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Learning Theories in Childhood

Learning Theories in Childhood

Second Edition
Additional resources:

September 2015 | 240 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd

Focusing on the early philosophies of learning and key behavioural, cognitive, and social theorists, including Locke, Rousseau, Montessori, Piaget, Vygotsky, Bandura, Bronfenbrenner & Bruner, this popular book provides a comprehensive overview of children's learning. The authors highlight the strengths and weaknesses of each theoretical perspective, and encourage reflection on how different approaches impact on the learning environment. The discussion finishes with an exploration of the new sociology of childhood.

New to this Second Edition are:

·          a new chapter on 'What is theory and what is learning?

·          a new chapter on ‘The Changing nature of learning’

There is also a new companion website which features:

·          journal articles to read alongside each chapter

·          podcasts from the authors explaining the key points on each topic

·          links to video material discussing key theories and methods.

You can access the books online materials at

Accessibly written, with key questions and recommended reading included, this book is essential for all those studying on child development, early childhood and childhood studies courses, and for anyone interested in understanding more about how children learn and think.

Colette Gray is Head of Research Development and Principal Lecturer in Childhood Studies at Stanmillis University College, Belfast, and Sean MacBlain is Reader in Child Development and Disability at the University of St. Mark & St. John, Plymouth.

For access to the website
An Introduction to Learning Theories
The Developmental Process Underpinning Learning: The Role of Theory and Philosophy
The Founding Fathers and Philosophies of Learning
Classical and Operant Conditioning: The Early Years Experience
Piaget, Learning and Cognitive Constructivism
Vygotsky: Learning in a Social Matrix
Bandura, Bronfenbrenner and Social Learning
Bruner and Discovery Learning/Constructivism
New Perspectives: Childhood Studies
Theory in Practice: Learning and the Reflective Practitioner
The Changing Nature of Learning

This second edition provides an accessible introduction to child development with clear links to theoretical perspectives about how children think and learn.
The book concludes with an interesting chapter about the changing nature of the contexts for learning in today's society.

Mrs Zoe Lewis
Education, Birmingham City University
April 9, 2016

This is a lucid and quite broad exploration of a range of pedagogical theory. It is accessible for students and organised in a logical and effective manner.

Dr Louise Campbell
Moray House School of Education, Edinburgh University
June 16, 2016

A clear, informative text that gives a very readable overview of some of the key learning theories in childhood. Very relevant to Early Childhood Studies.

Mrs Kath Priestley
Dept of Education & Social Studies, Derby University
October 6, 2015

A really well organised book which discusses learning theories in ways particularly well suited to those new to this discipline

Mrs Bernice Sutcliffe
Education , Leeds City College
June 14, 2016

This book provides a fluently written and accessible overview of childhood learning theories. Due to the brevity of each section, the book would be most suitable for undergraduate or MSc level students. Key learning theorists, Piaget, Vygotsky, Bandura, fBronfenbrenner and Bruener, are clearly introduced, their work set into context and their main findings summarised. The section on the difference between theory and hypothesis is particularly useful for first year university-level students, who may not yet have articulated this difference.

Mrs Udeni Salmon
Salford Business School, Salford University
June 7, 2016

Good quality informative text to use as a supportive source

care and early years, Tresham Institute
May 5, 2016

An excellent introduction for Education students with no previous experience of learning theory. Contains good, clear examples from practice, structured well. The advantages and disadvantages of approaches/theories are juxtaposed, great for building critical analysis skills in Masters assignments. This book has enabled SCITT trainees to understand the importance of learning theory to their developing practice.

Miss Christine Ann Lewis
Professional Development , Edge Hill University
February 10, 2016

Clear and concise, and includes current approaches.

Ms Stella Harcourt
Further and Higher Education, South Essex College
April 1, 2016

Comprehensive text book offering clear accessible information, some formulated into tables making it accessible and allowing students to identify, collate and examine theorists. A really useful resource for undergraduate study.

Ms Caroline Brooks
Faculty of Development & Society, Sheffield Hallam University
March 1, 2016

This book is a valuable resource for our early years courses. A number of theories have been presented in an accessible and informative way for students. Different perspectives have been discussed and the learning is supported with exercises and highlights of key points. The sections that situate each theory in action are particularly useful in enabling students to contextualize learning theories and apply their developing knowledge to practice. The comparisons between different theories are also useful as well as the more contemporary outlook in the last two chapters.

Dr Dimitrina Kaneva
Health and Community Studies, University of Bolton
January 12, 2016

Sample Materials & Chapters

Learning Theories in Childhood Sample Chapter