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A step-by-step approach for creating attachment-informed early years settings and classrooms

Circle of Security Classroom (COSC)

Circle of Security Classroom Approach is a programme based on decades of attachment research. It helps early years practitioners and teachers better understand the needs of each child and build secure relationships in their settings and classrooms. Trusting relationships help children become more confident in their ability to handle life's challenges and thrive in school and in life.

Visit the Circle of Security International website to learn more about this approach and watch the videos of teachers and early years practitioners who are using it in their settings. 

After 25 years of research, we know that children who feel connected with their first teachers are more likely to:


• Feel connected to and enjoy belonging to their school

• Hold positive attitudes about school

• Look forward to going to school each day

• Show kindness and sensitivity to those around them

• Persist with school work in the face of difficulty

• Remain engaged with their schoolwork

• Have positive interactions with peers

• See themselves in a positive light even when under stress

• Seek out challenges in their school work, knowing they can turn to their teacher for help

• Work independently in the classroom because of confidence in the relationship with their teacher

• Bring a trusting attitude toward future teacher relationships

• Stay in school rather than find ways to go home early

• Have fewer incidents of school suspension or behavioural infractions

• Experience increased affection toward their teachers

• Demonstrate lower levels of aggression, less fighting/arguments with teachers and peers, and less disruptive behaviours in the classroom

• Experience some protection against the impact of growing up in stressful environments


(Cooper, Hoffman and Powell; Circle of Security International, 2018)


We can group the modules into three overlapping categories: understanding the children, yourself and your relationship. We also cover nurturing attachment in early years settings and classrooms.

Understanding the children
  • Circle of Security helps you understand what each child might need at each moment. It removes the guesswork and makes showing up as their secure base easier. 

  • Practising observation skills. We often look to consult experts when we are looking for the best way to support the children. Circle of Security is different because it encourages us to turn to the children for those answers. Practising some simple observation skills will help you do that. 

Understanding yourself
  • Being a secure base and safe haven for each child - we all do it in our way, the course will give you space to explore what kind of secure base you want to be for the children in your setting. 

  • Supporting children’s exploration and welcoming children in for comfort and reassurance - are two complementary skills that will help children to both feel confident in their autonomy as well as comfortable with closeness. 

  • Finding the balance between following your child’s needs and taking charge, in other words - how to make space for each child's personality without it taking over the group. 

  • Who are the hands holding you? We’ll look at what support you already have and what support you might want or need to help you be the hands for the children. 

  • Understanding which needs on the circle can trigger your vulnerability and how you can look after yourself in those moments so that you can continue to be the hands on the circle.   

Understanding your relationship
  • Being-with: using your relationship and presence to help children regulate their emotions. 

  •  Cues and miscues - sometimes children express their needs directly, and sometimes we need to do a little detective work. Understanding cues and miscues can help us see which need a child might be experiencing when it is not immediately apparent. 

  • Taking charge in a kind way.

  • Choosing to be the hands when you really, really don’t feel like it. 

  • Recognising ruptures in your relationship and three steps to repair them. Relationship repair is a crucial skill in nurturing a long-term relationship or friendship, and you can teach it to your child by modelling it. 

  • Putting it all together and making it your own. 

Nurturing attachment in early years settings and classrooms
  • Classroom circle: a graphic representation of attachment relationships in the classroom.

  • Comings and goings in childcare: an attachment-informed way of managing transitions at the beginning and the end of the day.

  • The invisible children: building a secure relationship with the children that might be on the periphery of the classroom.

  • Curriculum of feelings: helping children express what they are thinking and feeling.

  • The teacher's path to secure hands: a three-step process for showing up as secure hands.

  • Sort by ease of connection: reflecting on relationships with children that might feel difficult to connect with.

  • Repair in the classroom: making relationship repairs with children and supporting children to make repairs with each other

Course details

Course length: 12 ninety-minute sessions.

Time: 7.30-9 pm on Wednesdays

Start: September 13, 2023. 

Dates: We'll meet weekly, with a break for half-term and Christmas:

  • September 13, 20, 27, October 4, 11 and 18

  • Half-term break

  • November 8, 15, 22, 29, December 6 and 13

Group size: up to 6 participants 

Support in between the sessions: course workbook.  

Location: online


Booking: when you are ready to book, click on your chosen payment option below to set up the payment. As soon as you have done that, you will be redirected to the thank you page with further course details. 

Frequently asked questions

What happens during the sessions?

There are three parts to each session:

  • Checking in about your week, your observations, reflections, wins and challenges.

  • Studying the course material: each session covers an essential piece of information about developing secure relationships. The content is delivered in a highly interactive and relatable way through videos, graphics and plenty of time for reflection and discussions that will help you to weave your insights into your day-to-day practice.

  • Reflecting on the session offers the opportunity to decide what you would like to take away from the session and explore further during the coming week.

Do I need to do anything between sessions?

The most important thing is to keep your insights from the previous session in your awareness as you go about your day-to-day looking after children or teaching. It’s not about doing more; it’s about doing differently. 

If you are not ready to commit to the course and would like to explore how Circle of Security Classroom can help you first, book a free 15-minute call here.

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