You are here

Resources to help you teach online

See our resources page for information, support and best practices.

Due to the current restrictions in place, our inspection copy policy has changed. Please refer to our updated inspection copy policy for details.

Learning Theories for Early Years Practice

Learning Theories for Early Years Practice

March 2018 | 120 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd
Understanding and applying learning theories is crucial to the transition from study or training, to practice in a real-world setting. This new textbook will prepare the reader by demonstrating how key learning theories pan out in practice, with the aid of photographs, examples and clear explanations. Divided into three main sections, Early Influences, Modern Influences, and Challenges for Theorists in a Changing World, this author identifies the key theorists in early childhood, past and present, before linking them to the main issues and developments that face early years practitioners today.

An explanation of each key theorist is guided by a clear structure, including:

  • links to other theorists
  • strengths and weaknesses of the theory
  • the theory in practice

Packed full of case studies, activities, points for discussion, extended and recommended reading, this is a fantastic resource for students and teachers who want to build a strong foundation in learning theories, to enable them to support the young children in their care as effectively as possible.

Chapter 1: Introduction
Part 1: Early Influences
Chapter 2: John Locke and the Emergence of Empiricism
Chapter 3: Jean-Jacques Rousseau and the Concept of ‘Child’
Chapter 4: Johann Pestalozzi and the Importance of Nature
Chapter 5: Friederich Froebel and the Importance of Play
Chapter 6: Rachel and Margaret McMillan and Social Reform
Chapter 7: Sigmund Freud and the Psychodynamic Tradition
Chapter 8: Rudolf Steiner and the Changing Needs of Children
Chapter 9: Maria Montessori: The Environment and Learning
Part 2: Modern Influences
Chapter 10: John Dewey and Child-Centred Education
Chapter 11: Burrhus Skinner and the Behaviourists
Chapter 12: Jean Piaget: An Enduring Legacy
Chapter 13: Lev Vygotsky: Learning and Social Constructivism
Chapter 14: Albert Bandura and Social Learning Theory
Chapter 15: Urie Bronfenbrenner and Learning in Context
Chapter 16: Jerome Bruner and Constructivism
Chapter 17: Howard Gardner and Theories of Multiple Intelligence
Chapter 18: Reuven Feuerstein and Instrumental Enrichment
Chapter 19; Nel Noddings and the Ethics of Care
Chapter 20: Te Whariki
Chapter 21: Loris Malaguzzi and Reggio Emilia
Part 3: Challenges for Theorists in a Changing World
Chapter 22: The Realities of Childhood Today
Chapter 23: Emotional Intelligence
Chapter 24: How Children Play
Chapter 25: Forest Schools
Chapter 26: Learning and the Brain
Chapter 27: The Emergence of Digital Learning

In this book Dr Sean MacBlain has expertly summarised each theorist, from the classics right up to the modern day. By putting each theory into historical and social context, the reader can really understand the significance of each child development theory, as well as its relevance to current practice.


The additional information, such as strengths and weaknesses, case studies and comparison to other theories will be incredibly valuable for students. The instructive and beautiful illustrations make this a visually engaging book, creating an essential text for Early Years practitioners.

Kathy Brodie
Early Years Author and Consultant

A great starting point for Foundation Stage students who need some grounding in EY theory. A broad list of theoretical perspectives are explored and further resources are suggested for the reader to take necessary exploration further

Ms Michelle Yeoman
Children Young People and Education, York St John University
September 23, 2019

This is a really easy to read book with a clear layout. I like the links made to practice which makes it more relevant to the students I teach.

Mrs Gail Helen Whenman
Education, Petroc College
June 7, 2019

A comprehensive and easy accessible work - all the necessary literature provided with good case examples.

Mrs Toni Benaton
Britannia Mill Campus, Derby University
May 2, 2019

The book presents the major theories of learning related to EY practice in an accessible format.

Mrs Anne Shaw
Early Years, Bolton University
February 6, 2019

Handy, easy to read book that you can use to start a first look into theory and refer back to when needed. Practical activities and discussion points are helpful

Mrs Dawn Burnham
Early Years, Farnborough College of Technology
January 30, 2019

This book really helped me to support students to understand the content of learning theories that are related with the early years practice.

Dr Evgenia Theodotou
CASS School of Education & Communities, University of East London
December 20, 2018

Good reading material for a basic understanding of theory. Excellent sign posting to additional reading material with relevant case studies to support

Miss Victoria Ratchford
Early Years (Parsons Walk Campus), Wigan and Leigh College
March 27, 2018

The idea of brief overview of theories for EY practice is great, however this book would benefit from more examples of contemporary references to stand out from other similar publications.

Ms Maryna Bentley
Early Years, Gloucestershire College
March 27, 2018

The students have really liked this book. When I have taken it into sessions they have found this to be extremely useful and many have them have gone on to purchase their own copies. They like the fact that it is a central point of reference for the key theorists and that the theorists are explained in plain English. They find it very easy to use

Mrs tanya richardson
School of Education, Northampton University
March 2, 2018

Sample Materials & Chapters


For instructors

Please select a format:

Select a Purchasing Option

ISBN: 9781526432094

ISBN: 9781526432087