By Freya Lucas
Have you ever wondered how educators encourage children to adopt lifelong healthy habits, or learn more about their wellbeing?
One of the cornerstones of the Early Years Learning Framework is following children’s interests, and supporting them to explore all of their wonderful questions, ideas, curiosities and connections with the wider world – not too many children are ‘interested’ in going to bed on time, or choosing a healthy snack over a bowl of lollies – so what DO our educators do to support children, and encourage them to make choices to keep themselves healthy, wonder-filled and wise?
Being a good role model
We all know from our own experiences that children are great mimics – children learn by watching us live, much more than by hearing what we say. Nowhere is this truer than when it comes to eating good, healthy food, and getting lots of physical activity into our days.
Peek into the outdoor spaces of any Early Learning Services centre, and you will see educators jumping, hopping, skipping and walking through the yard. You’ll see educators pushing swings, and being safe hands as children learn to climb and extend on their physical abilities.
Come inside at meal time, and you will hear educators talking to the children about what they’re eating – the beautiful colours and the wonderful smells, and all the different flavours in their food. Educators will sit with the children during meal times, and sample some of the tasty offerings of our on-site cooks. With a nutritional menu, prepared in line with best practice research and guidelines (and of course, feedback from the little tummies that enjoy the yummy food!) children attending childcare at our Early Learning Services centres have great exposure to a wide range of healthy choices.
Learning about wellbeing
Research into brain development in the early years tells us that those first 5 years can significantly impact on a person’s long term mental and physical health.
Developing a child’s sense of wellbeing not only gives children a strong foundation, it gives them a headstart on life’s long journey. If we can get wellbeing right in the early years, by providing responsive relationships, engaging experiences, and a safe and healthy environment for children to learn, grow and play in, educators are laying lifelong foundations for success.
Educators use many strategies to support children to develop a sense of wellbeing in our centres including:
- Building warm, trusting relationships with children and their families
- Making predictable, safe environments for children to explore
- Having respect for all aspects of children’s physical, emotional, social, cognitive, linguistic and creative development
- Looking at children holistically – seeing the child as a whole person, in the broader context of their family and community
- Working with families to support their child to improve, grow and develop
What can families do, to help their children be healthy, wonder-filled and wise?:
- Switch off! – Take 5 or 10 minutes and be truly in the moment with the child/children: no phones, no multitasking, just the simple joy of being together
- Lead from the front – make sure you are taking care of YOU. Are Mum and Dad getting enough sleep? Eating enough fruit and vegies? Getting out and about and moving around with the children?
- Talk about the why – when doing the shopping, what makes you choose the food you do? What’s your child’s favourite way to get their 2 and 5? What new foods have they tried at childcare which they might like to share?
- Be curious – your child is FULL of questions; what makes the sky blue? How DO the clouds get up there? What’s the difference between a zebra and a donkey? Maybe you don’t know, but I bet you’d have fun finding out together.
The educators and leaders at Early Learning Services are always interested in knowing about how they can support you and your family to be healthy, wonder-filled and wise. Please feel free to approach any of our team for support.