1st Edition

Little Brains Matter A Practical Guide to Brain Development and Neuroscience in Early Childhood

By Debbie Garvey Copyright 2023
    224 Pages
    by Speechmark

    224 Pages
    by Speechmark

    This accessible guide introduces neuroscience, demystifying terminology and language and increasing the knowledge, skills and, importantly, confidence of anyone interested in brain development in early childhood.

    Practical and reflective chapters highlight the multi-faceted role of adults as ‘brain builders’ and encourage the reader to consider how the environment, play and interactions are crucially interlinked. The book considers cutting-edge science and introduces this in an accessible way to look at a range of ways that adults can support children, exploring:

    • how poverty, adversity, and social, emotional and mental health all influence the developing child
    • the science behind play, and why it is so important for young children
    • how we can take ideas from different disciplines such as psychology and anthropology and interweave these with the overarching research of neuroscience
    • why adult interaction (both practitioner and parent/carer) with children is crucial for the developing brain
    • the importance of reflective practice to encourage readers to consider their actions and develop their understanding of important topics raised in the book.

    With a wealth of case studies and reflective practices weaving throughout, readers will be encouraged and empowered to pause and consider their own practice. Little Brains Matter will be essential reading for anyone interested in early childhood development.





    Chapter 1: Introduction to Neuroscience

    Chapter 2: Neuroscience in Practice: Environments

    Chapter 3: Neuroscience in Practice: Behaviours

    Chapter 4: Neuroscience in Practice: Play Matters!

    Chapter 5: Neuroscience in Practice: The Role of the Adult

    Chapter 6: Neuroscience in Practice: Supporting Social, Emotional and Mental Health

    Chapter 7: Neuroscience in Practice: Research and Reflection



    Debbie Garvey is an author, trainer, consultant, lecturer, researcher and facilitator. Debbie is a huge advocate of enabling and empowering the use and development of professional reflective practice in order to support quality experiences for children, families and staff. Debbie has particular research interests in developing understanding across the early childhood sector in regard to leadership, neuroscience, PSED/wellbeing, imposter syndrome, Bronfenbrenner’s Bioecological Model (2006) and the use of ethnography and autoethnography.

    "Debbie Garvey has produced an engaging and thought-provoking book that examines and demystifies a wealth of knowledge from research, helping early years practitioners to think carefully and critically about their work with young children. The book is remarkable, both for the clarity with which it explains complex theories and concepts, and the deftness with which the relevance of those theories and concepts to everyday practice is explored. Insights from neuroscience and early brain development are placed in a broader context, making links to ideas from early years pioneers, and to other academic fields such as anthropology. The case studies that pop up throughout the book […] serve to place these ideas directly into a range of practice contexts, drawing on and celebrating the work of practitioners […]. The book is presented as a journey through these ideas, and the reader is encouraged to journey actively alongside the author, stopping regularly to review the road travelled and to reflect meaningfully on lessons learned and insights gained." – Dr. Yinka Olusoga, Lecturer in Education at the University of Sheffield


    "What a treasure trove of learning! Not only does this book provide clean and clear reading material on the complexity of neuroscience, behaviour, psychology, and the role of the adult; each chapter is filled with practical examples, and moments of pause and reflection throughout. […] I was drawn in from the opening preface with the style of writing that simply and powerfully speaks to you. Generatively Debbie provides a wealth of signposting too, to other rich and informative resources that together with Little Brains Matter will aid any student, practitioner, lecturer, or person(s) exploring the importance of little brains and why they matter." – Dr. Julie A. Ovington AiMH, Senior Lecturer and Program Leader in Childhood and Society Studies, University of Sunderland


    "This book is essential for anyone working in early years. Debbie’s passion for the early childhood sector shines, and her research informed experience comes across clearly on every page. Neuroscience is a complex field to get to grips with, but Debbie makes each key area accessible, explaining the incredible nature of the human brain and outlining what is needed for healthy neurological development. The case studies are truly thought provoking and offer practical takeaways […]. Above all, Debbie succeeds in her aim to empower educators, and throughout the book runs the golden thread of valuing children, tuning into them, and learning from them. A fantastic read." – Sarah Watkins, Author, Presenter and University Lecturer


      "In Little Brains Matter Debbie’s generosity of spirit knows no bounds and her desire to share both her knowledge and her passion is palpable, not just through the accessibility of the jargon-free conversational style […] but in the immanently do-able ways in which sources are embedded into the very heart and soul of the text and not just listed dryly at chapter ends. ‘If you want to explore this more…’, Debbie incites, ‘go to …. I would urge you to explore it further’ […] This is as much a book about how to explore and read around a subject matter as it about the imparting of understanding. Although the latter it does a plenty." – Joanna Ainsworth, Early Years Montessori Researcher and Practitioner


      "As a foster carer we deal with all of these behaviours on a daily basis, but we often don’t have any knowledge of the science behind it. It was amazing to read some of what I already know to be but didn’t have a name for.

      Anyone working in child development would greatly benefit from reading this book, which raises as many questions as it answers on a never-ending but fascinating topic." – C. E. A. Forster, Foster Carer and Author of You’re Being Ridiculous