Articles on Early years

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Processing children into units of human capital as quickly as possible risks the production of ‘damaged goods’. Genius baby via Bartosz Budrewicz/Shutterstock

It’s against human nature to send two-year-olds to school

In order to make young children “school ready”, the English government is now encouraging parents to place their children in school nurseries shortly after their second birthday. But there is evidence…
First day at school? Did you prep for the test? Andrew Milligan/PA Archive

We must scrap new baseline tests for primary school children

From September 2016, within five weeks of starting primary school, all children in England will receive an assessment that will stay on their record. But we have been here before and it didn’t work. The…
Better speech and brighter horizons. John Stillwell/PA Wire

Preschool attendance boosts language in disadvantaged children

All children with early language problems are at increased risk of struggling at school, and having reduced employment opportunities and life chances, but the risk of early language problems is disproportionately…
Time to go back to work? Toddler via Photographee.eu/Shutterstock

Why free childcare is not helping many mums back to work

Over the last 20 years, early childhood education and childcare for the under-fives has become a major policy priority in the UK. Get more mothers into work, it’s argued, and we can start to close the…
School, or more play? Kindergarden kids by Robert Kneschke/Shutterstock

Hard Evidence: at what age are children ready for school?

When are children “ready” for school? There is much debate about when the transition between play-based pre-school and the start of “formal” schooling should begin. The trend in the UK primary school curriculum…
Talk to me, Dad. Father and son via sashahaltam/Shutterstock

Talking to your babies could help them do better at school

The rate at which children learn language varies substantially from child to child. Some children show rapid vocabulary growth before they go to school, while others learn so slowly that they can end up…
Forget the daily grunt… can we learn more vocab today? kaarsten child image via Shutterstock

Listening, not testing, will improve children’s vocabulary

Every few months a story appears about the declining speech and language skills of children arriving in primary school. The epithet “the daily grunt” was invented by one newspaper to capture the lack of…
Do you think your Mum and Dad made the right choice? John Stillwell/PA

What should parents look for when choosing a nursery?

Choosing a good quality nursery is one of the most important decisions any parent will make during the first years of their child’s life. In a recent report, UK school and childcare regulator Ofsted acknowledged…
My mum could use that extra cash. Peter Macdiarmid/PA

New childcare accounts help those who already afford quality

The coalition has placed a series of new plans on the table with regard to childcare and early years education. Most eye-catching is the new “tax-free childcare” scheme: from September 2015, for every…
You can tell me anything. Mother & son image via Shutterstock

Bonding with your child matters for their life chances

The idea that parenting matters for early child development is now widely accepted. We also now know a great deal about the role of parenting in social inequalities in development. Parents with more resources…
Double Dutch? Toddlers in the Netherlands get preschool language lessons. Valerie Kuypers/EPA

Early years education is a class leveller, not an optional extra

Learning certainly starts at birth, and some believe even before. Care by parents in the first three years of a child’s life is absolutely critical in order to learn how to walk, talk, self-regulate, and…
Too many two-year-olds. Edmond Terakopian/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Very few schools are ready to take two-year-olds into class

Proposals to allow schools to start looking after two-year-olds go to the heart of a long-standing tension in education policy: is early childhood provision about childcare for working parents or is it…

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