What is Intentional Teaching in Childcare

Any time teaching is done on an individual or small group level, the teaching will have elements of intentional teaching within it. There are five key features of intentional teaching which are discussed below…

Identity

Independent teaching practices help the child to develop their sense of identity in three key ways. These are:

  • Helping the child to build a sense of security and trust. Teacher’s collaboration with families and children help the child to develop a sense of being valued and welcome. Furthermore, intentional teaching offers the child opportunities to explore new environments while feeling safe and comfortable.
  • Helping them to act independently and to persevere. Independent teaching provides a framework for children to take responsibility for their own belongings while also being able to attempt and practise new skills and reflect on their learning experiences.
  • Helping the child to confidently build their own identity based upon their family experience.

Wellbeing

Intentional teaching activities help to promote a sense of wellbeing in the child primarily in three ways. These are:

  • Helping to build a sense of autonomy in the child. Actions to promote autonomy include acknowledging feelings and emotions and making the connection between the child’s emotions and actions. Intentional teachers model ways to recognise and express feelings while encouraging children to apply these modelled behaviours to regulate their own emotional behaviour.
  • Encouraging healthy safe behaviour. Strategies for intentional teaching in this area would include such activities as explaining healthy choices and the value of maintaining healthy routines, taking the time to explain safety rules and how to use equipment safely, giving children the opportunity to practice safe behaviour and follow safety rules, and where appropriate, identifying unsafe behaviour while providing the child with an opportunity to adopt safer practices.
  • Building better physical well being by allowing the child to participate in activity that will help to build strength and allow them to become more confident in the use of equipment. Opportunities should also be provided for the child to develop their fine motor skills. These opportunities should be reinforced with discussions of the importance of physical activity.

Connectedness

Developing a sense of connectedness is a key component of a child’s development and intentional teaching strategies can help facilitate this by -:

  • Helping to build positive relationships. This can be done by modelling and scaffolding behaviours in a variety of situations. These include modelling cooperation skills and encouraging children to put these skills into practice, putting a problem solving framework around situations of conflict, helping to identify a child’s responsibilities, negotiating with children where the rights of others are involved and encouraging empathy.
  • Encouraging respect for diversity by encouraging children to respect the differing opinions of others, challenging presented stereotypes in text or daily situations, recognising the importance of each family’s culture, encouraging research and understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
  • Promoting respect for the environment by encouraging curiosity about the world at large and promoting discussion of people’s impact upon the environment, at a micro level, relating how the children are responsible for their environment in the classroom and encouraging research on what can be done to promote positive change in relation to the children’s areas of specific concern.

Active Learning

Actively working to improve the child’s level of cognitive thinking is going to have a positive impact here specifically the teacher can help the child to:

  • Have a positive attitude towards learning. The teacher’s role here is critical as they can encourage curiosity, investigation and problem solving while challenging the child to connect ideas and experiences. Further positive learning opportunities can be explored through dramatic play and developing the child’s vocabulary as new words arise in different situations.
  • Building confidence and encouraging further involvement in learning. Teachers can work to share children’s ideas and discoveries while actively encouraging children to take note and to think about why things happen and to experiment further within boundaries. Teachers can help to promote further engagement by discussing and explaining why experiments did or did not work.
  • Promoting technologies to assist learning by demonstrating the use of appropriate technology and helping children to identify appropriate technologies to assist them in their learning.

Communicating

Communication is obviously a key area for intentional teaching in early childhood and the focus should be placed on three key areas.

  • Language itself can be explored and expanded through songs, stories, rhyme and alternatives such as signed language. New vocabulary can be introduced as well as exploring how language can be used. Importantly, listening skills can be expanded as well.
  • Exploring literacy in ways that are meaningful to the child. Strategies include explanation of texts, connecting sounds and letters and encouraging children to begin to write.
  • Numeracy can be explored in ways that make sense to the child by relating everyday circumstances to mathematical concepts and encouraging the use of mathematical language while helping to conceptualise such ideas as sets, numbers, comparison and counting.

Intentional teaching helps the teacher to proactively work towards a goal more effectively than using other more traditional methods. The method is not new, rather it is a way of thinking and teaching that helps to foster the individual’s learning capacity.