Developing the Whole Child - The Importance of the Emotional, Social, Moral, and Spiritual in Early Years Education and Care

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The critical importance of the early years is now recognized and it is widely acknowledged that early learning and experience remain crucial to all later development. A limited amount of publications are beginning to address the emotional and social domain. However, there are few if any publications which address the important areas of moral and spiritual growth. This book addresses the emotional, social, moral and spiritual progress of the young child. One of the vital aspects of this book is its proposal to optimize the progress of these areas within the context of the whole child. Its use of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs as its structural base to outline the needs of children provides a very useful framework for the reader to fully comprehend just what is involved. Though written by an Irish author the book tackles developmental areas and indeed philosophical questions which are important all over the world. The book shows that at present we are not doing the best for our children and the negative repercussions of this are being felt in homes, schools, communities and in societies worldwide. The author suggests that the best possible opportunities and experiences must be provided for children in those vital early years so that children have happy and fulfilling experiences. The book puts the onus on the reader to start making changes immediately. If we ignore this book’s contents we do so at our peril. Thus this book makes a very valuable contribution to scholarship and one that can not be ignored.


“This work is a powerful reminder to parents, policy makers and practitioners that attention to young children’s emotional, social, moral and spiritual development is absolutely essential. Mary Daly provides a moving account of her own reasons for seeing these elements of a holistic view of human development as fundamental. In a world where economics and speed seem to take precedence over all other aspects of life, many people are recognising that this simply is not a basis for bringing up and educating our children … Mary’s analysis includes evidence about meditation, which is not only a key spiritual process, helping children find oases of peace in a troubled, noisy world, it also has benefits for physical as well as mental health … This is a book to be read and re-read, and pondered over. Above all, it is a book to inform staff training, to evaluate existing practice and to stimulate action for the development of truly appropriate provision in early childhood education and care settings.” – (from the Commendatory Preface) Tricia David BSc, MA, PhD, FRSA, Professor Emeritus, Canterbury Christ Church University College, England

This is a well researched book that relates theory to practice and provides the reader with a wealth of information on early years care and education. It is very readable and covers the emotional, social and moral development of young children in a clear and effective manner. I was pleased to note that there is a sound historical review of all the major contributors to early childhood education over the centuries, as this is an area that many writers neglect, failing to recognize the importance of past theorists in helping our understanding of present day issues. Some chapters have guidelines/ suggestions for developing skills and competencies in the field and these will be of value to early childhood educators who are aiming to work towards developing a holistic approach to child care. It is a book that will appeal to early childhood educators working in a wide variety of settings as well as students in colleges and universities. I recommend this book unreservedly to all who are interested in improving their knowledge and understanding of young children, whether they be new students or highly experienced early years practitioners.” – Audrey Curtis, Rtd. Senior Lecturer, Institute of Education University of London

“I have been familiar with Dr. Daly's work for some time and I am pleased to see this book in print. The publication of this labour of love could not have been more timely. Not just in the Republic of Ireland but across most countries we experience considerable pressure to shift the focus of early childhood education from nurturing social and emotional development through play, to a narrow understanding of cognitive learning, particularly of skills in 'literacy' and 'numeracy'. Dr. Daly in her comprehensive study provides much needed evidence and arguments for a balanced understanding of early childhood care and education. The early years is the most important period of learning and provides the unique opportunity to lay foundations in children's emotional, social, moral and spiritual development. Dr. Daly's work will be of great interest to practitioners and parents who want to support children's development in all aspects of the human potential. I sincerely hope that researchers, lecturers and students of early childhood education will make extensive use of this rare example of a book that is equally scholarly and practical.” – Heino Schonfeld , Director, Centre for Early Childhood Development and Education Republic of Ireland

Table of Contents

CHAPTER ONE: The Introduction
Why we need to prioritise emotional, social, moral and spiritual development, Education and holistic child development , Holistic child development and self-actualisation - a concept for the early years, Emotional development , Social development, Moral development, Spiritual development, On becoming a reflective practitioner , The questions asked and an outline of what is included in this book
CHAPTER TWO: Historical Review of the Main Educational Theorists
Overview of main theorists, Plato, Aristotle, Luther, Comenius, Locke, Rousseau, The Edgeworths, Pestalozzi, Owen, Wilderspin, Froebel, The McMillan sisters, Steiner, Montessori, Dewey, Isaacs, Conclusion
CHAPTER THREE: Emotional Development
Introduction, Importance of the early years for emotional development, Implications of emotional development, Psychopathologies, Nature versus nurture, Interaction of different developmental areas, Emotions, Emotional development, Self-regulation of emotions, Gender differences in emotional development, Attachment, Self-concept, self-esteem and self-confidence, Discipline, Conclusion, Suggestions/guidelines for enhancing emotional development
CHAPTER FOUR: Social Development
Introduction, Importance of the early years for social development, Ecological approach to child development, Socialisation, Social development, Attachment, Interaction of different developmental areas; Sex or gender role identification: (i) Psychoanalytic theory, (ii) Social learning theory ,(iii) Cognitive developmental theory; Racism and prejudice, Bullying and aggression, Friendships, Early years education and care, The media's impact on social development, Conclusion, Suggestions/guidelines for enhancing social development
CHAPTER FIVE: Moral Development
Introduction, The importance of the early years for moral development, Morality, Morality and religion, Character development and character education, Moral development; Some views on morality: (i) Morality as emotion, (ii) Morality as concern and responsibility for others, (iii) Morality as conformity to rules/authority, (iv) Morality as conformity to one's own sense of belief , (v) Morality as self-development, (vi) Multiple perspectives, Children as philosophers; Conclusion, Suggestions/guidelines for enhancing moral development
CHAPTER SIX: Spiritual Development
Introduction, The importance of the early years for spiritual development, Spirituality, Spiritual quotient, Spirituality and religion, Spiritual development, Awe, wonder, myths and creativity, Meditation, A spiritual curriculum? Research on spiritual development, Conclusion, Suggestions/guidelines for enhancing spiritual development
CHAPTER SEVEN: Holistic Child Development
Introduction, Physiological needs, Safety needs, Belongingness and love needs, Esteem needs, Cognitive needs,Aesthetic needs, Self-actualisation needs
CHAPTER EIGHT: A Vision for the Future
Summary of the book, So what now? Lost opportunities, Hope for the future, You the reader

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