Early Years Professional

Jessica Breakell

My Journey...

I joined Our Monkey Club in 2012 after completing my BSc (Hons) in Psychology and Education Studies. My Early Years journey started after finishing school when I completed my Level 3 in Early Years in 2008. My passion has always been developmental psychology and supporting young children with their developmental and learning journeys. I have also always had an interest in supporting children and their families who face challenges in their development.

As part of my role upon starting at Our Monkey Club I led the Out of School provision in the setting providing opportunities and games for the children to play. I took a particular interest in making sure that all the children had opportunities to join in with and helping to build their confidence in social situations with peers. I focused on opportunities that meant children and practitioners could join in, enabling children to build strong trusting relationships with the practitioners who were working with them. During my first year at Our Monkey Club I also completed my Early Years Professional Status and my Level 3 in Play work as well as assisting the Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator.

As well as continuing my academic training when I started Our Monkey Club, I also gained a lot of practical training. The OMC ethos of children learning through play and leading their own learning fit in very well with how I always imagined children should learn and having had only small amounts of experience in other settings, this approach was easy for me to get involved with. As a Key Person I was very passionate about my children’s wellbeing and this has never stopped being something that I think is vitally important to children’s growth and development. I quickly responded to Our Monkey Club’s approach to attachment and I hold on to this theory and how we as a company support children’s attachment in different settings. This is still so important to me and I believe it underpins children’s long term achievements and successes. As part of my own approach, I always try to understand things from the child’s point of view and think about how they are feeling to give an appropriate response to support them the best I can. This has helped me immensely when I have worked alongside children with additional needs.
In 2015 I became SENCO for Our Monkey Club using everything I had learned over the last 3 years to support the children in our care with additional needs, their families and the practitioners working with them. Within this role I have gained valuable skills working and liaising with families and other professionals. I have also gained a great deal of knowledge about the different challenges that children may face in their young lives including Cerebral Palsy, Downs Syndrome, Autism, ADHD and Cystic Fibrosis to name a few. Each child needs individual support for care, learning and development regardless of their abilities and I have always loved being an advocate for children’s needs.

In 2017 I became Manager at our Donisthorpe setting during its reopening to support the centre becoming established within the community once again. I was then Assistant Manager at our larger setting in Church Gresley while I was completing my Masters degree in Applied Developmental Psychology.  I researched how practitioners understood the implications of supporting children with SEN and the impact on their wellbeing and how that related to the practice in early years settings.  I also researched how effective this was and how we could improve both understanding and skills within our workforce.

I have recently returned to working with children on a daily basis and a move towards more leading practice than managing. Returning to being a Key Person has been extremely rewarding and something I have realised I was missing through my managerial role. A particular part of my job that I love is being able to build relationships with individual children and their families, supporting children’s development and watching them succeed with the support, guidance and encouragement we give them. Alongside this I am also developing ways in which myself and the company can support the children and families that we know are struggling to receive the appropriate support for their needs. This may be due to gaps within service provision and specialist services due to historic cuts.  I am looking forward to meeting new families and children that we can offer our support to.