Personal, social and emotional development involves helping children to develop a positive sense of themselves, and others; to form positive relationships and develop respect for others; to develop social skills and learn how to manage their feelings; to understand appropriate behaviour in groups; and to have confidence in their own abilities. At Young Friends we understand the importance of this in helping the children to learn and to grow into young adults. Personal, Emotional and Social Development is separated into three aspects which are all equally important to a child’s growth and well-being…

Learning to get along with other children and with adults; how they can see something from somebody else’s point of view and take that into account when they play and work with other children

At young Friends we encourage this by:

  • Providing a wide range of group resources that support a child to roleplay and act out narratives or their own little stories with others.
  • Provide the time and opportunity for children to play alongside each other
  • Support Children’s Communication and Language skills so that they are able to build up relationships with them by listening and responding to what is being said
  • Recognising when children may need extra support in their play and friendships and providing extra support by joining in their play and modelling acceptable play our selves.
  • Using Group times to talk about friendships and recognising feelings. Teaching the children how to recognise if their friend is upset and how to help them.
  • When children are grouped together age and personality is taken into account.
  • Staff are constantly at the children’s level playing, modelling and strengthening friendships

We have many things in place in order to develop confidence in who children are as individuals, and what they can do and in expressing their own ideas

We have effective behaviour systems in place in all of the rooms, where children receive positive praise both verbally and by putting a marble in the jar for Pre-schools, Ball in the jar of happiness for toddlers and putting pictures on the rainbow for the Babies.

We have structured structured routines in each of the rooms and smooth transition times where children understand what is happening next and what is expected of them.

We have a strong and effective key person system and settling in period.

We have lively and educational group times where children can share a ‘Show and Tell’ item that they have brought in from home, have the time to share experiences with their peers and build up a connection with the group as a whole.

This is about how children can understand their own feelings and other people’s feelings, and how they learn to manage their feelings…

  • We have a stable and clear set of Golden rules in the preschool room which is supported by an effective praise system. Staff give positive praise to children throughout the day. Behaviour is modelled by the staff which is consistent throughout the whole nursery.
  • Multiple resources are provided to encourage turn taking and sharing – Children are encouraged to solve their own problems with support from an adult, using positive language e.g. How are you feeling? How do you think they are feeling? What could we do to help our friend feel better? And by providing Sand timers or multiple resources of favourite toys.  to support turn taking.
  • We have lots of books, puppets and visuals to help promote and recognise different feelings. We build an understanding that it’s ok to ‘feel like that’ and teach them a safe and acceptable way to display that emotion.
  • Each room has a calming box and calming cards to help children to channel their emotions safely.
  • There is a structured routine in each room to help the children transition easily throughout the day.
  • Our team are experts at recognising when children may need extra support in these areas and identifying the activities that could help develop them.
  • Support plans are put into place for children who have a lasting delay in this area, designed to target the area of development and strengthen it.

Persona Dolls…

Persona dolls are one of our staple resources used in aid of children’s social development, supporting their ability to communicate, problem-solve, and empathize with others. Persona dolls were first developed in the U.S. in the 1950s by Kay Tans who created these dolls with the intention of physically representing a variety of people. The persona dolls allow children to discuss their experiences with “someone” they can relate to (the persona doll is always the same age as the majority of the group) and explore differences in gender, race, culture, lifestyle, sexuality and disability. The dolls are always the age of majority of the children and will experience social situations that are relevant to the children, i.e. doesn’t like to share or enjoys going to the beach, in order to foster discussion.

Currently in the nursery, we have two persona dolls – one for the 2yr olds and one for the preschoolers. Each one has its own backstory including cultural, family dynamic, home environment, likes/dislikes, etc. Kaila, our preschool doll, has same sex parents and is currently going through the transition of a new addition to the family. The two-year olds’ doll, which is on loan from the EMAS network, is a traveler who is currently coming to terms with her parents’ separation. They both have their own stories – both attend other nurseries which is why they’re not always with us – and children are given the opportunity to demonstrate strong listening and recall skills, empathy, and critical thinking. They’ve even invited the persona doll to join them for snack because she had been feeling left out at her other nursery.