Standard 2.1 Health – Case study 1
Each child’s health and physical activity is supported and promoted.
Educators registered with a family day care service in a large local government area are supported to actively promote and support children’s health through the coordination unit. The unit conducts regular assessments of educators’ homes to ensure the health and safety of all children is protected and ensures educators follow current recommended practice and guidelines from recognised authorities. The coordination unit also supports educators by providing overarching policies and procedures specific to children’s health and safety and organises regular training for all educators. This includes first aid, anaphylaxis management, emergency asthma management and child protection. In addition to the required training, the service supports educators to undertake additional training in specific areas of interest and expertise, such as healthy eating, supporting active play and children’s wellbeing.
Informed by principles of the approved learning frameworks, and consistent with the service philosophy, the coordination unit prioritises strong relationships and collaborative partnerships with families as a critical consideration underpinning practice to support children’s health and wellbeing. The service believes that first impressions matter. This is reflected in their procedures for responding to an initial inquiry from a family, whether an email or phone call. It’s also important to the coordination unit, and to educators, that they capture key information from families about child rearing practices, cultural beliefs and health priorities, as part of their enrolment process. This typically commences with an enrolment interview, conducted by the coordination unit team where information about the service’s approach to supporting children’s health and wellbeing is shared with families.
Given the service is situated in a community where a number of languages other than English are spoken, an interpreter is accessible at the initial enrolment meeting should this be required. This is often achieved by drawing on coordinators at the coordination unit who speak a community language. Some of the staff from the local Council who speak community languages also volunteer their time to assist when needed. This allows critical information about children’s health and wellbeing to be captured and shared with families to support a smooth transition and positive start with the service for children and families.
Educators registered with the service have been implementing a number of different approaches to promote healthy eating and physical activity for the children in their care. These are shared on the service’s closed Facebook page and at regular play sessions. They have also informed ongoing reflective discussions amongst educators and coordinators in networking meetings. These discussions have supported educators to review and strengthen the promotion of health outcomes for children through the design and delivery of their programs. Projects that educators have been involved in have been featured in the coordination unit’s e-newsletter.
One educator, for example, cared for children from cultural backgrounds different to their own, as well as caring for their own child. This educator was interested in how they could better meet the sleep, rest and relaxation needs of all children in the service. They were familiar with the coordination unit’s rest and safe sleep policies and procedures. They were also knowledgeable about current guidance on this issue, for example, recommendations from Red Nose about wrapping or swaddling babies. However, they recognised that families’ child rearing practices, including sleep and settling routines and techniques, were different across cultures. They felt the information gathered during the enrolment process didn’t always provide them with enough information about individual families’ sleep and settling techniques to enable them to adhere to safe sleep practices while also responding to families’ individual preferences.
This educator engaged in discussions with a coordinator from the unit about what additional information would support their practice. This included reflecting on past practice about what worked well as well as opportunities for improvement. It also included information gained from talking with families and other educators. Following these conversations, additional questions were added to the enrolment interview. This change in practice was reflected in the service’s related policies and procedures. It was also shared with other educators as part of an information and networking session organised by the coordination unit. This session provided educators with the underlying rationale for the changes, how they aligned with the service’s philosophy, and how they build on the principles of the approved learning frameworks.
As another example, educators were working through some of the questions specific to Exceeding Standard 2.1 from the Guide to the National Quality Framework, with the input and guidance of coordinators. These reflective conversations were found to be useful for all Standards and are now an ongoing strategy to ensure all educators understand the levels of quality practice expected for each Standard. To extend the discussion, coordinators shared some of the resources on the ACECQA website with educators. In particular, the educators have been focusing on healthy lifestyles and the extent to which they actively incorporate discussions and activities about healthy eating and physical activity into the children’s everyday experiences as well as their conversations with families. Some educators were also interested to explore how they can better connect with local community resources specific to promoting a healthy lifestyle.
As one outcome of this conversation, a group of educators arranged for a local supplier to deliver seasonal produce, which forms the basis of the menu provided for children. The children look forward to the delivery of the produce each fortnight. They have engaged in lively conversations about where the produce is sourced from, what “seasonal” means, and why fruit and vegetables not in season can often be found in the supermarket.
Some educators have reported that the children have also shown increased interest in helping prepare healthy snacks for morning and afternoon tea following these conversations. Educators have used these experiences to reinforce important messages about hand washing, food handling and food safety, and healthy eating. Throughout, educators have continued to engage with families about their child’s dietary and nutrition requirements, including their likes and dislikes, noting these may change over time.
Many families have commented on their child’s interest in the seasonal produce being delivered to the educator’s homes. Some have also remarked that their child is now asking to help prepare meals and snacks at home. Children have also started sharing some of their favourite recipes with educators. One educator offered to collate these as a resource to share with families and other educators, which can be added to over time.
Another educator made contact with a personal trainer and nutritionist from a nearby fitness centre to get ideas about physical activities and healthy eating programs for young children. This educator also makes regular trips to the local oval to give children opportunities to be active and move in large, open spaces, drawing on some of the ideas they have learnt.
This educator has spoken to coordination unit staff about how they might share some of these ideas in the set-up of the outdoor play space at play sessions, making use of the coordination unit’s outdoor play and climbing equipment. The recent obstacle course designed for younger children was very popular. The children’s sense of mastery and enjoyment was evident as they completed the course over and over again, cheered on by the older children. Videos of the experience were shared with families and generated some engaging conversations with and amongst families over the following few weeks. The service invited families to the next play session, so they could also engage in the experience.
Recently, the school aged children in this educator’s service mentioned that while they enjoyed going to the oval, the games they played there were ‘boring’ and ‘for babies’. The educator worked with the children to write to the personal trainer about activities that might be more engaging and challenging for them. The children also did their own research, searching on-line and talking with their friends and PE teacher. The children then developed a list of their favourite games, which they shared with the educator. These were incorporated into the program on the days they used the oval.
The educator involved the children in evaluating the program to ensure their feedback was reflected in ongoing planning. To assist in this process, the educator spoke to the children about what criteria they could use to evaluate the physical activities on offer. Together they brainstormed a number of considerations. This included the extent the activity was fun and exciting, was something they could do with other children, and was sufficiently challenging, that is, not too easy and not too hard. The children commented that it was fun to do things they were really good at. They also agreed it was sometimes good to try something they hadn’t done before. The educator and the children decided together what activities worked or didn’t work, based on this criteria. In planning future activities they discussed whether or not particular activities needed to be changed or extended in any way. The educator shared the list with other educators at play sessions, who in turn shared it with the school aged children in their care.
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