The testimonial below is from a parent from Circus Day Nursery. We feel this perfectly encapsulates the warmth, and loving environment that we constantly seek to create and improve.

‘My daughter has been attending Circus since she was 6 months old and has loved every second of it. She has made some fantastic friends in her 4 years there and every Sunday night can’t wait to get to nursery to see what the next exciting week will hold. Because the staff are so energetic, enthusiastic and caring, I’m sure she sees Circus as a home from home. I chose it because I thought if I was a child, it is exactly the sort of place I would like to go to – fun and exciting!’

A basic understanding of attachment theory is central to appreciating child care and how we at Circus create an environment where children feel safe and want to explore and learn.

Attachment Begins with Trust

Initially formulated by English psychiatrist John Bowlby, the basic precept of Attachment Theory is that an infant instinctively behaves in many ways to maintain proximity to her primary caregiver and feels most secure when in close proximity to that person.

Attachment between infant and caregiver begins to form early in the baby’s life as the caregiver responds in a nurturing manner to the babies signals—for example breast or bottle feeding, singing or cooing, holding and rocking. Slowly, the child learns that a particular caregiver provides her with a safe, predictable, and comfortable world. Attachment begins to form and grow.

In the mind of the infant, it is learning the development of trust–the primary developmental task of the pre-verbal years, before a child can communicate verbally. The attachment that forms provides a secure base from which the child feels free to explore the larger social and physical world.

Attachment at Circus

By offering a home visit service and a robust settling in session process for each child, we demonstrate our understanding of the importance of this process. This is further embedded through our culture of working at Circus Day Nursery via in depth well thought out policies that reflect and ensure our high standards.

Each child benefits from a communication passport which tracks that child’s emotional needs, their likes and dislikes. When a child initially starts at Circus Day Nursery their passport is filled in with the key person and the child’s parent, which is then added to as the child grows through development stages and continues their individual journey through nursery.

At Circus we value and understand the importance of children feeling secure at vulnerable times such as feeding, sleeping and nappy changes, which we recognise as personal times. For example, we provide specially designed chairs for breast feeding and ‘special’ feeding (bottle) times with the babies ensuring that the parent/key person and baby are comfortable during this important bonding time.

As the children ultimately gain the ability to sit up, specially designed tables and chairs are used to ensure that the key person is sat at the child’s level and able to make constant eye contact and a connection with each other. This ultimately creates a secure and confident child in an environment where they can feel safe and secure. The consistency helps the children get used to a routine, which also helps develop confidence in their skills.

If the attachment figure, namely the carer, recognises the child’s needs, and is near to them in proximity, and attentive and responsive, this in turn allows the child to feel secure and loved. From this develops self confidence allowing the child to feel safe enough to engage in playfulness, to explore their environment, and engage in more socialising with their peers. Securely attached infants aged between about 6 and 30 months are not usually affected negatively, if they’re being looked after by a person with whom they have developed a secure secondary attachment bond. When these carers are consistent, sensitive and responsive they can benefit toddlers’ social and cognitive development and provide support to families.

Children can often benefit socially and cognitively from spending time in high quality nursery education. It is highly important for staff to understand this process, so they can bond with the child, and ultimately help the child with all of the above.

At Circus the child’s secondary carer is often the child’s assigned key person.

The Early Years Foundation Stage 2008 clearly states, ‘A “key person” has special responsibilities for working with a small number of children, giving them the reassurance to feel safe and cared for and building relationships with their parents’. The bonds that children develop with their “key person” are often very strong and the key person becomes a very influential figure in the child’s emotional and development process.

At Circus this notion is the backbone of many of our policies such as play, learning and development.

Practitioners at Circus know and understand the importance of good bonding. As a result we have provided extended training opportunities for staff to further their own knowledge and understanding on the history and theory of attachment theory, which we feel to be crucial in a child developing a healthy attachment, which will progress to adulthood.

Our next blog post will explore attachment theory and how we at Circus take into consideration the important developments in a child’s brain.