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Learning Theories for Early Years Practice

Learning Theories for Early Years Practice

Second Edition

May 2022 | 152 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd

The perfect guide for students who need to get to grips with learning theories and how they relate to the  early years, this book covers Early and Modern theorists and their theories, and how they apply today. Bursting with full colour photographs, case studies, activities and discussion points, each chapter explores the theorist and the theory; what the theory looks like in practice; the strengths and weaknesses of each theory; and its links to other theorists.

This new edition includes:

  • Three new chapters on Bowlby, Dweck and Claxton

  • New reflective activities

  • New critical questions following the case studies


Part I: Early Influences
John Locke and the Emergence of Empiricism
Jean-Jacques Rousseau and the Concept of ‘Child’
Johann Pestalozzi and the Importance of Nature
Friedrich Froebel and the Importance of Play
Rachel and Margaret McMillan and Social Reform
The Psychodynamic Tradition
Rudolf Steiner and the Changing Needs of Children
Maria Montessori: The Environment and Learning
Part II: Modern Influences
John Dewey and Child-centred Education
Burrhus Skinner and the Behaviourists
Jean Piaget: An Enduring Legacy
Lev Vygotsky: Learning and Social Constructivism
John Bowlby and Early Attachment
ChaAlbert Bandura and Social Learning Theory
Urie Bronfenbrenner: Learning in the Wider Context
Jerome Bruner and Constructivism
Howard Gardner and Theories of Multiple Intelligence
Reuven Feuerstein and Instrumental Enrichment
Nel Noddings and the Ethics of Care
Te Whariki
Loris Malaguzzi and Reggio Emilia
Carol Dweck and Children’s Mindsets
Guy Claxton: Building Learning Power
Part III: Challenges for Theorists in a Changing World
The Realities of Childhood Today
Emotional Intelligence
How Children Play
Learning and the Brain
The Emergence of Digital Learning

A great book. Students have engaged with this well as it does not only explain the theory it offers ways of application making it tangible and very relatable for practice.

Mrs Annamaria Berger-Jones Bergen-Jones
Faculty of Health, Education and Life Sciences, Birmingham City University
February 28, 2024

really straightforward theory at an academic level. Greta for fans of Practical Preschool books who need a more academic approach

Mrs Caroline Marshall
Early Years, Gloucestershire College
August 22, 2022

Clear summaries of a range of learning theories. An engaging book for Level 3 students with photographs to illustrate the points being made.

Ms Sharon Vince
Education, University of West London
October 23, 2022

Very useful for an overview of specific learning theories when looking at early years practice.

Mrs Charlotte Armitage
Education, Early Years & Teaching, Bradford College
February 7, 2023

I have requested copies of this for our course, this is one of the best read towards theoretical concepts that students will understand if new to theroy and explains the theorist in depth.

Mrs karen Cooke
Sport and Public Services, The Manchester College
August 31, 2022

Level 4 good support for Theories and supporting curriculum

Mrs Jane Joyce
AHed, Peter Symond's College
July 6, 2022

This text adds to previous texts by MacBlain providing accessible information about key theories. Excellent as a foundation for students

Mrs Karen Williams
Faculty of Education, Health & Well-being (Walsall), Wolverhampton University
August 21, 2023

This was a very accessible book for students and it helped them to understand how to apply theory to practice.

Mrs Karen Benedikz
Faculty of Business Law and Education, Staffordshire University
June 26, 2023

Concise and easy to follow.

Mrs Karen A Sullivan King
Early Years, East Coast College (Great Yarmouth)
August 18, 2022

A 2nd edition of Sean MacBlain’s book containing key early and modern learning theories. The book is dived clearly in three parts: early influences, modern influences and challenges for theorists in a changing world. Each part outlines different theory/theorist, their ideology (linked to cultural/historical context) and pedagogy around the early education. I liked especially the subheadings: ‘What the theory looks like in practice’ parts and related photographs. A must read/recap for anyone working with children but especially beneficial for level 3 and 4 students.

Dr Paivi Valtonen
University Centre, North Lindsey College
June 13, 2023
  • The theorist
  • Key publication
  • Understanding the theory
  • What the theory looks like in practice
  • Case studies
  • Strength and weaknesses of the theory
  • Link to other theories
  • Critical questions
  • Activities and points for discussion
  • Extended and recommended reading
  • References


Sage College Publishing

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