Listening to Children in the Early YearsReviews

Listening to Children in their Early Years

Review: Playwords, Summer 2008


This book starts from the premise that children have a right to be heard, and to have their views taken into account, both from the point of view of being active citizens in their own environment and on the understanding that having an input into the play, care and learning helps to promote success. It draws on the experience of Sure Start’s Early Years Participation Project in Stockton on Tees.

They looked at how practitioners (mostly nurseries and primary schools) encouraged participation and consulted with young children under five. They collected examples of good practice, which can be found in the book. These are written up as training activities, case studies, ideas and suggestions The book is aimed at anyone working with young children, and is relevant to a range of settings – crèche, childminders etc. It sets out the rationale for listening to children, and goes briefly into the legislation and theory – but this is done in a very practical way, offering examples and ways of working that are simple yet creative.

The book deals with the challenging issue of effectively listening to young disabled children and those with complex needs, and gives some sensible suggestions of ways of working including the use of cameras, displays and stories. The overriding message is that in order to listen to children, it is important to get to know them well and to acknowledge what is important to them. Lastly, there is an extremely comprehensive list of resources including books, leaflets, websites and DVDs.


Reviewed by Joanne Smith, Extended Services Project Officer, London Borough of Bexley in Playwords (Summer 2008)

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Review: Nursery World, July, 2007

This is one of the most helpful and concise books on listening to young children which I have read in recent years. It includes many practical activities and interesting case studies.

The reader is guided to a deeper understanding of why listening to young children is so crucial for their healthy and holistic development. In the words of the author: ‘listening is used in its widest sense and involves tuning in to children, seeing the world from their own points of view, offering them choices, consulting them in matters that are important to their lives and adjusting what we do in light of their responses’.

She emphasises how crucial the adult role is if listening to children in their early years is to become habitual. To that end, there are clear chapters on the four main processes involved. These are:

  • communicating effectively

  • encouraging participation

  • tuning in

  • offering choices

Each chapter provides practical examples and summaries.

This book will be a valuable resource for anybody interested in finding out more about how to listen effectively to children in their early years. I hope it’s ‘small is beautiful’ format will make it one which everybody can afford to buy.

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Review: Special Needs Information Press, July, 2007 (SNIP)

An important book that will be of value to everyone who values listening to children. The author identifies a number of practical strategies and processes to develop effective and child friendly communication that includes: use of cameras, child conferencing, passports, the Mosaic approach etc. As always with books from QEd, fantastic value at £6. This short book (44 pages) would be a well used resource in all early years settings, particularly for ideas to ensure the active participation of children with SEN/disability.


Review: by Caroline Marshall, Home-Based Childcare Practitioner and Childcare Tutor.

The book is written from a Sure Start centre perspective and aimed at all early year’s professionals. It is set out in a format that is clear and welcoming. The book can easily be read quickly and it has a clear aim of helping practitioners to see the world from a child’s view so that they can really develop a listening culture in their own setting. This process involves tuning in to a child and receiving, interpreting and responding to children’s communication.

The book is presented in an accessible format with clear illustrations and explains to the novice why we need to listen to children and explains what theory and legislation underpins this understanding. This is logically followed by many strategies, activities and techniques we can use to extend our listening and communication expertise.

The book shares lots of ideas for consulting with children and offering them choices, lots of information to reinforce our practice and reminders to help us focus on what we already do. The book gives examples of observations and methods demonstrating how one setting built up their listening culture.

The final 2 chapters show us some examples of good practice in this area which can serve as good reference points when assessing our own practice.

I think this book can be valuable to a childminder, offering up to date ideas and information to inspire good practice. Much of what is suggested can be applied easily in a very small setting. It may help home-based child carers to see the potential for excellence in a very small setting.

8 out of 10

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