1 General overview
1.1 An overview of the course
The relationship between observation of children and educational theory is central to the teaching of this course: the theory should help you make sense of what you observe, while your observations should help you make sense of the theory. This perspective is reflected in the activities you will find in the blocks of study material. We recommend that you keep a notebook as you work through the course. You can use this both for the activities that you do at home and for those that involve observation of and working with children. If you keep your notebook with you as you work in your setting, you can use it to record other observations, useful discussions with colleagues and any other information that may help you with your study.
We anticipate that most students will be working in early years settings somewhere in the United Kingdom, and we make reference, where appropriate, to curriculum guidance and other relevant documents published by government for the four UK countries – England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Given the range of settings in which students of this course are working, and the variety of curricula (according to age, type of setting, location, etc.) in which their work is framed, it would be impossible for every example used in the material to apply directly to your particular circumstances. In some ways this is a good thing: it will enable you to gain insights into the learning of children who are in older and younger age ranges than those you are used to; moreover, being able to make comparisons of your ownway of working with that of other settings can give valuable insights too. It is also more than possible that one day you will find yourself working in a context different fromyour current one. However, we have tried to make the course as widely relevant as possible, and we encourage you to consider carefully all the arguments, case studies and examples used, to see what insights they can offer in your own situation.
Similarly, although most of the examples and case studies involve English-speaking children, we hope that it will be clear that the points we are making apply equally where the medium is Welsh, Gaelic or another language.