Creating a curriculum to help children in the early years understand the world in which the live: history and children in the early years

Primary History article

By Penelope Harnett, published 31st May 2007

Please note: this article pre-dates the current National Curriculum and some content may be outdated.

In a recent article in Primary History Denis Hayes suggests that despite many lively ways of learning about the past, ‘history concepts will always be beyond both the experiential and conceptual reach of the youngest pupils’. Consequently early years’ practitioners should permit children to ‘revel in the warm glow of fairy-tale fantasy’, until they are old enough to be formally introduced to ‘real history’. (Hayes, 2007 p.10). Whilst Hayes makes an important point concerning fantasy and imagination in young children’s learning, he does appear rather dismissive of the complexity of young children’s thought, their curiosity and their ability to engage with puzzling and contradictory ideas.

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