​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Pedagogy refers to the strategies educators use to promote children’s learning and expand their understanding of the world. It includes reflecting on practices to make sure interactions with children and their learning experiences are responsive and relevant.

Foundations for Success outlines 4 contexts that educators can use to inform culturally and linguistically responsive practice and extend and enrich children’s learning, development and wellbeing. With the support of the practices outlined in the Early Years Learning Framework, educators ensure they integrate a rich repertoire of teaching and learning strategies across all 4 contexts, in both inside and outside environments, at all times and with all children.

'Indigenous children usually like to feel in control of their choices, decisions and learning so they can explore, discover, practice and solve problems in their own way and time without adult interference unless needed. They usually watch very closely. Children's individualised with encouragement, guidance, modelling and, at times, step-by-step teaching. The learners are decision-makers about what they want to learn and are given plenty of time, space, learning moments and modelling to do so.'

Coleman-Sleep, B, in Priest, K, 2005, op cit, p.32


Play is a child’s natural learning strategy. Through play, children:

  • express their personality and uniqueness
  • enhance their curiosity and creativity
  • make connections between prior experiences and new learning
  • develop relationships and concepts
  • develop a sense of wellbeing.

Play empowers children to be decision-makers, communicators, thinkers, negotiators and collaborators. While they’re playing, children develop problem-solving strategies and they build on their oral languages, literacies and numeracies.

Children use play to:

'…participate in their culture, to develop the literacy of their culture, to order the events in their lives and to share those events with others. Through play, children develop an understanding if their social worlds. They learn to trust, form attachments, share, negotiate take turns and resolve conflict.'

(Epstein, AS, 2007, ‘The intentional teacher: Choosing the best strategies for young children’, in National Association for the Education of Young Children, Washington DC, United States of America ,p. 3)

You can promote learning through play ​by:

  • giving children lots of opportunities to discover, create, improvise and imagine
  • promoting children’s overall wellbeing as well as cognitive aspects of learning
  • creating welcoming and flexible learning environments
  • entering children’s play to stimulate their thinking and enrich their learning
  • letting children make decisions about their play and the resources, materials and spaces they use
  • respecting different play styles and guidance practices
  • promoting inclusive, caring and fair play.​​​​​

Intentional teaching​

When educators engage in children’s play, they can often turn a spontaneous moment into a learning opportunity by extending children’s ideas, asking questions and encouraging complex thinking. Effective educators observe children closely and look for verbal and nonverbal ways to encourage deeper learning.

​Intentional teaching complements child-initiated play and learning.

'…educators plan for a balance of types of experiences including child-initiated, child-guided and adult-guided…Educators take on intentional roles in child-guided experiences and children play active and important roles in adult-guided experiences. Each takes advantage of planned or spontaneous, unexpected learning opportunities.'

(Epstein, AS, 2007, 'The intentional teacher: Choosing the best strategies for young children', National Association for the Education of Young Children, Washington DC, p.3.)

For children learning Standard Australian English as an additional language, intentional teaching may require visual prompts and access to first language-speaking adults.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait lslander educators are ideally placed to use their languages and cultural understanding to provide appropriate support and scaffolding for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

You can promote learning through intentional teaching by:

  • making deliberate and thoughtful curriculum decisions
  • giving children challenging experiences and interactions that encourage high-level thinking
  • using strategies, such as modelling and demonstrating, open questioning, explaining and problem-solving, to extend children’s thinking and learning
  • giving children opportunities to complete tasks independently and interdependently
  • balancing child-led, child-initiated learning with educator-supported learning.

​Read​ ​ Appendix 3: Strategies for extending and enriching children's learning​ for more information.

Investigations and extended projects

A quality early learning program gives children lots of opportunities for investigations and extended projects. These allow them to:

  • ​generate and discuss ideas
  • make plans
  • research
  • brainstorm solutions to problems
  • share reasons for their choices.

Educators help children to plan, follow through and draw conclusions. They also:

  • ask questions
  • pose problems
  • develop ideas
  • challenge thinking
  • suggest alternatives
  • involve children in decision-making.

Children should be given time to follow through on their ideas in increasingly complex ways. Arranging furniture and equipment and making materials available to children encourages them to investigate. As projects evolve, educators can look for ways to extend them beyond the program and to involve other children, families and the community.

You can pro​mote learning through investigations and extended projects by:

  • responding to children’s expertise, cultural traditions and ways of knowing
  • letting children play uninterrupted for long periods and leaving out their works-in-progress so they can go back to them over days and even weeks
  • introducing new and familiar materials, including digital technologies
  • inviting children and families to contribute ideas, interests and questions to the learning environment
  • fostering an appreciation of the natural environment
  • finding opportunities for children to go into and contribute to their local community.

​Read​ ​ Appendix 3: Strategies for extending and enriching children's learning​ for more information.

Shared rituals

Shared rituals are those moments in the day when adults and children share warm and responsive interactions. It could be sharing a book, arriving or leaving, going to sleep, toileting times or eating together. Shared rituals develop trusting relationships and they give educators a chance to build relationships with families, especially as children arrive and leave. They help children build bridges between their home routines and an early learning program.

​When building shared rituals into a program, educators need to be aware that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children may have different ways of doing things at home. For example, they may:

  • choose when and where they fall asleep, and may not be used to sleeping on their own or being left to cry
  • have been taught to be independent and self-sufficient from an early age
  • be cared for by a sibling or cousin
  • have a very different concept of time and may not understand the idea of a ‘right time’ to do something
  • feel safe when they have time to make decisions as they are ready, rather than when someone else says so.

Shared rituals provide predictability and security to the day. They give children a chance to learn through interacting and yarning. By yarning, children learn to organise their thoughts into stories and to listen to others’ stories. Culturally valued songs, music, dance, movement and physical activity can also be built into shared rituals.

You can promote learning through shared rituals by:

  • implementing culturally sensitive and responsive routines and transitions
  • building reciprocal relationships with children, families and communities
  • letting children choose when and how they engage in rituals
  • creating fluid and peaceful transitions between experiences in ways that are sensitive and respectful of the children and their cultures.

Good practice insights videos

This suite of videos gives a close-up view of good practice and insight into the intentions that sit behind the pedagogy of educators.

Ideas for educators

Use these downloadable templates to plan for learning in each of the five Foundations for Success learning areas.

Last updated 06 February 2023