7 Key Features of Effective Practice: Part 4

Pedagogy: helping children to learn


Pedagogy is simply about how we educate children and support their development. It’s the strategies we use to expand their knowledge and skills, and knowing how our relationships and interactions with children benefit them. Children are powerful learners. Every child can thrive in their development, if they have enough support and encouragement. Effective pedagogy is about using a mix of different approaches. Children learn through play, by adults modelling, by observing one another, and through guided learning and direct teaching. 


Our staff team carefully organise our inviting and stimulating environments to plan a wide-range of exciting activities. They provide opportunities for children to lead their own learning and sensitively step in to extend children’s knowledge even further. Young children learn best through a range of group activities, guided by staff, as well as being able to direct their own play. A well-planned learning environment, indoors and outside, is an important aspect of pedagogy. 


At Little Hands Daycare, our practice is driven by a range of theorists and approaches, which truly are at the heart of all we do. Some of these include:



Maria Montessori was an Italian physician and educator who developed the Montessori method based on thousands of scientific observations. It focuses on each child’s individuality, encouraging curiosity through a carefully designed environment.

How does this look at Little Hands?

  • Developing safe, organised and stimulating environments that encourages self-directed and child-led learning
  • Using natural, often open-ended resources that match the five Montessori curriculum areas
  • These five curriculum areas are: practical life, sensorial, mathematics, language, and culture
  • Our staff team play a crucial role in providing the right materials for children to explore at the right point in their development

Rudolf Steiner was an Austrian educationalist, who set up his first school for the workers of the Waldorf-Astoria cigarette factory in Stuttgart. Steiner believed in an environment that is calm, peaceful, familiar, predictable and unhurried.

How does this look at Little Hands?

  • Learning is experienced through regular daily tasks and activities
  • The environment is central, and aims to not overstimulate children
  • Natural, open-ended resources play a huge part in our environment, encouraging children’s imaginative skills
  • Providing a homely environment to make children feel safe and welcome
Reggio Emilia

The Reggio Emilia 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. 

How does this look at Little Hands?

  • Every child is seen seen as capable, resilient and ready to explore
  • Staff encourages children to be natural communicators and fully understand how children express themselves
  • Children extend their own learning, and require adults to help build on their development further, rather than over-direct it
  • There is a huge focus on exploratory and child-led play to encourage children’s problem-solving and critical-thinking skills
Forest School

The forest school pedagogy focuses on giving children the opportunity to learn through hands-on experiences in a natural environment. Originating in Denmark in the 1950s, the forest school ethos is now seen throughout the world.

How does this look at Little Hands?

  • We hugely value outdoor learning and provide opportunities for children to learn in a natural environment or woodland
  • Children are trusted to explore and discover, and allowed to engage in risky play that they risk assess for themselves, with the support of staff
  • Children are encouraged to choose their own learning and to develop a close, positive relationship with the natural world
The Curiosity Approach

The Curiosity Approach is a pedagogy developed by Lydnsey Hellyn and Stephanie Bennett. It takes ideas from Steiner, Reggio, Montessori and Te Whāriki, but most importantly it’s about providing a safe and comfortable environment for children to be curious.

How does this look at Little Hands?

  • Our environments use natural materials and neutral backgrounds that prevent overstimulation
  • Children are encouraged to become independent thinkers who can explore their environment with curiosity
  • Staff provide a homely environment, with real-life resources, to make children feel comfortable and safe

Chris Athey built on the early work of Piaget to popularise the idea of schemas – the fascinations that children obsess over during different stages in their development. 

How does this look at Little Hands?

  • Our staff team identify and encourage these patterns of repeated behaviour that we call schemas through the activities they plan and deliver
  • Schemas are: dynamic vertical, dynamic back and forth, dynamic circular, going over and under, going round a boundary, going through a boundary, containing and enveloping space
  • Staff have an incredibly important role to play in the schema framework. They observe, understand and then provide opportunities for children to explore their schema further


102-104 Brettell Lane, Amblecote, West Midlands, DY8 4BS

T: 01384 441441
E: amblecote@littlehandsdaycare.co.uk

Nursery Manager: Lara Owen & Bev Ramsell

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The Sunday School, 2 Chapel Street, Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, B60 2BQ

T: 0121 820 7119
E: bromsgrove@littlehandsdaycare.co.uk

Nursery Manager: Emma Gerrish

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Nursery Block Heart Of Worcestershire College School Drive Bromsgrove Worcestershire B60 1PQ

T: 0121 824 4697
E: howcollegebromsgrove@littlehandsdaycare.co.uk

Nursery Manager: Clare Fereday

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16-18 Hagley Road, Stourbridge, West Midlands, DY8 1PS

T: 01384 396920
E: stourbridge@littlehandsdaycare.co.uk

Nursery Manager: Lara Owen & Lucy Brettle

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little hands Stourbridge map