What is Early Learning and Childcare?

Early Learning and Childcare (EL&C) is a generic term introduced in the Children & Young People (Scotland) Act 2014.

It emphasises that the care and learning of children in the early years are not two separate things, with babies and young children learning all the time from all of their experiences. Taking account of the strengths which a child has themselves along with what has been added from their connections and relationship with the adult who play a signification part in their lives. Parents, carers, grandparents and family members who have positively influenced their early learning and development. Collectively this is very much part of their learning journey towards beginning statutory education in Primary school.

The following information is extracted from Building the Ambition - National Practice Guidance on Early Learning & Childcare -Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 and explains this in further detail as follows:

“The concept of “early learning and childcare” is much broader and expands the idea that early learning and childcare are indivisible and should be seamless.

Importantly it highlights the fact that learning starts from birth. Learning is seen as a continuous action, one which a new born baby does instinctively from birth and continues for each individual at their own rate and pace.

The term “pre-school education” can be perceived as purely educational and “preschool” literally has historical connotations of only being for those children in the year before they start primary school. As funded places are also being extended much further to younger children the terminology of “pre-school” is out of date.

The term “childcare” too can be open to misinterpretation. In the past, childcare has been thought of as purely dealing with physical needs such as feeding, washing, nurturing etc. This gives the wrong impression of being of less value.

These two separate terms and related issues results in a division of terminology, thought and practice which is not in line with current thinking nor is helpful in moving the sector forward in the future. This move towards thinking about the terminology and policy direction as “early learning and childcare” is more inclusive. It better reflects what we are aspiring to in Scotland. It is important, however, to state clearly that this does not mean a dilution in quality nor status.

This guidance is used by providers of Early Learning and Childcare across East Lothian. It builds upon Pre-Birth to Three and Curriculum for Excellence early level from 3 years to 6 years, providing detailed, practical guidance on the experiences and interactions necessary to deliver the learning journey at the most important developmental stage for babies, toddlers and young children. You can discuss with your provider how this is used in their setting and for your child’s learning and development journey.