Early learning

11th February 2000 at 00:00
PROMOTING CHILDREN'S LEARNING FROM BIRTH TO FIVE - developing the new early years professional. By Angela Anning andAnne Edwards. Open University Press. pound;13.99. PLANNING AN APPROPRIATE CURRICULUM FOR THE UNDER FIVES. By Rosemary Rodger. David Fulton. pound;14.

The authors of Promotingchildren's learning from birth to five write clearly and interestingly about the complex world that now faces the "new early years professional" without either writing down or over simplifying the issues.

An honest and detailed account of their own cross-professional action research project illustrates their priority: "to point to just how important the quality of adult child interactions are, if children are to be helped to see themselvesas people who can and do learn easily".

Angela Anning and Anne Edwards support the different perspectives and experiences that all, including parents, bring to the field of childcare. They hope to promote a "community of understanding". The link between research and practice is also carefully but coherently woven into each chapter in a way that aims to clarify the text rather than mystify the reader.

Besides advice on th most helpful ways to develop learning in areas such as maths and literacy, there are suggestions and comments about further reading at the end of each chapter and examples of the thoughts and responses of real children are never far from the page.

Political interference is recognised for what it is, but the tone is upbeat, as the authors believe in the ultimate good sense of the committed and observant practitioner.

Rosemary Rodger has put much hard work into her book on planning an appropriate curriculum for the under-fives and makes extensive use of planning and assessment tables to emphasise the importance of detailed record-keeping. Even so, one senses an unresolved ambivalence between a desire to control and a recognition of the real nature of young children's learning. As a result there are numerous internal inconsistencies. Drawing on her own experiences of this age group might have lent greater credibility to her assertions; as it is, one senses the author feels more naturally at home with an older age group.

Annabelle Dixon. Annabelle Dixon is a researchassociate at the School of Education University of Cambridge

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