Feeling valued

Feeling valued

Staff meet children's emotional wellbeing and understand how to support their emotional issues

Using a soft toy or doll

The soft toy or doll has a special place in the life of the setting and develops its own character and life. It is used by practitioners to help children recognise, express and deal with their feelings more easily. They may come up and ask for a cuddle with the soft toy or doll for a variety of reasons and then recognise that they can comfort and calm themselves with some independence.

This also encourages recognition of feelings and empathy in the other children for example; requests are made for the soft toy or doll from children on behalf of another child 'to make him/ her feel better'. It is clearly important that the soft toy/doll is only used for this purpose and so retains their magic powers.

The soft toy or doll can be used as a 'magic' comforter when a child is upset.

Any soft toy or doll can be used, the children should be encourage to choose and name it.

Do something kind

When a child does something kind, a warm fuzzy pom pom is put in the jar. When the jar is full the whole room gets a treat!

Self-confidence and self-awareness

Understanding the different schemas displayed by toddlers when interacting with the world around them will enable practitioners to focus on individual interests and preferred ways of learning.


Schemas should be observed and used in planning in the context of the child's all round development and experience.

  • Children, who appear to be flitting from one activity to another, may in fact be exploring a particular idea or concept in some depth.
  • Behaviours, which at first appear anti-social, can be clues to children's schematic preoccupations. Understanding this allows the practitioner to plan for the child appropriately, it does not mean condoning anti-social behaviours.
  • Schemas develop in clusters, sometimes they are very obvious and sometimes they seem to disappear.
  • Children with special educational needs have schemas but they may need additional help in applying them to a wide range of situations.
  • Children use schemas at a sensory-motor level, through their senses, actions and movements and at a symbolic level when they make something stand for something else.
  • Children manifest their schemas dynamically through movements and actions such as dancing round, climbing up or crawling into, and configurative in their drawings, paintings and models. Children who have similar schemas will play together more harmoniously than children whose schemas are very different

Manning-Morton, J. & Thorp, M. (2001) Key Times – A Framework for Developing High Quality Provision for Children Under Three Years Old. Camden Under Threes Development Group & The University of North London


Description of possible behaviours

Types of activities or experiences


A child may carry all the bricks from one place to another in a bag, the sand from the tray to the home corner in a bucket, push a friend around in a toy pram

Shopping bags


A child may cover themselves in a flannel when washing, wrap dolls and toys up in blankets and fabric, cover their painting with one colour.

Things in boxes
Dressing up
Wrapping 'presents'


A child may put their thumb in and out of their mouth, fill up and empty containers of all kinds, climb into large cartons, sit in the tunnel, build 'cages' with blocks

Burying treasure and objects
Washing things
Filling up bottles
Pipes and funnels
Making boats
Blow bubbles

Trajectory; Diagonal/vertical/horizontal

A child may gaze at your face, drop things from their cot, make arcs in their spilt food with their hand, play with the running water in the bathroom, climb up and jump off furniture, line up the cars, bounce and kick balls, throw.

Throwing games
Playing with running water


A child may be fascinated by the spinning washing machine, love anything with wheels, roll down a hill, enjoy spinning round or being swung around.

Circle games
Spinning tops


A child may distribute and collect objects to and from a practitioner, spend time joining the train tracks together, stick the masking tape across from the table to the chair.

Train track


A child may put things on their head, prefer their custard next to their sponge not over it, lie on the floor or under the table

Place things in specific places.
Lie on the floor or under the table, walk around the edge of the sandpit.


A child may add juice to their mashed potato, sand to the water tray, enjoy adding colour to cornflour or making dough.

Opportunities to change things.

Treasure baskets - favourite things

Providing open-ended resources that can be used in a wide variety of ways will encourage toddlers to try out their ideas and build their sense of achievement.

Consider putting the following in a treasure basket:

  • Small cardboard box, mini board book
  • Teaspoon, wooden spoon
  • Pastry brush, shaving brush, mini bottle brush, nail brush
  • Wooden eggcup, napkin ring, pegs, juicer, coaster
  • Metal tin, thick length of chain, measuring spoons/bowl, coaster, whisk
  • Mini glass jam jar, mini-flower pot
  • Pine cone, stone, shell, dried whole orange, wicker ball, Loofah, large cork
  • Bean bag, knitted ball, crocheted mat

Promoting independence and self-esteem

Help boost children's independence and self-esteem by giving them time to manage complex tasks such as putting on a pair of socks or shoes, or fastening a coat. This may take a large amount of time and may not always be entirely successful. Remember it is the learning process that is important, not the end result.

Children can help their peers forming a trust in each other and understanding of that social world in which they share. Adults praise and facilitate a positive and nurturing experience for children, these interactions are priceless.

Opportunities to care for pets and plants will help children to:

  • Understand that all living things have similar needs
  • Show care and respect for living things.

Children develop knowledge, concepts and skills that build on their personal experiences, and equip them for a role in society through a learning environment.