What\u0027s the first thing that pops into your head when you read the title of this article? Try reading it again, maybe shut your eyes for two minutes and let what it means to you, sink in before you read any further. Don\u0027t pretend and just read on! It\u0027s a fast paced and busy life so go on, give yourself the luxury of two minutes just to dwell on Positive Relationships and what that conjures up for you. \nMy mind filled with pictures, images and the fondest of memories when I started to contemplate the title. The first one being of my granddad laughing and running alongside me as I rode a donkey (age 5) along Blackpool\u0027s sandy beach or cuddling up as he made up his own bedtime stories for my brother and I. The second was of me (age 6) running towards my mum (desperate for a cuddle after a short but necessary separation) in hospital after she had delivered my baby brother Adam, yelling "Which one\u0027s mine?" repeatedly because there were a quite a few babies on the maternity ward to distinguish between, and I was old enough to know that they couldn\u0027t all be my brother! This memory was closely followed by me being allowed to wear make-up for the first time because I had been a good girl for daddy while mummy was in hospital. The final memory I allowed myself before writing this article saw my brother aged 6 and me aged 12 being allowed to row a boat all by ourselves down a very big river with dad supervising quite closely (but not as closely as mum would have done!) We stopped off for a picnic in a field full of cows and my brother got scared as they approached so dad smacked a couple cheerfully on the bottom to distract him and make him laugh. It didn\u0027t work and he rushed towards the river to get back into the boat. He would have probably fallen in if it were not for the frogs which had jumped inside catching his attention and finding his beautiful sense of humour now that the fear of the cows had subsided. \nAlthough I have focused briefly there on some of the positive, warm, loving, safe and secure relationships that I was fortunate enough to have during my childhood, I think that it is important to remember that when we talk about Positive Relationships in the context of the new Early Years Foundation Stage, it relates to everyone, young or old, child, parent or practitioner. There is a complex web of inextricably interweaving and constantly evolving relationships in each and every setting. Take a moment to think about the relationships in your setting. Which are strengths and/or weaknesses? There\u0027s children with children, children with practitioners, practitioners with practitioners, parents with children, parents with practitioners, parents with parents, practitioners with the wider community and practitioners with outside agencies...all of these complex relationships, not always positive, can be within a setting. The dynamics of these relationships can be positive in a powerful way if respect and professionalism underpin good practice. Card 2.1Respecting Each other states "Professional relationships are based on friendliness towards parents, but not necessarily friendship with parents." I think that although subtle, this is an important distinction which can help build and maintain constructive working relationships with parents. Parents are partners in their child\u0027s education (card 2.2 Parents as partners) and need to be involved as much as possible but this can be difficult for varying reasons such as lack of time or a \u2018keep my distance attitude\u0027 possibly resulting from negative learning experiences themselves in childhood. As I illustrated earlier, childhood experiences can make powerful memories and shape who you are as an adult. If a parent has suffered a poor upbringing and education through no fault of their own, how can practitioners and settings successfully reach out to them so that they can become involved in their own child\u0027s learning journey in positive and powerful ways? Such questions can be potentially painful to address and uncomfortable to deal with but they are raised, and I think, helpfully so, in the Reflecting on practice sections of the cards. Thankfully there are also some answers in the EYFS pack, CD-ROM and on the cards such as \u2018Make time to listen to parents to learn about their feelings and identify any concerns.\u0027 Maintaining a professional distance from parents while working closely in partnership with them will always pose certain challenges and dilemmas but it is important that we work towards these key relationships for the benefit of the children. \nA key part of the positive relationships I experienced as a child were pleasurable activities, key moments (birth of my brother) and outings which my brother and I experienced with key family members in our lives. Visiting grandparents meant trips to the beach, zoo, donkey rides, special stories, treats and favourite foods which grandma would always make for us...jelly! Rowing the boat and having a picnic was a great day out which we both have the strongest and fondest memories of probably because we spent all day outside, with dad who generally allowed us to do lots more independently than mum, animals were a source of awe, wonder and amusement whilst being allowed to row the boat all by ourselves pretending to be the grown ups for a change was simply brilliant! These were prime conditions for learning really but always with that necessary base of warm, loving, safe and secure relationships. Those which practitioners must endeavour to emulate to help children achieve their full potential because "Warm, trusting relationships with knowledgeable adults support children\u0027s learning more effectively than any amount of resources." (card 2.3 Supporting learning). \nCard 2.4 has the title Key Person as it is now a statutory duty for all settings to have a named key person for each and every child in their care. "Each child must be assigned a key person. In childminding settings, the childminder is the key person.\u0027 (Statutory Framework P.37). The key person is potentially the second most important person in a child\u0027s life in terms of feeling safe, secure, loved and cared for and the time spent in their care. Through a child\u0027s eyes their key person can be as important as their main parent/carer thus key persons play a pivotal role\u00a0in laying the foundations for the mental, physical, emotional and spiritual well-being of the child in their most vulnerable early days of card and education. A child cannot learn effectively when unwell, anxious or upset. It is only when they feel happy, safe and secure in their setting and with that key person that they will feel confident to explore, try out and test new things and their potential for learning therefore maximised. Children need challenges and through that intimate positive relationship with their key person, developmentally appropriate challenges can be set with no fear of failure or ridicule. A key person should be able to tune into the children and have the confidence to take their lead and direction from what the children directly say or do. Card 2.3 poses some excellent questions to consider when reflecting on your practice such as \u2018Who does the most talking and what sort of talk is it?\u0027 \nIn conclusion, games are always a wonderful way of promoting positive relationships amongst children and practitioners. Here are a couple you may like to try. \n\u2018Pass the squeeze\u0027 - all hold hands and gently pass the squeeze around the circle. \n\u2018Pass the smile\u0027 - as above but turn to the child next to you and smile, inviting them to pass the smile one at a time all the way around. \n\u2018Pass the present\u0027 - place a square mirror tile (available at most tile shops) at the bottom of an attractive square box and tell them children \u2018There\u0027s someone very special inside my box who I\u0027d like you to meet. When you have said hello please pass it on.\u0027 \n\u2018Who am I?\u0027 - a child covers their eyes while another says \u2018hello (child\u0027s name)\u0027. The first child then attempts to guess the speaker\u0027s identity. \n\u2018Roll the ball\u0027 - each child takes turns to roll the ball across the circle to another child as they sit on the floor. See f they can name that person and if not another child helps out by telling their name. Just make sure that everyone has the ball rolled to them during the circle time. \nPair up and sing/act out nursery rhymes such as \u2018Row row row your boat\u0027 and \u2018Pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake, baker\u0027s man.\u0027 \nMore games can be found from the SEAL resources: www.bandapilot.org.uk \n\u2018The Social Toddler\u0027 is a super photo-illustrated book which helps to promote positive behaviour and relationships in young children and their families produced by THE CHILDREN\u0027S PROJECT www.childrensproject.co.uk ISBN \n1-903275-35-5. Why not photocopy and display popular poems to promote positive relationships in your setting? Here are a\u00a0couple you could use. \n
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