"This should be essential reading for anyone involved in the training and professional development of early years practitioners...It is an impressive analysis of the historical and contemporary 'big ideas' that have influenced societies ' and practitioners' views of children and the nature of the curriculum. There are powerful sections on parents and communities ...I particularly liked the stimulating 'ideas galleries' with their statements from researchers, policy-makers and practitioners around the world." Nursery World, October 2004 This key textbook introduces students and practitioners to a wide range of different approaches to early childhood. It provides practical strategies for developing and implementing early learning experiences that promote excellence and equity for children. The book presents the latest research and thinking about good practice, discusses how various philosophies and beliefs influence decisions in early childhood education, and identifies the key thinkers behind each approach. By examining different perspectives, the book helps early childhood practitioners to navigate their way through competing views, make informed choices, and be critically reflective in their work. In an accessible, lively and user-friendly way, it explores issues such as: What constitutes an appropriate early childhood curriculum How best to study and assess children Involving parents and children in early childhood learning The book features a range of pedagogical devices to inspire early childhood workers to reflect critically on their work and the ideas underpinning it, including: Boxed definitions of key terms Ideas summary charts and ideas galleries Clarification exercises Case studies Further reading lists This essential textbook is ideal for students undertaking early childhood qualifications at degree level, Masters courses in early childhood education, and for practitioners who work with children from birth to eight in early childhood settings.