Early Childhood Education Redefined – Book Launch

On Friday last week members of the Laser Learning team were lucky enough to be invited to attend the launch of a new book by Dr. Kay Sanderson, Professor Pat Preedy, and Sir Christopher Ball at Blenheim Palace.

Their book Early Childhood Education Redefined, evaluates the impact of the Start Right: The Importance of Early Learning (RSA, 1994) report which was originally written by Sir Christopher Ball, and highlights the shortcomings of early childhood education in the UK today while giving solutions for a better learning foundation for early years children.

The launch day focused on their new manifesto for early childhood education which campaigns for fundamental changes to the way young people are educated around the world.

Start Right Report – what’s changed?

In Sir Christopher Ball’s introduction to the book and manifesto he described the three main points he wanted everyone to understand about learning.

Firstly, the importance of human learning. Learning always pays, whether it is in health, wealth, or happiness, and that the most important thing we can teach young children is how to learn efficiently and effectively.

Secondly, the extraordinary capacity of the human brain to learn and improve. No one ever reaches their capacity or limit to learn as there are no limits. No one ever feels there is no room for improvement, and this is true of both fast learners and slow learners – all learners have a remarkable brain.

Thirdly, evolution has shaped us to do just enough to get by. We live by the belief that just enough is good enough, but in reality, it doesn’t have to be. It’s a choice to transcend the realm of ‘good enough’ in pursuit of excellence and we admire heroes like even though we are all capable of it.

This is why the greatest gift we can give our children and adult learners is the skills and knowledge to learn efficiently and effectively.

He then asked the question: is our educational foundation provided for the children in this country aged 0-7 good enough?

The authors of the book think not, and this is why they propose a fundamental rethink of early childhood education.

Education is a combination of curriculum, pedagogy, and assessment. Sir Christopher Ball argues that curriculum has been given greater credence and we have, therefore, forgotten pedagogy. He goes so far to say that it doesn’t matter what we teach children as long as we teach them well as then they will have the tools to effectively teach themselves. On top of this we are also heavily focused on summative assessment with this often being the be-all and end-all of achievement.

He then went on to describe the two pillars of good education:

Contribution and support of parents/guardians

Contribution and support of society, government, and its agencies

This is similar to the triple partnership set out in his Start Right report in 1994.

‘Raising a child is the greatest challenge in life and it is a life-long challenge.’

He summarised that ensuring that parents/guardians work alongside teachers is essential to the foundation of a child’s learning. If a child isn’t given the best possible foundation for learning this can have an impact on their life-long learning that they may never fully recover from.

‘Hold hands and learn together.’

This is the best chance we have at success when teaching young children. Parents/guardians, teachers, and government agencies must hold hands together in order to ensure the best possible outcomes for children.

Early Childhood Education Redefined Manifesto

Involving parents

One of the biggest fundamental changes the book authors want to see is the involvement and education of parents.

Professor Pat Preedy and Rosie Hamilton McGinty undertook research into the importance of involving parents in a child’s play and learning and have gone on to create the A Winning Attitude: Parent Workshop course.

This course is designed for teachers and practitioners to give them the skills, knowledge, and resources to provide training for parents, so parents/guardians can understand their place in their child’s education and can contribute alongside teachers and childcare practitioners.

What’s involved in the A Winning Attitude: Parent Workshop course?

  • Explaining the positive message of parents working alongside teachers and childcare practitioners in an informal setting without lecturing parents
  • Understanding the demands of parenting in today’s society
  • Explaining the importance of respecting all cultures, religions, backgrounds, and choices which will influence the education of young children
  • Ensuring that parents lead by example and provide security and protection for their children
  • Explaining the concept of ‘tough love’
  • How to deepen attachments with your children by dedicating time to them
  • Explaining the ’10-minute rule’
  • How to engage with children through fun and play, and how to make them feel special

The course is endorsed by the awarding organisation, CACHE and is available online. Once a teacher or practitioner achieves the course, they will be able to hold parent workshops and train groups of parents using the resources provided.

Play, movement, and time

As the day came to a close, Sir Christopher Ball commented that what he had learned from the talks given by the book’s authors and the contributions from attendee teachers and educators was that it is overwhelming clear that what children need from us is play, movement, and time. These are the key ingredients to happy children who learn efficiently and effectively.

The authors of Early Childhood Education Redefined firmly believe that implementing these fundamental changes which are rooted in significant research carried out by experts across different fields of education will have a positive impact for all children and particularly for children from disadvantaged backgrounds and children will additional needs.

You can read more about the manifesto and the research studies accompanying it in Early Childhood Redefined: Reflections and Recommendations on the Impact of Start Right available now.