KEY PERSON APPROACH
The Key Person
Here at St. Michael’s we use a key person approach, this approach recognises that children thrive when they have secure relationships.
A key person is a named member of staff with responsibilities for a small group of children who helps those children in the group feel safe and cared for. The key person approach in early years is a method of care in which each child is assigned a particular member of staff who will act as their ‘go to’ person. This key person will support the child and their family when they are first integrating into the setting and will continue to be the key person for routine care and for moments of emotional intimacy, building up a secure attachment with your child.
St. Michael’s Nurture Nursery fully understands the importance for child’s wellbeing that they have a person with whom they feel connected. By having a specific knowledge and understanding your child, the key person can show warmth and sensitivity in their communication with the child.
They will become a secure base from which the child can explore the world and a safe haven to return to when they feel overwhelmed by the environment. When the child feels unwell, tired or fearful, or has questions, they will seek out their key person.
While the key person will share the closest bond with your child, the child will also build a secondary relationship with another adult in the setting. This is important as your child needs to feel supported on the occasions that their key person is not available to them. It may not be possible for the key person to be there to greet the child and to say goodbye every single day, so it is important to have an approach in which a secondary or ‘buddy’ key person is available to your child during these transitions. This will be another adult who works in the room, with educators sharing responsibility for each other’s key children when one is absent.
The key person’s role is to respond sensitively to children’s feelings and behaviours and meet their emotional needs by giving reassurance and supporting the child’s well-being. The key person supports physical needs too, undertakes nappy changing, and helps with toileting and dressing. That person is a familiar figure who is accessible and available as a point of contact for parents and one who builds relationships with the child and parents or carers.
Records of development and care are created and shared by the key person, parents and the child. Small groups foster close bonds between the child and the key person in a way that large groups cannot easily do. These groups allow the key person to better ‘tune into’ children’s play and their conversations to really get to know the children in the group well. Children feel settled and happy and are more confident to explore and as a result become more capable learners.
Why Attachment Matters?
What is attachment and why is it important for young children?
Attachments are the emotional bonds that young children develop with parents and other carers such as their key person. Children with strong early attachments cry less when separated. They engage in more pretend play and sustain attention for longer. They are less aggressive and are popular with other children and with adults. Their sense of who they are is strong. Children need to be safe in the relationship they have with parents or carers. They are vulnerable but will develop resilience when their physical and psychological well-being is protected by an adult. Being emotionally attached to such an adult helps the child feel secure that the person they depend on is there for them. When children feel safe they are more inclined to try things out and be more independent. They are confident to express their ideas and feelings and feel good about themselves. Attachment influences a child’s immediate all-round development and future relationships.