Youthful perspectives shine light on childhood mysteries

An Introduction to Early Childhood Studies. First edition

February 25, 2005

This is an introductory textbook written for undergraduates and practitioners from a range of backgrounds and subject areas who are studying early childhood or working in this area.

The aim of the book is to provide a core text that develops key themes from an interdisciplinary perspective. These themes are the social construction of childhood, the interaction of nature and nurture, working with the whole child and the importance of seeing children as subjects.

Part one looks at the developing child and explores cognitive, social, emotional and language development and considers the impact of gender. Part two appraises perspectives on childhood and examines cultural, historical and sociological orientations. Part three examines policy and provision for young children and incorporates education, law, inclusion and special educational needs, child welfare, child health and child protection. Part four focuses on developing effective practice and concentrates on inter-agency and multidisciplinary working, the importance of play, what can be learnt by observing children and inclusive practice.

The book is written in an accessible manner, and each chapter begins with a list of areas to be covered and ends with questions, exercises and recommendations for further reading.

The book summarises major theoretical perspectives and policy issues and provides a plethora of useful factual information.

One of its strengths is the way in which it discusses a range of orientations and does not shy away from contradiction and controversy and the critical interrogation of prevailing practice orthodoxies. In particular, emphasis is placed on the importance of practitioners engaging with a number of theory-to-policy-to-practice frames, rather than adhering to singular uni-dimensional procedures.

As with all textbooks that aim for breadth rather than depth, there are occasions when greater detail or analysis would prove more satisfying. However, pointers for additional study are given, and the book undoubtedly achieves its aims. Its thematic, interdisciplinary approach distinguishes it from other textbooks. It provides a broad-based yet engaged and contemporary overview of debates in this important yet often neglected area.

Barbara Fawcett is professor of social work and policy studies, Sydney University, Australia.

An Introduction to Early Childhood Studies. First edition

Editor - Trisha Maynard and Nigel Thomas
Publisher - Sage
Pages - 266
Price - £65.00 and £19.99
ISBN - 0 7619 7073 8 and 7074 6

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