The term pedagogy refers to the holistic nature of early childhood educators’ professional practice (especially those aspects that involve building and nurturing relationships), curriculum decision-making, teaching and learning. When educators establish respectful and caring relationships with children and families, they are able to work together to construct curriculum and learning experiences relevant to children in their local context. These experiences gradually expand children’s knowledge and understanding of the world.

Educators’ professional judgements are central to their active role in facilitating children’s learning. In making professional judgements, they weave together their:

  • professional knowledge and skills
  • knowledge of children, families and communities
  • awareness of how their beliefs and values impact on children’s learning
  • personal styles and past experiences.

They also draw on their creativity, intuition and imagination to help them improvise and adjust their practice to suit the time, place and context of learning.

Different theories about early childhood inform approaches to children’s learning and development. Early childhood educators draw upon a range of perspectives in their work which may include:

  • developmental theories that focus on describing and understanding the processes of change in children’s learning and development over time
  • socio-cultural theories that emphasise the central role that families and cultural groups play in children’s learning and the importance of respectful relationships and provide insight into social and cultural contexts of learning and development
  • socio-behaviourist theories that focus on the role of experiences in shaping children’s behaviour
  • critical theories that invite early childhood educators to challenge assumptions about curriculum, and consider how their decisions may affect children differently
  • post-structuralist theories that offer insights into issues of power, equity and social justice in early childhood settings.

Drawing on a range of perspectives and theories can challenge traditional ways of seeing children, teaching and learning, and encourage educators, as individuals and with colleagues, to:

  • investigate why they act in the ways that they do
  • discuss and debate theories to identify strengths and limitations
  • recognise how the theories and beliefs that they use to make sense of their work enable but also limit their actions and thoughts
  • consider the consequences of their actions for children’s experiences
  • find new ways of working fairly and justly.


The following are five Principles that reflect contemporary theories and research evidence concerning children’s learning and early childhood pedagogy. The Principles underpin practice that is focused on assisting all children to make progress in relation to the Learning Outcomes.


Educators who are attuned to children’s thoughts and feelings, support the development of a strong sense of wellbeing. They positively interact with the young child in their learning. Research has shown that babies are both vulnerable and competent. Babies’ first attachments within their families and within other trusting relationships provide them with a secure base for exploration and learning. Through a widening network of secure relationships, children develop confidence and feel respected and valued. They become increasingly able to recognise and respect the feelings of others and to interact positively with them. Educators who give priority to nurturing relationships and providing children with consistent emotional support can assist children to develop the skills and understandings they need to interact positively with others. They also help children to learn about their responsibilities to others, to appreciate their connectedness and interdependence as learners, and to value collaboration and teamwork.

2. Partnerships

Learning outcomes are most likely to be achieved when early childhood educators work in partnership with families. Educators recognise that families are children’s first and most influential teachers. They create a welcoming environment where all children and families are respected and actively encouraged to collaborate with educators about curriculum decisions in order to ensure that learning experiences are meaningful.

Partnerships are based on the foundations of understanding each other’s expectations and attitudes, and build on the strength of each others’ knowledge.

In genuine partnerships, families and early childhood educators:

  • value each other’s knowledge of each child
  • value each other’s contributions to and roles in each child’s life
  • trust each other
  • communicate freely and respectfully with each other
  • share insights and perspectives about each child
  • engage in shared decision-making.

Partnerships also involve educators, families and support professionals working together to explore the learning potential in every day events, routines and play so that children with additional needs are provided with daily opportunities to learn from active participation and engagement in these experiences in the home and in early childhood or specialist settings.


Early childhood educators who are committed to equity believe in all children’s capacities to succeed, regardless of diverse circumstances and abilities. Children progress well when they, their parents and educators hold high expectations for their achievement in learning. BELONGING, BEING & BECOMING The Early Years Learning Framework for Australia 14 Educators recognise and respond to barriers to children achieving educational success. In response they challenge practices that contribute to inequities and make curriculum decisions that promote inclusion and participation of all children. By developing their professional knowledge and skills, and working in partnership with children, families, communities, other services and agencies, they continually strive to find equitable and effective ways to ensure that all children have opportunities to achieve learning outcomes.


There are many ways of living, being and of knowing. Children are born belonging to a culture, which is not only influenced by traditional practices, heritage and ancestral knowledge, but also by the experiences, values and beliefs of individual families and communities. Respecting diversity means within the curriculum valuing and reflecting the practices, values and beliefs of families. Educators honour the histories, cultures, languages, traditions, child rearing practices and lifestyle choices of families. They value children’s different capacities and abilities and respect differences in families’ home lives. Educators recognise that diversity contributes to the richness of our society and provides a valid evidence base about ways of knowing. For Australia it also includes promoting greater understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ways of knowing and being. When early childhood educators respect the diversity of families and communities, and the aspirations they hold for children, they are able to foster children’s motivation to learn and reinforce their sense of themselves as competent learners. They make curriculum decisions that uphold all children’s rights to have their cultures, identities, abilities and strengths acknowledged and valued, and respond to the complexity of children’s and families’ lives. Educators think critically about opportunities and dilemmas that can arise from diversity and take action to redress unfairness. They provide opportunities to learn about similarities and difference and about interdependence and how we can learn to live together.


Educators continually seek ways to build their professional knowledge and develop learning communities. They become co-learners with children, families and community, and value the continuity and richness of local knowledge shared by community members, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders. Reflective practice is a form of ongoing learning that involves engaging with questions of philosophy, ethics and practice. Its intention is to gather information and gain insights that support, inform and enrich decision-making about children’s learning. As professionals, early childhood educators examine what happens in their settings and reflect on what they might change. Critical reflection involves closely examining all aspects of events and experiences from different perspectives. Educators often frame their reflective practice within a set of overarching questions, developing more specific questions for particular areas of enquiry.

Overarching questions to guide reflection include:

  • What are my understandings of each child?
  • What theories, philosophies and understandings shape and assist my work?
  • Who is advantaged when I work in this way? Who is disadvantaged?
  • What questions do I have about my work? What am I challenged by?
  • What am I curious about? What am I confronted by?
  • What aspects of my work are not helped by the theories and guidance that I usually draw on to make sense of what I do?
  • Are there other theories or knowledge that could help me to understand better what I have observed or experienced?
  • What are they?
  • How might those theories and that knowledge affect my practice?

A lively culture of professional inquiry is established when early childhood educators and those with whom they work are all involved in an ongoing cycle of review through which current practices are examined, outcomes reviewed and new ideas generated. In such a climate, issues relating to curriculum quality, equity and children’s wellbeing c an be raised and debated. The Early Years Learning Framework for Australia 15 BELONGING, BEING & BECOMING


The principles of early childhood pedagogy underpin practice. Educators draw on a rich repertoire of pedagogical practices to promote children’s learning by:

  • adopting holistic approaches
  • being responsive to children
  • planning and implementing learning through play
  • intentional teaching
  • creating physical and social learning environments that have a positive impact on children’s learning
  • valuing the cultural and social contexts of children and their families
  • providing for continuity in experiences and enabling children to have successful transition
  • assessing and monitoring children’s learning to inform provision and to support children in achieving learning outcomes.

Holistic approaches to teaching and learning recognise the connectedness of mind, body and spirit4. When early childhood educators take a holistic approach they pay attention to children’s physical, personal, social, emotional and spiritual wellbeing as well as cognitive aspects of learning. While educators may plan or assess with a focus on a particular outcome or component of learning, they see children’s learning as integrated and interconnected. They recognise the connections between children, families and communities and the importance of reciprocal relationships and partnerships for learning. They see learning as a social activity and value collaborative learning and community participation.

An integrated, holistic approach to teaching and learning also focuses on connections to the natural world. Educators foster children’s capacity to understand and respect the natural environment and the interdependence between people, plants, animals and the land.

Educators are responsive to all children’s strengths, abilities and interests. They value and build on children’s strengths, skills and knowledge to ensure their motivation and engagement in learning. They respond to children’s expertise, cultural traditions and ways of knowing, the multiple languages spoken by some children, particularly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, and the strategies used by children with additional needs to negotiate their every day lives.

Educators are also responsive to children’s ideas and play, which form an important basis for curriculum decision making. In response t o children’s evolving ideas and interests, educators assess, anticipate and extend children’s learning via open ended questioning, providing feedback, challenging their thinking and guiding their learning. They make use of spontaneous ‘teachable moments’ t o scaffold children’s learning. Responsive learning relationships are strengthened as educators and children learn together and share decisions, respect and trust.

Responsiveness enables educators to respectfully enter children’s play and ongoing projects , stimulate their thinking and enrich their learning.

Examples of how educators can reflect on their practice can be found in the description of the Learning Outcomes.

Play provides opportunities for children to learn as they discover, create, improvise and imagine. When children play with other children they create social groups, test out ideas, cha llenge each other’s thinking and build new understandings. Play provides a supportive environment where children can ask questions, solve problems and engage in critical thinking. Play can expand children’s thinking and enhance their desire to know and to learn. In these ways play can promote positive dispositions towards learning. Children’s immersion in their play illustrates how play enables them to simply enjoy being .

Early childhood educators take on many roles in play with children and use a range of 5 strategies to support learning. They engage in sustained shared conversations with children to extend their thinking .They provide a balance between child led, child initiated and educator supported learning. They create learning environments that encoura ge children to explore, solve problems, create and construct. Educators interact with babies and children to build attachment. They use routines and play experiences to do this. They also recognise spontaneous teachable moments as they occur, and use them to build on children’s learning. Early childhood educators work with young children to promote and model positive ways to relate to others. They actively support the inclusion of all children in play, help children to recognise when play is unfair and offe r constructive ways to build a caring, fair and inclusive learning community.

Intentional teaching is deliberate, purposeful and thoughtful. Educators who engage in intentional teaching recognise that learning occurs in social contexts and that interactions and conversations are vitally important for learning. They actively promote learning through worthwhile and challenging experiences and interactions that foster high e children’s level thinking skills. They use strategies such as modelling and demonstrating, open questioning, speculating, explaining, engaging in shared thinking an d problem solving to extend children’s thinking and learning. Educators move flexibly in and out of different roles and draw on different strategies as the context changes. They plan opportunities for intentional teaching and knowledge.monitor children’s learning.

Learning environments are welcoming spaces when they reflect and enrich the lives and identities of children and families participating in the setting and respond to their interests and needs. Envi ronments that support learning are vibrant and flexible spaces that are responsive to the interests and abilities of each child. They cater for different learning capacities and learning styles and invite children and families to contribute ideas, interest s and questions.

Outdoor learning spaces are a feature of Australian learning environments. They offer a vast array of possibilities not available indoors. Play spaces in natural environments include plants, trees, edible gardens, sand, rocks, mud, water and other elements from nature. These spaces invite open interactions, spontaneity, risk– ended taking, exploration, discovery and connection with nature. They foster an appreciation of the natural environment, develop environmental awareness and provide a platform for ongo ing environmental education.

Indoor and outdoor environments support all aspects of children’s learning and invite conversations between children, early childhood educators, families and the broader community. They promote opportunities for sustained share d thinking and collaborative learning.

Materials enhance learning when they reflect what is natural and familiar and also introduce novelty to provoke interest and more complex and increasingly abstract thinking. For example, digital technologies can enable children to access global connections and resources, and encourage new ways of thinking. Environments and resources can also highlight our responsibilities for a sustainable future and promote children’s understanding about their responsibility to care for the environment. They can foster hope, wonder and knowledge about the natural world.

Educators can encourage children and families to contribute ideas, interests and questions to the learning environment. They can support engagement by allowing time f or meaningful interactions, by providing a range of opportunities for individual and shared experiences, and by finding opportunities for children to go into and contribute to their local community.

Educators who are culturally compete nt respect multiple cultural ways of knowing, seeing and living, celebrate the benefits of diversity and have an ability to understand and honour differences. This is evident in everyday practice when educators demonstrate an ongoing commitment to develop their own cultural competence in a two way process with families and communities. Educators view culture and the context of family as central to children’s sense of and to success in lifelong learning. Educators also seek to promoting being and belonging e children’s cultural competence.

Cultural competence is much more than awareness of cultural differences. It is the ability to understand, communicate with, and effectively interact with people across cultures. Cultural competence encompasses:

  • being aware of one’s own world view
  • developing positive attitudes towards cultural differences
  • gaining knowledge of different cultural practices and world views
  • developing skills for communication and interaction across cultures.

Children bring family and community ways of being, belonging and becoming to their early childhood settings. By building on these experiences educators help all children to feel secure, confident and included and to experience continuity in how to be and how to learn.

Transitions, including from home to early childhood settings, between settings, and from early childhood settings to school, offer opportunities and challenges. Different places and spaces have their own purposes, expectations and ways of doing things. Building on children’s prior and current experiences helps them to feel secure, confident and connected to familiar people, places, events and understandings. Children, families and early childhood educators all contribute to successful transitions between settings.

In partnership with families, early childhood educators ensure that children have an active role in preparing for transitions. They assist children to understand the traditions, routines and practices of the settings to which they are moving and to feel comfortable with the process of change.

Early childhood educators also help children to negotiate changes in their status or identities, especially when they begin full-time school. As children make transitions to new settings (including school) educators from early childhood settings and schools commit to sharing information about each child’s knowledge and skills so learning can build on foundations of earlier learning. Educators work collaboratively with each child’s new educator and other professionals to ensure a successful transition.

Assessment for children’s learning refers to the process of gathering and analysing information as evidence about what children know, can do and understand. It is part of an ongoing cycle that includes planning, documenting and evaluating children’s learning.

It is important because it enables educators in partnership with families, children and other professionals to:

  • plan effectively for children’s current and future learning
  • communicate about children’s learning and progress
  • determine the extent to which all children are progressing toward realising learning outcomes and if not, what might be impeding their progress
  • identify children who may need additional support in order to achieve particular learning outcomes, providing that support or assisting families to access specialist help
  • evaluate the effectiveness of learning opportunities, environments and experiences offered and the approaches taken to enable children’s learning
  • reflect on pedagogy that will suit this context and these children.

Educators use a variety of strategies to collect, document, organise, synthesise and interpret the information that they gather to assess children’s learning. They search for appropriate ways to collect rich and meaningful information that depicts children’s learning in context, describes their progress and identifies their strengths, skills and understandings. More recent approaches to assessment also examine the learning strategies that children use and reflect ways in which learning is coconstructed through interactions between the educator and each child. Used effectively, these approaches to assessment become powerful ways to make the process of learning visible to children and their families, educators and other professionals.

The five Learning Outcomes in this Framework, as outlined later, provide early childhood educators with key reference points against which children’s progress can be identified, documented and communicated to families, other early childhood professionals and educators in schools. Over time educators can reflect on how children have developed, how they have engaged with increasingly complex ideas and participated in increasingly sophisticated learning experiences.

Ongoing assessment processes that include a diverse array of methods capture and validate the different pathways that children take toward achieving these outcomes. Such processes do not focus exclusively on the endpoints of children’s learning; they give equal consideration to the ‘distancetravelled’ by individual children and recognise and celebrate not only the giant leaps that children take in their learning but the small steps as well.

All children demonstrate their learning in different culturally and linguistically relevant ways. Approaches to assessment that are and responsive to the physic al and intellectual capabilities of each child will acknowledge each child’s abilities and strengths, and allow them to demonstrate competence.

Including children, families and other professionals in the development and implementation of relevant and appropriate assessment processes allows for new understandings to emerge that are not possible if educators rely solely on their own strategies and perspectives. Developing inclusive assessment practices with children and their families demonstrates respect for diversity, helps educators make better sense of what they have observed and supports learning for both children and adults.

Assessment, when undertaken in collaboration with families, can assist families to support children’s learning and empower them to act on behalf of their children beyond the early childhood setting. When children are included in the assessment process they can develop an understanding of themselves as learners and an understanding of how they learn best.

When educators reflect on their role in children’s learning and assessment they reflect on their own views and understandings of early childhood theory, research and practice

  • to focus on: the experiences and environments they provide and how that links to the intended learning outcomes
  • the extent to which they know and value the culturally specific knowledge about children and learning that is embedded within the community in which they are working
  • each child’s learning in the context of their families, drawing family perspectives, understandings, experiences and expectations childhood setting
  • the learning opportunities which build on what children already know and what they bring to the early
  • evidence that the learning experiences offered are inclusive of all children and culturally appropriate
  • not making assumptions about children’s learning or setting lower expectations for some children because of unacknowledged biases
  • incorporating pedagogical practices that reflect knowledge of diverse perspectives and contribute to children’s wellbeing and successful learning
  • whether there are sufficiently challenging experiences for all children
  • the evidence that demonstrates child ren are learning
  • how they can expand the range of ways they assess to make assessment richer and more useful.

learning outcomes

The five Learning Outcomes are designed to capture the integrated and complex learning and development of all children across the birth to five age range. The outcomes are:

  • Children have a strong sense of identity
  • Children are connected with and contribute to their world
  • Children have a strong sense of wellbeing
  • Children are confident and involved learners
  • Children are effective communicators.

The outcomes are broad and observable. They acknowledge that children learn in a variety of ways and vary in their capabilities and pace of learning. Over time children engage with increasingly complex ideas and learning experiences, which are transferable to other situations.

Learning in relation to the outcomes is influenced by:

  • each child’s current capabilities, dispositions and learning preferences
  • educators’ practices and the early childhood environment
  • engagement with each child’s family and community
  • the integration of learning across the outcomes.

Children’s learning is ongoing and each child will progress towards the outcomes in different and equally meaningful ways. Learning is not always predictable and linear. Educators plan with each child and the outcomes in mind.

The following Learning Outcomes demonstrate how the three elements of the Framework: Principles, Practices and Outcomes combine to guide curriculum decision-making and assessment to promote children’s learning.

Key components of learning in each outcome are expanded to provide examples of evidence that educators may observe in children as they learn. Examples of practice to promote children’s learning are also included.

There will be many other ways that children demonstrate learning within and across the outcomes. Educators understand, engage with and promote children’s learning. They talk with families and communities to make locally based decisions, relevant to each child and their community. There is provision for educators to list specific examples of evidence and practice that are culturally and contextually appropriate to each child and their settings.

The points described within each outcome are relevant to children of all ages. Knowledge of individual children, their strengths and capabilities will guide educators’ professional judgement to ensure all children are engaging in a range of experiences across all the Learning Outcomes in ways that optimise their learning.