Early Years

Sharing some of the best ways to help 3-7 year old children learn how to learn

Challenging Learning in the Early Years

A significant proportion of our work is with settings catering for young children. Indeed, we are currently supporting more than 100 daycare centres in Denmark and pre-schools in Sweden with our Challenging Learning Process. We are also supporting early childhood centres in Australia and EYFS settings in the UK.

The most popular topics for our early years settings include:

  • Philosophy for Children (P4C) for 3-7 year olds
  • Teaching young children how to learn (At lære børn at lære)
  • Developing dialogue and questioning in early years settings
  • Enhancing challenge and motivation for young children
  • Using praise and feedback to improve progress in pre-schools
  • Developing a Growth Mindset in young children and their families

With many of our team having worked in EY settings, the following reflects the full set of topics we offer any organisation supporting 3-7 year old children.

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.

Creativity 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.

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 children 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.

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.

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.

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.

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 90s, and members of our team can be seen on various TV documentaries using the approach. We offer accredited training, support, online materials and keynote speeches about P4C. We have also been at the forefront of developing the approach for use with children aged 3-7.

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.

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.

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.

Book a course on Early Years

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