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


Edited by: Cath Arnold

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    Only a child —

    Yet I am nearer to creation

    My colours new and vivid

    Chaotic and joyful

    Give me the means and let me be free

    To make sense of the world

    As it unfolds around me

    I will learn from you

    But you can learn from me, if you

    Cherish the life that I bring

    And listen.

    Di Brewster, 1996


    I would like to acknowledge the huge contribution that Georgia and her parents, Ian and Colette, have made to this book. I have learnt a great deal from them during our discussions about Georgia. They have been very committed to gathering the diary record and to reflecting on and analysing what happened. They have both given me critical feedback on my representation of our discussions.

    I would also like to thank Eloise for her meticulous proof reading of the manuscript, helpful critical feedback and for her witty comments.

    I want to thank Tina Bruce as an editor and friend for encouraging me to write this book and for her frequent feedback on every aspect of the work. All of my colleagues at Pen Green have been supportive and interested, but a special mention must go to Margy Whalley for constantly inspiring me and for believing in my ability to write well.

    Last, but not least, I want to thank Terry for shopping, cooking and sorting out the computer, and Paul for our Sunday afternoon chats about the wider world.


    Series Preface — 0–8 Years

    At most times in history and in most parts of the world, the first eight years of life have been seen as the first phase of living. Ideally, during this period, children learn who they are; about those who are significant to them; and how their world is. They learn to take part, and how to contribute creatively, imaginatively, sensitively and reflectively.

    Children learn through and with the people they love, and the people who care for them. They learn through being physically active, through real, direct experiences, and through learning how to use and make symbolic systems, such as play, language and representation.

    Whether children are at home, in nursery schools, classes, family centres, day nurseries, playgroups (now re-named preschools), workplace nurseries or primary schools, they need informed adults who can help them.

    The 0–8 series will help those who work with young children, in whatever capacity, to be as informed as possible about this first phase of living.

    From the age of 8 years old, the developing and learning can be consolidated, hopefully in ways which build on what has gone before.

    In this series, each book emphasises a different aspect of the first stage of living (0–8 years).

    Getting To Know You: A Guide to Record Keeping in Early Childhood Education and Care by Lynne Bartholomew and Tina Bruce is based on principles of good practice in the spirit of Stephen Isaacs. It explores the relationship between observation, assessment, evaluation and monitoring in a record keeping system. It takes account of legal requirements in the different parts of the UK. The book is full of examples of good practice in record keeping. Unless we know and understand our children, unless we act effectively on what we know, we cannot help them very much.

    Learning to be Strong: Integrating Education and Care in Early Childhood by Margy Whalley is an inspirational book. Pen Green Centre for Under-fives and their Families in Corby, Northamptonshire, is an acknowledged beacon of excellence, emulated throughout the UK and internationally. When adults come together as a team — parents, educators, carers, those in Social Services and Health experts using their energy on behalf of the child — then education and care become truly integrated. Just as it was important that Margaret McMillan's pioneer work at the turn of the century in integrating education and care should be recorded, so this book has become a classic of the 1990s.

    Beacons of excellence, like Pen Green, when documented in this way, can continue to illuminate principles which influence quality practice through the ages, transcending the passing of time.

    Helping Children to Draw and Paint in Early Childhood: Children and Visual Representation by John Matthews gives a fascinating insight into the early drawings, paintings and models that children make. The book shows how these begin and traces development from scribbles to later drawings in the period of the first eight years. A wealth of real life examples is given, together with practical stategies that adults can use to help children develop their drawings and paintings with quality.

    In Helping Children to Learn through a Movement Perspective, Mollie Davies, an internationally respected movement expert with years of practical experience of working with young children, writes about the central places of movement within the learning process. In a lively, well-illustrated book, with lots of real examples, she makes a case for movement as a common denominator of the total development of children, and in this draws our attention to its integrating function. A whole chapter is devoted to dance — the art form of movement. The provision of a readily accessible movement framework gives excellent opportunities for adults to plan, observe and record their children's development in movement terms.

    Self-Esteem and Successful Early Learning by Rosemary Roberts is about the importance of being positive, encouraging and gently firm in bringing up and working with young children. Whilst every family is different, every family shares some aspects of living with young children. These are taken up and given focus in the book in ways that are accessible and lead to practical strategies. The reader meets a variety of situations with the family and explores successful ways of tackling them so that the theories supporting the practice become meaningful and useful.

    The Development of Language and Literacy by Marion Whitehead emphasises the importance of adults being sensitive to the child's culture, feeling and ideas as language develops and early attempts to communicate in writing and reading emerge. Bilingualism and its indications are looked at in depth. Children need to spend time with people who care about them, enjoy being with them, and sensitively support their early language and literacy.

    Resources for Early Learning: Children, Adults and Stuff by Pat Gura takes a critical look at the materials that are given to children in early years settings and examines the conventional wisdom and assumptions that early years workers make about resources such as sand, water, paint, blocks, the home area and others. The book encourages practitioners to be reflective.

    Effective Early Learning edited by Christine Pascal and Tony Bertram is about practitioner research. It shows how nine very different early childhood settings experienced the Effective Early Learning project. This research project is about empowering practitioners to develop their own practice and is having a great influence and impact on the quality of practice in the UK.

    Clinging to dogma, ‘I believe children need…’ or saving ‘What was good enough for me …’ is not good enough. Children deserve better than that. The pursuit of excellence means being informed. This series will help adults to increase their knowledge and understanding of the ‘first phase of living’, and to act in the light of this for the good of children.

  • Appendix: Georgia's Gallery

    These photographs show Georgia growing in age and in confidence. As you will know from reading the text, relationships with other people are very important to Georgia. Her well-being is high when she is with her favourite people. I have included photos of Georgia with the individuals who have been closest to her during her early years.

    A massage group
    On holiday
    Jennifer, Samantha and Georgia
    Harry and Georgia
    Aunty Eloise with Georgia
    Dad, Georgia and Harry
    Harry and Georgia

    Georgia and her Mum

    Georgia age 7 years

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