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Exploring perspectives on young children's lives and learning

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This module is appropriate for anyone with an interest in the lives and learning of young children including current early childhood practitioners who want to develop their knowledge and understanding in preparation for professional roles linked to careers in education, health and social care.

You'll begin by exploring: how children learn; the importance of play; children’s rights; and their physical and emotional well-being. You then move on to consider how children’s learning experiences can be supported by provision such as pre-schools, nurseries or child-minders.

This is a key introductory module that will help you acquire key skills to support your further study in the field of early childhood.

What you will study

This module is appropriate for anyone with an interest in the lives and learning of young children including current early childhood practitioners who want to develop their knowledge and understanding for professional roles linked to careers in education, health and social care.

The aim of this module is to help you develop an understanding of early childhood from a range of perspectives. The module is divided into three blocks of study:

Block 1: Starting with the child

In this block you develop your knowledge and understanding of children’s learning, development, emotional well-being, play and fundamental rights. 

Block 2: Responding to the child

In this block you consider how we as adults can build learning relationships with children. How can we ensure they are listened to and involved? How can we observe, guide and plan to ensure that learning is a rich and meaningful experience for them? How can we create environments that encourage exploration and discovery and which can include all children? 

Block 3: Making provision for early childhood

In this block you explore how policy and practice can have an impact on children’s experiences. You will think about how children’s learning experiences are supported by provision such as pre-schools, nurseries and child-minders as well as local and national policies. 

This module aims to provide you with insights into many aspects of children’s learning experiences and how adults can support these. The module draws on examples and studies both from within and outside the UK, for example from Australia, Italy and Scandinavia. By using such a wide range of resources the intention is to broaden your perspective and extend your thinking beyond situations that may be more familiar. 

During this module you will compare and contrast practice that you observe in early childhood settings with the ideas about working with children that you study. You will be encouraged to reflect on the practice and experiences that you see and how these might be adapted or changed. You will explore these different areas through studying the module materials, which include printed books, audio and video recordings and on-line activities.

Entry requirements

There are no formal academic or experiential requirements to study this module.

However, it’s essential you have an interest in young children’s lives and learning. It would also be beneficial for you to arrange access to an early childhood setting1 if you’re not already working or volunteering in such a setting. We recommend you visit a setting1 weekly/fortnightly.

If you’re not sure you’re ready, talk to an adviser.

1Access to settings will require you to meet the ‘fit person’ criteria, in your country, to work with children. You and your setting are responsible for ensuring you meet these requirements, not the OU.

What's included

The module is organised into three study blocks and you will receive a printed book for each block. You will also have access to the module website which includes: online activities to support your studies; film and audio material; details of the assignments; and links to online forums for you to interact with fellow students and your tutor.

Computing requirements

You’ll need broadband internet access and a desktop or laptop computer with an up-to-date version of Windows (10 or 11) or macOS Ventura or higher.

Any additional software will be provided or is generally freely available.

To join in spoken conversations in tutorials, we recommend a wired headset (headphones/earphones with a built-in microphone).

Our module websites comply with web standards, and any modern browser is suitable for most activities.

Our OU Study mobile app will operate on all current, supported versions of Android and iOS. It’s not available on Kindle.

It’s also possible to access some module materials on a mobile phone, tablet device or Chromebook. However, as you may be asked to install additional software or use certain applications, you’ll also require a desktop or laptop, as described above.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will have a tutor who will help you with the module material and who will provide you with advice and guidance. Your tutor will also mark and comment on your assignments. If you are new to the OU, your tutor can provide additional support with your study skills.

This module includes learning events which are offered through online tutorials. Although not compulsory, attendance at tutorials is recommended; this will help you consolidate your learning. Some learning events will also be recorded and can be accessed online at your convenience.

Contact us if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.


The assessment details for this module can be found in the facts box above.

If you have a disability

The OU strives to make all aspects of study accessible to everyone and this Accessibility Statement outlines what studying E109 involves. You should use this information to inform your study preparations and any discussions with us about how we can meet your needs.

Future availability

Exploring perspectives on young children’s lives and learning (E109) starts once a year – in October.

This page describes the module that will start in October 2024.

We expect it to start for the last time in October 2032.

Course work includes:

4 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
No examination