Sunday, 3 May 2009

How do nursery nurses talk about the role of the key person?

The question of how children should be cared for in nurseries has been troubling practitioners and theoreticians for the last fifty years or so. Anna Freud (1974: XIX), reflecting on her experience of running a wartime residential nursery, argued that children in nursery care had three overriding needs: “the need for intimate interchange of affection with a maternal figure; the need for ample and constant external stimulation of innate potentialities; and the need for unbroken continuity of care.” Her conclusion was pessimistic: “experience shows that even the most strenuous efforts of the organizers of residential institutions inevitably fail in providing even for any one of these needs in full measure, let alone for all three of them.” (Freud, 1974: XIX). Further research undertaken in the 1980s (for example, Hopkins 1988; Bain and Barnett 1980) came to substantively similar conclusions about the drawbacks of life in day nurseries for young children. Read on