Support for parents and staff in Children’s centres

The Wonder Year  and  Life at Two  were shown by Jacqui Cousins (a volunteer elder!) to twelve ‘new’ parents as part of the programme they had asked for on the subject of early attachment and separation anxieties.


The film ‘The Wonder Year’ was shown to the same group of ‘new’ parents but with the addition of DAISY Parents’ Committee members and Pre-school families and RAINBOW Nursery staff who were worried about the lack of continuity in their own practice. Volunteers and practitioners from both Centres watched ‘Life at Two’ together with the families. They discussed their value afterwards.  A majority of the mothers are very confident articulate professionals who had already embarked on various careers. However, three of the mothers were in the teenage group managing as single mothers and not able to find any kind of work. They were managing their finances really well and said they were quite pleased about not having to go out to work because they were enjoying motherhood and their regular social times with friends at the Children’s Centre!


Attachment and the ‘key person’ approach: All the parents had been to one or two of the Totnes alternative groups’ sessions on ‘attachment’ which according to them focussed more on the life-long damage “going back to work!” and separation from their babies can do.  This had made many of the ‘new’ parents anxious. Many of the older ‘career’ mothers had intended to return to work after their leave but were very worried about leaving their babies at such a young age. The Totnes Nursery (RAINBOW) operates a ‘key person’ approach but there have been recent management and staff changes with shift-work difficulties in having only one ‘key person’ per family. The Totnes Children’s Centre pre-school (DAISY) has the same ‘key person’ for each of the three and four year olds until they start school.

SIREN FILMS: ‘The Wonder Year’ evaluations are as follows:-

  • (consensus enthusiasm!) this film is very ‘down to earth’ and the narration is clear and pleasant to listen to
  • the focus on babies is nice and slow…
  • …it shows real babies in real situations
  • …the homes in the films are very natural, warm and inviting and not too expensive looking or “POSH!”
  • …there is no professional preaching to us about what we should or should not do
  • the experts who spoke are the sort of people you can relate to…not pompous or judgemental
  • (personal opinion teenage Mum) I felt reassured about what I was doing when I watched this film but I didn’t know anything about the importance of talking to my baby!
  • (personal opinion of her friend) I feel the same! I didn’t have a clue about that…or about why people read books to their babies at the library! This was all really interesting!

‘Life at Two – Attachments, key people & development’: evaluations are as follows:-

  • (consensus view) enthusiasm for Peter Elfer’s calm voice and how he made it clear why the approach is of value
  • a good balance in capturing ‘real’ situations with real people rather than ‘actors’ being filmed in an ideal world!
  • the part about ‘attachment’ and how to manage ‘separation anxiety’ was very helpful for those with older infants
  • very easy to relate the film to what happens with their own children at the Children’s Centres
  • (staff) interest and enthusiasm for the films as ‘discussion starting points with families’  and as staff training material

Thank you for the evaluation from Jacqui Cousins and the Totnes Children’s Centres

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