Pre-Schools

0 - 6 year olds

Challenging Learning for Pre-Schools

Our team includes some very experienced pre-school assistants, teachers, and leaders. Together we offer practical and inspiring consultancy for staff working with children aged 0-6.

Currently, we are working with very many pre-schools around the world to improve questioning, dialogue, challenge, and feedback with young children. We also offer keynote speeches and workshops on all the topics listed below.

Our most effective support is the Challenging Learning Process. This brings together the best resources, research, and practice to help pre-school staff improve learning outcomes for all young children. To find out more, please download the information documents – available below in English, Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish (with Spanish and French coming soon)

The Challenging Learning Process

The Challenging Learning Process (CLP) leads to higher levels of child engagement; more effective use of feedback; better quality questioning; and enhanced  dialogue. To learn more, feel free to download one of the PDF’s below.

CLP - Dansk

CLP - Norsk

CLP - Svenska

CLP - English

Areas of Expertise

If you would like us to provide a keynote speech then we can cover edited highlights of 1 or 2 of the topics below. In a day, we can cover highlights for up to 4 topics. For long-term projects, we can go in-depth with as many topics as you like. You choose; we design!

Building Children’s Self-Efficacy

Helping young children develop a sense of confidence & self-belief

We all try to help young children develop a sense of confidence and self-belief. However, many of the things that happen in pre-schools have the opposite effect. These include certain types of praise, rewards, activities, sticker charts and other external motivators. Building on the most credible and up-to-date research, we show you ways to identify what really works and what doesn’t; and how to design learning environments that really do enhance intrinsic motivation and self-efficacy in all young children.

Connected topics: Challenge & Progress; Family Learning; Feedback; Growth Mindsets; Philosophy for Children; Teaching Thinking;

 

Challenge & Progress in the Early Years

Helping all young children to be comfortable with challenge so that they make optimal progress in their early years setting 

So much of what we do in pre-schools is child-led, and rightly so. However when given choice, far too many children pick the thing they know they can do well (often because they want to be praised by the adults). At Challenging Learning, we have developed strategies to help all young children enjoy and seek out challenge. This in turn helps those young learners make more progress in their learning so that they are more happy, rounded and able children.

Connected topics: Building Children’s Self-Efficacy; Developing Dialogue; Family Learning; Feedback; Growth Mindsets; Philosophy for Children; Questioning Skills; Teaching Thinking; Visible Learning

 

Creativity in the Early Years

Introducing unique and engaging ways to further enhance creativity in pre-schools and other EY settings

Some of the Challenging Learning team were leaders in the Creative Partnerships movement in the UK between 2006 and 2012. When they joined our team, they brought with them outstanding ideas for enhancing creativity in all educational settings – including pre-schools and playgroups. They have since developed these strategies further to make them relevant for early years settings outside the UK – particularly for the Scandinavian and Australasian contexts. So if you would like to better understand creative approaches to literacy, numeracy, problem-solving, reasoning, and group-work then this is the topic for you. 

Connected topics: Developing Dialogue; Philosophy for Children; Questioning Skills; Teaching Thinking; Vision & Strategy

Developing Dialogue with Young Children

Improving the quality of dialogue with and between young children

Dialogue is the foundation of learning because it allows interaction and engagement with the ideas of others. It also provides the opportunity for chlildren to move from surface-level knowledge to deeper understanding of concepts. As a pedagogical tool, it is amongst the most effective ways to give feedback, guidance and challenge. At Challenging Learning, we have developed some superb strategies and approaches to dialogue that will help all pre-school staff to make the most of the possibilities. 

Connected topics: Challenge & Progress; Creativity; Family Learning; Feedback; Philosophy for Children; Questioning Skills; Teaching Thinking

Family Learning

Helping parents of young children understand how best to support their child’s learning

When we work long-term with pre-schools, we very often run workshops for parents too. We show how important challenge is and how they can encourage their children to get out of their comfort zone (and into their Zone of Proximal Development). We show how some types of praise and rewards can be detrimental to learning. And we look at ways to improve talk, play, thinking, and feedback with young children.

Connected topics: Building Children’s Self-Efficacy; Challenge & Progress; Developing Dialogue; Feedback; Growth Mindsets; Philosophy for Children; Teaching Thinking; Visible Learning; Vision & Strategy

Feedback for Pre-Schools

Increasing the quality and impact of the feedback you give young children

According to researchers such as Dylan Wiliam and John Hattie, feedback can double the rate of progress children make. Yet how many pre-schools are actually achieving these gains? In fact, some feedback can actually have negative effects on children’s learning! In response to this, we have developed a range of strategies to share with you that will ensure your feedback is effective, personalized, credible, timely, and well used by all pre-school staff.

Connected topics: Building Children’s Self-Efficacy; Challenge & Progress; Developing Dialogue; Family Learning; Growth Mindsets; Philosophy for Children; Questioning Skills; Teaching Thinking; Visible Learning; Vision & Strategy

Growth Mindsets

Helping young children and those who work with them to develop a growth mindset

Carol Dweck is the world’s leading researcher on motivation and engagement. Every 2-3 years, we host and co-present conferences in Europe alongside Professor Dweck. This puts us in a perfect position to help you understand Dweck’s Mindset research so that you can develop young children’s resilience, independence, persistence and intellectual risk-taking.

Connected topics: Building Children’s Self-Efficacy; Challenge & Progress; Creativity; Family Learning; Feedback; Teaching Thinking; Visible Learning; Vision & Strategy

Philosophy for Children (P4C)

Engaging and practical ways to use P4C with children aged 3-7

Philosophy for Children is why Challenging Learning is one of the leading innovators it is today. We have been using the approach with 3 - 19 year olds since the early 90's, and members of our team can be seen on various TV documentaries using the approach. We offer accredited training, support, online materials (link to www.p4c.com) and keynote speeches about P4C. We have also been at the forefront of developing the approach for use with children aged 3-7.

Connected topics: Building Children’s Self-Efficacy; Challenge & Progress; Creativity; Developing Dialogue; Family Learning; Feedback; Growth Mindsets; Questioning Skills; Teaching Thinking

Questioning Skills for Pre-School Staff

Increasing challenge and deepening learning through effective questioning

Increase challenge and deepen learning through the outstanding use of questions. Discover the six most effective questioning techniques, including diagnostic questioning; deep thinking questions; and challenging, facilitating, and responding questions. Also understand how questioning lies at the heart of Assessment for Learning (AfL) techniques, and leads to improved student achievement and progress.

Connected topics: Challenge & Progress; Creativity; Developing Dialogue; Feedback; Philosophy for Children; Teaching Thinking

Teaching Thinking

Teaching young children how to think for themselves and how to think together

All children can be taught to be a better thinker. ‘Better’ in terms of being more effective, ethical, social, creative and reasonable. With improved thinking, children become more successful learners and more confident, independent people. The Challenging Learning team are leaders in the field of teaching young children to think. We can show how to develop Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS); de Bono's Lateral Thinking techniques; Habits of Mind; the Thinking Through series from Newcastle University; Thinking Maps; and Philosophy for Children.

Connected topics: All topics shown on this page

Visible Learning

We are the only company in Scandinavia working directly with John Hattie. As such, we are uniquely positioned to help you understand the truths (and myths) about his research

Visible Learning plus is an in-depth model of professional learning and development. It is based on the principles of Visible Learning that have developed from John Hattie’s research. Together with Professor Hattie, we have developed a range of strategies to help pre-schools make the most of the Visible Learning research and how it applies to young children. We also offer shorter courses in Visible Learning, all accredited and signed by John Hattie.

Connected topics: Challenge & Progress; Family Learning; Feedback; Growth Mindsets; Philosophy for Children; Teaching Thinking; Vision & Strategy

Vision & Strategy

Developing leadership to generate focus, energy and commitment from everyone in your pre-school community

Choosing to lead rather than simply manage has dramatic implications for the success of your pre-school. We can show you how to balance your leadership-management seesaw; where to place your energy to sustain growth and learning; and how to align everyone behind a common vision/goal. We will also show you how to deal with resistance, speak with one mind and one voice, plan powerfully and grow leadership capacity. You will take away a leadership toolkit to put into practice immediately.

Connected topics: Creativity; Family Learning; Feedback; Growth Mindsets; Teaching Thinking; Visible Learning

  • Case Study

    Yinnar Primary School

    In 2008 James Nottingham was asked to design a schools program in Australia by the Principal of Yinnar Primary School, George Telford. The Professional Development focus areas included Challenge, Mindset, Progress, P4C, Questioning and Outstanding Teaching. James created a Personal Development Program for the whole staff contingent as well as Demonstration Lessons for them to take forward. The following feedback came directly from the Principal, George Telford: Which words would you use to describe the work? “Challenging, Inspirational" What impact has this work had on you and your col ...

  • Case Study

    Brandsøy skule

    From 2008 to 2012 James Nottingham worked with the staff of Brandsøy skule in Norway to create an ongoing program that would cover the following areas of professional development: Challenge, Feedback, Vision & Strategy, Dweck Mindset, Progress, Philosophy for Children The training received by the staff covered the following areas: Whole Staff PD, Demonstration Lessons, Parents' Events, Coaching, Leaders Planning Keynote Speech Which words would you use to describe the work? Challenging, Motivating Useful for school leaders both in short and long-term work What impact has this work ...

    • Thanks for the many wise words - and a liberating way to describe everyday life in pre-school and the many opportunities that lie ahead to create more learning.

      Mette Mariendal

      Denmark
    • Entertaining speakers who are easy to understand. The workshops very much exceeded my expectations.

      Pre-School Pedagog

      Sweden
    • I just want to thank you for lifting me back to a state of “I love my job.” Thank you for a couple of fantastic hours in Århus today.  I have been a little “tired” lately but now I am back on track :o)

      Pre-School Leader

      Denmark
    • We were so impressed at how well you “translated” all the important points from your own and Hattie’s books into the pre-school context – and that your examples were spot on.

      Pre-School Editor

      Dafolo, Denmark
    • The course was inspiring and informative, focusing on better teacher-student relations through dialogue and teacher-teacher feedback through action learning

      Assistant Leader

      Sprogcenter Midt, Denmark
    • Great speaker who managed to keep the energy high all day! / Fantastisk foredragsholder som formår at holde gang i energien hele dagen!

      Pre-school assistant

      Denmark
    • Nothing short of an AMAZING speaker. Time flew by! Although it was in English, the language was never a problem! / Intet mindre end FANTASTISK oplægsholder. Tiden fløj af sted! Selvom dagen foregik på engelsk, blev sproget aldrig på noget tidspunkt et problem!

      Pre-school teacher

      Denmark

      Events for Pre-School Staff

      Pre-School Conference: Udforsk Læringen

      Pre-School Conference: Udforsk Læringen

      With James Nottingham

      Glostrup, DK

      7th November 2015

      Sapere Conference 2015

      Sapere Conference 2015

      UK

      19th November 2015

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