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Becoming a mother after becoming a teacher can bring new insights into the work of early years practitioners, as Phoebe Doyle found out.

The foundation for learning is the physical readiness nurtured by carers in the years before a child starts school, writes Sally Goddard Blythe.

New products for play and learning indoors and outdoors are previewed by Ruth Thomson.

The work of an education pioneer has profound relevance today, says Julian Grenier.

A different way of observing children in role play challenges what practitioners offer in the learning environment, says Anne O'Connor.

Lesbian and gay issues need to be addressed by all practitioners in the early years, says Kath Tayler.

Think about ways to encourage children to be independent, to express their preferences and gain a sense of personal identity with these examples of practice from Plum Harrison.

Giving parents the hours of childcare they want doesn't always mesh with what an early years setting is able to offer. Melanie Defries hears how nursery practitioners handle it.

Mary Dickins is an early years consultant (All Together Consultancy/London Met. University)

Food is not just a fuel, but a factor in social relationships and personal attitudes, as Dr Maria Robinson finds in a typical case at nurseries.