Problem-solving and thinking in the early years

Jane Murray, Pat Beckley (Editor)

Research output: Contribution to Book/ReportChapter


The shaping of young children’s early experiences prior to starting school provides ‘the initial stage of organised instruction’ of the ‘pre-primary tradition’ (Bennett, 2005: 11) in a context where education is regarded as preparation for work (DfE, 2010). Focus on ‘school readiness’ in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) (DfE, 2012) reflects this approach, yet the EYFS (DfE, 2012) also emphasises ‘creating and thinking critically’ for children aged birth to five years (p. 7), aligning with the ‘social pedagogic tradition’ in which young children enjoy significant autonomy (Bennett, 2005). The ‘school readiness’ agenda is a government reaction to employers’ concerns (DfE, 2010): the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), 2011) expresses disquiet regarding school leavers’ abilities in literacy, mathematics and problem-solving. However, whilst there is significant focus on literacy and mathematics in the statutory EYFS (DfE, 2012), there is relatively little emphasis on problem-solving. This chapter addresses the nature of young children’s problem-solving and the thinking processes that young children may adopt to find solutions. The chapter concludes with examples of young children’s problem-solving behaviour and thinking in their settings and at home.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe New Early Years Foundation Stage: Changes, Challenges and Reflections
Place of PublicationMaidenhead
PublisherOpen University Press / McGraw Hill Education
Number of pages12
ISBN (Print)9780335246984
Publication statusPublished - 16 Sep 2013


  • Problem-solving
  • Early years

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  • Activities

    • 1 Oral presentation
    • 1 Seminar

    Young children’s research behaviours: teachers and parents as help or hindrance?

    Jane Murray (Speaker)

    13 Sep 201615 Sep 2016

    Activity: Academic Talks or PresentationsOral presentationResearch

    Young children’s capability as researchers

    Jane Murray (Speaker)

    6 May 2015

    Activity: Academic Talks or PresentationsSeminarResearch

    Cite this

    Murray, J., & Beckley, P. (Ed.) (2013). Problem-solving and thinking in the early years. In The New Early Years Foundation Stage: Changes, Challenges and Reflections (1 ed., pp. 141-152). Open University Press / McGraw Hill Education.