Role of the Key Person
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This factsheet for all Early Years and childcare professionals in England and Wales details the value of the key person.
The Key Person
The importance of the key person is highlighted in childcare policy in England and Wales.
The importance of being a key person
Familiarity, pattern and predictability support children’s personal development and helps them understand who they are and what they can do.
Continuity of attention from key people who know children well, who are interpreting and responding to their gestures and cues enable children to attend to their inclinations and to play freely. Rustin et al (1997) in Department for Education 2005 Birth to Three Matters (England)
'Real sociability comes through the experience of the reliable affection of a few close people’ (Goldschmied E & Jackson S 2004 p 115)
Children thrive when their needs are met by special people that they know, trust and respect.
Children learn by observing and being with others. The key person is an important role model for the child who they can relate to and rely on.
Children can concentrate and learn more effectively if not under stress or pressure so having a key person who is attentive and knows their child well will support children in their personal, social and emotional development.
The key person works alongside parents and carers to ensure that there is continuity of care for the child thus supporting the child’s emotional well-being.
The key person observes the child to identify how they learn through their play, their next aspect of development, what their interests are, whether there is any cause for concern or need for extra support.
How can I be an effective key person?
Adopt a professional, mature and sensitive approach to children and families.
Get to know the child well through liaison with parents and carers. This can be done by home visits, meetings and discussions on induction.
Provide intimate care for those children who need support.
Sit with children at meal times and support them in developing table manners and social skills.
Work and involve children during their play. Observe them sensitively, intervening only when necessary to find out how they play and learn. Look, listen and take note of their interests and use all this information to plan activities and experiences that will help them develop and reach their maximum potential.
Communicate effectively with parents and carers either verbally or through home/setting diaries each time the child attends.
Support children in transitions whether this be from key person to key person, room to room, setting to setting or setting to school.
In group settings, communicate and share practice with colleagues to ensure continuity when key person is on holiday or off sick.
In group settings through supervision, share any thoughts, concerns and issues with the manager of the setting to ensure any additional support is provided and that your emotional needs are taken into consideration.
In childminding settings, talk to peers about any issues or concerns remembering to respect confidentiality.
What does this mean for me?
- Settling in children alongside parents and carers
- Ensuring that care and learning opportunities always meet children’s needs.
- Forming attachments
- Liaising with parents and carers
- Collecting evidence to show children’s progress in all areas.
- Good communication
- Calm, and confident
- Sensitive and tactful
- Open and honest
- Ability to prioritise
You attend a function/event for the first time where you don’t know anyone. You don’t know where to hang your coat or where the toilet is. You don’t know the routine or how you are supposed to behave. How would you feel? What would make you feel better?
You go on holiday to a foreign country where you do not speak the language and no-one speaks your language. How difficult would it be for you to communicate to others and make your needs known?
Department for Education (2017), Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage, London
Welsh Government (2016). National Minimum Standards for Regulated Childcare for children up to 12 years of age
Department for Education and Skills (2002) Birth to Three Matters: An introduction to the Framework, DfES (England)
Gerhardt S (2004) Why Love Matters. Routledge (Taylor and Francis group) Oxon
Goldshmied E & Jackson S (2004) People under three 2ndeditionRoutledge (Taylor & Francis group) Oxon
Here are the areas of professional standards that this factsheet relates to. Remember reading factsheets can count towards your CPD and can support you in reflecting and completing the professional standards audit tool.
PACEY Professional Standards
C2.1 Respect and value children’s individual needs and differences by allowing for and facilitating child intiated play.
E1.1 Plan and organise my setting to make sure it is safe and welcoming.
P1.1 Reflect on and develop my practice.
S1.1 Meet relevant laws, regulations and bench marks for quality – high quality well planned continuous provision can help you to meet the requirements of the EYFS (England) or Foundation Phase (Wales) framework.
C2.2 Respect and value children’s individual needs and differences by allowing for and facilitating child intiated play.
E1.2 Plan and organise my setting to make sure it is safe and welcoming.
P1.2 Reflect on and develop my practice.
S1.2 Meet relevant laws, regulations and bench marks for quality – high quality well planned continuous provision can help you to meet the requirements of the EYFS (England) or Foundation Phase (Wales) framework.
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