Introduction to the First Edition
About This Book
Theories of Childhood is a practitioner’s manual as well as a
college textbook. It is designed for the person working with
young children who wants to better understand how chil-
dren think and act and how to be more effective with them.
It begins with a discussion of the interactive nature of theory
and practice that is necessary to make either meaningful.
It includes information about and reflection on the work of
five of the major contributors to the body of knowledge upon
which our best practices in early childhood education are
based. It is a basic introduction and is not intended to be aca-
demic or scholarly. I’m hoping to whet the appetite of those
interested in the relationship of theory to practice and its
impact on real children, teachers, and classrooms. For this
reason, each chapter concludes with discussion questions and
suggestions for further reading.
The stories shared here are from real classrooms where I
have either worked or observed others at work. Each chapter
provides the reader with background information on the theo-
rist’s life and work. Classroom stories are used to illustrate
the point of the original writings. This is not a comprehensive
introduction to the field or even to the individual theorists
included. I hope that this brief introduction to early child-
hood’s theoretical foundations will give readers a foundation
for understanding how child development affects how we
work with children in early childhood programs and will
encourage them to go on to the more in-depth readings.
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