1st Edition

Building Positive Relationships in the Early Years Conversations to Empower Children, Professionals, Families and Communities

    118 Pages 1 Color Illustrations
    by Speechmark

    118 Pages 1 Color Illustrations
    by Speechmark

    In this unique and original book, Jamel Carly Campbell and Sonia Mainstone-Cotton come together to have an open and honest conversation about developing positive and responsive relationships in the early years.

    The book is divided into three main chapters – building positive relationships with children; with other professionals; and with families and the wider community – and each conversation explores a range of key themes, from building trust and listening to the voice of the child, to diversifying practice and creating a setting that represents the wider community. These discussions encourage the reader to consider the connections we make every day, to rethink and empower their practice, and to place a much higher value on their position as an early years advocate.

    With reflective questions included to allow the reader to think about their own practice, as well as suggested further reading to explore the themes in more depth, this engaging and accessible book is a must-read for all early years professionals – and, importantly, encourages every practitioner to begin new conversations of their own.



    Chapter 1: Building positive relationships with children in your care

    Chapter 2: Building positive relationships with other professionals

    Chapter 3: Building positive relationships with families and the wider community



    Jamel Carly Campbell is an early years educator, early years consultant and aspiring children’s author. Early years is his speciality, and he has been in the industry for over 20 years. He has also worked in youth clubs and schools, and mentored children with SEND. Jamel is one of the UK’s Men in the Early Years ambassadors and has featured on CBeebies "Tiny happy people'' as an Early Years advisor.


    Sonia Mainstone-Cotton is a freelance nurture consultant. She currently works in a specialist team supporting 3- and 4-year-olds who have social, emotional and mental health needs. She also trains staff across the country, working with children’s centres, schools, nurseries, charities and churches. Sonia has written eight books.

    "Now and again, a book comes along that, as you turn each page, feels like you’re involved in a rich, heartfelt conversation between two old friends. This is one of those books: incredibly readable, instantly relatable and threaded throughout with wisdom and insight. At a time when the early education sector is struggling to put childhood and positive relationship at its centre, each chapter contains the reassurance and the ‘story’ of why we need humanness in our practice more than ever. 

    I found myself nodding along with Jamel and Sonia time and again as they conversed – they have created a truly heartwarming, indeed soulwarming, Early Years book – you will be an even better practitioner with its companionship."

    Greg Bottrill, author and childhood advocate

    "This book deftly unpicks the intricacies of building positive relationships in early years practice through each author’s own experiences of supporting children, families, colleagues and the wider community. Sonia and Jamel’s life histories within the profession provide a valuable contrast and illustrate the diversity of childhood practice. Yet, they also draw attention to a number of fundamentals in creating a sense of belonging, safety and security with young children and their families. This book further provides a novel reflection on the multiple pathways that can lead to a career in the early years, including both the joyous moments and the challenges of such a journey. Overall, it is a text that will appeal to all those in the profession who are drawn to furthering their knowledge and understanding of positive relationships in practice."

    Shaddai Tembo, lecturer in early childhood practice, trustee for early education and for the Fatherhood Institute, and an independent writer and speaker at Critical Early Years

    "This unique union of minds brings much needed perspectives into our sector. A stark reminder that, no matter what knowledge and experiences that we bring to our role, we are all dedicated to placing children at the heart of our practice. The authors capture the essence of the adult-child relationship, describing everyday connections that spark emotion in children and adults. This book provides detailed examples of interactions that may seem unremarkable to those outside of the sector, but they are a fascinating insight into the very important role that adults play in families’ lives. A glaring reminder of the need for a valued and varied workforce. This book helps us to consider wider issues that affect the communities that we serve and our role as early years educators within that. This book reminded me of my ‘why’. Why we do what we do."

    Alison Featherbe, early years trainer and consultant: learning and development