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Introduction to Early Childhood Education

Introduction to Early Childhood Education

Eighth Edition
Additional resources:

January 2019 | 496 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc
Introduction to Early Childhood Education provides current and future educators with a highly readable, comprehensive overview of the field. The underlying philosophy of the book is that early childhood educators’ most important task is to provide a program that is sensitive to and supports the development of young children. Author Eva L. Essa and new co-author Melissa Burnham provide valuable insight by strategically dividing the book into six sections that answer the “What, Who, Why, Where, and How” of early childhood education. Utilizing both NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children) and DAP (Developmentally Appropriate Practice) standards, this supportive text provides students with the skills, theories, and best practices needed to succeed and thrive as early childhood educators.

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About the Authors
Chapter 1. The Scope of and Need for Early Childhood Education
Developmentally Appropriate Practice and Early Childhood Standards

The Growth of Early Childhood Education

What Is Included in Early Childhood Education?

Defining Quality in Early Childhood Programs

The Future of Early Childhood Education


Chapter 2. The Children
Age-Related Commonalities Among Children

Factors That Influence Child Development

Children With Different Abilities

Working With Families of Young Children


Chapter 3. The Families
A Theoretical Perspective

The Changing American Family

The Needs of Families

Communicating With Families

Family Engagement


Chapter 4. The Teachers and Caregivers
The Early Childhood Teacher and Caregiver

Staffing in Early Childhood Programs

Training and Regulation in Early Childhood Education


Some Current Issues and Dilemmas

Family Support for the Early Childhood Profession


Chapter 5. Rationale Supporting Early Childhood Education
A Look Back—Children Through Time

Influential People in the History of Early Childhood Education

Influential Theorists’ Views of Child Development

Application of Theories in Early Childhood Education

Research Support for Early Childhood Education


Chapter 6. Accountability, Standards, and Assessment
Accountability: Program Standards and Assessment

Learning Standards for Young Children

Child Assessment: Informal Methods

Child Assessment: Formal Methods

Assessment Systems

Family Collaboration in Screening and Assessment


Chapter 7. Helping Children Cope With Stress
Defining Stress and Coping

Sources of Stress in Children’s Lives

Resilient Children

Techniques to Help Children Cope With Stress

Helping Families Cope With Stress


Chapter 8. The Physical Environment
Effects of the Physical Environment

Arranging the Indoor Environment

Arranging the Outdoor Environment

Adapting Environments for Different Ages and Abilities

Developmentally Appropriate Equipment

Developmentally Appropriate Materials

Technology and Interactive Media


Chapter 9. Scheduling and Curriculum Planning
Components of the Early Childhood Schedule

Guidelines for Program Scheduling

Types of Schedules

What Is Curriculum?

Theme-Based Curriculum

Emergent Curriculum

Family Involvement in the Curriculum


Chapter 10. Creative Development Through the Curriculum
What Is Creativity?

An Environment That Encourages Creativity

Art Theories and Philosophies

Art Activities

Music Activities

Supporting Creativity in Children of Different Ages and Abilities

Factors That Decrease Creativity

Family Values for Creativity


Chapter 11. Physical Development Through the Curriculum
A Developmental Framework for Motor Development

Components of Motor Development

Gross Motor Activities

Fine Motor Activities—Manipulatives

Caring for the Body

Supporting Physical Development in Children of Different Ages and Abilities

Family Values Related to Physical Development and Care


Chapter 12. Cognitive Development Through the Curriculum
Theoretical Foundations of Cognitive Development

Tools of the Mind

Cognitive Tasks


Supporting STEM Learning in Children of Different Ages and Abilities

Family Values for Cognitive Development


Chapter 13. Language Development Through the Curriculum
Theoretical Views of Language Development

Components of Language

English Language Learners

Language and the Early Childhood Curriculum

Supporting Language and Literacy Development in Children of Different Ages and Abilities

Family Values for Language and Literacy Development


Chapter 14. Social–Emotional Development Through the Curriculum
Theoretical Views of the Socialization Process

Emotional Intelligence

Development of Social Competence

Promoting Anti-Bias Attitudes

Activities That Promote Social Development

Supporting Social Development in Children of Different Ages and Abilities

Reflecting the Family’s Culture and Values


Chapter 15. Guiding Routines and Group Activities
Guiding Routines for Individual Children

Guiding Routines for Groups of Children

Factors That Affect Group Behavior

Out-of-the-Ordinary or Unexpected Situations

Coordinating With Families About Routines


Chapter 16. Guiding Social Behaviors
What Behaviors Do Educators Expect of Young Children?

Philosophies of Guidance

Some Techniques of Guidance

What Is the Difference Between Normal and Problem Behavior?

Factors That Affect Children’s Behavior

Dealing With Specific Behavior Challenges

Working With Families to Solve Behavior Challenges


Pulling It All Together: An Early Childhood Classroom Observation
Appendix: Standards Correlation Matrix


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“Great book for helping students identify developmentally appropriate standards and practices.”

Lisa White
Athens Technical College

“A foundational text for early childhood education topics that is cognizant of and responsive to the current practices and concerns that recent brain-based research encourages EC practitioners to be aware of and proficient in for the success of the whole child. The text's features makes it more approachable than most texts, while simultaneously providing a myriad of prompts for further discussion and/or reflection.”

Dr. Lauren E. Burrow
Stephen F. Austin State University

“Essa and Burnham’s text is clear and concise, and presents information in an easy-to-understand format for my students. The textbook includes NAEYC standards and stresses Developmentally Appropriate Practices and play.”

Dr. Lois Silvernail
Spring Hill College

“This book provides the historical contexts, rationale, and a great overview of the early childhood profession.”

Wendy P. Jung
Tulane University
Key features
  • New co-author Melissa Burnham contributes in-depth knowledge of child development, extensive understanding of brain architecture, application of the latest brain research to practice, and a deep comprehension of progressive models of education.
  • This edition reflects the latest research, statistics, policy, and changes in the field of early childhood education, providing the latest information as students enter the field.
  • All chapters now begin with specific learning objectives based on Bloom’s Taxonomy, helping to better organize the chapters and tie the objectives to the main sub-sections as well as to the NAEYC Standards for Professional Preparation Programs.
  • All chapters list the specific NAEYC standard(s) met in the section and include in-depth links leading to NAEYC Standards for further study.
  • The renamed feature, Brain Science, focuses on recent brain development research, tying an aspect of child development to the study of the brain and discussing how and why this research is relevant to early childhood education practitioners.
  • Video cases, included in the Interactive eBook, offer students the opportunity to observe real-life educators and classrooms to provide teachers-in-training a sense of what to expect in their future classrooms.
  • Thorough coverage of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) discusses the role of digital tools as an avenue for engaging creative activities, while also acknowledging ways in which electronic media can possibly impede creativity.
  • An expanded discussion surrounding ever-changing technology is included throughout.


  • Learning Objectives at the beginning of each chapter prepare readers for encountering the material covered in each chapter and provide clear direction for navigating the content.
  • Learning Objectives are paired with NAEYC Standards—a summary of the standards discussed in each chapter are provided, preparing readers for which standards will be covered and where they are discussed in more depth.
  • Each chapter opens with a quotation from the book, Developmentally Appropriate Practice (DAP) to underscore the importance of this topic in the field of early childhood education.
  • The Take a Closer Look feature offers in-depth information about a topic of importance to the field of early childhood education.
  • Stories from the Field are found in each chapter and feature a story from an early childhood practitioner, providing firsthand narratives and insight into what makes working with young children meaningful to professionals.
  • Working with Families sections focus on one of the important tasks of early childhood teachers—communicating, coordinating, and working with families—demonstrating how parents and other family members are integral to early childhood programs.
  • Key Questions are posed at the end of each chapter to help readers reflect on the information and further explore its relevance, with some questions suggesting activities to reinforce understanding of the topic.
  • End-of-chapter study tools include chapter summaries and additional resources, including books, articles, and websites that contain information relevant to early childhood education in relation to the topic of the chapter.

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