Allaying a mum’s fears

How a one-page profile can help a baby settle into a new nursery environment and help parents to feel confident that they will be well looked after, nurtured and supported to develop.

Matilda's one-page profile

Matilda’s one-page profile

Written by mum; Amy

Matilda is a happy, healthy eight month old baby girl. She has a five year old big sister Molly, daddy Jay and me, her mum. Matilda was born on the 4 August 2012, just four days later than expected.

I recently found a nursery for Matilda to go to once I returned back to work three days a week. Finding a suitable place to leave Matilda was hard enough, but once I’d decided on the right nursery, I then had the anxiety of how she would cope being away from her mummy when I was all she was used to.  I know Matilda’s personality inside out but I have carried her for 9 months and cared for her every day since. What if she cried and the nursery staff didn’t know what to do? What if they didn’t remember her feed times? I needed to find a way of communicating with the nursery about Matilda’s likes and dislikes and how best to look after her.

I decided to create a one-page profile for Matilda and share it with the nursery. I put together photographs of her to illustrate the page and Jay and I went through all the important information that nursery would need to know. We shared the profile with her close family to capture their opinions and make sure nothing was missed. The aim was to help Matilda settle into her new and unusual surroundings and to make sure her Key Worker knew her well, to make it easier for them to bond.

Matilda’s profile went with her on her first visit to nursery. A copy was kept in her folder and one placed on the notice board where all staff could look at it. Leaving your baby at nursery for the first time can be very frightening but creating the one-page profile filled me with confidence that the team there knew how best to support her.

I had a great reaction from Matilda’s Key Worker who said it helped her to get to know Matilda quickly. She thought having all the information on one page was really useful and the bright colours and photographs made it attractive and encouraged people to look at it. The nursery Manager was pleased with the profile too and said she thought it would be useful for other parents to do something similar for their children.

Every three months Matilda will have a review. I plan to use the one-page profile to keep track of new developments.  As she grows and her needs change we will add to it so it evolves with her.

I strongly believe that Matilda’s one-page profile has helped her to settle quickly into her new environment. She is happy and smiley when I drop her off in the mornings, and when I collect her at the end of the day. Matilda’s Key Worker understands her routine and characteristics well. It is rewarding to know that the profile has been useful to staff at the nursery as well as helping me to allay some of my fears.

It is never going to be easy leaving your baby with someone else, but the one-page profile has enabled me to share all the important information about Matilda in a way that is easy to digest for the people looking after her. My little baby girl is as happy and healthy as ever and I feel confident that she is being well looked after.

If you are interested in reading more about person-centred tools in pregnancy and parenting you might be interest in the blog.

Advertisements

Using profiles in early years

Written by Guest Blogger, Nathan Archer, Development Manager at Montessori Nursery, Read Nathan’s one-page profile.

 

Nathan Archer

Nathan Archer

Lincolnshire Montessori offers nursery and Primary education from two sites in Lincolnshire. We have children from six months through to 11 years old on roll and a team of sixty professionals on site.

We first discovered one-page profiles via a weekly early years sector Tweet Up #EYtalking on Tuesdays 8.00pm GMT.

The weekly theme was on Learning Journeys, which for those who are unfamiliar, are an approach to formative assessment in the early years, which is largely qualitative and respectful. Essentially, observations of individual or groups of children are written and often comprise photographic evidence, children’s artwork or a record of their ‘voice’ in a range of ways. Parents/carers, family members and other professionals are also encouraged to contribute. Many early years settings collect these stories in booklet, file or scrap book format to form the child’s learning journey through the Early Years Foundation Stage.

During this discussion, a colleague pointed us to Helen Sanderson Associates website and the youtube video on one-page profiles.

Cue Light bulb moment!

What struck us was the way in which such personal information would enable us to really know a child and their family, developing a much deeper understanding of a child’s personality, disposition, routines and welfare needs in an holistic way.

One of the four main themes of the Early Years Foundation Stage  is ‘A Unique Child’ and we felt that one-page profiles were a very tangible way of reflecting our understanding of the needs of individual children.

We purchased a postcard from the Helen Sanderson website which gave an example of a profile for a little girl called Flo. This proved a helpful basis for developing our own profiles. We took the headings from the card as the basis;

What do we love about….

What is important to…..

How to look after….

Our Head of Early Years Jo Robinson completed a sample one-page profile based on her youngest son which served as a prompt for both parents and professionals about the kind of information which might be shared to inform the child’s care.

We have coupled this one-page profile with a starting point sheet (an OfSTED requirement) which enables the team to capture a child’s starting points in terms of their development in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). On the reverse of the profile, Practitioners make brief notes under the seven areas of learning and the Characteristics of Effective Learning; Active Learning, Playing and exploring and Creativity and Critical thinking.

By combining these two elements we have created a real snapshot of a child who joins us, both in terms of their uniqueness and how best to meet their needs, with a summary of their learning and development as a base for future progress.

Feedback from parents/carers has been very positive and we feel that children are even better cared for with their individual needs more closely met.

There has also been real enthusiasm from the team for the new one-page profiles, who rather than seeing it as yet another form, feel they are capturing helpful information to really personalise the care and education we offer.

Finding the right nursery

An example of how this new mum used a one-page profile to find the right nursery for her daughter.

Scarlett's 8 month one-page profile

Scarlett’s 8 month one-page profile

Written by Rowan Hall, Mum to Scarlett

For the first two months of my daughter’s life I didn’t put her down. She looked too small and fragile to be out of my arms and I had an overpowering urge to keep her close to me so that she could hear my heartbeat, smell my skin next to hers, find her milk, know that she wasn’t alone in this strange new world. I was encouraged by friends to move from the living room into the bedroom to get some rest after a fortnight but I can’t even remember feeling tired. All I wanted to do was to look after her. It was early August and the Olympics were on the TV 24 hours a day. Together Scarlett and I watched as Jessica Ennis from our hometown of Sheffield won the gold medal in the heptathlon, Mo Farah became the first Briton to win Olympic 10000m gold and Gemma Gibbons looked to the sky and called her Mum’s name as she took home silver in the Judo. I’ll never forget those moments – I’m teary now as I write. There I was watching people fulfil their lifelong ambitions, realising their dreams, whilst I held my greatest achievement so far in my arms.

When Scarlett was eight months old it was time for me to go back to work. I’d been worrying about this and wasn’t feeling comfortable about the amount of time I would be away from her each day. There was also quite a lot of uncertainty about whether I could do the part-time hours I wanted in my old job and I decided that the best option for my family was to go freelance and be based at home. I started writing about person-centred practices, something I feel passionate about after experiencing the results myself in pregnancy and birth. As well as doing something I loved, my new role meant that I could manage my own time and not leave Scarlett for long periods.

I still had the task of finding the right nursery though; somewhere that I knew Scarlett would feel safe and happy without me. As is typical for me, I did a lot of research and made a lot of visits. But part way through the process I realised that I was struggling to compare the different options. They were all so similar in many ways and there were positives and negatives to each. Part of the problem was that I wasn’t comparing the nurseries against my own criteria but against theirs. I’d come away from each visit with a pile of information; Ofsted reports, health and safety certificates, routines. The Nursery Managers were sharing with me what they thought I needed to know in order to make a decision but the emphasis was all wrong. I needed to think about what was important to and for Scarlett and then make my decision based on her as an individual.

I wrote a list. I didn’t realise it at the time but this was actually the start of Scarlett’s one-page profile. I was thinking about what she needed to be supported well and wanted to use this list to work through our options. I came up with the following criteria: Kindness and attitude of staff, quality of the food, time spent outdoors, approach to play, safety and proximity to home (and me of course!).

Scarlett’s nursery is across the road. They have a cook serving fresh, unprocessed food daily. They have three separate outdoor areas and Scarlett’s key worker is loving and kind to her. I wrote up the rest of her one-page profile and took this across on her first day. I feel confident that they understand what she needs and can support her well, not just because they have a copy of her profile but because when looking at nurseries, I thought long and hard about what was important to and for her as an individual and then found the best match.

Scarlett is a happy, healthy little girl and changes every day. The difference now to when I first wrote her profile is remarkable – and keeping it up-to-date is going to be  wonderful way of capturing those precious moments in time and looking back on how she has developed.

You can read more about using person-centred thinking tools in pregnancy birth and parenthood here.