a testingsituation, on which they were expected to score lower.

    PLAY AND EARLY SCHOOL CURRICULUM

    As early as the 1980s, evidence was emerging that many American early child-hood education and kindergarten programs were adopting more formally aca-demic and adult-directed approaches to early education (Hyson, Hirish-Pasek, &Rescorla, 1990). Increasingly, kindergartens were implementing prescribed,commercially prepared curricula, often extensions of textbook series used in theearly grades of elementary school; these included formal reading instruction,with written assignments out of workbooks and frequent grading (Durkin, 1987;Educational Research Service, 1986; Shepard & Smith, 1988). According tosome, kindergarten went from being a pleasant and playful introduction to realschool to a source of boredom and even anxiety for all too many children (Scales,1987).

    In an effort to challenge the creeping formalization of early learning environ-ments, Bredekamp (1987) offered guidelines for the provision of DAP, along witha critique of DIP, for programs serving children from birth through the age of 8.What distinguishes a developmentally appropriate from a developmentally inap-propriate classroom is primarily the extent to which its program addresses the de-

    566 SHIAKOU AND BELSKY

    Dow

    nloa

    ded

    by [

    Uni

    vers

    ity o

    f G

    uelp

    h] a

    t 23:

    05 1

    5 N

    ovem

    ber

    2014

  • velopmental needs and capabilities of the individual children being served. Fur-thermore, DAP emphasize free play as an essential ingredient of age-appropriatelearning environments. This stems from the view that much of early learning oc-curs when children direct their own play activities and experience success in tasksthey have defined for themselves (Fein & Rivkin, 1986).

    DIP, in contrast, involve abstract paper-and-pencil activities, workbooks, dittosheets, flashcards, rote learning, and direct teaching of discrete skills, often pre-sented to large groups of children (Burts, Hart, Charlesworth, & Kirk, 1990).Teachers dominate the environment by talking to the whole group most of the time,telling children what to do, rather than moving among groups and individuals.Aesthetic development involving art and music is encouraged only when there isextra time, with art even consisting of coloring predrawn forms, copying anadult-made model of a product, or following other adult pre-described directions(Bredekamp, 1987).

    EFFECTS OF APPROPRIATE AND INAPPROPRIATEPRACTICES ON CHILDREN

    Although much has been written about developmental risks associated with devel-opmentally inappropriate curricula (e.g., Dickinson & Snow, 1987; Elkind, 1986;Shepard & Smith, 1988), it remains the case that only limited research has beencarried out to address the issue. And that which is available, particularly the morerecent work, would not seem to substantiate across-the-board claims of benefitsderived from DAP and costs associated with DIP.

    One important study by Stipek, Feiler, Daniels, and Milburn (1995) found thatchildren in chil