In our last blog post we began discussing the principles of Attachment Theory and how we at Circus Day Nursery put theory into practice to promote a nurturing setting where children feel safe and free to explore their environment.

In the following video we explain in further detail how we go about maintaining this ethos at Circus.

Let’s now take a look at how a child’s brain development influences how she forms relationships as well and why this is so important in the nursery setting.

Early Brain Development

In babies and toddlers younger than about 30 months, their brains’ right hemisphere is developing more rapidly and exerting more control over behaviour than the left side. The right side is where intuitive skills develop which are needed for relationships, emotions, and the empathic understanding of another person’s feelings.

These unconscious skills are learned by babies and toddlers whilst experiencing them from their carers over and over again, and it’s the quality of the relationships and the feelings they experience day after day that can have a significant influence on their developing brain. These formative early experiences cannot be consciously recalled by the child later on because they occur during the pre-verbal phase of brain development, but with consistency of routines and a good understanding from the practitioner, comes confidence and trust from the child.

Learning Through Play, Routines and Word Recognition

Children at Circus are actively encouraged to explore the safe environment, through play, which incorporates age appropriate stimulation. Visual routines and photos of objects are really important. Children should be encouraged from an early age to read from left to right and this is followed through in our nursery with displaying photos first then followed by the word. Number lines and alphabet lines should also run from left to right when hung up or placed on a wall. Visual routines and named coat pegs help children with name recognition.

At Circus we encourage parents to help us make the children feel happy and secure to explore word recognition by supplying healthy routines as soon as the children enter Circus. First, we encouraging parents to help their children to self register in the mornings by providing a named label box which the children sort through and find a picture of their face with their name underneath. Next, equipment and objects in the nursery are visually labelled as well as the “spelling” of the word. This helps the child to learn to associate a word, for example, the word “chair” is written on an actual chair.

Practitioners ensure that all resources are organised and stored at a low level so that they are readily accessible to children. This encourages independent selection and return.

The resources are clearly labeled and arranged with care to ensure they are stimulating, interesting and varied. A box of toys simply tipped onto the carpet is not acceptable.

Children are encouraged to utilise all resources across the room. They will be supported to combine resources from different areas and return them when finished.

Brain Development Shifts From Right to Left

By about 36 months, toddlers’ brains have undergone a very significant change. The growth spurt of the right side of the brain has slowed down and the sensitive period for developing social and emotional intelligence has made way for a growth spurt on the left side. The left side of the brain then becomes dominant, and promotes the development of complex speech and the ability to remember past events and anticipate future ones.

The Practitioners at Circus Day Nursery recognise the need for social and emotional contact, and through the use of persona dolls, different scenarios can be safely explored. The Practitioners are aware of the importance of age appropriate thought provoking activities to stimulate the brain, such as reading, computers, role play, outdoor physical play, Forest School, music, languages and cooking.

In Partnership With Parents

We understand parents are children’s first and most enduring educators. Practitioners place a strong emphasis on staff working together with parents to develop a strong partnership of care which in turn will have a positive impact on the child’s development and learning. It is important that nursery staff are trained to understand the needs of each stage of development from the baby, toddler and pre-school child, and at Circus we are continuously educating on the importance of understanding child development, and the important impact the carer has on each child, as an individual. The staff look carefully at the children in their care, consider their needs, their interests, and their stages of development and use all of this information to plan a challenging and enjoyable experience across all the areas of learning and development.

By reorganising childcare to provide secondary attachment bonds for babies and toddlers we can build on relationships, not only with the child, but with the mother. Staff can work co-operatively with parents, in professionally supported day care, and build up that one to one relationship with the child, under a key worker system, where the carer gets to work with and support the family.

Settling in Starts With a Home Visit

We recognise that children are dependant on a “key person” to become independent. At Circus we recognise the importance for a child and their family to settle into Circus life fully so we need to start building a relationship prior to a child starting at Circus. This is why we give the family the opportunity to welcome us into their home and personal lifes, by offering each family a home visit before a child’s first settling in session. Children feel very safe and secure in their own home and with their parents. By welcoming your child’s key person into your home, your child’s observation of this will enable them to trust this person and build on creating a relationship with them.

In a society which encourages both parents to work outside the home while their children are under three, it is attachment focused childcare arrangements that have a crucial role to play in facilitating the healthy emotional development of children.