Early Childhood Theories and Contemporary Issues

Having a good grasp of the theories of child development and how these translate into practice can make a positive difference to how you understand babies and children and the ways in which you can help them learn. This approachable guide offers easy access to a wide range of concepts, as well as classic and current theories, about how babies and children learn.

Each chapter offers clear guidance on how to recognise the theory in action and suggests ways to test these ideas out in early years settings, supporting the development of reflective practice. Case studies are included throughout, along with questions to guide thinking and encourage readers to develop their practice. Summaries conclude each chapter offering a quick reference of the theory examined and the benefits of applying it to practice.

Early Childhood Theories and Contemporary Issues is an essential guide for all those looking to develop and enhance their practice in supporting child development within the early years.

Table of contents

  1. An Overview of Theories and Practice in the Early Years’
  2. Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778)
  3. Friedrich Froebel (1782-1852)
  4. Rachel McMillan (1859-1917) and Margaret McMillan (1860-1931)
  5. Sigmund Freud (1956-1939)
  6. John Bowlby (1907-1990)
  7. Jean Piaget (1896 – 1980)
  8. Lev Vygotsky (1896-1934)
  9. Jerome Bruner (1915- )
  10. Colwyn Trevarthen (1931- )
  11. Urie Bronfenbrenner (1917-2005)
  12. Neuroscience in the Early Years’
  13. Post-modern Perspectives in Early Years’ Provision
  14. Bringing Theory to Life with Action Research
  15. Using the Lessons from the Past in the Present
  16. Glossary
  17. Bibliography
  18. Index

Published: 20th November 2014


An easy to understand text while still providing a good level of information.

– Ruth Davies (Glyndwr University)

Mine Conkbayir and Chris Pascal have taken a thought-provoking approach to introducing ten of the major theorists of early childhood to practitioners interested in how theory and practice interrelate… Anyone who reads this book whether they are a student or experienced practitioner cannot fail to be provoked and inspired to carry on improving practice for the benefit of children and families.

– Helen Moylett (Education Consultant and President / of the British Association of Early Childhood Education (Early Education))

This book is an invaluable gathering together of some of the important theories and contemporary issues which influence early childhood practice today. The authors have achieved their wish to encourage the reader in ‘being reflective and understanding theories’… I wish that I could have had this book as a resource when I was first learning about these theories.

– Tina Bruce CBE (Honorary Professor of Early Childhood Studies & Trustee of The Froebel Trust / University of Roehampton)

This book presents a summary of a selection of theories related to early child development (0–3 years old approximately), discusses each theory and then outlines the relation of the theory to practice … By bringing to the reader an understanding of the theories underpinning psychological practice in this field, it aims to ensure high quality, informed responses to the needs of children, their families and communities … This interesting and very readable book is likely to be of most interest to those focusing their work on the very early years of childhood, who are seeking a short overview of some of the influential theories in the field and who are also interested in understanding, questioning and ensuring ongoing enhancement of their own practice.

– Susan K. O’Brien (The Australian Educational and Developmental Psychologist)