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Life at Two – Ava starts nursery

At 26 months we look at how Ava is settling into nursery. This comprehensive documentary clip introduces the key person approach – acting as a secure base.

Contents of section

  • Introducing key person approach
  • Main attributes of key person
  • Elfer - separation anxiety
  • Key person shows availability, sensitivity and warmth
  • Elfer - secondary attachments don't undermine attachments at home
  • Mum leaving
  • Elfer - key person professionalism - boundaries
  • Playground - coping with peers - key person acts as secure base
  • Reunion with mum
  • Elfer - parents anxieties about nursery attachments

What did you notice?

  • What is separation anxiety, why is it normal and what’s a good way to deal with it?
  • Why would a key person help Ava?
  • What are the main attributes of a key person?
  • What does Claire do to help when mum is leaving?
  • What does Ava do when the girl takes her doll?
  • How does Claire help Ava in the playground?
  • What does the reunion between Ava and her mum say about their attachment relationship?
  • What does Claire do to begin to establish a good relationship with mum?
  • How do you think attachments at nursery may affect attachments at home?
00:09
Molly has just started taking Ava
00:11
to the local nursery.
00:13
She'll spend two and a half days a week there.
00:16
This will be an important change for Ava and Molly.
00:19
If it's a good experience they will both benefit;
00:23
Ava will still have the love and individuality
00:26
of her home life,
00:28
with the learning time she needs at home,
00:30
as well as the benefits
00:31
of being part of a nursery community.
00:33
And Molly can resume her work interests.
00:38
How is Ava going to cope
00:39
with these two very different places,
00:41
home and nursery?
00:43
How can she be happy without Molly
00:45
to look out for her and be her base.
00:48
What will matter most will be
00:49
the way the nursery staff interact with her.
00:52
One of the staff is going to be the key person for Ava,
00:55
and will be responsible for the settling in.
00:58
Molly and Ava have already visited a few times,
01:01
and met the staff,
01:02
but this is the first time that Molly is going to
01:04
leave Ava on her own.
01:07
Claire is going to be Ava's key person,
01:09
although of course she'll interact
01:11
with all the nursery staff.
01:16
There we go, good morning!
01:18
Hello!
01:19
Come on in.
01:29
Shall we take your coat off?
01:31
Yeah, and where we gonna put it?
01:36
There might be a spare
01:38
On this one.
01:39
One there, on this one.
01:40
Yeah.
01:42
Claire will never replace Molly,
01:44
but hopefully she'll build an attachment relationship
01:47
with Ava that will provide the same key aspects
01:51
within their relationship that Molly provides for Ava.
01:56
And that's availability, sensitivity, and warmth.
01:58
You want to have a look at the play dough, do you think?
01:60
Mummy's come with me?
02:01
Yeah I'll come with you.
02:05
I'll just hang up my coat and put your bag over here.
02:07
Mum I got the ring.
02:12
Go on then.
02:14
When children start at nursery,
02:16
say a child starting at the age of two,
02:19
coming to nursery with a secure attachment.
02:21
One of the things John Bowlby
02:23
showed us through attachment theory,
02:26
was that children will show anxiety and protest
02:28
when their separating.
02:31
Now that's sometimes seen by nursery staff
02:33
as a sign, as a bad sign,
02:36
that a child's insecurely attached,
02:38
if they find it difficult to settle into nursery.
02:41
In fact, the opposite is the case,
02:43
that it's quite a normal and healthy response
02:46
for a child to be anxious about separating
02:50
from loved ones, from parents or grandparents,
02:54
or other main carers at home.
02:55
You put the top on, that's it.
02:57
Mummy I hurt my thumb.
02:58
Are you a bit sore?
03:00
You hurt your thumb?
03:01
Bit my finger.
03:03
You bit your finger?
03:05
Yes, this finger.
03:07
Molly hasn't left yet,
03:09
Claire gets down to Ava's level
03:12
to show her availability and responsiveness.
03:13
And Holly's.
03:14
And Holly bit her finger.
03:20
Oh dear,
03:22
do you think maybe we should give them a little wash?
03:24
Now she sees Ava glance at Molly
03:26
and senses her anxiety.
03:27
You could have some toast.
03:28
Mummy.
03:31
You want mummy to help you?
03:34
Mummy, mummy, mummy.
03:35
Yeah mummy can help.
03:37
Do you want me to help you wash your hands?
03:39
Let's have a look.
03:43
The way to really help children,
03:45
after that distress has been acknowledged,
03:49
is to provide a secondary attachment in nursery,
03:52
somebody in nursery who will be familiar
03:54
and reliable for them,
03:56
who will be there as much as possible
03:59
to greet them in the morning when they arrive,
04:03
will gradually help the child to feel confident,
04:05
that they've got a special relationship at nursery.
04:08
Mummy's going to have to go to work in a minute,
04:09
is that okay?
04:10
Are you going to stay here
04:12
and have some snacks with everyone.
04:14
And I'll go to work, just for a little bit,
04:15
then I'll come back and get you.
04:16
Some toast?
04:17
Is that okay?
04:18
Yes!
04:20
So will I see you quite soon?
04:26
Have a nice time, with Holly and Caitlin and everyone.
04:29
Okay, see you soon.
04:30
Bye, see you soon.
04:31
Bye.
04:31
Bye.
04:33
Bye bye mummy.
04:38
Bye!
04:41
Just gonna have a wander and have a look...
04:45
Molly is also anxious,
04:47
finding it hard to leave.
04:50
Claire understands the worry, and tries to make it easier
04:51
with a relaxed approach.
04:52
You all say bye bye to Ava's mummy,
04:53
she's just going.
04:55
Bye bye!
04:58
And she's coming back again very soon.
05:04
With my task, one of the most important attributes
05:05
of a key person,
05:08
a key person really needs to be somebody
05:11
who can both be available to the child,
05:13
be responsive to the child,
05:15
is able to tune into that child,
05:19
but can also hold on to their professional role.
05:22
So their acting as something,
05:24
as a bridge for the child,
05:27
whilst the child is away from their main carers at home.
05:30
And in that sense they have a very personal role,
05:32
they're very key from the child's point of view,
05:34
but the key person also has to keep in mind
05:37
that they're a professional worker,
05:39
and that they're working within professional limits,
05:42
and professional boundaries.
05:44
Shall we see if we can find Ava's coat?
05:46
Mine, mine is there.
05:48
Oh there it is.
05:50
The children prepare to go outside,
05:52
and Claire is there to support Ava,
05:54
and help her with her coat.
05:57
Just like Molly, she offers help but gives her time
05:59
and encouragement to do it herself.
06:02
Well done sweetheart, there we go.
06:04
One minute Caitie, one minute.
06:09
Can you fasten up yourself?
06:19
You're having a good try!
06:23
Do you need a little help?
06:25
Shall I help you pop it in?
06:30
And then, you can pull it up, okay?
06:31
Well done!
06:33
You clever girl.
06:39
It feels very different to home,
06:42
lots of children, noise and jostling.
06:43
Everybody listen,
06:46
we need to have a little squeaky mouse train,
06:48
this is getting too noisy,
06:55
so a little squeaky mouse train.
06:57
Ava stands and watches,
06:60
hierarchies exist in the playground,
07:03
dominance is often exerted through possession of toys.
07:05
Here, an incident occurs
07:14
where an older girl takes Ava's doll.
07:18
Ava, hello.
07:30
I'm good at looking after dollies.
07:32
Ava is very uncertain in her new surroundings
07:34
and doesn't object,
07:36
she copes well though and finds a solution.
07:37
You hold her,
07:43
I'm going to work.
07:57
Claire is involved with another child
08:04
but is keeping an eye on Ava and sees what's happening.
08:14
As Claire sees her withdraw,
08:20
she approaches to offer help.
08:23
Is your baby going on a walk in that?
08:24
Yeah?
08:29
Shall we fasten her in, so she doesn't fall out.
08:31
Here look, she's got a special strap
08:34
so she doesn't fall out.
08:36
This is what Ava needed,
08:39
the feeling that maybe she has a secure base here,
08:43
and she's able to join in with a little more confidence.
08:48
Claire waits for her, supporting her little adventure.
08:50
She engages Ava in conversation,
08:51
and listens carefully.
08:55
Was the wind blowing?
08:56
I can see it blowing your hair!
08:58
Is it blowing Claire's hair too?
09:01
She picks up on Ava's interests.
09:04
And we can feel some rain too.
09:06
Is it like that?
09:13
Just a little bit on our hands.
09:14
Bit like mummy's house.
09:16
Is it a bit like mummy's house?
09:17
Yeah.
09:19
Did you see the curtains?
09:21
She makes sure she understands
09:24
what Ava's saying.
09:27
Would you like to have another look inside?
09:28
Yeah.
09:32
Maybe we could make your baby a drink.
09:34
Not got a bottle anywhere.
09:35
Pardon?
09:36
Not got a bottle anywhere.
09:38
No butter anywhere?
09:41
Oh a bottle, she's not got a bottle?
09:42
Uh, no.
09:44
Maybe we could find her a cup?
09:46
A blue cup.
09:49
Go on then, let's see if we can find a blue cup.
10:06
We need to get some more of this
10:12
sand out of these buckets.
10:17
Mum's there, hello mummy!
10:21
Whoops, a bit stuck.
10:22
Hello!
10:24
Hello, it's big long snake.
10:25
What?
10:29
Where's the big long snake?
10:30
Look at my baby.
10:32
Have you been pushing your baby?
10:34
Ava and Molly are thrilled
10:36
to see each other again.
10:38
Ava shows Molly what she's been doing.
10:38
It's your baby?
10:39
Yeah.
10:40
After a separation, this behavior
10:42
at the reunion is the mark
10:45
of a good attachment relationship.
10:47
Claire withdraws to let Ava and Molly
10:49
greet each other by themselves.
10:51
Oh, do they close?
10:52
Yeah they do.
10:53
That's brilliant.
10:55
When they wake up.
10:55
She awake?
10:56
Have you had a good time?
10:59
What have you been doing?
11:02
But she just, she did really well,
11:04
and just sort of watched her leave with no baby,
11:05
Did she?
11:07
And walked back into the playhouse and then,
11:09
got another baby, put it in and came back out.
11:11
Ah, that's good then, yeah.
11:12
Just little things like that.
11:14
And there's been a little solitary time
11:16
where she's just watched
11:17
Yeah.
11:19
Seen what everybody's doing,
11:21
apart from that she's been fine!
11:22
Just enjoyed it, she seems like she's had a nice time.
11:25
Claire tells Molly about Ava's morning,
11:27
keeping Molly involved.
11:29
She knows the separation is hard for Molly as well.
11:30
No worries, as long as you've been fine.
11:33
Yes, finished my tea.
11:38
One of the most common anxieties
11:40
about the key person role,
11:43
is that it involves an attachment to the key person,
11:46
and the key children they're responsible for.
11:49
And staff often say, nursery staff often say,
11:52
they're afraid that that will undermine
11:54
attachments at home.
11:57
It's as if they feel that there's a fixed amount
11:60
of attachment, and if there's more of it in nursery
12:02
then there must be less of it at home.
12:05
But in fact, research seems to point to the opposite.
12:09
That close attachments at home,
12:11
seem to enable children, support children,
12:13
to make close attachments in nursery,
12:15
and equally children who have the opportunity
12:18
of close attachments at nursery,
12:21
seem to be supported in their attachment relationships

These days a large number of children spend a considerable amount of time at nursery. Ava’s mum is returning to work and has chosen a nursery for her to go to. While Ava is at nursery, she will be looked after by her key person, Claire. They have visited the nursery together several times and mum and Claire have already built up the start of a good parent – key person relationship. Claire has helped to make sure mum feels welcome and at ease at the nursery. Claire will be Ava’s ‘secure base’ when mum is away.

 

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