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Our Approach

#334 Early Movement Play Matters – Highfield Nursery

Ruth Coleman

What did we do?

We provided a multi-dimensional play based physical interactive programme, at the primary intersubjectivity level, to ignite the pre-verbal communicative systems of the child, and help their significant adult recognise, read, tune in and respond to these. We provided a series of 5 weekly sessions for identified target children of 20 minutes. Following the first session we shared a video of the session with the parent to discuss the behaviours displayed during the session and the social and emotional cueing systems the child is using to support the parental learning aspect of the programme. From week 2 the parents were encouraged and supported sensitively to in join in these sessions and then also attend the subsequent weekly video feedback session. Sessions were led by our senior EMP practitioner and provided  a training space for modelling practice for 3 junior practitioners.

The child’s spontaneous movements were replicated and reciprocated by the practitioner in the moment, without talk. It involved the essential moves of the foetus and early baby involving, push, pull, roll, curl, tip splat ,stretch and spin.

Summary of impact

  • Parents improved relationship with practitioner – Parents will now seek out staff to talk about the progress their child is making in all aspects of life, not just those relating to the project.
  • Child improved relationship with practitioner – The playfulness during the sessions have enabled the staff involved to build strong relationships with the child and this relationship continued throughout the child’s time at Highfield.
  • Parent reports understanding of the need for EMP.
  • Parent learning about risk taking and danger and what is appropriate for a 3 year old.
  • Parental feedback shows that parents are engaging in more rough and tumble, challenge and risk play.
  • Parents learned techniques to support ‘behaviour’ at home and how to respond to this in a positive way.
  • Parents show a statistically improved relationship.
  • Parent asked to bring other family members to the sessions to see huge impact achieved with her child.
  • Parent reported looking at her child differently and shared ‘wow’ moments in her child’s risk taking  development.

Steps taken

  • We identified children to take part in September 2018; the children identified had a below age score on entry in Personal, Social and Emotional Development or Communication and Language, they also had issues with Self-Regulation.
  • Once the focus children were invited, the parent of each child was invited in to establish trusting relationships, to discuss the background of the child from birth and identify any other sensitive issues surrounding the child, such as maternal mental health, parental separation, parental anxieties and parental assumptions of autism and ADHD presentations.
  • Once the parent interviews were completed, the parents were given a 5 week timetable of EMP sessions to attend with their child, supported by a trained EMP professional. The first session lasted 30 minutes and supported parents to tune in, read and respond to their child. Practitioners helped to ignite the pre-verbal communication systems in the child through EMP and supported parents to read the non-verbal clues presented by the child.
  • Parents were then invited back to review the video footage taken during the first session. This was used to re-enforce and make visible the learning opportunities in the first session.
  • Sessions 2, 3, 4 and 5, parents were sensitively encouraged to join in, building bonds between parent, child and practitioner and developing parental confidence. Parents learned how to reciprocate their child’s spontaneous movement, learning themselves about the importance of replicating the movement of the foetus – push, pull, roll, curl, tip, stretch, spin and splat.

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