Jennifer Whetsell

Jennifer Whetsell

Dartmouth College



Mentor: Rebecca New

Social vs. Academic Skills: Possible Effects of Developmentally Appropriate Practices on Teacher Attitudes and Curriculum Practices

Despite public endorsement for compensatory education and developmentally appropriate practices (DAP), both Head Start and the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), DAP guidelines have been criticized for their cultural assumptions in regards to appropriate child development. Head Start was influences by "cultural deprivation" theories, and DAP guidelines reflect "mainstream" ideology. New Hampshire provides a unique opportunity to study this question because kindergarten is not compulsory; thus many less privileged children attend Head Start in lieu of kindergarten. Because Head Start's emphasis on social and emotional development over academic skills instruction (a reflection of DAP guidelines), those children are possibly at a special disadvantage for when they do begin elementary school. With the intention of better understanding the relationship between program types and curriculum types, this study's focus is to compare the beliefs and values of kindergarten and Head Start teachers regarding their own curricula or five and six-year old children in New Hampshire.

Sixteen kindergarten teachers and Hear Start teachers of kindergarten-age children in New Hampshire completed a questionnaire that examined these beliefs and values. Results indicate some significant difference between teacher types concerning academic skills, indicating that need for a further look into the relationship between Head Start and "developmentally appropriate" practice.

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