““Too young to read”: Early years practitioners’ perceptions of early reading with under-threes

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This research paper investigates how graduate early years practitioners support under-threes with early reading; presenting their perceptions and daily encounters. Previous research into the practice and pedagogy of early reading appears to have resulted in the latest overarching policy investment in phonics. This paper suggests that this neoliberal policy agenda influences practitioner’s pedagogy with under-threes. This paper reports the findings of an empirical study, involving an initial survey, followed by practitioner interviews and reflective Zines. Findings from this study indicate that the increased emphasis on school readiness is affecting experienced, graduate level practitioners’ perceptions of early reading. Intrinsically, early years practitioners are being driven to adopting a ‘policy compliant’ [Fisher, J., and E. Wood. 2012. 'Changing educational practice in the early years through practitioner-led action research: an Adult–Child Interaction Project.' International Journal of Early Years Education 20 (2): 114–129, 12] approach; consequently, resulting in a deficit model of provision for under-threes in terms of the resources, activities and experiences necessary to encourage and enthuse children to engage with reading. This research concludes that there is an urgent need to support early years practitioners in understanding what ‘early reading’ is in practice. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Early Years Education
Early online date18 Apr 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Early reading
  • perceptions
  • phonics
  • policy compliance
  • under-threes


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