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There are many aspects of early years practice which have their origins in the past and which reflect particular ideas about the nature of childhood. It can be argued that it is important to identify these aspects so as to understand current interpretati

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There are many aspects of early years practice which have their origins in the past and which reflect particular ideas about the nature of childhood. It can be argued that it is important to identify these aspects so as to understand current interpretations of early years practice. Discuss with reference to the philosophies of two key historical figures. Current early years practices such as play, a stimulating environment, the role of the practitioner, and recognising the child's parents as playing a key role in their education originate from theories that were made in the past. The following pages will outline the influential ideas of Friedrich Froebel and Dr. Maria Montessori and discuss them in relation to the current ideas relating to the above topics. Before the nineteenth century, childhood was not seen as a stage of life separate from adulthood. Instead, the concept of childhood was regarded as an immature form of adulthood (Wood, E. 1996) children were regarded as being naturally evil and so education was not prioritised. Most children learnt the values of life through labouring alongside adults. Into the nineteenth century, and with the concept of original sin dropped, three different views of childhood and education arose. The nativist view is the view that children are born with a pre-programmed development pathway. The empiricist view believes that each child is an empty vessel waiting to be filled, and the interactionist view recognises that children do have pre-programmed ideas whilst understanding the influence that the child's socio-cultural surrounding has on his education. ...read more.


Aside from size and shape, each gift differed in texture, colour, number of possible divisions or fractions, and the science of movement. (Anonymous, 2002p1) The occupations that Froebel provided were activities in which children could display their fine motor skills such as drawing, modelling, and plasticine making, playing with sticks and threading tiny beads. Personal experience would suggest that these aspects can still be found in today's early years classrooms. Modern day construction areas allow the child to develop both their fine and gross motor skills whilst building on their mathematical development by experiment with different sizes and shapes. Communication and language is also practiced through the giving and taking of orders or directions. According to Etheredge, J. (2002) the right learning environment is essential for the development of children's motor skills. Much like Froebel's theory the pre-school supervisor believes that, in order to acquire good motor skills practicing teachers should provide their children with a selection of boxes, different textures and materials, a selection of balls with differing shapes and sizes, and blocks to build towers. Montessori however believed in preparing her children for adult life and so designed activities modelled on real household tasks. Children in her care would be allowed to help prepare food, wash and tidy up, sweep floors and assimilate a wide variety of household chores. Like Froebel, tying ribbons, buttoning laces and threading materials would also take place. These she called her practical life activities and developed them to promote social skills, independence, self-discipline, concentration and motor skills. ...read more.


Similar to Froebel's theory, the parent of today is still seen as the first and most enduring educator (QCA 2002) and schools aim to become part of their local community. Parents are urged to develop their own education as well as their children's so they will be more able to help their children and not shy away from awkward questions about numeracy or literacy. Portage groups can also be set up to encourage parents to work at home with their child. Henry (1996) claims that children see love and affection as an attachment. This he believes is a basic need to every child, that only the mother can give. The author states that as schools work on rote and have many children to teach, they cannot give children the type of secure attachment they need to be emotionally stable. Therefore by working along side the school, parents are giving children a psychologically steady, and secure education. To conclude it can be suggested that from the evidence brought forward in this essay, the four main areas of a good early years education originated from theories that were set in the past. These theories were developed because of the different views that each philosopher had about childhood and education. Since the progress and practice of Froebel and Montessori's ideas, many more theories have developed and it is important that many more continue to do so as Learning and development in humans is so complex that no single theory can adequately account for all the interrelated processes involved. ...read more.

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