Early Years

Building the foundations of brain architecture

KCA works with and supports a range of early years settings (and individual practitioners within these) across both the universal workforce and the more targeted workforce including childcare providers, nurseries and pre-schools, children’s centres, family outreach workers, health visiting services, midwives, and other children’s services.

'Our earliest relationships affect not only our development as children, but also our feelings and behaviour as adults.'

Prof David Howe, Attachment across the lifecourse, 2011

The need

Parents of young children generally want to ensure that they are meeting the needs of their children and are doing all they possibly can to ensure their best possible start to life. However we know that many parents (7 in 10*) are not aware that the conception to age 5 period is critical in providing the foundations of health and happiness, and are thus not secure in their understanding of the importance of attachment relationships and the impact these have on the developing brain. We are also more and more aware of the impact of adversity and trauma in early childhood, with reports of very young children struggling to manage emotions and engage with others - connected relationships play a fundamental role in supporting recovery and building resilience and lifelong regulatory skills.

In addition, life for many parents of young children, or parents-to-be, can feel very overwhelming; the challenge of juggling other siblings, work and family commitments, alongside all the other ups and downs of daily life with a young child can impact on the very attachment relationships that are so critical. We are also too aware that unresolved trauma for the caregiver also impacts on their capacity to meet the attachment needs of their child.

Working with and supporting such children and families on a daily basis places enormous stress on the workforce, with reports of practitioners feeling overwhelmed and under-prepared to support children and their families.

It is therefore essential that the early years workforce feel supported and confident to be able to provide education and early help for families, with a sound knowledge-base, alongside the more traditional tasks of caring for young children. It is also vital that the workforce have the knowledge base to build their own resilience and that of their community, and thus be able to recognise the risk of toxic stress and secondary trauma and ways to prevent or manage these. As early years services provide a hub for work with families, teamwork across agencies and across disciplines becomes essential if making a positive and confident contribution to building the team around the family is to be achieved.

*State of the Nation: Understanding Public Attitudes to Early Years, The Royal Foundation and Ipsos MORI, Nov 2020

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'We are starting baby groups up again and the new training has given me more confidence.'

Participant, Hertfordshire attending KCA training January 2021

Our support

KCA works with practitioners to enhance their knowledge base of healthy brain development and community resilience whilst also increasing their confidence to support families to meet the needs of their children. Understanding the neuroscience of human development can transform practice; understanding the impact on children of significant attachment relationships, the impact on families of living with toxic levels of stress, and the impact of secondary trauma on workers at all levels is critical for practitioners within the early years workforce.

Our Five to Thrive training, with associated resources and publications, has been independently evaluated as providing effective workforce development, significant improvements in the responsiveness and confidence of parents, and value for money. It is an approach which brings the neuroscience of healthy brain development and maintenance to practice, whilst enhancing whatever soundly based programmes may already be in use.

Our training and consultancy, delivered as bespoke co-created learning journeys, offers key knowledge to support practice in the early years sector, including:

  • Attachment and brain development
  • Promoting positive and confident parenting
  • Community resilience and connected relationships
  • The impact of trauma and secondary trauma
  • Supporting perinatal care
EY 2

'This was a wonderful way to reconnect with the essence of great early years practice; the ability to connect is so vital and so often overlooked. Five to Thrive brings this front and centre.'

North Somerset Practitioner, Feb 2021

Example Learning Journeys

Once we have a clear understanding of the training needs and the target audience, we will develop a learning journey that offers the best fit in terms of cost, target audience and practice development.