Self-Esteem and Early Learning: Key People from Birth to School


Rosemary Roberts

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  • Chapters
  • Front Matter
  • Back Matter
  • Subject Index
  • Part 1: Babies First

    • Chapter 1: Children Learning to Be Lovable
    • Introducing Joe
    • Mothers and other Important People
    • Early Brain Development
    • Earliest Learning
    • Unconditional Acceptance
    • Joe's Jokes
    • Development of Self-Concept
    • Body Language
    • Introducing Lily
    • Behaving in Character
    • Self-Concept in Relation to Behaviour
    • Chapter 2: Being a Key Person
    • Dad's Home
    • Holding
    • Knowledge and Acceptance
    • Power of Important Adults
    • Mum and Joe
    • Adult Motivation
    • Unconscious Messages
    • Lily's Superman
    • Imaginative Play
    • Postscript Questions and Recommended Reading

    Part 2: Fundamental Feelings

    • Chapter 3: Children's Normal Bad Feelings
    • Cats and Dustpans
    • Normal Mixed Feelings
    • Reasons for ‘Bad’ Feelings
    • Crying
    • Brothers and Sisters
    • Mixed-Up Lily
    • Acknowledging ‘Bad’ Feelings
    • The Cycle of Loss
    • Mum's Magic
    • Containment
    • Chapter 4: Adults Accepting Bad Feelings
    • The Biscuit Battle
    • Uses and Abuses of Distraction
    • Dealing with Our Own Feelings
    • Lily in Control
    • Siblings
    • Listening to Lily
    • Verbal Protest
    • Changes for Children
    • One Problem at Time
    • Fathers
    • Easing Distress
    • Postscript Questions and Recommended Reading

    Part 3: About other People

    • Chapter 5: Children Living with other People
    • Lily Needs her Dolls
    • Other People's Point of View
    • Joe's Tight Place
    • Children's Tolerance
    • Why Say ‘No’ to Smacking?
    • Shopping with Dad
    • Using Mistakes
    • Genuine Praise
    • Chapter 6: Adults Setting Limits
    • Joe's Changed!
    • Two Points of View
    • Reflective Talking about Problems
    • Being Role Models
    • Eating Custard Creams
    • The Need for Limits
    • Developing Self-Discipline
    • Establishing Our Priorities
    • Being Consistent
    • Temper Tantrums
    • Television, Videos and DVDs
    • Dan Stays the Night
    • Encouraging Independence
    • Recognising Real Achievements
    • Postscript Questions and Recommended Reading

    Part 4: Linking with Learning

    • Chapter 7: Children's Ways of Learning
    • Going to Nursery School
    • Children Learning
    • Manageable Experiences
    • A Safe Environment
    • Pipes and Gutters
    • Exploratory Learning
    • Being Good
    • Adult Expectations
    • Chapter 8: Adults Supporting Learning
    • Too Much for Terry
    • Levels of Challenge
    • Partnership between Parents and Staff
    • Observing Children
    • Behind the Stereotypes
    • Joe at Nursery
    • Encouraging Exploratory Learning
    • Setting Examples for Children
    • Pretend Painting
    • Factors Inhibiting Learning
    • Postscript Questions and Recommended Reading

    Part 5: Real Self-Esteem

    • Chapter 9: Children's Successful Learning
    • Lily and Joe's Picnic
    • Learning and Play
    • Supporting Children's Efforts
    • Helping Children to Help Themselves
    • Moving House
    • Children's Patterns of Learning (Schemas)
    • Building a Den
    • About Expectations
    • Components of Self-Esteem
    • Competition
    • Self-Esteem and Genuine Praise
    • Chapter 10: Adults Aiming High
    • At the Bottom of the Deep Blue Sea
    • Ways of Helping Children's Learning
    • Friday Nights at Home
    • Using Schemas
    • Children Planning and Reflecting
    • Eating Together
    • Fun and Fireworks
    • Self-Esteem in Early Childhood Education and Care Settings
    • Working Together
    • Freedom and Responsibility
    • Postscript Questions and Recommended Reading

    Part 6: New Journeys

    • Chapter 11: Children Managing Transitions
    • Lisa Comes to Stay
    • Transitions
    • ‘Properly’ Being Four
    • A Holistic View of Children
    • Attributes That Help Children Manage Transitions
    • Children's Need for Continuity and Consistency
    • Children's Need for Time and Support
    • Going to Big School
    • The Treasure Hunt
    • Children's Companions
    • Learning Together
    • The Magic of Books
    • Visiting Dan
    • Learning Dispositions
    • Chapter 12: Supporting Children's Journeys
    • Lily Starts School
    • Making the Most of Childhood
    • A Holistic View of Services
    • Children in Transition Need Strong Attachments
    • Long-Term Fundamental Feelings
    • Saying ‘Yes’ and Saying ‘No’
    • Mum Does it Right!
    • How can Parents Help?
    • The ‘Key Person’ System
    • Settings and Schools Helping ‘New’ Children
    • Home-School Relationships
    • Lisa's Lecture
    • Learning Dispositions of Parents and Carers
    • Families Matter
    • A Vision for the Twenty-First Century
    • Epilogue
    • Postscript Questions and Recommended Reading
  • Series Listing

    Marian Whitehead: Developing Language and Literacy with Young Children 2nd edition 2002

    Rosemary Roberts: Self-Esteem and Early Learning 3rd edition 2006

    Cath Arnold: Child Development and Learning 2–5 Years – Georgia's Story 1999

    Pat Gura: Resources for Early Learning – Children, Adults and Stuff 1996

    Chris Pascal and Tony Bertram: Effective Early Learning – Case Studies in Improvement 1997

    Mollie Davies: Helping Children to Learn through a Movement Perspective 1995

    All titles are available from Paul Chapman Publishing

    The 0–8 Series

    The 0–8 series, edited by Professor Tina Bruce, deals with essential themes in early childhood which concern practitioners, parents and children. In a practical and accessible way, the series sets out a holistic approach to work with young children, families and their communities. It is evidence based, drawing on theory and research. The books are designed for use by early years practitioners, and those on professional development courses, and initial teacher education courses covering the age-range 0–8.


    View Copyright Page


    For my expanding family with love


    Rosemary Roberts is an experienced practitioner, well known among policy makers in the early years field. She has been honoured with an OBE for her work. In the updated third edition of this book, she has added to the ‘self-esteem and early learning’ of the title, ‘key people from birth to school’; thus acknowledging the perspectives of children and adults together throughout the book which form the basis of the key person approach.

    Rosemary has framed the book as a story about a family situation, weaving into the story the issues that families will meet. The story shows how each family is different, but also that each family shares with others some aspects of living with young children. The reader meets a variety of situations with the family, and explores these through the character of the teenage girl who lives with them. The author stresses the importance of children being unconditionally accepted, and being allowed to have bad feelings as well as good. She shows how adults can give children the support they need, while setting limits in ways which help children to develop and learn in their widening social network.

    This third edition, with its chronological narrative and accompanying commentary, offers the reader those very perspectives and understandings that facilitate warm, appropriate key person relationships both at home and in day-care. It will be a particularly useful resource for all those training to work with babies and young children from birth to school.

    TinaBruce, series editor June 2006


    First, I want to thank the two families who welcomed me into their homes week after week for two years; especially ‘Lily’ and ‘Joe’ and their mothers. For all the insights and pleasure they gave me, I owe them more than I can say.

    I am particularly grateful to Chris Athey, Daphne Briggs and John Howson for all their comments and help, so willingly given; and also for this third edition to Pamela May.

    Above all, my thanks are due to Tina Bruce, whose suggestion it was that I should write this book. Her consistent encouragement, confidence and assistance enabled me to complete it.

    Thank you to all the children, families and colleagues with whom I have worked and from whom I have learned so much: in various places, particularly at Elms Road and at PEEP.

    Finally a special thank you to my own family and friends; for their interest and support and for all that they have taught me.

    Every effort has been made to trace copyright holders of material reproduced in this book. Any right not acknowledged here will be acknowledged in subsequent printings if notice is given to the publishers.

    Preface for the 0–8 Series

    The 0–8 series has stood the test of time, maintaining a central place among early childhood texts. Practitioners have appreciated the books because, while very practical, the series presents a holistic approach to work with young children, which values close partnership with families and their communities. It is evidence based, drawing on theory and research in an accessible way.

    The 0–8 series continues to deal with the themes of early childhood which have always been of concern and interest to parents, practitioners and the children themselves. Each author has made an important contribution in their field of expertise, using this within a sound background of child development and practical experience with children, families, communities, schools and other early childhood settings. The Series consistently gives a central place to the interests and needs of children, emphasising the relationship between child development and the sociocultural learning with which biological and brain development is inextricably linked.

    The basic processes of communication, movement, play, self-esteem and understanding of self and others, as well as the symbolic layerings in development (leading to dances, reading, writing, mathematical and musical notations, drawing, model-making) never cease to fascinate those who love and spend time with children. Some of the books in this series focus on these processes of development and learning, by looking at children and their contexts in a general way, giving examples as they go. Other books take a look at particular aspects of individual children and the community. Some emphasise the importance of rich physical and cultural provision and careful consideration of the environment indoors and outdoors and the way that adults work with children.

    I look forward to seeing the impact of the 0–8 series on the next decade.

    Professor TinaBruce Roehampton University June 2006


    Parents, and other people who live and work with children, often say they mind about three things. First, that children are happy; second, that they are learning successfully; and third, that they are growing up into caring and responsible adults. This book is about these three things: children's feelings, their learning, and their place in society. It offers the reader a picture of attachment as the basis of mental health.

    Running like a thread from chapter to chapter is the subject of children's self-concept and the development of their self-esteem. This is seen in this book to be at the heart of how children feel, how they learn and how they relate to other people.

    Although the surroundings in which most children grow up have changed greatly in the course of the last century, diversity and bi-lingualism are increasingly the norm, and ideas of what to do with babies and children keep on changing too, nonetheless the range of young children's feelings remains the same. We cannot remember many of our own feelings in early childhood; but for all of us, our parents and our children, the emotional map was, and still is, the same. This is why it is appropriate to retain many references from the last century – those thinkers and writers much of whose work forms the foundations of our current thinking.

    This book proposes the importance of some of the features of that emotional map in relation to our changing world and what we now know about how children learn. The book is written for the important people – parents, teachers, staff in early childhood care and education settings and integrated Children's Centres – who have, or will have, responsibility for children and who therefore, like it or not, have power and influence over them.

    The book's purpose is to use the realisation that ‘we've all been there’ to manage more successfully and happily the challenge of living with children and their feelings, at home or at work. It suggests that we look for a sense of balance in a range of complicated situations: for instance, understanding the child's point of view as well as our own; accepting the normality of bad feelings as well as good ones; finding ways of accepting feelings at the same time as setting limits for behaviour. Often we need to remember the other side of the coin, rather than being ‘admirably single-minded’. Perhaps, as we strive for integration in early childhood, we need a new virtue for our time: multi-mindedness.

    How This Book is Organised

    The book falls into six parts, covering the period from birth to school. The first chapter in each part is mainly about the child's point of view. The second chapter in each part focuses more on what it feels like to be the adult and on ways in which adults can make the most of opportunities to support the children with whom we live and work. The chapters consist of story episodes, key statements, and explanatory text. At the end of each part there are questions to think about, and also recommended reading – ‘good reads’ both for adults and for sharing with babies and young children. Readers may also find browsing the index a helpful way of locating subject matter.

    About the Story Sections

    The chapters consist of story and comment. The story sections, always in italics, are based on the author's observations of children and their families from various cultural backgrounds, at home and at school; although none of the characters directly represents any particular individual.

    The story is told by Joanne, whose identity is explained in the Prologue (on the next page). Joanne is a young girl living with the family of the story, who narrates a series of reflective observations throughout the book and ends by deciding to go to College to study young children.

    About the Key Statements and Postscripts

    Each of the six parts contains three key statements. In the first chapter of each part these are considered from the child's point of view, and in the second from an adult perspective. These key statements are collected together in the Postscript at the end of each part, together with questions intended to generate further thinking and discussion.

    About the ‘Good Reads’

    There are also suggestions for further reading: one ‘good read’ per section for practitioners, and two very special picture books for sharing with babies and young children. These picture books are intended for one-to-one sharing, where adult and child can cuddle up and share the jokes, the stories and the pictures together.


    My name is Joanne, I live with Mum and the kids, and their dad. Mum isn't my real mum, although I wouldn't mind if she was. The kids' dad isn't my dad either; he knew my real mum when I was a baby and she was very ill. My dad's not around now.

    I came to live with them three years ago, when I was fifteen. Joe was just born then and Lily was two.

  • Key Statements

    Part 1: Babies First
    Part 2: Fundamental Feelings
    Part 3: About other People
    Part 4: Linking with Learning
    Part 5: Real Self-Esteem
    Part 6: New Journeys

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