Sunday, February 17, 2013

it's all about relationships

Sometimes it is a shared look.

Or it is a little hand sneaking onto your leg as you sit together reading a book.

Other times it is a little body hurtling toward you and almost bowling you over as they walk in the gate.

Or a picture made just for you, every day, and given shyly and wordlessly.

Play dough cookies served up to you on a plate.

Looking around the play space until their eyes find you, and then going back to their play.

A joke shared.

A hand in yours.

A long and involved story about their weekend.

Running to show you a shiny pebble they have discovered in the garden.

Asking for help.

Trusting you with their feelings.

Being themselves.

The moment that they trust you and know, really know, that you are there for them is the moment we work towards.

These little people are often leaving their families for a new environment for the very first time in their lives.

For their sense of being, becoming and belonging when children start preschool there is nothing more important than the relationships that they develop with the first educators in their world.

Not amazing facilities.

Not super dooper activities.

Not a school readiness program.


It's the relationships that matter in preschool, pure and simple.

How do you support children in feeling safe, secure and nurtured at preschool?

If you are a parent, what matters to you in your child's relationships at preschool?


  1. Beautiful, beautiful post Jenny...i have been on both sides of the fence and actually left childcare because i became sad about the lack of things you just i am about to embark on Family Day Care so i can continue to stay at home with my girls and the points you mentioned are high on my list. As a parent i love to know that my children's interests and unique personalities have the opportunities to be amount of fancy programming or equipment can replace that!

    1. February 2012 I left a job after four years, working in a respected and branded daycare, because of the lack of continuity of high quality care. Yet my belief in the need for continuity of high quality care also caused me to stay working in the same facility simply to see a handful of children through to their next school.

      The day I finally walked out because I’d tired of the impoverished care of so many babies, my catch phrase was: “Don’t break the babies”!

      I truly recognized a staffing factor I’d ignored for so long …that several babies’ ‘crying switch’ went on instantly one staff member returned to the room and thus my ‘light bulb’ for the developmental anomalies I couldn't quite come to terms with finally shone brightly!

      Prior to that experience I’d always done in-home care, one baby at a time and I’ve watched several of them grow into healthy adults (others moved away so I haven’t followed their long term development).

      Lack of outdoor time and lack of adequate indoor and outdoor space for toddlers and primary children was the bane of my four years of daycare life – 30 minutes a day outside for 3-5 year olds simply isn’t enough in a 7+ hour ‘school’ day (not forgetting that many are in care for a total of 9 or 10 hours every day). Lack of adequate and accessible indoor and outdoor space makes for very unhappy children…and staff.

      Not forgetting the 20+ different part-time staff members who came and went from the facility in those four years.

      The infant program (6 weeks to 18 months of age) had a 2:6 ratio with a wonderful large shaded outdoor space. Even with that ratio it depended on staff quality to guarantee four out of any group of six would have a healthy developmental trajectory for the 16 months they were with us. Indoor space was barely adequate but the babies thrived on the days when they had good caregivers and could be outside most of the time, with easy access in and out.

      Good luck to Jodie. I have no doubt her home program will be better for her own children and those she cares for.

      Outdoor space matters so much – just watch videos of Forest Schools and you understand how physically agile and very curious quite young children can become in such an environment. Together with the right permanent, passionate staff language, cooperation and behavior blossom!

      This video about Forest Schools in Denmark is worth watching:

  2. Love this post Jenny, as I could just visualise all those scenarios. Sometimes I find it scary just how much trust these little people have in us - it's a powerful job & I only hope I do my very best everyday. Thanks for this post, it's a great reflective piece. Kierna

  3. I agree whole-heartedly! It's just a shame the inspectors don't!

    1. Our licensing officer looks for those things... One of the conditions of our license is that "the needs of the children are met" which includes their need for emotional support and secure relationships with their caregivers.

  4. I've just finished writing an article for exchange magazine about the key person approach. Relationships are so important to children and their families. The way I see it is if we recognize the uniqueness of each child, build trusting relationships and provide a stimulating environment (both physically and emotionally) then the learning will naturally follow.

  5. I have just finished writing an article on the key person approach from exchange magazine. Relationships are so important to children and families. The way I see it is if we recognize the uniqueness of every child build trusting relationships and provide a stimulating environment both physically and emotionally then the learning will naturally follow.

  6. Agreed - and let's remember too how being outside fosters these in a way that being indoors doesn't. No idea why though...!

  7. What a beautiful post. I especially loved the line about looking around to find you, then being able to return to their play----that right there says it all. That represents the trust and security the children feel in your care. You anchor them and then they are free to follow their interests. Well done!

  8. Love this! :) Thanks for sharing!