Book Review by Sue Kennedy
The focus of Promoting Children’s Well-being in the Primary Years (Right from the Start) children and in particular primary years education. The book is a collaborative production “on a grand scale” say the editors, and when you read the notes on the contributors this is not an exaggeration. All the contributors have a teaching background and diverse personal and practice experience that covers every area of child development and they offer a variety of creative ways of engaging and teaching children in education settings. At the heart of the book is a belief that all children have the right to develop emotionally and physically free from harm or trauma. It is this approach that is a central theme and the relevance is made clearer by the fact that the book is the result of work by Right from the Start, a charitable company set up with the aim of promoting the well-being of children and adults.
At a time when all those working as part of the children’s workforce are working with the Children Act 2004 – Every Child Matters, the philosophy of the charity that celebrates the uniqueness of each child is a good base-line. How the book links to the Children Act 2004 is not clear, and while there is a summary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, there is no mention of how both pieces of legislation work together for and on behalf of children, and that is a lost opportunity.
The creativity and inventiveness of some of the approaches to promoting children’s well-being draws the reader in and you will find yourself going from chapter to chapter exploring a range of ‘narratives’, activities and research outcomes. The book is aimed at teachers but the content could be used in a number of child and adult settings. For example Jenny Mosley’s chapter on Look After Yourself could be adapted across the professions, ages, health, education and social work settings. The book has an easy-going style to it that sits well with the content that includes using dance, drama and movement with children as a medium for learning.
The aims and underpinning philosophy cannot be argued with. The only issue is that Every Child Matters is conditional and for many double standards apply.
Edited by Andrew Burell and Jeni Riley
Network Education Press
ISBN 13 9781855391192
This book is published by Right from the Start Charity Group.