Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Education




Early Childhood Education

Capstone Instructor

Dr. Kelly Sadlovsky

Second Reader

Kristin Goetz


developmentally appropriate practices (DAP), early childhood education (ECE), holistic approach, play-based learning, social-emotional learning, whole-child development


Kindergarten has dramatically changed in recent years with the rise of standardized testing and a stronger focus on academic achievement; yet with the change, children were deprived of essential components of a foundational education that supported the development of the whole child and prepared children to be successful in multiple areas of life (Slade & Griffith, 2013). Teacher-directed instruction has decreased child-centered activities, such as play, to maximize the potential of children’s academic success in the future (Pyle & Danniels, 2017). Despite educators’ positive beliefs around developmentally appropriate practices, the need to find a balance in the integration of academics through developmentally appropriate practices such as play-based learning, authentic assessments, and social-emotional learning, was a continual struggle (Pyle & Alaca, 2018). Educators’ beliefs about developmentally appropriate practices were often set aside in the classroom due to specific requirements and policies that educators needed to follow. The studies examined the shift in early childhood education from child-centered to academically driven, the implementation of developmentally appropriate practices, perspectives of educational stakeholders and the application of the beliefs held, the need for purposeful professional development opportunities, and support for educators around using practices that met the needs of the children. The results of the research suggested that although teachers understood and realized the importance of providing a developmentally appropriate educational experience for children, the need to meet academic requirements and other demands caused challenges for educators.