Step by step programme

Today, in 20 countries across Central and Eastern Europe and Asia, Step by Step is a programme of educational institutions that empowers children to become productive and creative members of a democratic society through effective and active learning. Learn more about the programme and take part in our accredited teacher training courses!

What is the Step by Step pedagogical programme all about?

The Step-by-Step child-centred pedagogical programme was developed in the 1990s by American experts under the guidance of the Open Society Institute. The kindergarten programme was first introduced in Hungary in 1994, followed by the school programme in the 1996/97 school year. The Partners Hungary Foundation is the disseminator and professional coordinator of the programme in Hungary.

The programme helps teachers to bring children from different backgrounds together, where diversity and individuality also serve to promote learning, better understanding of the world and cooperation.

The aim of the Step by Step programme is to create an honest and accepting atmosphere in kindergartens and schools within a well-organised framework. It creates a pedagogical system that prepares children to:

  • become an active, creative member of a functioning community, recognising and appreciating its value;
  • to participate actively and independently in their own daily lives, to be able to form opinions and listen to each other;
  • to make decisions and exercise personal responsibility in certain situations, according to their age;
  • develop their social-emotional skills to enable them to be open to each other;
  • to be open to the world, to recognise the complexity of the world, to ask questions, to seek solutions;
  • make lifelong learning a natural part of their lives.


With our Step by Step accredited training courses, you can do it too! Read more about our training courses at the bottom of this post.


What is the physical environment of the Step by Step programme in nursery and school?

  • Activity-oriented and welcoming classrooms and classrooms are an important part of the programme. The Step-by-Step programme takes into account the developmental characteristics of children, their socio-cultural needs and the conditions for successful learning in the environment, classroom design and furnishing. To this end, it breaks with the traditional classroom layout.
  • The space is arranged with movable tables and chairs, divided by shelves that can be adjusted to the height of the children.
  • Discussion groups and other activities are held on a carpet in the room, with cushions and a chair for the teacher or kindergarten teacher.
  • The equipment and tools ensure active, exploratory learning. Everything you need to learn is freely available in the room.

Equipment needs for the conversion of the kindergarten classrooms and the school classroom:

  • chairs and tables appropriate to the age of the children
  • low, partitioned bookshelf (minimum 8)
  • containers
  • large size carpet
  • small cushions, large cushions
  • armchair
  • to store children's work in a variety of folders, files, binders and picture frames.

The programme loosens the traditional classroom framework; teachers adapt the daily, weekly and monthly learning patterns to the needs of the children, the topics to be covered and other topical issues.

What is the agenda for the Step by Step programme?

  1. On arrival, children are greeted by a so-called morning challenge, which aims to get them in the mood for work and to fill the otherwise unexciting waiting time with meaningful, interesting activities. The morning challenge is an interesting, exciting task, game or puzzle requiring cooperation or individual solutions. There is a choice of tasks.
  2. The important framework of the day is the morning discussion group and the final, experience-sharing discussion in the afternoon, which play a very important community-building role. The discussions help to build community and social skills, as well as developing tolerance, empathy, listening and communication skills. They play an important role in learning different social, behavioural and manners skills. Through regular discussions, we create community traditions. In addition, children learn to reflect on themselves, to evaluate their own and others' work, and to be able to give constructive criticism.
  3.  The duration of learning time, lessons, kindergarten group activities and blocks is determined by the teacher or kindergarten teacher according to the condition of the children, their attention span, the nature of the tasks and activities. Throughout the day, activities requiring more concentration alternate with kinetic activities requiring less attention. The daily timetable is written down daily on a board provided for this purpose, and the weekly timetable and programmes are displayed on a poster on the wall.

One of the favourite habits of children learning in the Step by Step programme is that each class and group has a mascot of their choice. The mascot is a member of the group who visits a different family every weekend. The way in which the family is chosen is decided jointly by the children and the teacher - joint rule-making is an important element of the programme, not only in this matter. The mascot's experiences during the visit are recorded in a diary. At first - until the children can write - the parents keep the diary, then the children, on behalf of the character. The mascot and his diary have a wealth of educational potential and are also an important tool for involving the family and for shaping the relationship between nursery, school and family values.

The role of parents in Step by Step

  • The Step by Step programme recognises, values and supports the importance of parenting and treats parents as partners. This responsible collaboration between teacher and parent helps the child's intellectual and emotional development.
  • When children see their own parents working together with kindergarten teachers or teachers, they feel that we are important to each other here. A positive, friendly relationship between nursery, school and home is good for all children.
  • The Step by Step programme sees parents as the most important advisors, helping them to get to know and understand their children better. By working together, both teacher and parent can gain valuable information to build an open, mutually supportive relationship in the best interests of the child.

Evaluation of children in the Step by Step programme

  • The assessment is based on a wide range of information about children. The assessment in the Step by Step programme serves children's development and builds their confidence and self-esteem. Because of the developmental value of assessment, we pay particular attention to providing practical advice that is appropriate to the child's development.
  • Parents and children are also involved in the evaluation process.

Important criteria for evaluation:

  • Credibility based on multifaceted child observation.
  • Use a variety of tools and methods to measure performance.
  • Taking into account the whole personality of the children.
  • Assessment is crucially non-criterion-oriented, measured against the individual's progress.
  • It is based on repeated, serial, observations.
  • Easy to understand for both parents and children.
  • It highlights children's strengths, not weaknesses.
  • It tells you what to teach and how.
  • Providing ongoing guidance.
  • It takes a multi-faceted, complex approach to children, taking into account social, emotional and intellectual aspects.
  • It builds on an active collaborative relationship between teachers and parents and teachers and children.
  • It stresses the importance of learning.


Step by Step accredited training courses

Introduction to the Step by Step programme, 30 hours, 30 credits. Our training courses are run separately for pre-school teachers and teachers, with methodological options tailored to each group.

On completion of which you:

  • Gain in-depth knowledge of the Step by Step child-centred pedagogical programme and its methods
  • Gain practical experience of how the method works and how it is applied
  • Throughout the process, you will also be supported by mentoring from our expert pre-school teacher trainers

By completing the training, you will join a network of 20 countries that provide ongoing support to each other by sharing knowledge

By completing the training:

  • They will be able to apply the principles of the Step by Step programme, the specific habits, life-style and rituals based on it.
  • Familiarise themselves with the space, room layout, equipment, activity centres and equipment placement appropriate to the programme's activity scheme
  • Be able to create the conditions, select, use and prepare tools and methods for active activities
  • learn the basics, working methods and tools of differentiated action, cooperative learning and the project method
  • Provide up-to-date answers to the needs of both children and parents
  • Apply developmental assessment procedures, with particular reference to the portfolio



2. Step-by-step cooperative learning. 30 hours, 30 credits.

Our training courses are run separately for pre-school teachers and teachers, with methodological options tailored to each group.

What does the Cooperative LL training provide?

  • Learn about the different tools that can be used to achieve different goals cooperative methods.
  • Learn to distinguish between situationswhen they are effective and when they are not.
  • You will be able to develop tasks that support social relationships.
  • It builds on children's existing skills and knowledge, developing them according to their individual and social needs.
  • Get to know and master the different forms of evaluation, for both individual and group tasks.
  • He/she knows and recognises the attitudes and attitudes needed to create a cooperative learning environment and is willing to do so.
  • They learn through their own experiences, and they can sense the workings and impact of co-operativism.


The training is delivered by experienced Step-by-Step trainers who are themselves practising teachers. We welcome applications from pre-school and primary school teachers for our training courses!


Read more articles about the Step by Step programme:

KÖLÖKNET: Step by step programme in school

Teaching reading step by step. Written by Éva Varga

Case study_Miskolc _Step_by_step

Case Study Step by Step North Hungary

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