Skip to main content Skip to navigation

EQ103-15 Foundations for Learning: The Early Years

Education Studies
Undergraduate Level 1
Module leader
Emma Langley
Credit value
Module duration
10 weeks
100% coursework
Study location
University of Warwick main campus, Coventry
Introductory description

Experiences encountered in the early years of life and at the start of the learning and development journey can have a lasting impact upon the individual. We consider what this means in terms of early childhood care and education.

Module web page

Module aims
  1. To consider the foundation for learning in every context by looking at questions such as: What motivates children to learn? How do they learn? What should they learn?
  2. To critically consider what very young children (0-5 years) need in order to be able to engage with education and society and, become adults who contribute to that society.
  3. To develop an understanding of developmental theory (prenatal and through the early years).
  4. To interrogate key concepts that impact on a child's development and foundations for learning.
  5. To identify and critically consider key intitiatives (UK and Internationally) that have attempted to improve outcomes for disadvantaged young children.
  6. To study and reflect on the impact of research relating to early childhood education and care (for example, how policy and practice are affected)
Outline syllabus

This is an indicative module outline only to give an indication of the sort of topics that may be covered. Actual sessions held may differ.

The purpose of this module is to consider the foundation for learning in every context. It is based upon the premise that the early years are the foundations for a child’s development which enables them to engage with education and learning. This basis allows for active participation in their society. Key questions to consider are: What motivates children to learn? How do they learn? What should they learn?

The module will consider what very young children (0-5 years) need in order to be able to engage with education and society, and become adults who contribute to that society. This will be done through addressing key concepts in terms of developmental theory (prenatal and through the early years), holistic learning, diversity and inclusion, the role of adults and society, and leadership and governance. These concepts will be considered through identifying and looking at various comparative studies (e.g. OECD Starting Strong), initiatives that look at ECCE in an integrated way (e.g. HighScope, Headstart, SureStart, HCP), research (e.g. EPPE) and its influence on policy and practice (e.g. EYFS, ECM, Children Act).

Key topics will include:
-Genetics and Neuroscience
-Neonatal behaviour and learning
-Developmental theories (EY specific)
Bronfenbrenner’s ecological theory (the influence of society, gender, family, race and culture, religion, policy, environment)
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and issues of well-being
Attachment and relationships (Winnicott, Bowlby , Ainsworth, Trevarthen)
-Areas of child development (linked to other topics listed here)
emotional and moral (inc. identity and self-esteem)
social (inc. interacting with world and social competence)
-The notion of holistic learning
mind, body, spirit
-Readiness to learn
Early intervention (vulnerable children)
Inclusion and SEN
Language (bilingualism, EAL)
-Children’s voice/listening to children (not focused on rights of child)
How children communicate
Building a curriculum from lived experience
-Curriculum issues
E.g. of EYFS and key areas for learning
Assessment/baseline assessment
-Influence of research and evaluation and issues of quality
SureStart (HeadStart HighScope)
EPPE and transforming ECCE landscape in England (and Wales)
(Hart and Risley – children learning to talk and engage in social world)
(Wood, Bennett, Rogers – teachers’ theories of play – impact on current curriculum)
-Leadership and governance of ECCE settings
Leadership and management in the early years
Policy agendas and influence
Inspections and measures of ‘quality’
-Role of adults (contexts for learning)
Range of ECCE settings
Learning in environments other than ECCE settings
Parents as primary educators (parents as partners, parents' ethnotheories)
Integrated working
Training and workforce issues
-Diversity (impact on provision offered and how beneficial it is)
race, ethnicity
culture, religion
socio-economic status

Learning outcomes

By the end of the module, students should be able to:

  • be able to give a rationale as to why the early years are fundamental to future development and learning;
  • have considered what very young children need in order to be able to engage with education and society;
  • have developed an understanding of developmental theory (prenatal and through the early years);
  • be able to interrogate key concepts that impact on a child's development and foundations for learning;
  • be able to identify and critically consider key national and international intitiatives and research focused on improving life chances of young children;
  • have considered the interplay between research, initiatives, policy and practice relating to early childhood education and care.
Indicative reading list

Abbott, L. & Langston, A. (Eds) (2004) Birth to Three Matters Buckingham, Open University Press
Athey, C. (2006) Extending Thought in Young Children London, Sage Publications (2nd Edition)
Aubrey, C. (2007) Leading and Managing in the Early Years. 2nd Edition. London: Sage.
Barlow, J. and Svanberg, P. O. (2009) Keeping the Baby in Mind: Infant Mental Health in Practice. Oxon: Routledge.
Beckley, P. (2012). Learning in Early Childhood. London: Sage
Bennett, N., Wood, E. and Rogers, S. (1997) Teaching Through Play. Teachers’ thinking and classroom practice. Buckingham: Open University Press.
Bowlby, J. (1979) The Making and Breaking of Affectional Bonds. Oxon: Routledge.
Brooker, L. (2002), Starting School – Young Children Learning Cultures. Buckingham: Open University.
Bruer J T (1999) The Myth of the First Three Years New York: The Free Press
Cohen, D. (2013) How the Child's Mind Develops (2nd ed). London : Routledge.
Dahlberg, G. and Moss, P. (Eds.), (2005) Ethics and Politics in Early Childhood Education. London: Routledge/Falmer.
DCSF (2007). The Children's Plan: Building Brighter Futures, Department for Children, Schools and Families.
Department for Children Schools and Families. (2006) The Impact of Sure Start Local Programmes on Three Year Olds and Their Families.
Department for Education (2012) Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage. Runcorn: DfE.
Doherty, J. & Hughes, M. (2009) Child Development: Theory and Practice 0-11 London, Person Longman
Evangelou, M., Sylva, K., Edwards, A., and Smith, T. (2008) Supporting Parents in Promoting Early Learning.
Fabian, H. and Mould, C. (2009) development and Learning for Very Young Children. London: Sage
Gerhardt, S. (2009) Why love matters: how affection shapes a baby’s brain. East Sussex: Routledge.
Gray, C. and Macblain, S. (2012). Learning Theories in Childhood. London: Sage.
Hart, B. and Risley, T. (1999) The Social World of Children Learning to Talk. Maryland, US: Paul. H. Brookes Publishing.
Hoghughi, M. and Long, N. (2004) Handbook of Parenting: theory and research for practice. London: Sage Publications. (e-book).
Maslow, A.H. (1943) "A Theory of Human Motivation" Psychological Review, 50, 370-396.
McLachlan, C., Fleer, M., and Edwards, S. (2010) Early Childhood Curriculum: planning, assessment and implementation. Edinbugh: Cambridge University Press.
Music, G. (2011) Nurturing Natures: Attachment and Children's Emotional, Sociocultural and Brain Development. East Sussex: Psychology Press
Nutbrown, C., Clough, P. and Selbie, P. (2008) Early Childhood Education. History, Philosophy and Experience. London: Sage.
OECD (2006) Starting Strong II. Early Childhood Education and Care. France: OECD Publishing.
Peters, M., K. Seeds, et al. (2007). "Parental Involvement in Children’s Education 2007." London: Department for Children, Schools and Families.
Pugh, G and Duffy, B. (2013) Contemporary Issues in the Early Years (6th edition). Sage: London.
Richter, M. and Andresen, S. (2012) The Politicization of Parenthood: shifting private and public responsibilities in education and child rearing. New York: Springer. (e-book).
Roberts, H. (2012) What works in Reducing Inequalities in Child Health (2nd edition) Bristol: The Policy Press
Robinson, M. (2008) Child Development from Birth to Eight Maidenhead, Open University Press
Robinson, S. (2012) Developing Thinking and Understanding in Young Children (2nd ed). London: Routledge.
Siraj-Blatchford, I. and Clarke, P. (2000) Supporting Identity, Diversity and Language in the Early Years. Buckingham: Open University Press.
Sylva, K., Melhuish, E., Sammons, P., Siraj-Blatchford, I. and Taggart, B. (2010) Early Childhood Matters. Evidence from the Effective Pre-School and Primary Education Project. London: Routledge.
Underdown, A. (2007). Young Children's Health and Well-being. Maidenhead: Open University Press
Weinberger, J., Pickstone, C. and Hannon, P. (Eds.) (2005) Learning from Sure Start. Working with young children and their families. Maidenhead: open University Press.
Whalley, M. and the Pen green Team (2001) Involving parents in their children’s learning. London: Paul chapman Publishing.
Yelland, N. (Ed.) (2005) Critical Issues in Early Childhood Education. Maidenhead: open University Press.

View reading list on Talis Aspire

Subject specific skills

Students should demonstrate a critical understanding of -

  • the underlying values, theories and concepts relevant to childhood and education
  • reflect upon a range of psychological, sociological, health, historical and philosophical perspectives and consider how these underpin different understandings of babies and young children and childhood
  • the diversity of learners and the complexities of the education process
  • apply multiple perspectives to early childhood issues, recognising that early childhood studies involves a range of research methods, theories, evidence and applications
  • integrate ideas and findings across the multiple perspectives in early childhood studies
  • the complexity of the interaction between learning and local and global contexts, and the extent to which participants (including learners and teachers) can influence the learning process
  • the societal and organisational structures and purposes of educational systems, and the possible implications for young learners and the learning process
  • demonstrate a critical understanding of the interrelationships between political, economic, cultural and ideological contexts in the lives of children and their families and communities
  • constructively critique theories, practice and research in the area of child development and education
Transferable skills
  • Active listening • Communication skills • Confidence • Coordinating with others • Critical thinking • Interpersonal and communication skills • Judgement and decision making • Management of learning • Motivation, tenacity, commitment • Negotiation • Passion • Personal development skills • Planning and organisational skills • Team working

Study time

Type Required Optional
Lectures 15 sessions of 1 hour (10%)
Seminars 15 sessions of 1 hour (10%)
Tutorials (0%) 2 sessions of 15 minutes
Private study 120 hours (80%)
Total 150 hours
Private study description

Independent study hours include background reading, completing reading/other tasks in preparation for timetabled teaching sessions, undertaking research using the library resources, follow-up reading work, working on individual and group projects, the completion of formative and summative assignments, revision


No further costs have been identified for this module.

You must pass all assessment components to pass the module.

Assessment group A
Weighting Study time
Exam Week 100%

This assessment will take the form of an 'Exam Week'. In a specified week after the teaching on the module has finished, students will answer a series of questions in essay form (working to a maximum overall word limit). The questions will be made available on the Monday morning and students will have until the Friday afternoon to complete the assessment. The module leader will confirm the exact specification of this assessment once the module teaching begins.

Feedback on assessment

Cohort feedback


This module is Core for:

  • Year 1 of UEQA-X35B Undergraduate Education Studies