Definition for a Nurturing Approach
A nurturing approach recognises that positive relationships are central to both learning and wellbeing. A key aspect of a nurturing approach is an understanding of attachment theory and how a child’s early experiences can have a significant impact on their development. It recognises that all staff have a role to play in establishing the positive relationships that are required to promote healthy social and emotional development and that these relationships should be reliable, predictable and consistent where possible. A nurturing approach has a key focus on the learning environment and emphasises the balance between care and challenge which incorporates attunement, warmth and connection alongside structure, high expectations and a focus on achievement and attainment. It is based on the understanding of the 6 Nurturing Principles which include:
1. Children’s learning is understood developmentally
2. The environment offers a safe base
3. The importance of nurture for the development of wellbeing
4. Language is a vital means of communication
5. All Behaviour is communication
6. Transitions are important in all lives
A nurturing approach can be applied at both the universal and targeted level and promotes inclusive, respectful relationships across the whole community, including learners, staff, parents/carers and partners.A
The six principles of Nurture
Children's learning is understood developmentally.
Staff respond to children and young people not in terms of arbitrary expectations about ‘attainment levels' but in terms of the child/young person’s developmental progress. The response to the individual child is ‘as they are', underpinned by a non-judgemental and accepting attitude.
The school offers a safe base.
The organisation of the environment and the way the group is managed contains anxiety. A balance of educational and social experiences aimed at supporting the development of the children's relationship with each other and with the staff. The classroom is organised around a structured period of time with predictable routines. Great attention is paid to detail; the adults are reliable and consistent in their approach to the children. The classroom is an educational provision making the important link between emotional containment and cognitive learning.
Nurture is important for the development of self-esteem
Nurture involves listening and responding. In the classroom ‘everything is verbalised' with an emphasis on the adults engaging with the children in reciprocal shared activities e.g. play / meals / reading /talking about events and feelings. Children and young people respond to being valued and thought about as individuals, so in practice this involves noticing and praising small achievements.
Language is understood as a vital means of communication
Language is more than a skill to be learnt, it is the way of putting feelings into words. Some children and young people ‘act out' their feelings as they lack the vocabulary to ‘name' how they feel. In school there are informal opportunities for talking and sharing, e.g. welcoming the children into the class or having lunch together are as important as the more formal lessons teaching language skills. Words are used instead of actions to express feelings and opportunities are created for extended conversations or encouraging imaginative play to understand the feelings of others.
All behaviour is communication
This principle underlies the adult response to the occasional challenging or difficult behaviour seen in children and young people. ‘Given what I know about this child and their development what is this child trying to tell me?' Understanding what a child/young person is communicating through behaviour helps staff to respond in a firm but non-punitive way by not being provoked or discouraged. If the child/young person can sense that their feelings are understood this can help to diffuse difficult situations. The adult helps to make the link between the external / internal worlds of the child/young person.
Transitions are significant in the lives of children
The staff helps the child/young person make the transition from home to school. However, on a daily basis there are numerous transitions the child makes, e.g. between sessions and classes and between different adults. Changes in routine are invariably difficult for vulnerable children/young people and need to be carefully managed with preparation and support.