Starting from the Child: Teaching and Learning from 3 To 8

Starting from the Child: Teaching and Learning from 3 To 8

Starting from the Child: Teaching and Learning from 3 To 8

Starting from the Child: Teaching and Learning from 3 To 8


Praise for the 1st Edition: "... Thank you Julie Fisher for a down to earth, easy to use, practical book." - Early Education

"...offers realistic strategies for wedding a child-centred curriculum with the guidelines contained in the National Curriculum." - International Journal of Early Years Education

Early years practitioners currently face a number of dilemmas when planning an education for young children. The imposition of an external curriculum seems to work in opposition to the principles of planning experiences which start from the child. Does this mean that the notion of a curriculum centred on the needs and interests of children is now more rhetoric than reality? In a practical and realistic way Starting from the Child examines a range of theories about young children as learners and the implications of these theories for classroom practice. Julie Fisher acknowledges the competence of young children when they arrive at school, the importance of building on their early successes and the critical role of adults who understand the individual and idiosyncratic ways of young learners. The book addresses the key issues of planning and assessment, explores the place of talk and play in the classroom and examines the role of the teacher in keeping a balance between the demands of the curriculum and the learning needs of the child. This is essential reading, not only for early years practitioners, but for all those who manage and make decisions about early learning.


I wrote the first edition of Starting from the Child? in 1996. It was a time of great uncertainty for many practitioners in early childhood education and I was feeling this uncertainty as much as others. I had recently left headship and had seen, in my last few months in that job, the introduction of the National Curriculum and national testing. There was an instant and obvious pressure on the learning entitlement and experience of the young children in my school and it seemed that early childhood educators faced increasing pressure from above as the full weight of attainment targets, levels and national testing bore down on the youngest children. I moved on to a role in initial teacher education at the University of Reading and these downward pressures continued to be apparent. Opportunities for students training to be teachers in nursery and infant schools to study how children develop and how they learn were squeezed in favour of more subject and curriculum knowledge, which was deemed to be a more desirable pedagogy.

Then external agendas focused specifically on early childhood. The government introduced vouchers to fund universal preschool provision (erroneously called 'nursery' provision) for 4-year-olds, and established goals (Desirable Learning Outcomes) for children to work towards by the time they entered school. Demonstrating value-added performance became increasingly important and it was not long before baseline assessment on entry to primary schooling was introduced as a benchmark against which children's early progress could be judged.

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