Debi Keyte-Hartland

Debi Keyte-Hartland

Early Education Associate

Debi Keyte-Hartland is an experienced consultant, trainer, presenter, and workshop leader with over 25 years experience in professional learning and development of early childhood educators/settings across the UK and internationally. She is passionate about the expressive arts; creative and imaginative thinking; ecological awareness and identity; and the interests, enquiries, and working theories of young children and the pedagogical approaches that support their development.

Debi regularly leads training and conference presentations, workshops, and professional learning initiatives throughout the UK and internationally and works with schools and settings as a consultant, coach, and mentor developing teaching and learning through reflective practice.  Debi has also recently trained directly with Reggio Children as a Teacher-Educator of The Reggio Emilia Approach. Debi is also:

  • A lecturer/tutor with CREC (Centre of Research in Early Childhood) on the early years MA in Education specialising in the arts and creativity of children from birth to 8 years.
  • A researcher-pedagogista on the ESRC funded project ‘Children’s Participation in Schools’ lead by University of West England exploring practices that embed young children’s participative rights in classrooms and schools in lower primary settings in Wales.
  • A pedagogical coach and mentor on The Mercers Company funded Early Education project ‘SPACE to Flourish’ that is Supporting Pedagogy in Art and Creativity in Early Years in London.

Debi is keen to work in bespoke ways with you to develop effective professional learning that enables babies, toddlers, and young children and their educators to mutually flourish through making use of different forms of professional learning (mechanisms) that are contextual and relevant to your specific needs and situation.  Do get in touch to discuss the possibilities of working together to design professional learning that builds knowledge of theory, practice, and pedagogy that is energising and motivating for all.

Debi’s work has threads that weave throughout her areas of expertise which include:

  • Curriculum design and curriculum-making with children that builds on their funds of knowledge, cultural capital, and working theories
  • The vital role of creativity, critical thinking, the imagination, and expression in children’s learning and development
  • The Expressive Arts and Design as activators of wider learning
  • The role of aesthetics and design principles in developing intentional and responsive learning environments that act as the 3rd educator (inside and outdoors)
  • Learning with Nature: Developing children’s ecological identity, empathy, and understanding of the world
  • The role of mark making and graphicacy: the journey into signs, symbols, and codes (writing) and the links to the wider learning across the EYFS
  • Observation, assessment, and planning: building professional knowledge to enable effective observation that builds on children’s prior knowledge and experiences and explores opportunities for new learning
  • Developing pedagogical documentation as a reflective professional development tool which is also a method of thinking about learning with children
  • The principles and practice at the heart of Reggio Emilia pre-schools and infant-toddler centres: learning from Loris Malaguzzi and the 100 Languages of children
  • Developing and leading professional learning communities to transform and develop practice and pedagogy

Areas of expertise​

  • Children’s rights and participation

  • Communication and language

  • Creativity, imagination, and critical thinking

  • The Expressive Arts and Design & links to Prime/Specific areas of learning

  • Curriculum design and development

  • Enabling environments

  • Technology and digital media

  • Heuristic play, loose parts and intelligent materials

  • Observation, assessment, and planning

  • Outdoor learning with nature

  • Professional learning and reflective practice

  • Reggio Emilia principles and practice

  • STEAM and STEM

  • Developing projects

  • Sustained Shared Thinking

Sample courses

Captivating Learning: Making the ordinary extraordinary – delivered by Debi Keyte-Hartland

When educators connect with children’s curiosity, they can make the everyday an extraordinary and joyful occasion for deep learning. Joy comes from the aha moments, and the successes felt when achieving things.  It also comes from the desire to know more and do more when the child joins in experiences that are meaningful for them.  Understanding the motivations that underpin your children’s play, learning, and development is key to designing learning environments and experiences that captivate and enthral young children.

Develop your professional knowledge and practice so that you can:

  • Confidently interact with children, engaging in sustained shared thinking
  • Create authentic learning experiences, by slowing down and looking for wonder
  • Identify and work with children’s ideas with ‘intelligent materials and tools’ such as light, found objects, and simple technologies

Making the ordinary extraordinary enables learning that is rich in children’s agency, that fosters a sense of belonging, nurtures habits of mind, and gives time to immersing in the joy of learning together.

Curriculum design and curriculum-making with children – delivered by Debi Keyte-Hartland

Curriculum is lived out by children through the daily life of the setting through interactions with the environment, with practitioners and each other, as well as being a top-level plan of what settings want for their children to learn.  As young children’s learning is often driven by their play and interests, curriculum design needs to be flexible and dynamic, with a balance of what is intentionally planned to bring new ideas and experiences to the children. Curriculum-making with children takes account of children’s learning in how they see themselves as learners, their interests, funds of knowledge, their working theories, and how they learn as described in the characteristics of effective learning.

Develop your professional knowledge and practice so that you can:

  • Evaluate, articulate and reason out your curriculum intent for all children based on how they learn, their needs, and rights
  • Take your children’s interests seriously and use them to inform your curriculum by valuing and responding to their funds of knowledge and working theories
  • Use your professional knowledge of your children and community to build a curriculum that holds meaning and relevance for children through being attuned, responsive, and inclusive

Curriculum is a dynamic process and through valuing play, relationships, and shared enquiry you can create a bespoke curriculum in line with the EYFS Framework that is pertinent, connected, and with purpose for your children.

Learning outdoors with nature: developing children’s ecological awareness and identity – delivered by Debi Keyte-Hartland

When children learn with nature they generate many connections, associations, ideas, imagination, stories, and working theories of how the world works and their relationship with it. Educators can support babies, toddlers, and young children to attune to the rhythms, cycles, evolutions, patterns, sounds, and movements and help children to develop their ecological awareness and identity (which is how they understand the importance of nature to themselves and others).

Develop your professional knowledge and practice so that you can:

  • Develop ways to learn with the nature evident within your setting (under the children’s feet and above them in the sky) even in an inner-city urban context
  • Explore approaches to attune, map, journey, story, place-make, seek, collect, name and make special, all contributing to the development of children’s ecological awareness and identity
  • Learn how to use the expressive arts and design and technology to build meaningful learning through children’s engagement with insects, plants, stones, soil, leaves, snails, trees etc

Developing an ecological awareness and identity develops transformative and creative learning which enables children (and their families and educators) to consider the impact of their actions on the world in learning, growing, and living together.

STEAM approaches in the early years: putting the ‘A’ into STEM – delivered by Debi Keyte-Hartland

The Arts in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths) seeks to weave these disciplines together to create deep and engaging opportunities for investigation, experimentation, and reasoning.  STEAM approaches are holistic in nature and enable children of all ages to develop knowledge, construct working theories, and to reason and express their thinking. Putting the ‘A’ into STEAM cultivates creativity and critical thinking, reasoning, problem-solving, language, and communication and is rooted in playful and embodied experiences.

Develop your professional knowledge and practice so that you can:

  • Understand how STEAM approaches support play and learning across the EYFS
  • Develop and design opportunities for investigation, experimentation, and reasoning to support characteristics of effective learning and communication and language
  • Learn how the Arts can be used to develop learning in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths

STEAM approaches are multidisciplinary and embrace children’s curiosity and play in learning.  STEAM encourages collaboration; designing; evaluation; questioning; and identifying and solving problems that provide rich contexts for developing vocabulary, communication skills, and language.

Sustained Shared Thinking: thinking and talking together with children – delivered by Debi Keyte-Hartland

Sustained shared thinking fosters and improves children’s communication, confidence, collaboration, agency, criticality, thinking, and development of strong levels of well-being.  High quality interactions with children and between children amplify opportunities for Sustained Shared Thinking. This course will help you to build your knowledge and practice of the kinds of interactions with children that will actively broaden and deepen your children’s knowledge and thinking skills across the EYFS Framework.

Develop your professional knowledge and practice so that you can:

  • Develop understanding of how to interact with children, through episodes of Sustained Shared Thinking
  • Reflect on your own practice to identify and test out strategies that support Sustained Shared Thinking
  • Explore research and evidence linked to working theories, collaborative talk, dialogic teaching, and the EPPE project that supports Sustained Shared Thinking for children’s learning and development

Sustained Shared Thinking focuses on the importance of children being curious and motivated in which they build on their thought processes through interacting with others. It appears when children think deeply, and critically about things that matter to them, in which they can make links between different ideas and solve problems that they have identified.

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