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How does Early Years schooling have an impact on wider society?

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Early Years education (EYE) is often overlooked in academia and indeed wider society. However, it is arguably one of the most critical times in a child's learning journey, laying down the blueprint for the rest of the young child's life, not only emotionally and socially but also academically.

Author / translator siobhan

Early Years education (EYE) is often overlooked in academia and indeed wider society. However, it is arguably one of the most critical times in a child's learning journey, laying down the blueprint for the rest of the young child's life, not only emotionally and socially but also academically. Brain development is prolific at this stage, with 90% of the brain being formed by the time a child reaches 5. Despite facing multiple challenges with low pay and a serious lack of recognition for the work that they do, early years educators are committed professionals playing an influential role in the child's' cognitive growth.
Early Years schooling has the power not only to nurture capable and competent children but it also has the power to transform society.

Through the course of this game we want you to formulate your stance on how you think Early Years schooling impacts society.

Created 1 May 2023
Last edited 6 May 2023
Topics Culture, Education, Social inclusion

Policy positions

Policy position 1

EYE has no impact on Society. Pre-schools are insular institutions separated from the day to day life of communities. While the focus of the preschool is undoubtedly on educating and caring for our young children, children’s involvement in decision making is largely inconsequential. Children’s views on most aspect of their lives generally go unheard because most institutions regard children as weak and have no serious contributions to make.

Policy position 2

EYE may have a negative impact on society if it is biased. In Illinois 40%of childcare centers report suspending infants under 3 years. African American children make up only 19% of the preschool population but comprise nearly half of all suspensions. Dr Rosemary Allen, refers to this as the Preschool to Prison pipeline. To be labelled as a problem before you are 3 has a profound impact on young children with lifelong consequences for society.

Policy position 3

Early Years schooling is vital in creating a successful society with strong relationships. Schools are where young children first learn that their contributions and thoughts are valued within a greater system.The skills that children learn during their EYE not only ignite that love of learning that will go well beyond the early years but more importantly set a strong foundation for ways of engaging and working within the social world.

Policy position 4

EYE is a way of perpetuating societal norms. Children in formal early schooling environments are merely taught to obey and all creative expression is squashed. The nature of the institution stifles true authenticity and causes us to repeat patterns. Instead of children being themselves and finding their own ways of being in the world they learn to conform to the group and a set of arbitrary rules meant to control towards specific ends.

Policy position 5

Early years schooling is essential in driving society forward . If we are to grow as a society we must encourage children to think critically when it comes to the complexities of why things are the way they are, how to act with passion in their hearts and possibility in their minds. The most impactful way to inspire innovative thinkers is to foster a love of learning from the very start.

Story cards


My name is Jessie, I am the headteacher of a state kindergarten and I would like to say that burnout is a real thing. Being a headteacher has been my dream since I left teacher training college 15 years ago and whilst I have achieved my ambition and did not underestimate the pressures I would face I never expected to endure the stress levels that I have leading a kindergarten. During the Coronavirus Pandemic I and other headteachers were under extreme stress and received little support. I worked long into the night to come up with plans and when I wasn't doing that I was supporting the teachers who were adrift having to prepare activities for young children to do at home with their families. Day to day we deal with lack of funding, reduced levels of recruitment and high levels of undiagnosed developmental delay. It is usually the early years educators who recognize when there is an issue with a child, yet rarely are my staff regarded as on par with educators, teaching the older children It's definitely not all glue and sparkles although that's what my friends think.


My name is Maria and I am a pedagogue working with children aged 2 - 4 years. I have been working in my current setting for over 5 years and prior to that I started off my career working in the local kindergarten which is the preschool my children attended.I have to admit that one of the things that attracted me into the profession was the long school holidays. With young children I thought I had the perfect job to be a mother and a teaching professional. What I didn't expect however was to fall in love with the job and to see first hand the privilege it is to share the lives of these young children. What these children don't understand , is how much they teach me. I have learnt that teaching is a fluid and dynamic act. In my classroom we are caught up in a spiral of learning and growth. Since my time here I have become a better listener to my own children . Our curriculum changes depending on who is in the classroom and what is happening within our school and indeed outside it. I have learnt that expensive resources aren't necessary and can get in the way of real learning.


I am Carolina and I have been teaching for 40 years. It is such a rewarding job. However I do believe that things are becoming too relaxed within education. Children are coming into school without any understanding of what it means to sit still and concentrate. I can't tell you the number of times I have to raise my voice during the day. I go home struggling to talk and suffer from recurrent migraines. Yes, I know these children are young, practically still babies but they need to understand that if they are going to learn to read and write and make their way in the world then they need to sit still and focus. I think it's healthy to have an hour dedicated each day to looking at letters and books and then later in the day we focus on numbers. I pride myself on the fact that my children leave my room ready and able to learn to read. I really do believe the flash cards help here. My daughter is also a teacher and she says that flash cards are no longer a thing! I don’t care, I am not changing my ways, it works - doesn't it?


My name is Viviana and I am a proud grandmother to my son Eduardo's two sweet boys Gaspar and Cole. They are the sweetest things you will ever see. Both are little, 2 under 2, and that can be a lot for mom and dad. I spend as much time as I can with them reading, playing and watching them grow. Each time I see them they seem so much bigger and brighter. Time is precious. This is when they need the most attention, love and care. Of course they cannot be home all the time and I cannot be there at all hours so I urged my son and his wife to remember that these babies must have a place where they are nurtured just as they are at home. Where Eduardo and Maria feel safe and trust the teachers are good and kind people. They are so new to the world that school becomes a home away from home


I am a florist by profession running a local garden center. For the past 2 years I have been linked into our local Early Years Center. The children find it very funny that my name is Daisy and I use this all the time to connect with them..I was approached by the Center Manager and asked if i wanted to support the children to redesign their outdoor play area. I got the sense that outdoor play was really important but was surprised how big a role the children had in the redesign. The children wanted a garden full of butterflies,and other insects, which I loved - that’s is a gardeners dream.. I was so touched by how seriously they took the Project. I visit a few times a year. I have seen projects that the children have done and their work has amazed me. They have followed the lifecycle of the butterfly, painted pictures and even made an animation. I don’t have any children myself but this has showed me another aspect of young children and the creativity and focus they have and of course their empathy for living things.

Business Owner

I am a mother of twins, Ella and Hattie. My girls are very different in their personalities and I’m sure other parents will understand what I mean when I say how nervous I was when they first started with school. Ella is outgoing and will become best friends with any stranger while Hattie has always been a bit more timid erring on the side of caution, especially in new environments. Fast forward and it’s been a few months now, I couldn't feel more confident in where they are. I mean really where we are as a family. School has been an incredible source of growth for all of us and I have learned a tremendous amount from their teachers. I feel a new sense of playfulness in myself and such pride in how much my girls have come into themselves. They are capable and courageous in all that they bring to the world in a way that I have not seen in them before.


My experience working in a school with such a diverse student and staff population has been incredibly enriching. However, I have found that the school's very academic results-oriented system does not always reflect the population it serves on its curriculum and routines, and does not provide many opportunities for collaboration or knowledge exchange among community members. So, I started to incorporate diversity as much as possible in my own classroom. I have invited families to collaborate with the themes and projects we are working on and encouraged other teachers to visit our classroom and share a little of their cultural backgrounds with us. The results have been great. Witnessing children celebrate their differences and feel seen, heard, and like they belong has been a truly amazing experience. By creating a classroom culture that embraces diversity, we have not only created a more inclusive and empowering environment but also promoted a greater sense of understanding and empathy among our school community.

Educator working with diversity

My name is Hope and this is my first year working at a preschool center as a co-teacher in a predominantly white community. Working in a predominantly white school can have its challenges, but also be a great learning experience. Sometimes you can definitely tell the difference between the classes of the fact that you are a black person, because the white counterparts tend to think that you are the one who are supposed to listen to them or serve them compared to being on the same level as them. There are parents who would not even communicate with me because I am a black person if it wasn't for me speaking to them, and letting them know that I am the one who is taking care of their child, they may not even look at me, let alone speak to me. When I first started working in a predominantly white preschool I had to accept being ignored, but I decided that I am the one caring for these children so therefore I will be heard, but it’s also the huge learning experience because it is taught me to learn to stand up for myself I deserve the same respect my white co teachers get.


I have owned a business near the local Kindergarten for 20 years and have never really had anything to do with the school. I sometimes get annoyed that I can't park my van outside my shop front with all the parents. One day a young woman comes to the door and says she is an Atelierista. I had no clue what this was but she told me it was like an art teacher. I was surprised that there was an art teacher at the kindergarten. I hear on the news that there are always complaints about funding. This is not a rich area so I thought to myself I am sure there are better ways to spend that money . So she goes on to ask me what I do with my old containers, pipes etc when I am finished. I told her straight up, I have to pay the Council to remove them and it costs me a lot! She asked me if I would save them for the school She said to me we call these “intelligent materials”. Well I did laugh. Intelligent! So anyhow that's how after 20 years I became involved in the Kindergarten. I was invited to see how the children used the materials and I was truly amazed.

Business Owner

As college professors we needed a childcare solution that would help our children prepare for entering kindergarten. We determined that a structured early childhood learning environment close to our work place would provide a constructive and safe setting for our one and four year old. Up until moving to small town Virginia we had used nannies but our new location was not conducive to this setup. The campus childcare center cost about the same as a full time nanny for two children and the transition into school was extremely rough for everyone involved. Eventually we all came to love the school but when I look back I wish we had been able to make the transition much more gradually and not as suddenly.


My name is Maria Carolina Silva, and I came to the United States 5 years ago. I am originally from Guatemala, and I have been working at a restaurant for the last 2 years. I have two children in preschool, the first one is just 3 years old, and the oldest one is 4 years old. For me the main reason that I bring my children to a preschool center is because I have to work, and my children can play and learn English. Their first language is Spanish, and I hope while they are playing they can learn English too. Their teachers are very nice with my daughters and I think she really likes what she does. For me the big advantage of a preschool center for my children is because it is free, if it was not I could pay for them to be at school.


My name is Jonathan and I am a a male Early years educator. Someone told me that 2% of early years educators were male but I think that is generous, I have only ever met 1 other male educator and he is no longer in the profession. Sadly I understand why he left. Each year with the excitement of the new intake I have to build up trust with the parents. I know that their children are their most precious thing and each educator needs to win their trust but for me as a male educator it's a constant uphill struggle. I see that I need to prove myself in a way that my female colleagues do not. The disbelief that I am in charge of their children. On numerous occasions I have been asked why I can't find a job as a “real teacher." What exactly is a real teacher? The skill required to work with these young children is greater in my opinion than working with any age group or in any specialist subject. Each day is an adventure, I never know where the learning is going but I know when to step in and maximize learning. I love what I do but but getting fed up with the poor pay .



Perpetuating Patterns

The cultural values and norms of minority children are often absent from the Early Years policies, systems, and structures in which the children are immersed .


There is an absence of black and minority ethnic educators within Early Years education .


Parents have often little choice in determining the pedagogical approach of their child’s school.


There is no consensus as to whether a curriculum is necessary in EYE.


Early years classrooms consist of a wide range of abilities and children with developmental delay are often first recognized by Early Years educators.

Young children come into classrooms with a wide range of experiences that are often neglected by educators as useful to their learning journeys.


Not all countries require or have a degree educated Early Years workforce

Teacher burnout

Teacher turnover continues to rise as educators are leaving the workforce due to a lack of support, low pay and high levels of burnout in the caring profession.

Impact of the covid 19 pandemic

The pandemic has meant that young children have missed out on many opportunities for socialization which is impacting on their classroom experiences.

Schools separated from the community

Many early years schools are relatively insular and not plugged into local community networks.

Increasing needs in families

There are increasing needs within families which impact on young children and the learning environment.

Many parents and educators are risk averse which means that children do not always get the opportunity to develop their resilience through activities that help them gain confidence and become more independent

Sharing practice

Not enough time allocated for educators to come together to discuss and share the amazing learning journeys of their children.

Funding concerns

Piecemeal funding by governments around the world in Early Years Education although all state they recognize its importance.

Recognizing the abilities of all children

Children can communicate with their educators and peers in many different “languages”. All training for early years educators needs to acknowledge the validity of these languages eg music, art, construction, dressing up.

Early Years environments

For many Reggio Emilia inspired educators the environment is the third teacher however many early years settings have a long way to go in refining their environments to ensure they are intentional and provoke learning.

Equitable access to technology

In an increasingly modern world young children lack access to the role of being active participants in technology rooted explorations.


In many schools children experience a low level of engagement with teacher centered, rote learning methods which require passive listening and memorization.

Early Intervention

Early intervention needs are often flagged by teachers working in early years schools. If children are not enrolled in programs they may miss the window for receiving effective services.

Brain Development in the early years.

According to brain development experts, from birth to age 5, a child’s brain develops more than at any other time in life. The early years are the best opportunity for a child’s brain to develop the connections they need to be healthy, capable, successful adults. The connections needed for many important, higher-level abilities like motivation, self-regulation, problem solving and communication are formed or not formed in these early years .

The child sits nested at the center of the community.

Psychologist, Urie Brofenbrenner, argues that in order to understand human development one must consider the entire ecological system in which the young child grows up. He postulates that the system is composed of 5 socially organized subsystems that help support and guide human growth. They range from the micro system, which refers to the immediate environment in which the child lives, school, family to the macro-system which refers to inst

Early expulsions and suspensions in the Early Years

Studies in USA show that black children in preschools are twice as likely to be expelled as white preschoolers, and 3.6 times as likely to receive one or more suspensions.(Dr Rosemary Allen It is alarming that preschool expulsion is predictive of later difficulties children of color are at highest risk for being expelled from early childhood care and education programs. Early expulsions and suspensions lead to greater gaps in access to resources

A disillusioned workforce (1 in 6 EY educators leave their jobs within one year)

Research into the workforce by the UK Gov 2020, Social Mobility Commission shows that the the main barriers to a stable workforce were the following:low income, high workload and responsibilities, over-reliance on female practitioners,insufficient training and career opportunities, low status and reputation, a negative culture. An EY workforce that is underpaid, undervalued and overworked is a recognizable picture in many parts of the world.

Early Years can provide a strong basis for nurturing the next generation of critical thinkers and innovators

STEAM education stands for science, technology, engineering, arts and math. The intention is for students to engage in a variety of experiences and processes surrounding subject material in the form of experiential learning. This interdisciplinary approach fosters creative problem solving, collaboration and critical thinking skills as students tap into their capabilities as innovative thinkers.

Early Years Education can break the cycle of poverty

The presence of Project Head Start as a wide scale public program has been an attempt to break the cycle of poverty and inequality by providing low income families with access to a space designed to meet their children's developmental needs. Studies show that this experience has extensive benefits for children and family outcomes. In addition to the child's success, access to preschool also supports parents in providing economic security.

The Early Years shapes who we become (ACEs)

The experiences we have early in our lives have a huge impact on how we develop, our physical and mental health, and our thoughts, feelings and behavior. Research into Adverse Childhood Experience, ACEs,informs us that ACES can have lasting, negative effects on health, well-being, as well as life opportunities such as education and job potential. A mitigating factors for children with ACEs is healthy attachments which is an important part of EYE.

Different pedagogical approaches such as Reggio Emilia believe a strong image of the child can transform society .

The Reggio Emilia Approach sees children as curious and competent individuals with the power and potential to learn from their environment and the relationships around them. Educators are skilled co-constructors of knowledge guiding the child’s growth. Malaguzzi the founder of this approach recognized EYE as a way of transforming society in Post WW2 Italy. The most critical thing for him was the image each society has of the child.

Lack of consistent qualifications within the Early Years Sector

Only one third of European education systems require that at least one of the team members caring for a group of children, regardless of age, is educated to degree standard. In another third of the education systems, a degree is considered essential during the second phase of ECEC (pre-primary education), but not during the first phase (childcare or early childhood educational development).

Lack of publicly funded EY schooling provision

Availability of Early Childhood education in Europe is low for children under 3 years. On average 34% of children (approx 5 million attend Early childhood settings. Only seven EU Member States (Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Latvia, Slovenia, Finland and Sweden) as well as Norway guarantee a place in publicly funded provision for each child from an early age (6 to 18 months).

Good Early Years schooling harnesses the interests of the individual child

All children have unique needs, learning styles, interests and come from different backgrounds. Ideally schools will be equipped to take a holistic approach while utilizing multi modal techniques and integrated learning strategies.

Continuing professional Development is not essential in many countries for Early Years Practitioners

In European Early Childhood education only a quarter of European countries make CPD mandatory for core practitioners working with children under 3.

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