Content Area
Content Area Content Area

Understanding Early Childhood: Issues and Controversies

3rd Edition
0335262686 · 9780335262687
Understanding Early Childhood is a comprehensive textbook which offers broad and insightful perspectives across a range of themes on the ways in which we understand and study young children. Engaging and clear, it provides students with a user-frien… Read More
Request Review Copy
Request More Info

Receive via shipping:

  • Colour, print bound version of the complete text

Remembering childhood
Researching reality
Not Piaget again
Genes, neurons and ancestors
On the other side of the world
Past, present and future
Children's rights and the ethics of childhood
What it costs and what it's worth: the economics of early childhood
Practice makes no difference
An interdisciplinary approach?


Understanding Early Childhood is a comprehensive textbook which offers broad and insightful perspectives across a range of themes on the ways in which we understand and study young children. Engaging and clear, it provides students with a user-friendly introduction to a number of difficult concepts and theories in early childhood education, drawing on research evidence from various countries and taking an interdisciplinary approach.

Revised and updated throughout, the third edition brings contemporary theories and debates bang up-to-date in a concise, accessible and yet reflective style. Unique features include:

  • A substantial and critically informed discussion of child development
  • An updated overview of theoretical approaches and research methodologies
  • Considerable revisions on neuroscience and genetic research in light of recent developments
  • Extended coverage of ethics
  • The challenges and problematic nature of interdisciplinary working
  • 'Main Messages' provide helpful summaries of key points
  • 'What to Read Next' signposts stimulating reading
Understanding Early Childhood is an indispensable resource for early childhood students from undergraduate to postgraduate level, and practitioners working with young children.

"Understanding Early Childhood draws on Helen Penn's deep knowledge and exceptionally wide breadth of experience of this topic. This new and updated edition with its pithy explanations provides an invaluable and readable guide to concepts and theories of early childhood education."
Bronwen J. Cohen, School of Social and Political Studies, The University of Edinburgh, UK

"This updated and revised third edition is informative and thought provoking appealing to an international readership. Drawing from many fields of study and with reference to her own international experience and research, Professor Penn challenges existing normative conceptualisations of childhood and professional practice, standards and expectations. She takes a critical stance urging practitioners who take seriously their profession to explore the 'many kinds of ideas about how the world is understood and what the place and status of young children is within it'. The book is highly recommended as an important reading for all early childhood practitioners, students and researchers."
Theodora Papatheodorou, Education Adviser - Early Childhood Care and Development, Save the Children, UK

"This book is a must read for anyone studying or working in early childhood education. Penn has the measure of early childhood education, its nemesis and its mainstay, developmental psychology, as well as key issues, contestations and assumptions that characterize the field. The messages are applicable and have resonance across borders and boundaries, majority and minority worlds, and ethnicities. While written originally for undergraduate students, the challenges are for all, from those with the most expertise and experience, to the least."
Sue Grieshaber, Chair Professor and Head, Department of Early Childhood Education, Hong Kong Institute of Education, Hong Kong

"This (updated) book provides a stunning panorama of issues in early childhood that should really matter to everyone in the field. The writerly style invites readers to engage in a conversation, to be imaginative and thoughtful, to reminiscence, to explore and to grow in criticality. Helen Penn ranges expertly and accessibly across the biggest questions for the field and illustrates how these become manifest or suppressed in folklore, education, research, politics, and practice. Whatever your interest in early childhood, this book should become a wise companion to whom you turn again and again for inspiration, intellectual challenge or solace.

I've really enjoyed reading the new edition of Helen's book. She is such a superb author and scholar and we are incredibly fortunate to have her working in the field of early childhood."
Dr Sacha Powell, Reader in Early Childhood, Research Centre for Children, Families and Communities, Canterbury Christ Church University, UK