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Our Pedagogy

What is early years pedagogy?

Most simply, pedagogy is about how we educate children and help their development. It is the techniques and strategies we can use to provide opportunities for development and how our relationships and interactions with children can affect them.

Our pedagogy utilises aspects of different approaches and theorists such as Froebel, Reggio Emilio, Piaget, Vygotsky and ‘In the moment’. We strongly align with the New Zealand early years curriculum Te Whāriki which focuses on embedding a sense of belonging and well-being interwoven with an awareness that the natural environment forms a strong learning context.



Friedrich Froebel was a German educator who invented the concept of kindergarten. The Froebelian approach promotes the importance of play, because it allows children to understand their world by directly experiencing it.

What are the basic principles?

  • Childhood is more than just preparation for adulthood.

  • All learning is linked, and so every different area of learning can impact others

  • Child-initiated play is very important as it means that the child is motivated and engaged

  • Always start with what children can do, not what they cannot


How Froebel influences our provision

  • Froebel puts a lot of emphasis on self-discipline. We provide an environment in which children can concentrate and remain focused on the task at hand

  • A key part of Froebel’s early years pedagogy is that each child is offered play opportunities that are right for their stage of development. Our key person system ensures that each of us knows our children, what their likes and dislikes are and what their strengths and weaknesses are so that every child can confidently and happily play

  • Our approach to learning encourages children to become problem solvers, decision-makers and to make mistakes and be independent.  This enables children to organise and carry out their own play experiences in consultation with adults and other children

  • Froebel believed all children have a desire to build close relationships built on respect. We give children respect to learn as individuals within the guidance of our preschool rules and boundaries and we offer guidance and support for children to learn new skills

  • Froebel believed that we should ‘start where the learner is’, when teaching them. We have robust systems in place to ensure we know each child’s starting point

  • Children learn best through play. Play is children’s instinctive way to learn with enjoyment and challenge. We believe It is crucial that children direct their own play and we allow them the time and space in order to become deeply involved in their learning

  • We work together with the children to plan and develop the environment and resources for indoor and outdoor play

  • Froebel believed the community was essential to children’s development. We have close links with our community, and We help children learning about their community and how they fit in to it

  • We encourage and provide Constructive play which forms a large part of the Froebelian approach, as well as plenty of opportunities to talk, listen and communicate with adults and other children

Reggio Emilia

This approach was developed by Loris Malaguzzi alongside parents after World War II. It is a heavily child-centric approach, with a focus on the many ways children can express themselves. The practitioner is an observer and promoter of the child’s interests.


What are the basic principles?

  • Every child should be seen as strong, capable, and resilient, and ready to explore

  • Children are natural communicators, and it is important that we understand the ‘100 languages of children’ – the many ways children express themselves

  • Children can build their own learning, and require adults to help support it, not instruct

  • The focus on exploratory and child-led play is meant to improve problem-solving skills in particular


How does it influence our provision?

  • We place great importance on mutual respect, listening and discussion

  • Children’s conversations with adults enable them to learn and search together. It's a process. As practitioners we make sure we have the time and patience to really engage with children and pay attention to and listen to what they are saying

  • We undertake regular peer observations to observe how practitioners engage with the children, ensuring that they are acting as a guide and not interrupting or quashing children’s interests

  • We allow children opportunities to express themselves and emphasise a hands-on approach to learning, as this is what best allows children to communicate using their hundred languages. This includes drawing, dancing, painting, imaginative play, music, and story telling

  • We work in partnership with parents to best support children’s learning as we believe that this helps all children succeed. Instead of leading the learning process of the children we work alongside parents/carers as co-learners and collaborators. We offer our knowledge and help to the children and listen, observe, document, and encourage children in whatever it is they are interested in doing

  • The Reggio Emilia approach believes that children have an endless number of ways of learning. This is reflected in the many materials, methods, instruments, activities, ideas, and tools that we offer the children. The learning tools are available to children based on their ongoing interest. It is a very hands-on approach to learning and discovering. This provides an easy-going approach yet holistic approach to educating the very young

  • We seek to teach children to resolve their own conflicts

  • Our curriculum is child-led and challenging, allowing children to spend extended amounts of time at an activity or within an area of interest

  • We believe in truly reflective practice, individually in our reflection journals on Tapestry and as a team in our regular meetings

  • Our environment is carefully organised and developed to ensure that children can learn independently

  • The environment is fluid and constantly changing according to children’s interests, our theme or to reflect a special event we are celebrating

  • We aim to provide a homely, natural environment with objects and activities developed for and by the children which provides for extended and open-ended discovery and play


Te Whāriki 

This is a New Zealand curriculum that focuses on a homely environment and strong personal relationships. It puts complete focus on the child and family and looks at children's learning through their eyes. It considers their potential and their imagination. The themes and principles in the EYFS Curriculum Guidance share much with the Themes and Principles included within the Te Whāriki.

The name ‘Te Whāriki’ comes from the Maori language and means ‘woven mat’. This can be visualised as learning and development being woven from the foundational principles, strands, and goals. It develops the idea that children interact with their environment, and there's an opportunity to learn in every environment.

The value that underpins the Te Whāriki curriculum, which guides most early years pedagogy and practice in New Zealand, is that children should be:


“Competent and confident learners and communicators, healthy in mind, body and spirit, secure in their sense of belonging and in the knowledge that they make a valued contribution to society.”

-Early Child Curriculum, New Zealand Ministry of Education

What are the basic principles?

  • Empowerment (Whakamana) – The curriculum empowers the child to learn and grow

  • Holistic Development (Kotahitanga) – The curriculum reflects the holistic way children learn and grow

  • Family and Community (Whānau Tangata) – The wider world of family and community is an integral part of the early childhood curriculum

  • Relationships (Ngā Hononga) – Children learn through responsive and reciprocal relationships with people, places, and things


Te Whāriki’s four principles are interwoven with these learning areas:

  • Well-being – Mana Atua – Nurture and protect the health and well-being of the child

  • Belonging – Mana Whenua – Children and their families feel a sense of belonging

  • Contribution – Mana Tangata – Opportunities for learning are equitable, and each child’s contribution is valued

  • Communication – Mana Reo – The languages and symbols of their own and other cultures are promoted and protected


How does it influence our provision?

  • Children experience an environment and activities that promotes their health, nurtures their emotional well-being, and keeps them safe from harm

  • Children and their families experience an environment where: connecting with family and the wider world are affirmed and extended; they know that they have a place; they feel comfortable with the routines, customs, and regular events; and they know the limits and boundaries of acceptable behaviour

  • Children experience an environment where: there are equitable opportunities for learning, irrespective of gender, ability, age, ethnicity, or background; they are affirmed as individuals; and they are encouraged to learn with and alongside others

  • Children experience an environment where: they develop non-verbal communication skills for a range of purposes; they develop verbal communication skills for a range of purposes; they experience the stories and symbols of their own and other cultures; and they discover and develop different ways to be creative and expressive

  • Children experience an environment where: their play is valued as meaningful learning and the importance of spontaneous play is understood; they gain confidence in and control of their bodies; they learn strategies for active exploration, thinking, and reasoning; and they develop working theories for making sense of the natural, social, physical, and material worlds

In The Moment Planning ?

The idea is to capture the interest of a child or children in the present moment. Young children have a natural desire to learn, explore and question.

The pedagogical approach of ‘in the moment planning’ means understanding what needs to be taught, the statutory stuff, and then moving it into the curriculum of children. Instead of taking the familiar long-term cycle of observation, reflection, and planning, we do all of this instantly. We work closely with the children to observe an interest and extend it in the moment.

The basis for all of this is that children have a natural desire to learn and explore. So instead of holding their hand through a variety of pre-set activities, we allow them to find their own interests, and use this to enhance and build upon their existing knowledge.

What are the basic principles?

It’s often broken down into three stages:

  • The Child’s Spark – This is when the child first shows an interest in something. There should be an air of fascination around the object and concentration in what they are now doing

  • The Teachable Moment – We will notice this and approach the child. This is the opportunity to extend their interest, by asking open-ended questions and considering ways to apply this interest to other options within the environment

  • The Documentation – At a later date, we document the observation. Include the spark, the teachable moment and what we did next. This helps us to map out each child’s interests and plan an environment that works for them

How does it influence our provision?

  • We don’t ask a child what their interests are. They are allowed to play freely while we interpret these interests

  • Children are given the opportunity to choose what or where they would like to play, rather than being directed to an activity by an adult

  • We offer an enabling environment, one which offers opportunities that stimulate curiosity (each child will have different things that stimulate them – while one might enjoy painting, another might like dressing up)

  • We offer an environment that enables child-initiated play in order to capture the moment of engagement

  • When we engage with a child, we approach the child to enquire about the activity, rather than calling the child over to us

  • We carefully and skilfully observe and listen to children so that so we can follow the child’s lead

  • We use open-ended questions that require a description, rather than a yes or no answer – these usually start with what/how/why rather than do/is/can. (‘What do you like about that?’ rather than ‘Do you like that?’)

  • We are curious and enthusiastic about what a child is doing, which leads to a moment where child-led learning can take place

  • We identify the item/place/person/idea that has sparked the child’s interest and we use these moments ‘teachable moments’ engage with the child and gently take their learning to the next step

  • We praise and reinforce positive learning experiences

Theorists who have inspired our pedagogy:

Piaget – Helped us understand how a child constructs a mental model of the world and brought in many theories on assessment.

Vygotsky – Focused on the value of play and how children learn based on their environment.

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