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Barleymont Group of Day Nurseries, Preschool, Afterschool and Holiday Club

The Key Person Approach

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.
A key person is a named member of staff with responsibilities for a small group of children who helps those children in the group feels safe and cared for. It’s an important role which involves the key person in responding sensitively to children’s feelings and behaviors and meeting emotional needs by giving reassurance, such as when they are new to a setting and supporting the child’s well-being. The key person supports physical needs too, helping with issues like nappy changing, toileting and dressing. That person is a familiar figure who is accessible and available as a point of contact for parents and one who builds relationships with the child and parents or carers.
Records of development and care are created and shared by the key person, parents and the child. Small groups foster close bonds between the child and the key person in a way that large groups cannot easily do. These groups allow the key person to better ‘tune into’ children’s play and their conversations to really get to know the children in the group well. Children feel settled and happy and are more confident to explore and as a result become more capable learners.


What is the key person approach?

The key person approach is a way of working in childcare settings in which the whole focus and organisation is aimed at enabling close attachments between individual children and individual nursery staff. A key person helps the child to feel familiar with the setting and to feel confident and safe within it, when children feel happy and secure they are confident to explore and try out new things, research has identified that close attachments allow this to happen. The key person approach ensures that parents have the opportunity to build a personal relationship with ‘someone’ rather than all working within the early years setting. Attachment to a key person is a necessary process in young children’s development. All children need to form an attachment to one skilled adult who regards them as special.

Basic responsibilities of the key person role

  • Provide a secure base for their key children by supporting their interests and explorations away from you. By smiling and nodding as they explore and by drawing their attention to interesting things around them.
  • 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 close to them.
  • Comforting distressed children by acknowledging their feelings and offering reassurances and explanations.
  • Settling new children into the setting.
  • Eating with their key group.
  • Holding their key children on their lap to bottle-feed maintaining eye contact and talking to their children.
  • Changing and toileting their key children, using familiar handling and words.
  • Dressing and washing their key children, understanding and being sensitive to their age and stage of development.

At Barleymont settings we assign a key person to your child during the child’s settling in period, depending on whom the child bonds with.