The book "International Perspectives in the Early Years" is definitely worthwhile reading. The reader realises straightaway that the book is research-focused and the authors are prominent researchers and practitioners from various countries. All the authors are highly respected in their field and they draw knowledge upon an impressive breadth and depth of practice. It is remarkable how they have achieved to provide a clear illustration of the fundamentals details of the life in the setting they provide as examples.
The book is well structured and the text is systematically set out. Albeit the subject is highly multifarious, the content is easy to follow and access. The book is clearly divided into two parts; firstly, the authors discuss the issues of "care, education and notions of intervention" and secondly, they talk about "children’s spaces". Amid other issues, the book highlights the relationship of EC and Primary Education (PE), the significance of the inclusion of Roma children and the perceptions of using outdoors in early childhood education centres in England, Hungary and Denmark.
One of the key aspects of the book is to explore national and international policies and perspectives on critical issues in Early Childhood Education (EC) and Early Childhood Education Centres (ECEC). Professionalism and up-skilling in early childhood workforce, as well as interventions in the lives of children and families, are among the main issues that the book addresses. The authors have chosen to use different examples from Europe and Mexico as evidence to question existing policies and practices in the world.
Due to the recent interest in Early Childhood, especially from an international perspective, this book is a key text for students of Early Years at all levels, early years' practitioners and those that are training to become practitioners in the near future. The readers are encouraged to consider, how international evidence provided can be used as a vehicle for questioning existing practices and policies, and how these can provoke debate. Even more, there is a challenge to consider what standards and goals are worth sharing and working towards.
The main philosophy underpinning this book is that the children are the experts in their own life, and deserve and have the right to self-expression, citizenship as well as a sense of belonging in ECEC. One of the contributions of the book is that the child’s experience is valued; in the here and now and that is what is considered greatly important. In main, the book highlights the importance of advocating knowledge from a range of disciplines when considering ECEC in an international context.
The editors of the book, Linda Miller and Claire Cameron, most certainly meet the promises that they stated in the introduction. They have used case studies in order to address all of the aforementioned issues they wanted to examine, as well as offering comprehensive suggestions for further reading and reflection for the readers.
Overall, this is a useful book as a source of evidence of the varied practices at a national and international level and how these can influence practice and policy decision design specifically in early years' settings. In addition, an interesting part of this book is the reflective task that can be found at the end of each chapter, under the subtitle "Questions for discussion". This task challenges the readers to critically reflect upon their experiences and think forward with issues each chapter addresses. A lot of ECEC can use this task in order to offer training for their staff and work collaboratively to promote effective practice in their workplace. I have enjoyed reading the book and would recommend it to students who would like to extend their knowledge about EC and ECEC from an international perspective.
Review by Athina Tempriou (2016) 'International Perspectives in the Early Years'. Research in Teacher Education. Vol 6 (No.2).