Helping to develop staff in baby rooms with song
26 June 2015
A new project is looking at how baby room staff can use singing to enable babies and practitioners develop a closer interaction in a busy nursery environment; as well support staff to develop their skills.
Babysong is a year-long project based within nurseries in Thanet. It has been funded by Ragdoll Productions, an award winning television production company that has made successful and popular children’s programmes such as Teletubbies and In the Night Garden.
The initial findings will be presented at the sixth annual Baby Room Conference, hosted by the Turner Contemporary, in Margate next month.
This new project is the result of a successful five year study of baby rooms, by Professor Sacha Powell and Dr Kathy Goouch, from the Research Centre for Children, Families and Communities at Canterbury Christ Church University.
The Baby Room project highlighted the need for specialised continuous professional development to support staff working with the youngest children in nurseries, many of whom felt undervalued and invisible when it came to opportunities for career progression.
Professor Powell explained: “The most important legacy to come from our Baby Room project is that this area of child care is being talked about more and the staff who work with babies feel they are being acknowledged in this highly responsible work.
“Opportunities for professional development, for career progression, for specialist training all seemed to be missing for this group of practitioners. However, expectations of them are high to perform tasks such as feeding, cleaning and resting babies; to cherish the most precious thing in the lives of the parents and intervene in babies’ educational needs. However, many felt that this task focused environment was not favourable in developing close interactions with babies, or allowing for opportunities to just sit, sing and connect with the babies.
“It is this time, of gentle soothing singing, that offers stillness and calm within a busy, stimulating nursery environment, and it is this one-to-one interaction which is how babies’ best learn and develop.”
Dr Goouch continued: “Through all of our project work with practitioners working in baby rooms we have been struck by the isolation that many staff say that they feel and we have been extremely concerned at their low professional self-esteem.
“We hope that our new Babysong project will offer support to these practitioners and help them to continue their professional development by finding ways of combining tasks with talk and song, so that routine elements of their day can become conversational, responsive opportunities with babies.
“Including soothing songs or lullabies into their routines within the nursery is important as it will help babies to develop a closer connection which will aid their development, as well as improve the practitioner’s ability to communicate with the baby. Initial findings show that the participants have valued the opportunity the project has offered them to learn new techniques to improve their skills.”
Babysong – The Sixth Annual Baby Room Conference will be held at Turner Contemporary, Margate, Friday, 17 July, 2015 (10.30 – 4.30pm, £75).
The conference, with a focus on singing with babies, is for anyone who works with babies and young children, from birth to two years old.
Delegates will hear from keynote speakers, Dr Carmel Brennan and Dr Susan Young, experts within the field of early childhood studies and music and play in education curriculum, as well as have the opportunity to take part in workshops on these key themes and discuss principles, policies and practice of babies’ care, development and wellbeing.
Notes to Editor
Canterbury Christ Church University is a modern university with a particular strength in higher education for the public services.
With almost 18,000 students across Kent and Medway, its courses span a wide range of academic and professional subject areas.
- 97% of our UK graduates were in employment or further studies six months after completing their studies*.
- We are the number one choice for local people looking to study at university in Kent (2013 UCAS).
- We are one of the South East’s largest providers of education, training and skills leading to public service careers.
*2012/13 Destination of Leavers from Higher Education survey