Reimagining Children’s Behaviour and Behaviour Management ‘Otherwise’: A Critical Commentary on the English Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS)

SALLY HESTER, LISA MORAN, ELIZABETH RICHARDS*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This paper focuses on the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), which sets standards for children’s care, development and education in England from birth to five years old. Analysing the EYFS, as comprised of knowledge and discourses that inform, and are informed by broader cultural understandings of childhood and development, we argue that the way in which the current EYFS (2017) frames young children’s behaviour promotes largely instrumental strategies for behaviour management which perpetuate overly static understandings of childhood and children’s development and promote neo-liberal ideals that might be said to be detrimental to children’s rights and their overall well-being. Importantly, we argue that the EYFS imposes discourses about responsibility for managing one’s own behaviour on young children which simultaneously overlook the multidimensionality of children’s lives and contradict other aspects of the EYFS and English early years policy. The paper makes suggestions about how the EYFS can be reimagined ‘otherwise’ using the lens of governmentality, exposing power relations and the production of taken-for-granted ‘truths’ about children’s realities that appear in contemporary policies.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages29
JournalChild Care in Practice
Early online date23 Mar 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 23 Mar 2021

Keywords

  • Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS)
  • Behaviour Management
  • Early years
  • Governmentality

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