by Sally Thomas (DVD and Resource Pack, Heinemann, £250, 9780435899844)
Reviewed by Marion Dowling, early years consultant
These comprehensive training materials are beautifully presented in a file containing:
- invaluable information about how very young children develop and learn, and suggestions for observing and planning for them
- developmental steps to observe and suggested programmes of experiences to offer a child, organised into areas of learning
- practical suggestions for improvised games and songs
- a DVD showing good practice in two group settings.
The delight and enthusiasm that Sally Thomas takes in very early years practice shines through. She constantly reminds the reader to be alert to and respond to the needs of each unique baby and child.
The materials are well organised in three clear sections with eye-catching headings. There is a huge range of content and a good reference section.
I enjoyed the sub-section on play and active learning, and the sensible suggestion that when questioning the appropriateness of 'sitting down' times, practitioners should ask if children are eager, willing or required to do so.
The sub-section on planning takes the mystique out of this aspect of work and shows a fluid and flexible way of planning for the longer term. Useful points are made about recording observations. The programmes in Section Two offer sound practical advice. There is a bonus of being able to photocopy these pages and also the suggestions for improvised games and songs in Section Three.
The high-quality film highlights important incidents when babies and young children are cared for in group settings. In particular, I like a clip that emphasises the use of open-ended cardboard resources, validates planning for ongoing activity and shows the adult as a constant support.
Early years trainers should seriously consider purchasing this package as a support to interpret the Early Years Foundation Stage. It is authoritative and well researched, and highlights and expands on the most significant aspects of practice.
Young Children and Racial Justice
by Jane Lane (National Children's Bureau, £19.20 members/£23.99 non-members, 978190581259)
This accessible book provides essential advice for all childcare practitioners. Essential information covers Government policies, terminology, skin colour, living in mainly white areas, terrorism, name-calling, community cohesion, unlearning racism and how to deal with racist incidents. The book discusses how children form their attitudes towards other people who are different from themselves, and offers case studies that demonstrate good practice.