Little Hands have done extensive research into the theoretical and practical strategies that best support a child’s journey when starting their nursery. Each of our stay and play sessions are designed to make this transition a success for children and their families. We recognise that attachments in the Early Years are some of the most crucial for young children and this process needs to be flexible to suit the wide range of children and families that we welcome into Little Hands.
The stay and play process:
First stay and play-
Our staff team welcome a parent/guardian into the nursery environment with their child. Your child is free to explore the play spaces alongside their new peers and practitioners whilst their parent/guardian is near by and helping them to feel safe and secure. During this session our staff team will gather lots of information to support our understanding of your child as an individual including their current interests, routines, development journey and much more. Our staff team will also expertly engage with your child in a sensitive and comforting way to build initial relationships which will then help feelings of safety and security at future sessions.
Each age group has curated their own ‘Room Guides’ which are available to all families for additional information about each of our age groups and their staff teams. Images of each staff member are contained within which allow families to become more familiar with our teams and also provide an opportunity for children to explore their new practitioners from the safety of their own home between visits.
Second stay and play-
During your second visit to Little Hands children will be able to explore our play spaces once again with their parent/guardian. Based on our previous knowledge of your child, our staff team will organise familiar activities and resources to spark your child’s interest and aim to promote their curiosity. In order to develop bonds with practitioners, our staff team will encourage family members to step out of the play space for some of this session. This will be done sensitively and with constant consideration for the emotional and physical needs of each child.
Third stay and play-
A familiar member of our staff team will greet your child and encourage a practice handover which would mirror that of usual drop off interactions when your child starts permanently with Little Hands. It is usual to schedule this stay and play over a mealtime for children to experience an additional part of our routine and be even better prepared for their full sessions.
To ensure that this process is inclusive of each of our families, additional stay and play sessions can be arranged to mirror any of the above sessions to ensure that you and your child feel fully comfortable to start nursery life. Our staff team also have a wide range of additional opportunities to explore should children benefit from added flexibility or support.
In our experience, children develop secure attachments with their familiar practitioners fairly quickly and the messaging system through our nursery software allows families to check in regularly in the early days (and beyond!). Our leadership team is also always at the end of the phone should you wish to check in during those early days (and beyond!).
The importance of a key person:
Children thrive from a base of loving and secure relationships. This is normally provided by a child’s parents but it can also be provided by a key person at nursery. Key persons are not decided by Little Hands, but by the child. Whilst we might have an idea of the staff member who has made initial bonds with your child, we will regularly look for cues as to who your child feels most comfortable and secure with. On occasions this might change during a child’s time at Little Hands. This is also respected for each child and discussed with parents along the journey to keep clear lines of communication.
What is attachment and why is it important?
Attachments are the emotional bonds that young children develop with parents and other carers such as their key person.
Children with strong early attachments sometimes struggle less when separated. They engage in more pretend play and hold attention for longer. When children feel safe they are more inclined to try things out and be more independent. They are confident to express their ideas and feelings and feel good about themselves. Attachment influences a child’s immediate all-round development and future relationships.
A key person will ensure that overall, your child’s emotional, physical and developmental needs are being continually met.