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Life at two – Ava’s first full day at nursery

27 months – Looking at the role of the key person in the settling in period.

Contents of section

  • Arrival at nursery - leaving mum
  • Not wanting to join group
  • Interacting with key person - circle schema
  • Asking key person for help
  • Dr Peter Elfer - key person can't be with child all of the time
  • Creative play
  • Choosing to join group
  • Reunion with mum
  • Dr Peter Elfer - importance of key person's relationship with parents or close carers

Reflect

  • How does Claire help Ava’s separation from mum?
  • How does Claire help Ava feel at ease?
  • How does Ava react when Claire asks her to come and join the group?
  • What does Ava’s mark making tell us about her interests?
  • What does Ava ask Claire to do for her in the playground?
  • How does Ava’s behaviour change after getting help from Claire?
00:08
Four visits later and Ava's going
00:10
to stay for her first full day.
00:14
Come in.
00:15
Hello.
00:16
Come on in.
00:17
How are you today?
00:21
I brought these two cars.
00:23
You got two cars?
00:25
Wow.
00:27
You look like you lost some pounds.
00:29
Oh, thank you.
00:33
What's up doc?
00:35
Will you stay with me?
00:38
Well, I'm gonna go off to work for
00:39
a bit, is that okay?
00:40
And then I'll come and see later.
00:42
You have a bit of a play.
00:45
Is that a good idea?
00:47
Can I have a kiss?
00:48
Ava's still wants Molly to stay with her.
00:50
Molly prepares to leave and Claire steps in.
00:55
Jonathan's glasses steamed up this morning
00:58
and Ruth's glasses steamed up this morning.
01:02
Cause it's so rainy and cold outside.
01:05
And what's this?
01:08
It got wet.
01:10
Did that get a little bit wet?
01:11
Should we dry it?
01:12
Yeah.
01:13
Should we get a paper towel and dry it?
01:18
I wonder what's inside?
01:21
Ava loves her food, and knowing this
01:23
Claire asks what's in her lunch bag.
01:27
Can you pull up?
01:31
Oh, is it Ava's lunch?
01:35
Is it your packed lunch?
01:38
You brought some sandwiches...
01:40
And yogurt.
01:41
And yogurt.
01:43
That's lovely.
01:44
Should we zip it up then, to keep it fresh for lunchtime?
01:48
Well done.
01:50
And Claire will pop it on the shelf with all the other
01:52
boys and girls lunchboxes.
01:55
Yeah?
01:58
I'll pop it right up there.
02:01
I'll see you later.
02:02
Have a nice day.
02:05
And you're gonna see...
02:06
I think Heidi and Katelyn over there
02:07
talking about trains.
02:09
I think so.
02:16
Which one you gonna play with?
02:21
Right.
02:22
Say goodbye to Mommy?
02:23
Say goodbye to me and walk over there with Claire
02:25
and I'll come back very soon.
02:29
You have a nice day all right?
02:30
See you later.
02:31
Have a wave.
02:32
Goodbye Mum.
02:35
Ava, I wave goodbye through the window.
02:36
Say goodbye to your mum.
02:37
See you later.
02:41
Do you want a lift up so we wave at Mum?
02:42
You gonna wave through here.
02:44
You ready?
02:48
There she goes.
02:50
Give a big wave.
02:51
That's a nice little wave.
02:54
Blow kisses to Mommy.
03:02
Big blowy kisses.
03:09
Ava's still very uncertain now that
03:11
Molly's left.
03:12
Hopefully, the developing relationship with
03:14
her key person Claire, will help her overcome this.
03:20
She's happy to play alone though.
03:21
And chooses a jigsaw.
03:25
Mason's Mommy's car is blue.
03:28
And your daddy's car blue.
03:30
So that's one, two, three.
03:45
Everybody's here at Nursery today,
03:46
we need to come and sit our book corner now.
03:50
Bye Holly.
03:52
Bye-bye Dad.
03:53
See if everybody's here.
03:54
Bye Dad.
04:00
Let's see if we can all make a circle.
04:06
Come on Holly.
04:07
Just straightening up the jigsaws first.
04:12
Now Claire tries to encourage her to
04:14
join the group.
04:16
As she is very sensitive to Ava's feelings,
04:18
Ava relaxes and doesn't fell pressurized.
04:31
Come on then Ava, do you want to join with us?
04:34
They're singing some songs.
04:36
No?
04:38
You do this one then.
04:40
Claire's just gonna go see the boys and girls, okay?
04:43
You can come when you like.
04:47
This setup is flexible enough to let
04:48
Ava make her own choices.
05:04
Claire has other children to work with as well,
05:06
but keeps an eye on Ava and there are always other
05:09
staff to help her.
05:10
Should I put them on this side?
05:12
There, okay.
05:14
Katelyn can finish that one.
05:17
Which one is Ava making?
05:18
Which one are you going to do?
05:21
She's still uncertain about the
05:23
group activities but is relating well to Claire
05:25
and benefiting in many ways.
05:28
It seems that Ava is interested in circles
05:31
and circling things.
05:34
Right across the top of his eyes.
05:35
One of the ways at looking at children's
05:37
learning is through the idea of schemas.
05:43
A schema is a group of actions that the child uses
05:46
that are linked to the same idea and the theme
05:49
is explored in different situations.
05:54
Here, Ava draws around the face and then
05:57
wants to draw around her hand and then circle it.
06:05
Look!
06:07
Claire encourages this.
06:09
Did you draw a circle around your hands?
06:14
Outside, Claire notices that she's taking a
06:17
body round in circles.
06:24
Moving around.
06:26
Around and around.
06:28
This could be a circle schema that Ava
06:30
uses in her play.
06:31
And identifying schemas helps makes sense of
06:34
her interests and learning.
06:38
Oh, oops!
06:40
Outside Ava's still much on her own.
06:42
She's getting to trust Claire though,
06:44
and feels able to ask for the help she wants.
06:48
Can I have car?
06:50
You want a car?
06:52
Yeah.
06:53
Should we see if we can find one for Ava?
06:59
Shall we?
07:00
I want to go on the road.
07:02
Look, over there.
07:03
Will you find me a car?
07:06
Come on then, and we'll have a look.
07:08
Coming?
07:18
You want to sit in your car?
07:23
That's a special place.
07:24
Do you think baby would fit in there?
07:27
No.
07:28
No, I think baby's too big.
07:33
Do you want to pop her on your knee?
07:35
Go really fast.
07:40
Go really, really, really fast.
07:42
All set.
07:43
There you go.
07:49
Now she seems happy to be able to join
07:51
in to an extent.
08:06
Get this one, catch!
08:18
Look out!
08:21
What happened?
08:23
Did it bump Ava on the head?
08:26
One of the criticisms often leveled at
08:27
the Key Person Approach is that no member of staff
08:31
in a nursery can possibly be with a child all of the time.
08:34
And of course, that's absolutely right.
08:37
All nursery staff working shifts will perhaps not be
08:41
there when the child arrives in the morning,
08:43
may not be there when the child goes home,
08:45
and of course they have to attend meetings
08:47
and have leave.
08:48
And there will be days when they're away sick.
08:50
But, it's absolutely not a part of a
08:53
Key Person Approach that you should be
08:55
with a child all of the time.
08:57
Of course, that's not possible, and no parent can
08:59
possibly be with their child 24 hours a day.
09:03
Those times when people that are most important
09:05
to the child aren't with them,
09:07
are very important learning opportunities for the child.
09:10
The child has the opportunity to learn that people
09:13
are special to them do go away, but do also come back.
09:17
And that's the basis of learning trust
09:20
and the building of relationships.
09:23
Watch out!
09:25
Watch out!
09:27
Watch out!
09:30
Back inside, Ava chooses to play on her own.
09:34
She's being creative using the
09:36
pasta as food for the little dog.
09:39
Pasta in there.
09:41
Put this in there.
09:44
Pasta in there.
09:47
Pasta in there.
09:56
This sort of unplanned pretend play
09:58
with open-ended resources is valuable for children
10:00
allowing them to follow their own interests,
10:03
learning much in the process.
10:06
Their thinking becomes free flowing as their play develops.
10:11
Whoops, you're stuck to the table.
10:13
There you go.
10:16
Me, me, me, me.
10:23
Although she's playing alone,
10:26
she frequently has to interact with others.
10:31
You need to wash your hands.
10:32
Hey!
10:34
Wash your hands, good girl.
10:35
Don't get no more.
10:37
She's thinking about the other girls
10:38
reaction and decides to give the pasta back.
10:41
And explains why she needed it.
10:44
It's dog's, it's dog's food.
10:49
Hey, where is it?
10:52
You got all of them.
10:60
You fly.
11:05
Lie down.
11:07
You naughty.
11:15
When the other two girls arrive
11:16
she decides to move away.
11:18
Seemingly weary of losing her playthings.
11:23
This time she insists on keeping what she's
11:25
playing with trying to explain what it is.
11:30
No, it's for this.
11:35
No, it's for food.
11:36
Will you please let me see?
11:45
You're carrying it and you're very strong.
11:48
Although Claire hasn't been involved
11:50
in Ava's game, she's been observing so is able
11:52
to explain the game to others.
11:55
What is he doing?
11:56
Is he having dinner?
11:58
Sit.
11:60
Is he sitting?
12:01
In fact, I think this is some food for the dog.
12:09
Claire's helping Ava socially
12:11
by helping her feel part of the group and
12:13
feel value for the contribution.
12:17
No, it's not hot, it's cold.
12:19
I know, but Ava's pretending that it's hot.
12:24
Oh, I think everybody wants to have a look.
12:26
Does it smell nice?
12:29
Does it smell like pasta?
12:30
Yes.
12:36
Yes.
12:40
Here doggy, get it.
12:44
All done.
12:49
All done.
12:52
Towards the end of the day,
12:53
Ava feels at ease enough to choose to join in
12:56
the group for a story.
13:02
Come and sit down.
13:07
Can you find him?
13:10
Perhaps he's in the garden?
13:14
They look all around the garden,
13:16
but Curly's not there.
13:18
She listens well feeling confident
13:20
enough to speak up about it.
13:23
And when he saw the box he said,
13:26
"Who lives in this house?"
13:31
It's a bear.
13:32
It's the bear.
13:34
It's a bear.
13:39
Okay, let's see what he's doing.
13:42
She's encouraging now to listen
13:43
with the group so that the whole story can
13:45
be read first.
13:47
"I don't live here," said the little mouse.
13:50
Mommy's there!
13:51
Is she?
13:52
Yeah!
13:55
Mommy!
13:57
Mommy!
13:57
Hello.
14:02
We reading a story.
14:04
Are you reading stories?
14:06
Yeah, and it's sad.
14:07
She's excited to tell Molly
14:09
what's happened.
14:10
The originator of the Key Person Approach
14:14
is of course, Elinor Goldschmied, an international
14:17
trainer and consultant in early years.
14:21
And one of the things Elinor was so strong about
14:24
in talking and developing the Key Person Approach,
14:28
was the importance of the triangle of relationships
14:31
between the child, the parents, and the key person.
14:36
And she always maintained, Elinor always maintained,
14:40
that no Key Person Approach should be attempted
14:42
unless that triangle of relationships was carefully
14:47
nurtured and maintained.
14:49
Her thinking behind that was that there's a
14:53
danger of a very close relationship developing
14:56
between the Key Person and their Key Children,
14:59
and that slowly and subtly parents
15:02
are cut out of that picture.
15:05
And of course, parents always remain the most important
15:07
people in their child's life.
15:10
And they almost always be part of the child's
15:13
relationships with key staff at nursery.
15:17
So I think it's very helpful to keep in mind
15:19
that triangle of relationships between
15:22
parents, child, and key person.
15:25
And that the relationship between the key person
15:27
and the parents is as important to maintain and
15:30
nurture as the relationship between the key person
15:33
and the child so that the parents are always
15:35
part of the picture, always involved, always kept in mind.
15:40
Are you going home now?
15:43
You got your coat on to keep you nice and warm.
15:49
Should we say next week?
15:51
Are you gonna look after this teddy?
15:55
I would like to take him home.
15:59
That's fine, if you'd like to,
16:00
as long as you look after him.
16:02
Give him lots of cuddles.

At the beginning of the day Claire, Ava’s key person, helps ease the separation from mum. Whilst what Claire says can be important, just her presence to greet Ava and be with her at this special time of leaving mum makes a big difference to Ava and how she will cope. (Although the key person cannot always be there when children arrive, it is important that they are as often as possible and especially on a child’s first days.)

Ava is beginning to be able to take advantage of what is on offer at the nursery. She’s feeling a bit more at ease helped by the fact that Claire is sensitive to all of her communications and doesn’t make her join in with the group activity. Claire is beginning to pick up on Ava’s interests. She has noticed that Ava likes encircling things and does this in different ways. This might be one of Ava’s schemas. (Schemas 2 are patterns of linked behaviours which the child can generalise and use in a whole varieties of different situations and they form the basis of exploration and play. Identifying schemas helps make sense of children’s play and thinking and what other activities and resources might help to extend their thinking.) Claire is beginning to tune in to Ava as she observes her free play and sensitively helps her interact with other children.

2 for more information on schemas see: Nutbrown, C. Threads of Thinking. Young Children Learning and the Role of Early Education. Paul Chapman Publishing. 1994