In order to effectively practise as an early childhood educator it is essential to understand the theories, policies and pedagogy that shape the discipline. Understanding Early Childhood Education and Care in Australia provides core foundational knowledge that is critical for best practice. Part One looks at concepts of childhood and the development of mass education before examining influential theories including developmental psychology, sociology, feminisms and critical theory. Specific approaches are also analysed including Reggio Emilia, Montessori, Multiple Intelligences and HighScope. Part Two focuses on the guiding frameworks and policies in Australia and explores in depth issues affecting Indigenous children and provisions for recognising diversity and the practice of inclusion. The final section examines teaching and leadership and considers curriculum, pedagogy and assessment, building relationships between staff and families, the care of babies and infants, the environment in which early childhood education takes place and the responsibilities and professional development of teachers. This essential reference will ensure pre-service teachers develop a sophisticated understanding of how theory underpins effective practice in early childhood education.