For those preparing to celebrate Christmas, this is a time when little children wish that Santa will bring their much desired toy, and many parents do their best to make those wishes come true. We have to be mindful, of course, that the time when many celebrate, is also a season of pain, and want, and struggle, and when the wishes of Christmas fantasy are far from any lived reality.
Looking back over this year, those working in the early years have had many moments when 'three wishes' might have made important differences to early childhood education and care, in the UK and worldwide.
Throughout 2014, I have asked readers to think with me about a number of things:
The inseparability of 'care' and 'education'.
Challenging policy and changing practice. We need to lobby politicians while addressing the immediate needs of children and families.
Understanding and celebrating difference. Children need to spend time with adults who can help them understand and appreciate difference.
Children's choices. Young children need skilled adult support to understand something about power to choose, so that they can grow up understanding the importance of making choices.
Informing politicians about young children.
We need continually to share with policy makers our knowledge about young children.
Peace and social justice.
We need to help young children to challenge inequalities and seek solutions that don't involve fighting and punishing.
Allowing children time.
We need to be patient with the early years of childhood, create the best conditions for babies, toddlers and young children to grow and learn.
The fascination of children's play. Children need adults who understand the importance of creating inviting spaces, time and freedom to play.
Working with the future is demanding. Skilled practitioners are crucial. The parents, politicians, authors, bus drivers, builders, architects, nurses, doctors, dancers and musicians of 2034 are in early years settings now!
In the Christmas Story, the star of Bethlehem was a star of hope. Around the world, people at the turn of the year renew their hopes for peace, freedom, health and justice for all. In addition to these overarching concerns, what would your 'three wishes' for children and their families, and for early education and care be for 2015?