Great ways to build effective bonds with your key child
Building secure relationships with the children in your care is a vital part of working in Early Years. Children must feel safe and confident in the setting to enable them to learn and develop effectively. Sometimes the children will attach themselves to a familiar practitioner, helping them to build important relationships; however at times you may find that a child is struggling to make that connection, leaving them unsettled and possibly very upset.
Early Years settings vary in the way that they divide the children into key groups. Some settings will look at the sessions each child attends and match these up to a key worker, ensuring that the practitioner will see the child as much as possible; however others will let the child settle in and their key worker will be the member of staff that the child attaches to most. There are benefits to both of these and it can be great if the child build’s bonds with all of the staff. yet as long as each child has a bond or a secure relationship with at least one member of staff, they will be able to build experiences.
Here are 10 top tips on building effective relationships with your key children
First impressions – It is important that a child’s possible key worker is present during the first few times that the child attends the setting. This may include visits, trials or settling sessions. A child will often bond with someone who they have seen previously and is a familiar face rather than a brand new practitioner.
Consistency – Consistency is key in building relationships with a key child. They child must feel secure with you and know that you will be there for them when needed. If a practitioner is often off sick or out of the room, it can impact on the child’s relationship with them.
Approachable – An Early Years practitioner should always be approachable to all children, staff and other professionals however this is especially important in building bonds with a key child. The child should feel able to approach the practitioner for example if they are worried or need reassurance.
Parents – The most effective way to build and maintain a secure relationship with your key child, is to also build a bond with parents. If the child observes a positive relationship between parents and key worker, they will feel that they can trust the practitioner and feel able to also build a bond with them.
Role model – Being a positive role model for the children will encourage good relationships within the key group, having an impact on the way children behave and learn.
Understanding the child – Before building a strong relationship with a key child, it is important to understand the child’s needs. Some children may have a quiet nature and enjoy having cuddles whereas another child may not enjoy the same closeness. The key person should take this into consideration to best support the individual child.
Time – Always allow time for the relationship to develop and strengthen. Some children may not develop a bond straight away and may need some time to adjust to the transition. It is important not to force a child to bond with a particular member of staff as this may have the opposite affect and put children off.
Good communication skills – A key worker should have good communication skills and be able to effectively interact with the children. You should be communicating with your key children every day to ensure you keep a strong relationship with them and their families.
Feeling part of as a team – Key groups are a great way to build social skills and help children to feel part of a team. It is a good idea to have regular key group time and ensure the children know that they belong to a group. Self registration boards are a lovely way to highlight key groups, with each group having a name or theme for example ‘red group.’
Buddy systems – There may be times that a child’s key person is unavailable, such as days off, holiday or sickness. It is good practice to have a buddy system in place so that another regular practitioner is available for that key group. This should always be the same practitioner, so that the child and the parents will be aware of who is responsible for that day.