The Key Person approach is a way of working where the whole focus and organisation is aimed at enabling and supporting close attachments between a child and individual nursery staff.
The Key Person will never replace the parent, but is the special member of staff who will be there for a child when they settle into nursery or into a new room and they will get to know the parents and the child. As the child gains confidence, he or she will move happily away from the Key Person and get to know the other members of staff in the room. But the Key Person is still there for the child as the special individual who knows them and is there whenever they are needed.
Role of a Key Person
- Developing secure, trusting relationships with their key children and parents.
- Settling new key children into the room gradually.
- Settling new key children as they arrive each day.
- Eating with key children in groups every day.
- Holding bottle-fed children on their lap to feed, maintaining eye contact and conversations.
- Changing and toileting key children, using sensitive handling and familiar words.
- Dressing and washing their key children, offering help as needed but also supporting their growing skills.
- Interacting with key children with reciprocal sounds, words, facial expressions and gestures, according to their individual temperament.
- Providing a secure base for key children by being physically and emotionally available to them to come back to, by sitting at their level and in close proximity to them.
- Using body language, eye contact and voice tone to indicate availability and interest, gauging these according to the child’s temperament and culture.
- Understanding and containing children’s difficult feelings by gentle holding, providing words for feelings and empathy in a way suited to each individual child.
- Comforting distressed children by acknowledging their feelings, offering explanations and reassurances calmly and gently.
- Acknowledging and allowing children to express a range of feelings such as anger, joy, distress, excitement, jealousy or love.
- Spending quality time with a group of key children everyday: either quiet time with stories or other activities.