At Kemsing Primary School we believe it is important to put nurture at the heart of all we do, nurturing the children so they can shine and meet their full potential. We are excited to be working towards becoming a Nurture School through the National Nurturing Schools Programme. As part of this journey, we focus on the social and emotional needs, as well as the academic learning of the children, and embed the Six Principles of Nurture throughout our policies and practices.
The Six Principles of Nurture at Kemsing Primary School
Children’s learning is understood developmentally - We all learn in different ways
Our first nurture principle is about developmentally-appropriate practice so we need to start with the child and think about individual children and their age and stage of development. Bear in mind the principles of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) - every child is a unique child, children learn to be strong and independent through positive relationships, children learn and develop well in enabling environments and children develop and learn in different ways and at different rates. So at this time, when we need to provide a nurturing curriculum, rather than a catching up curriculum, we must focus on children’s wellbeing and provide activities and experiences which begin with the child and are based on what they can do. We can also include opportunities to support children’s wellbeing such as access to calm, safe spaces, breathing techniques, mindfulness and yoga activities and ensure that we talk openly about our emotions and feelings.
The importance of nurture for the development of wellbeing - Our wellbeing is valued
When considering wellbeing, it is helpful to think about the whole child, so to look at learning and wellbeing holistically and provide a supportive emotional environment. Here are a few ideas of how we do this in practice:
- We respect children’s feelings and give a clear message that all children are valued and emotions accepted.
- We provide a predictable and secure environment in which all adults are consistent in their approach to children’s behaviour.
- We support children with behavioural, emotional and social difficulties by reflecting on and meeting their individual needs.
- We act as role models and encourage positive behaviour using emotion coaching techniques.
- We provide activities and opportunities that support children to recognise and articulate their feelings and emotions.
All behaviour is communication - We support all behaviours
In addition to language, we communicate through our actions and behaviour. If you imagine an image of an iceberg – the behaviours that you see are just the tip and underneath what we see there is a lot more going on. So the behaviour we see at the tip of the iceberg could be loud or aggressive behaviour, or quiet and withdrawn, but underneath the waterline, the child could be trying to get a message across: I feel angry, I am hurt, I am hungry, I am tired, I need love, I’m overwhelmed, I need a break, I want that toy, I want a friend, I want to connect with you and this works, I have these big emotions and don’t know how to deal with them…’
The classroom offers a safe base - We feel safe
This principle is referring to attachment theory and ensuring that our school is a nurturing safe space. We want our school to act as a secure base for our children, however, sadly, this is not the case for all children. How securely attached a child feels will have a direct influence on their behaviour. Research has shown that children and young people who have a good start in life have significant advantages over those who have experienced adverse childhood experiences or trauma, or those who have had difficulty forming secure attachments. The environment that children grow up within, or the nurturing environment makes all the difference. These children tend to do better at school, attend regularly, form more meaningful friendships and are significantly less likely to be involved in crime or experience physical or mental health problems. Understanding attachment theory can help us to understand why children behave the way they do and help us to remain more sensitive to their needs. We can better understand how external influences (relationships, stress, poverty, neglect, emotional environment) can affect children and this will help us to plan more effectively for them and use appropriate strategies to support them – intervening early if needed. Being aware of this can help us to adapt our expectations accordingly and use a range of strategies to intervene sensitively.
Language is a vital means of communication - Our emotions are understood
When nurturing children we need to reflect upon how we communicate with them in ways that they fully understand. In addition to spoken words we use gestures, pointing, body language, posture, eye contact and movement. We must not assume that children know and understand any new rules we may have in place and we must share these with them offering them reasons as to why we need to change things. Children can be very resilient and how we communicate with them and their families will make a big difference.
The importance of transition in children's lives - We are prepared for change
It would be easy for us to underestimate the impact that transitions have on a child's wellbeing. Daly once said, “Something adults may consider to be a small or insignificant event can be quite traumatic for children” (Daly et al., 2004:111). So sometimes, it’s not the really big things that will have the biggest impact on our children, it can be the small things that are really big for them. For example, having to go into the hall for lunch, or not being able to sit next to their friend.
Therefore, we try to see the world and our school through our children’s eyes to really try to understand how they will feel and what will affect them most.