Intentional teaching is a term you may have heard regarding your child’s early childhood educational program. Sometimes, people confuse it with teaching by repetition, but that’s a misconception. The EYLF describes it as Educators being purposeful and thoughtful in their decisions and actions.

When an Educator uses intentional teaching practices, they’re taking an active role in a child’s learning. At Petit Early Learning Journey, we empower our Educators to know what they’re doing and why, to recognise the importance of relationships and to respect children’s choices.

In this article we’ve enlisted the help of Lisa, Betty and Kirsty from Petit ELJ Forest Hill, to give us a better understanding of:

  • What is intentional teaching in early childhood education?
  • What are some intentional teaching strategies?
  • How does intentional teaching benefit the children?
  • How do you promote intentional teaching in your environments?
  • How does intentional teaching work?

Children invited to participate in play and learning with intentional teaching.

What is intentional teaching?

“Intentional teaching in early childhood education is the purposeful actions of Educators to support and extend children’s interests, ideas, skills, strengths, and needs,” says Kirsty, Lead Educator in our Haven Place studio.

“Our deliberate actions provoke thought and curiosity amongst children, supporting them to explore and experiment with possibilities to develop lifelong skills and make sense of their world in which they live.”

“Educators play an important role in supporting children’s growth and development. Our intentional teaching strategies play an incredible part in this when thought about respectively to the child and the consistency in building upon skills once achieving each milestone.”

“Intentional teaching involves Educators being thoughtful, purposeful and deliberate in their decisions and actions,” says Betty, an Early Childhood Teacher in our Treasure Cove studio. We take an active role in children’s education helping to support children’s learning and development.”

At Petit ELJ, we recognise a child’s right to be decision makers. We involve them in discussions and invite them to participate in play and learning. Both open-ended play and intentional teaching can often seem at odds with each other, however intentional teaching considers the role of the Educator.

“Intentional teaching also helps to build on children’s learning by building on their interests and questions they ask. We engage in the child’s play, using open ended questions and modelling.”

Families also play an important role as a child’s lifelong teacher and they share in the decisions our Educators make about their child’s learning program. Our interactions with families provide children with choices for learning.

Intentional teaching strategies include challenging children's skills and abilities.

What are some intentional teaching strategies?

“There are many ways to implement intentional teaching strategies in the early childhood setting,” says Kirsty. “Some of these strategies may include:

  • Engaging with scaffolding.
  • Learning through questioning.
  • Challenging individual children’s abilities and knowledge.
  • Researching and learning together.
  • Actively listening.
  • Strategically planning.
  • Revising on all learning experiences.”

Scaffolding breaks learning into smaller pieces. It involves Educators modelling skills and creating an environment where children feel safe and comfortable when taking risks. Our Educators can then step back allowing children to be independent when learning new skills.

“There’s also modelling, demonstrating and engaging in shared thinking and problem solving to extend children’s ideas and learning,” says Betty.

Shared thinking develops mindful and intentional teaching practises that encourage children to converse and share ideas. Educators plan meaningful and rich conversations either with a child or group of children to solve a problem or clarify thinking from new perspectives.

Intentional teaching benefits children as they engage with learning letters and spelling their name..

How does intentional teaching benefit the children?

“Intentional teaching benefits children by helping to make their experiences more purposeful and aligned with learning objectives,” says Lisa, also an Early Childhood Teacher in our Treasure Cove studio.

Objectives and goals are important concepts in intentional teaching. Goals are children’s long-term aspirations. While objectives relate to clear specific plans for an individual child or group.

“By having intentions for particular experiences and interactions, we can support children to extend their knowledge and skills in relation to their individual learning pathway.” Intentions apply to planned and spontaneous interactions that promote everyday learning at Petit ELJ.

“For example, let’s say ‘communication skills’ have been identified as a priority by a child’s family. Then, the Educator intentionally shapes interactions and experiences to support the child to practise, develop and improve these skills.”

“Intentional teaching enhances children’s learning potential,” says Kirsty. “We use intentional teaching in group learning or with an individual child. Our intentions create positive learning experiences boosting children’s thinking skills and impacting the development of all learning areas — social, emotional, cognitive, physical, language and literacy.”

“It also gives the children opportunities to explore new environments while feeling safe and comfortable,” says Betty. “Intentional teaching provides learning opportunities for children to explore and engage with new experiences while building positive relationships. It extends their knowledge in areas where they have an interest.”

Children engage with loose parts. An environment with rich resources and materials promotes intentional teaching.

How do you promote intentional teaching in your environments?

“Our environments are set up with a purpose in mind for how children might use the resources and materials in ways that align with their interests, needs and strengths,” says Lisa.

“For example, a variety of loose parts may be offered to intentionally promote creativity, imagination and problem-solving as these materials can be used in many open-ended ways.”

Our environments at Petit ELJ are intentionally designed to support access for children and adults. Everyday our Educators set up meaningful experiences both indoors and outdoors where our spaces are aesthetically pleasing, inviting children to play and learn.

Intention teaching at work. Children engage with an educator using flashcards and whiteboard presentation on road safety.

How does intentional teaching work?

“Intentional teaching starts with a plan for what we would like children to develop or understand, in terms of skills, knowledge or dispositions. The plan can involve strategies such as:

  • Demonstrating or modelling a particular skill.
  • Guiding a child through scaffolding with prompting, questioning, commenting, making suggestions.
  • Having group interactions that help children to generate their own ideas.”

“Earlier this year, we planned experiences to help our kindergarten children develop their understanding of road safety. The experiences centred around group discussions with the use of visual cards as prompts, action songs, role play activities, and open-ended play with props such as road signs, people and cars.”

“The children were able to share their prior knowledge and extend on these ideas through the group learning experiences.”

Children play outside where Intentional teaching as at work.

Grow your child’s strengths with Petit Early Learning Journey

At Petit ELJ, each day introduces a unique opportunity for children to learn, play and discover. Our teams set up new invitations for them to explore using intentional teaching strategies including family collaboration.

Our Educators love to make learning visible and invite families to partner with us to deliver the best outcomes for their children. We invite you to visit your nearest centre and learn more about our curriculum and learning program.