Child playing with blocks

By Michael Cresswell

In the vibrant world of early childhood care, understanding your child’s needs and behaviours is both a science and an art. Theories in child development have long offered us windows into the intricate processes of growing up. But what if we told you that combining the wisdom of classical theories with the fresh perspectives of postmodern thought could illuminate even brighter paths for nurturing our little ones?

Classical and Postmodern: A Symphony of Theories

Classical theories in child development, brought to life by luminaries like Jean Piaget, John Bowlby and Erik Erikson, provide structured stages of growth, offering a roadmap through the complexities of early learning and behaviour. These theories have shaped countless educational and parenting practices, guiding us through the developmental milestones of the children we cherish.

Enter postmodernism, with its kaleidoscope of perspectives challenging the notion of one-size-fits-all in understanding child development. Figures such as Urie Bronfenbrenner, Lev Vygotsky and Jerome Bruner, often associated with postmodern thought, emphasise the deep impact of social, cultural, and individual contexts on learning and development.

Postmodern thought invites us to view each child’s growth as a unique journey, influenced by culture, society, environment, and individual experiences. It reminds us that the patterns of development are woven from diverse threads, each child’s development is distinct and influenced by the world around them.

The Dance of Development: Applying Theories to Everyday Care

When it comes to practical aspects of child care, such as nurturing healthy sleep habits in infants, the blend of classical and postmodern insights offers a rich palette of strategies. Classical theories might suggest consistency and routines to help infants establish healthy sleep patterns. Yet, postmodern perspectives nudge us to consider the individual needs and cultural background of each child and family, tailoring sleep practices that resonate with their unique rhythms and lifestyles.

For the Caregivers: A Journey of Continuous Learning

At the London School of Childcare Studies, we embrace this symphony of perspectives, recognising that the art of childcare flourishes in the balance of tried-and-tested wisdom and adaptive, personalised approaches. For parents, caregivers, and aspiring practitioners, this means embarking on a journey of continuous learning and observation. It’s about listening to the classical melodies of developmental stages while staying attuned to the postmodern harmonies of individual differences.

Cultivating a Responsive and Inclusive Approach

In your everyday interactions with children, whether you’re a parent soothing your baby to sleep or a caregiver planning the day’s activities, consider both the universal milestones and the personal context of each child. Celebrate the milestones but also cherish the individual quirks and preferences that make each child unique.

Embracing the Diversity of Childhood

As we navigate the diverse landscapes of child development, blending classical foundations with postmodern flexibility enables us to support each child’s journey with empathy, understanding, and

creativity. It encourages us to create environments where every child can thrive, honouring their individuality while guiding them through the shared pathways of growth.

In the end, the tapestry of child development is most vibrant when woven from a diversity of threads. By embracing both classical and postmodern insights, we prepare ourselves to nurture, educate, and appreciate the unique unfolding of each young life.


Oakes, L. M., Loube, V., & Casasola, M. (2024) Infancy: The Development of the Whole Child, Sage Publications Ltd

Ryan, S. & Grieshaber, S (2005) Shifting From Developmental to Postmodern Practices in Early Childhood Teacher Education, Journal of Teacher Education, Vol. 56, No. 1, pp. 34-45, American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education

Thomas, A. & Lewis, A. (2022) Child Development From Birth to 8 Years: An Interdisciplinary Approach, Sage Publications Ltd