Key Takeaways: Early Years Webinar with Nóirín Hayes on a Nurturing Pedagogy

Key Takeaways from Early Years Webinar with Nóirín Hayes on a Nurturing Pedagogy
11 Nov 2021

Professor Nóirín Hayes gave a presentation at Portobello Institute on 'Embracing a Nurturing Pedagogy' following her recent appointment as Champion and Advocate for Early Childhood Education and Care by OMEP [Irl].

This insightful webinar, which you can watch here, drew upon many key points around what a 'nurturing pedagogy' is (a term coined by Professor Hayes is 2003) and why it is so valuable in early childhood care and education.

You can download Prof. Hayes' presentation slides from the night using the button below. 


Download Presentation

Key Takeaways

To summarise here are some of the key takeaways:

Professor Nóirín Hayes began the webinar by locating herself in the theory that informs her practice. 

She looks at development through a children’s rights lens and believes in the dynamic nature of human development and the fact that we are influenced by the immediate environment around us and the distance environments of policy and culture and in turn that we can influence these. 

Assumptions/beliefs that she believes include the notion that childcare is generally talked about in the context of adults and childcare as a service to parents. Or it also tends to be talked about in the context of conditions and services of staff working in childcare. 

But really childcare is about children, they are the people who are directly impacted by childcare and they are the ones who experience childcare along with the staff in the day to day.

She spoke about the importance of locating children in the centre of practice.

She hoped that the webinar would provide a conversation or language that allows the early years sector to strengthen the way it speaks about the unique nature of early childhood education and care.  


"Early Childhood Education and Care is recognised internationally as the first level of education and it is unique in its practice, it has a unique knowledge base and it requires a unique skillset," Professor Hayes said.

She expressed how it is different from parenting, it is different from babysitting, it’s different from nursing and it’s different from primary teaching. It is a unique form of practice.  

Specifically, it is about reciprocal, respective and reflective relationships so it is very people and process orientated and in the now, she explained.

Professor Nóirín Hayes coined the term ‘nurturing pedagogy’ in 2003 and it was later taken to inform aspects of Aistear 

It derives from the idea that close interactions between children and between children and adults drive connection. 

Recent science shows that the architecture of our brain is modified by the quality of close interactions between people.

This strengthens the neural networks and allows for a refining of messaging so senses and response happen quicker. It is also related to the foundation of the development of the pre-frontal cortex. 

The key tools in early childhood education and care are people, the people in the dynamic interactions and the learning opportunities provided by these interactions.  

In relation to practice, Professor Hayes prefers to talk about learning opportunities rather than learning outcomes. 

The term nurturing pedagogy is a term that acts as an integrating mechanism for care and education.  

Young children learn in a holistic, embodied and integrated way – this has implications for practice.  

Adults have a powerful role in facilitating learning and development through creating contexts which facilitate this.  

Quality early learning environments encourage children to develop positive, generative dispositions of curiosity, persistence, responsiveness, self-regulation, attention and engaged activity as well as inhibit the more disruptive dispositions of impulsiveness; explosiveness; distractibility or apathy, inattentiveness, unresponsiveness and feelings of insecurity.

These any many more interesting points were discussed at the webinar, ensure you watch it back here.

Early Years Webinar Series 

This was the third webinar in our series, you can watch our first one with Dr Judith Butler here and the second with Tim Gill here

The series resumes in January stay tuned for more!

Interested in a Course?

Portobello Institute is the leading provider in early years education in Ireland with 40 years of experience. 

Click here to book a consultation to speak to our Early Years & Montessori advisor, Jennifer Matteazzi, about where you are on this journey and how we can guide you to achieve your goals. Call her directly on 01 892 0031 or email

Need help choosing the right course?

Choosing what to study can be a daunting task. Here at Portobello Institute, we have a team of dedicated experts to assist you at every step. No matter how big or how small your question is, we're here to help.

Our Faculty Experts

Our experts are on hand to support you to choose the course for the career you want.

If you prefer to send us a message with your questions, we're here to support you!

Contact us