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Learning Theories in Childhood

Learning Theories in Childhood

Second Edition
Additional resources:

October 2015 | 240 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd

Focusing on the early philosophies of learning and key behavioural, cognitive, and social theorists, including Locke, Rousseau, Montessori, Piaget, Vygotsky, Bandura, Bronfenbrenner & Bruner, this popular book provides a comprehensive overview of children's learning. The authors highlight the strengths and weaknesses of each theoretical perspective, and encourage reflection on how different approaches impact on the learning environment. The discussion finishes with an exploration of the new sociology of childhood.

New to this Second Edition are:

·          a new chapter on 'What is theory and what is learning?

·          a new chapter on ‘The Changing nature of learning’

There is also a new companion website which features:

·          journal articles to read alongside each chapter

·          podcasts from the authors explaining the key points on each topic

·          links to video material discussing key theories and methods.

You can access the books online materials at

Accessibly written, with key questions and recommended reading included, this book is essential for all those studying on child development, early childhood and childhood studies courses, and for anyone interested in understanding more about how children learn and think.

Colette Gray is Head of Research Development and Principal Lecturer in Childhood Studies at Stanmillis University College, Belfast, and Sean MacBlain is Reader in Child Development and Disability at the University of St. Mark & St. John, Plymouth.

For access to the website

An Introduction to Learning Theories
The Developmental Process Underpinning Learning: The Role of Theory and Philosophy
The Founding Fathers and Philosophies of Learning
Classical and Operant Conditioning: The Early Years Experience
Piaget, Learning and Cognitive Constructivism
Vygotsky: Learning in a Social Matrix
Bandura, Bronfenbrenner and Social Learning
Bruner and Discovery Learning/Constructivism
New Perspectives: Childhood Studies
Theory in Practice: Learning and the Reflective Practitioner
The Changing Nature of Learning

This second edition is a fundamental text for anyone working with children or thinking about studying children and learning.  It features extended discussion of essential theorists as well as helpful at-a-glance tables which enable the reader to compare different theories. 

Jenny Carpenter
Head of Programme, PGCE Primary, York St. John University

The theories covered greatly align with course objectives.

Dr Chanda Rhodes Coblentz
Accounting, University of Mount Union
October 28, 2020

Fantastic theory textbook. This has made it far easier for the students to really understand how theory link to their practice. The layout of the book and the content was great. Really impressed with this text book. Definitely
added to my reading list and class resource.

Ms lisa oneill
Education, City College Norwich
December 18, 2020

A lot of information included in this book however, it is not as visual as I would like for my learners. I do however, like the links to you tube which the learners can access.

Mrs Gail Helen Whenman
Education, Petroc College
July 31, 2019

Written in clear, precise and straightforward language, this is a useful source for enabling student practitioners to apply theory to practice.

Mr Dom Murphy
School of Education, Northampton University
February 14, 2019

This has been really useful in supporting ITE students to see the links between theory and principles / practice.

Mrs Diana Mann
Institute of Childhood and Education, Leeds Trinity University
October 23, 2017

An essential piece of reading for students studying children's learning and development. The theoretical perspectives and early philosophies provide students with interesting comparatives and influences on educations and learning today. Nicely structured and easy to follow, particularly for students entering their first year of higher education.

Dr Marguerita Magennis
Department of Early Years and Psychology, Portobello Institute
November 18, 2016

A very well-written book which is suitable for those just beginning to research learning theories as well as those with more experience. Chapters work through the theories in a chronological order and explanation of the learning theories is further illustrated by the use of clear examples. A summary at the end of each chapter is an added bonus and there are useful exercises for students to work through.

Mrs Claire Owen
Faculty of Education, Newman University
September 22, 2016

This is well laid out, provides students with logical and informative text. An ideal book to accompany their course.

Mrs Alicia James
Community Studies, Truro & Penwith College
January 12, 2016

An essential guide to learning theory, I use this with alevel students as well as under graduates.

Mrs Caroline Marshall
Education, Gloucester college
September 13, 2016

Sample Materials & Chapters

Learning Theories in Childhood Sample Chapter