What is Five to Thrive?

Key Messages from neuroscience for early intervention and life long learning

The Five to Thrive model is a way of understanding how connected relationships are fundamental to human wellbeing and help us build resilient communities.
The Five to Thrive building blocks describe a sequence of relational activities that build healthy brains in young children and maintain healthy brain function throughout life.


The Five to Thrive Building Blocks
Building Block What’s happening Importance for the brain
TALK Creating a narrative and stimulating the left brain Develops patterns in the brain for making sense of experience through the use of words
PLAY Processing the activity using positive non-verbal communication
and stimulating the right brain
Develops patterns in the brain for understanding and managing feelings
RELAX Supporting someone with attachment needs to relax Develops patterns in the brain for self regulation
CUDDLE Close proximity between two people so nervous systems can match Develops patterns in the brain for connecting with and trusting others
RESPOND Being emotionally available for someone Develops patterns in the brain for feeling safe and belonging
The Five to Thrive Approach

The five to thrive approach is a set of 5 key activities; the ‘building blocks’ for a healthy brain. They are drawn from research into the key processes of attachment and attunement that forge bonds between young children and their carers.
Crucially, they are designed to support positive feedback processes, enabling practitioners to observe and reinforce positive interaction between parents and their children.

The Five to Thrive Journey so far in Bristol

In 2014 the Early Years Service made a commitment to support the further implementation of Five to Thrive across the city. This was agreed following on from the success at the Early Years Conference and the introduction of Five to Thrive at a number of Children’s Centres, being used in a range of family support groups both universal and targeted.
This journey started in October 2014 where three practitioners from each Children’s Centre and the Childminders on the Enhanced Provision Network (of which 55 attended) were invited to a launch event and follow up workshops. As this implementation was through the Children’s Centre delivery there was a focus on family support services, however the Childminders focus was on early education and childcare with the children in their care. Resources were purchased and each Children’s Centre had the following booklets:

➢ A Guide for Parent and Carers
➢ An Annotated Guide
➢ Children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities
➢ A supplement for Parents of Toddlers
➢ An Introduction for Parents-to-be

In February 2015 a specific event was organised for Childminders on the Enhanced Provision Network. The aim of the event was to ensure the Childminders understood the science behind the messages and were confident in using the five to thrive approach in their work.
Follow on Workshops were held in March and June which focused on the best use of the Five to Thrive resources and how Five to Thrive would look in their settings.
In April 2015 the role of an Enhanced Provision Childminder Five to Thrive Champion was developed. These roles provided a mentoring role to new Childminders onto the scheme, they visited six times and had a note of visit which focused on each of the Five to Thrive building blocks. In September 2015 further training was arranged with this group with a focus on Emotional Coaching. This was introduced as it was agreed that all Enhanced Provision Childminders must attend Five to Thrive training and use it within their practice.
In January 2020 a group of professionals working in early years attended an initial Five to Thrive training session. The aim of this session was to provide the participants on how Five to Thrive can be used as a model for promoting secure attachment: brain development and positive parenting.
Following this, 22 of these early years professionals were identified to become Five to Thrive Lead Practitioners. Their aim being by working collaboratively with early years practitioners and parents to share, inspire, support and promote the ongoing and sustainable development of Five to Thrive in Bristol

Bristol Early Years Five to Thrive Vision

Our vision is:

‘Through working collaboratively with a range of early years and family support professionals the Five to Thrive principles will be embedded in the work of integrated early years and family support practices across Bristol.’

What are we aiming to achieve?

• to promote secure attachments and attunement
• to promote self regulation and resilience
• to be trauma informed
• to share, inspire a shared understanding of the Five to Thrive principles
• to empower both practitioners and parents/carers to develop this style of interaction
•  to that practitioners feel their wellbeing is being supported

We will do this by:
➢ Creating a Network of Five to Thrive Lead Practitioners to support the further development of Five to Thrive in Bristol with:
▪ Early Years Practitioners in Settings
▪ Childminders
▪ Family Support Workers
➢ Having Five to Thrive Lead practitioner network meetings to ensure a sustainable, co-ordinated and equitable approach across the city
➢ Developing a trauma informed ethos/culture of which Five to Thrive is in the foundation of everything we do
➢ Sharing knowledge about what young children need to develop healthy brains
➢ Creating a CPD programme for practitioners and workers to ensure:
• all practitioners working with children and families have an introduction to Five to Thrive
• ensuring there are further opportunities for new learning to deepen understanding and knowledge of The Five to Thrive principles.
➢ Ensuring Five to Thrive is a ‘golden thread’ that is woven through the work we do
➢ An aspiration for Five to Thrive to be embedded in all CPD delivered by internal teams and our partners
➢ Using Five to Thrive as a tool to support the emotional well-being of both children and practitioners and workers
➢ Having easily accessible resources
➢ Embedding Five to Thrive in practice in both the universal and targeted work we do with children and families
➢ Working in partnership with colleagues from other agencies including Health and Families in Focus to offer an awareness and promote a multi-agency approach to support effective integrated services
➢ Developing a media campaign and an online presence; Early Years website, Facebook, Instagram Twitter

Early Learning Contacts

Beth Osborne Foundation Years Consultant Birth to Three

Dawn Butler, Early Years Manager: Inclusion