WHAT IS THE KEY PERSON APPROACH?
The key person approach in early years is a method of care in which each child is assigned a particular educator who will act as their ‘go to’ person. This person will support the child and their family when they are first integrating into the setting and will continue to be the key person for routine care and for moments of emotional intimacy, building up a secure attachment with your child.
First Nursery understands the importance for child’s wellbeing that they have a person with whom they feel connected. By having a specific knowledge and understanding your child, the key person can show warmth and sensitivity in their communication with the child. They will become a secure base from which the child can explore the world and a safe haven to return to when they feel overwhelmed by the environment. When the child feels unwell, tired or fearful, or has questions, they will seek out their key person.
While the key person will share the closest bond with your child, the child will also build a secondary relationship with another adult in the setting. This is important as your child needs to feel supported on the occasions that their key person is not available to them. It may not be possible for the key person to be there to greet the child and to say goodbye every single day, so it is important to have an approach in which a secondary or ‘buddy’ key person is available to your child during these transitions. This will be another adult who works in the room, with educators sharing responsibility for each other’s key children when one is absent.
The key person is also the primary contact with a child’s parents and will develop a warm, responsive and sensitive communication with the parent. This is a reciprocal relationship – the key person will get a full understanding from parent(s) about the child’s likes and dislikes, family, comfort objects, words and routines and will, in turn, provide the parents with specific information about their child and details about their day, which they may not get when there are a number of different staff caring for the child. Message books passing on information cannot replace the detailed face-to-face information that can be passed on by a child’s key person.
First Nursery has exceptional excellent skill towards the key person approach, in simple terms, a triangle of trust that an educator and parent build to support the child and their experiences in an early year setting.
Each part of that triangle has even sides – no one participant is more or less important than the other (Elfer, 2007).