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Working with Children

These guidelines sit alongside our policies to offer clear guidance around our approach, ethos and practice when working with children.

Health and happiness

In order for children and young people to feel comfortable, learn and thrive in our setting, staff need to feel comfortable, learn and thrive themselves. Staff should conduct themselves in the same way that we would like to see in children:

  • Sleep and eat well, take care of yourself

  • Communicate honestly, clearly and respectfully with colleagues

  • Support and listen to another, and help with tasks 

  • Take breaks

  • Shun perfectionism

  • Wear mistakes lightly

  • Don’t push yourself to your limits

  • Do the work that you love

Child centred learning

Adults can lead and design activities, whilst understanding that each child is at the heart of their learning experiences, and how and what they learn from an activity is unpredictable. A child is learning when they are in a state of flow or enjoyment, and it is often not fruitful for them to persist with something they are not engaged with. There should always be a choice of more than one activity, with some more structured and adult led, such as a group game, and some based on free play, such as a craft area with a choice of materials. 

Where realistic, children’s ideas can be followed up and facilitated. Expectations can also be managed, for example by saying “what an interesting idea, it would be good to try that some time, but we don’t have those materials here”

We value in depth, rambling conversations, and exploring materials with no particular outcome.

Be clear with children what is compulsory, eg being kind, washing hands, and what isn’t eg all doing the same activity.

Remember that holiday clubs are running in their holiday time - this is their leisure time, to play and relax.

Child development

Children develop at different rates, with influences such as home life, access to opportunities, educational background, special needs and personality.

A child who is advanced in one area might not be so in another, and it is important not to make assumptions based on age, height, ability or other factors.


Health and Safety

Refer to the risk assessment for your session, and to Soundart Radio’s health and safety policy. Some general points:

  • Walking: brief the children about expectations - no walking on the road, clear directions. Have a team, with one adult at the font and one at the back, and keep the group together

  • Sharp tools, such as scissors and knives must be counted in and out and stored securely.

  • Infection control – use well ventilated spaces, and encourage frequent handwashing

  • Allergies - food allergies can be very dangerous. Always check the parent permission forms for each child

  • First Aid - there must be a trained first aider present at each session, and adequate equipment.


Behaviour management

Occasionally a child may exhibit challenging behaviour during a session, and need support to deal with this. There will always be a reason, so it is important not to blame the child, or to pigeonhole them after the event. Problems can arise at the beginning of sessions, where children may be anxious about joining the group, being left, or may be testing the boundaries to see what our response is. This can be supported by clearly explaining what is going on. They can also arise if children become tired, thirsty or hungry, so a break, drink or snack may be needed. Children may display difficult behaviour when they are going through a challenging time. By dealing calmly with problems and not blaming them, we show ourselves to be trustworthy, and children will be more likely to disclose their issues, which is essential for good safeguarding.

When children are exhibiting problematic behaviour, it's important that staff are united, back each other up, and support each other. Children need to see us working as a team and that we are not vulnerable or upset by them.

Some general points:

  • Keep your voice calm, low and avoid shouting

  • Avoid accusatory language - focus on the action not the person

  • Never ridicule or typecast the children

  • Aim to distract from unwanted behaviour, and move them to another activity

  • Move to a quiet space if needed

  • Ask colleagues for support and back up to deal with behavioural problems


Some possible behavioural issues and responses

Throwing hard objects - explain that we don’t do this and why. Recommend safe objects to throw instead and show where this is allowed, or distract with something engaging to do that the child feels confident in. 

Swearing, shouting, or excessive silliness – this can indicate low self-esteem, for example if the group is drawing and the child believes they are bad at drawing. Distract with a responsible activity, such as helping with lunch or going with an adult to meet and welcome a radio guest, or by finding out what they are confident in, or building their confidence in the activity.

Being unkind to other children – this can be a habit formed elsewhere, for example, they may be repeating something someone said to them. Take them on one side and explain this is hurtful and unacceptable here. Check in on the other child.

Using offensive language, such as homophobia, racism etc – this may have been learned elsewhere, eg at home or online, and they may be testing the environment. Explain why we don’t use this language, as we are a welcoming space for everyone. 

Arguing or fighting – this can occur when children are stressed, hungry, thirsty or tired. Separate the children (at least two staff are needed) and encourage each to drink a glass of water. Listen non-judgmentally if they need to talk, and give them time to recover and reflect.

Being rude to staff – demonstrate that staff support each other and don’t tolerate abuse and disrespect. Remind children that we speak to them respectfully and expect the same in return.

Floods of tears or other emotional outbursts- encourage them to drink a glass of water. Sit quietly with them and listen, without asking lots of questions or offering lots of answers.

If an issue cannot be resolved

If a child's behaviour is putting others at risk of harm, and cannot be resolved, ensure that more than one staff member is supporting them. Consider moving the group away from the disruption, as an angry or distressed child may not be able to negotiate moving away from the group.

It is acceptable to ask parents or other contacts to pick children up early if it is not possible to move on from a behavioural issue. We also call parents when a child cannot settle and asks to go home. 

Be clear that this is not an exclusion, and they are welcome to come and try again another day. Staff may want to consider recruiting an extra support worker if a child who has caused disruptions is coming back to the group. 

Safeguarding related conduct

Our Safeguarding and Child Protection Policy details how to handle concerns and disclosures. In order to keep children, staff and volunteers safe, please also observe the following at all times:

  • Do not initiate touch with a child, such as hugs, rough play etc, unless to prevent immediate danger, for example, preventing a child from running into the road.

  • You can respond to their touch, for example side-by-side, if the child initiates this 

  • Don’t be alone with a child or out of sight of others. Similarly, children should not disappear off in pairs or small groups out of sight.

  • Phones and cameras: staff should keep their own phones switched off and put away. A camera is available to document workshops – please see our media permissions policy for more details.

  • Staff must not drink alcohol or smoke in front of children. Prescription medication must be kept securely out of their way.

  • Staff should avoid swearing or using offensive language in front of children.

  • Don't offer lifts - be clear which role you are in, eg if you are driving a friend's child as well as your own.

  • Don't contact children outside of the group - if you already know them otherwise, e.g. as a family friend, share this with colleagues to avoid confusion.

  • Always work in an open environment, no enclosed spaces, no secrets, and always with a co-worker.

  • Make sure colleagues know where you are