Circle of Security at Thrive

Many people hear the term ‘The Circle of Security’, and many people perceive to understand what the Circle of Security really is. However, the key question is.. What does the circle of security look like in practice with young children?

What is the circle of security?

The Circle of Security is a foundational approach to John Bowlby’s attachment theory. Bowlby believes that attachments to other humans are a survival technique, and without those attachments negative impacts occur to children’s long term cognitive, social and emotional development. This is particularly important for young children as the first 1000 days are essential to brain development.

The Circle of Security was developed to guide caregivers in supporting children’s emotional development. Children of all ages have attachment needs, so it is essential that we understand children’s attachment needs.

The Circle of Security is based on the underpinning that children must be supported emotionally at all stages of their emotional journeys.

There are 3 main concepts associated with the Circle of Security

  1. Going out on the circle: This is when children go out and explore. They are confident for this time and take many risks. During this time caregivers need to be encouraging and praising.
  2. Coming in on the circle: At times children need to be consoled and need to come back to their caregiver for love and comfort. This time is essentials for caregivers to be welcoming and understanding, supporting children’s emotions rather than dismissing them.
  3. The safe haven: This defines the caregiver. This is the space where the child can be comforted and feel safe and a sense of belonging. During this space where the caregiver is comforting the child and consoling their every emotion, it is filling the child’s ‘emotional cup’. When the cup is full, the child will go out and play again, demonstrating the top of the circle, and when the cup begins to empty the child comes in on the bottom of the circle

It is essential caregivers are aware of these stages and the importance of being the safe haven for children.

circle of security

Emotionally Thriving

A caregiver is not just a child parents, or immediate family. Early childhood educators become caregivers too when families leave their children in the trusted care of the educators. At Thrive our educators take this role seriously, and the ensure they enact the Circle of Security approach throughout their practice.

The Circle of Security approach aligns with Thrive’s emotional pillar of learning within our Philosophy. As outlined under Emotionally Thriving, we believe in building authentic trusting relationships with children and families to ensure we have a comprehensive understanding of each child’s emotions, anxieties and needs to be able to nurture their wellbeing and resilience.

The Circle of Security in practice

At Thrive we ensure as many educators as possible are trained in the Circle of Security, as we believe to implement to approach to its integrity requires a comprehensive training session, deconstructing the concepts within the approach and understanding how to contextualise those concepts when working with children.

What does the circle of security look like at Thrive?

When you visit one of our thrive centers you may notice our educators spending extended periods of time sitting with the children. This does not mean our educators are ‘lazy’, but rather it allows children to feel a sense of security and belonging. When adults spend time interacting with children and being available for children at their level it encourages self-esteem and confidence, as children will no longer view the adult as a superior.

You may also hear our educators talking to children frequently about their emotions, consoling them and acknowledging their emotions rather than dismissing them. This too is an important process of the Circle of Security approach. Allowing children to know and understand that what they are feeling is valid and important, supports them in building resilience and ‘filling that emotional cup’ sooner. So, when you see a child feeling sad and you hear our educators acknowledge those feelings, such as “It’s okay to feel bad, its hard missing mummy sometimes” we want you to also understand that this teaching strategy is to support the child.

When children are curious, they ask questions. When children are confident with a sense of belonging, they are curious. Occasionally you may have an interaction with an educator who needs to excuse themselves for a moment to attend to a child who is asking a question. Please do not feel as though our educator is being disrespectful, as attending to children’s needs and their curiosity is important to our Circle of Security approach. Children should not be told to ‘wait’ or ‘hang on’ or ‘come back in a minute’ when they have a question or when an infant is unsettled. In doing so adults cause children to not feel as though they have a safe haven. Although a child may not be unsettled or upset, it does not mean they do not need their emotional cup filled. therefore, when a child is doing a check in with an adult and particularly one of our educators, we understand the importance of attending to the child to help them feel confident again.

Language education at Thrive

Research on Language Development in the Early Years

Research makes evident language development begins at the early age of 4 months old. However, unborn babies will also begin to hear and recognise sounds around 18 weeks of pregnancy. This exciting time of development first starts with baby recognising sound, and more specifically the sound of the mother’s voice. Babies become attuned and attached to this reoccurring sound, as it stimulates neurological indicators in the baby’s brain. From this moment, the baby begins to deconstruct the process of communicative language.

As outlined in the Thrive philosophical approach to education, Vygotsky’s theoretical perspective is key to the pedagogical approaches of supporting language development. Aligning with our emphasises on language in the early years, Lev Vygotsky coined the importance of language development as the foundational way for children to acquire knowledge, building on their cognition and conveying their knowledge to others. This process involves all of Vygotsky’s key concepts, including the more knowledgeable other and scaffolding.

Although language does develop naturally, research encourages opportunities for children to explore language processes and concepts, as this assists them later on to develop strong foundations in reading and writing.

Further to Thrive’s philosophical approach, we believe oral language has an overall impact on learning, specifically in the development of social skills and cognition. Therefore, nurturing oral development is essential for our educators within their pedagogical practices and planning of the curriculum.

How does Listening Skills contribute?

Communication is broken down into two processes: Expressive and Receptive. Both are essential in the development of language. Expressive communication is when an individual speaks orally, conveying meaning. Receptive communication is the ability to listen and internalise what others are saying to comprehend the information.

Children must have opportunities to listen to sound through language so they can begin to deconstruct vocabulary and sentences. Collectively, combined with opportunities to explore print, this process also contributes to early literacy.

Thrive’s Approach to Language in the Early Years

Now let’s talk about how Thrive uses this important information in the development and facilitation of the curriculum.

Thrive ensures each weekly curriculum has language experiences planned, stemming from children’s interests and developmental capabilities. Through this planning our skilful educators purposefully outline strategies to facilitating these experiences, making sure language is not just seen as “singing or story book reading” .

Rather, we place an emphasis on using the developmental milestones, and EYLF outcomes to ensure language learning is occurring throughout the day in both child-led and teacher-led experiences.

These examples can be seen through:

  • Dramatic play
  • Spelling bee puzzle
  • Small group games
  • Puppet play
  • Story telling & show and tell

Childcare Sydney

Like many of the key areas of child development, Thrive prides itself on applying a unique approach to language education. In ensuring children not only gain from language in English, Thrive embeds a cultural approach to language development by facilitating the ELLA program, involving the integrated use of our interactive whiteboards as teaching tools. Within the ELLA program children apply creativity and imagination as they create their own avatars and complete tasks within the program. Using the ELLA program allows both our educators and children to learn languages together.

Additionally, our Thrive services have a French teacher from the company Bonjour babies attend our services each week for a planned language learning program. Our connection with Bonjour babies has been reoccurring for many years, and we are proud to say we have most certainly seen the benefits it has with children, families and educators. The fluent French teachers use a range of teaching strategies and resources to support everyone involved in learning and remembering French. Our service invites all enrolled families to be part of this special class by participating and using the resources to encourage continuous learning at home.