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Continuity in Children’s Worlds: Choices and Consequences for Early Learning Settings

reviewed by Marisa Schlieber - July 13, 2017

coverTitle: Continuity in Children’s Worlds: Choices and Consequences for Early Learning Settings
Author(s): Melissa M. Jozwiak, Betsy J. Cahill, & Rachel Theilheimer
Publisher: Teachers College Press, New York
ISBN: 0807757896, Pages: 160, Year: 2016
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Children exist and navigate within a variety of environmental contexts and relationships. Jozwiak, Cahill, and Theilheimr’s Continuity in Children’s Worlds: Choices and Consequences for Early Learning Settings explores the contexts and relationships that are experienced by children within early childcare settings. The authors focus on continuity, “a connection, a flow between things” (p. 2) and discontinuity, “a break, separation, or lack of connection” (p. 2) when examining the relationships of children, practitioners, and parents. The authors deliver an informative and engaging account of the influence of continuity and discontinuity at multiple levels including the levels of the “individual, school, and group” (p. 1). The book breaks down a complex topic to create an accessible and enjoyable read.

The book’s main focus is to provide a critical analysis of the concepts of continuity and discontinuity in early childcare settings. The authors highlight that “relationships are at the core of early childhood education” (p. 127) and that these relationships are fluid and dynamic, prompting the need to look at these changes through the lens of continuity and discontinuity. The relationships explored include the educator and child, the home and school, the educator and policies, and within the identity of the educator. Strategies for analyzing continuity and discontinuity are examined and outlined in six chapters. The authors emphasize the connection and constant interaction at the micro level, individual, and macro level, which includes policies and larger structures, further highlighting the dynamic nature of early childcare settings.

To begin, the authors describe the book as being comprised of stories. These stories, collected over several years, are the voices of practitioners and parents detailing their experiences with continuity and discontinuity. Each chapter features stories related to continuity and addresses a different component of how continuity can manifest within an early childcare setting. Chapter One provides an overview of the book, the motivations of the authors for examining continuity and discontinuity, and reasoning behind the stories. Drawing upon Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory model, the subsequent chapters examine issues of continuity and discontinuity at multiple levels. Chapter Two focuses on continuity of care, discussing the relationship of the child and educator as the child moves through the program. Chapter Three explores continuity between the home and school environments. The macro level, or larger context outside of the individual, becomes the focus of Chapter Four, which focuses on the policies and practices in early childcare at the local, state, and federal level. Chapter Five returns to the micro level, but focuses on the educator and their identity. Lastly, Chapter Six concludes by synthesizing previous chapters by focusing on how continuity is displayed at multiple levels at a program and the influence on those working at the center. The chapter also summarizes the main themes of the book and provides implications for practice. Each chapter portrays both the successes and challenges of continuity in early childcare settings. Furthermore, the authors effectively describe all the ways in which continuity influences children within early childcare settings.

The authors’ explanation of continuity and discontinuity was expressed clearly and provided a balanced perspective. The importance of continuity and discontinuity in early childcare settings was well articulated and the descriptions were easy to understand through the variety of examples provided throughout the book. While continuity is often seen as desirable for the child, based on the belief that it promotes consistency and predictability for the child, the authors present a convincing argument that it is not as simple to think about continuity as being advantageous and discontinuity as its opposite. The authors acknowledge “issues of continuity and discontinuity thread through every aspect of early childhood education” (p. 118). The authors present a compelling argument and challenge assumptions related to best practices by highlighting the complexity of these concepts. For example, when expanding on current perspectives of continuity, the stories offered by practitioners share the hardship and struggles of policies that are implemented at their centers. The stories address the complexity of continuity and discontinuity, the strengths and challenges from practitioners’ and parents’ own experiences. By highlighting the positive and negative aspects of both continuity and discontinuity, a balanced view is presented, allowing the reader to understand the complexity of relationships within early childcare settings.

The format of the text enriches readers’ understanding through theories and studies on best practices in addition to practitioners’ and parents’ personal stories, which are weaved throughout each chapter. The stories were a highlight of the book and reinforced its major themes. Although referencing evidence-based practices is essential for providing the rationale for practices and policies, the personal narratives allow the reader to consider the impact of these practices on individuals. The stories offer an emotional and personalized account of how practices and policies have an effect on the individual level. The accounts provided are balanced, highlighting the diversity of perspectives and experiences. The stories further highlight the complexity of continuity and discontinuity and the realities of early childcare. Following each story, the authors take great care in providing a summary, their interpretations, and relating back to current research and theory.

While the stories added valuable insight, adding more voices and expanding on the background of those sharing their experiences would have increased reader understanding and connection to the stories. The book focused on children from birth to age eight, and particularly in the early sections on continuity of care; it would have been interesting to hear the child’s perspective. Adding an additional element within the web of relationships, the child, would further expand upon the impact of practices on relationships within early childcare settings. At times, further background information of those sharing their stories, such as the number of years working in early childcare or information about their center or into their own unique background, would have been helpful for providing a framework and for eliciting a deeper connection to their stories. At present, the stories are powerful and informative, but adding further background information would have fostered an even greater personal and emotional connection throughout the book.

Jozwiak, Cahill, and Theilheimer thoroughly address continuity and discontinuity, an important topic that can be difficult to grasp and successfully define for readers. The authors explore a variety of ways continuity is displayed and provide a balanced view throughout the book regarding its strengths and limitations. While the importance of relationships is thoroughly discussed, the authors expand upon previous work by providing a balanced approach and focusing on the personal stories of those who care and work with children. Throughout each chapter, the authors effectively address the strengths and limitations of continuity and discontinuity. The personal stories provide a powerful and engaging account. While the book does not offer readers direct answers, it does encourage them to personally reflect on continuity and their own practice. Jozwiak, Cahill, and Theilheimer’s Continuity in Children’s Worlds: Choices and Consequences for Early Learning Settings is a must read for anyone within the early childcare community.

Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record, Date Published: July 13, 2017
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 22096, Date Accessed: 11/27/2021 10:33:07 PM

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About the Author
  • Marisa Schlieber
    Southern Utah University
    E-mail Author
    MARISA SCHLIEBER, Ph.D., earned her B.A. in psychology from Gettysburg College and her Ph.D. in Educational Psychology with an emphasis in Applied Cognition and Development from the University of Georgia. She is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Southern Utah University. Her research interests are in child health, literacy practices, ecological factors that influence early learning, and preschool programs with an emphasis on Head Start. She has authored peer-reviewed publications and presented her work at national conferences. Dr. Schlieber’s current research projects expand upon her previous projects by exploring parents’ knowledge and attitudes toward early childhood lead exposure and preparing a manuscript of practical sleeping strategies for parents. She is also working on a project examining to see how adults assign pronouns to gender-neutral characteristics when reading to children.
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