Last Updated 26 Jan 2021

Quality Indicators Relevant to Early Childhood Education

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There are various significant practices which promote health and safety in early childhood centres to take in to account. This essay focuses on nutrition across the early years, providing a safe environment and identifying and responding to childhood illness and how teachers can encourage and promote these practices to the children. Auckland Regional Public Health Service (2008) states that during early childhood, children form lifelong eating habits, therefore it is important to have a focus on nutrition across the early years in order to foster a healthy eating culture and enable children to develop healthy behaviours in relation to food.

A teacher has an important role in helping children develop these behaviours and can promote healthy eating and healthy food choices in a number of ways. Teachers can promote good nutrition by including children in the cooking process or growing fruits and vegetables within the centre environment. These experiences provide ample opportunities for the discussion of nutrition and what is healthy and unhealthy. The Licensing Criteria for Early Childhood Education and Care Centres (Ministry of Education [MoE], 2008) asserts that children must be served food at appropriate times and that it is to meet the nutritional needs of each child.

It explains that all food provided during the hours a service is open must be recorded. These records must show the type of food provided and be kept for three months after the serving date. Promoting food safety to the children is also an important aspect of nutrition, this includes role modelling the careful storage of food, hygienic preparation and use of tongs when serving food. Providing a safe environment gives children a better place to play and allows them the freedom to explore their environment without the risk of injury.

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MoE (2008) declares that ample and changeable indoor and outdoor equipment, resources and furniture must be provided for the children and that it also needs to be appropriate for the varying abilities of the children using it. Teachers are able to promote a safe environment by encouraging children to play safely. This includes sharing, gentle hands, walking feet, sun safety and water safety. The MoE (2008) is aware an area cannot be completely hazard free so requires a “hazard identification and management system” and uggests that all realistic steps are taken to minimise risks, be this by redirecting the children or limiting their access to areas where hazards may be. Another important way teachers can promote a safe environment is through active supervision and setting up engaging and appropriate activities for the children to be involved with. One of the most significant practices in promoting health, wellbeing and a safe environment is being able to identify and respond to childhood illness. Teachers need to be able to recognise the signs and symptoms of illness and be able to administer the appropriate first aid.

The MoE (2008) declares that children who become poorly while at a service must be kept at a safe distance away from the other children in order to reduce the risk of contamination and the spread of illness. It is the teachers’ responsibility that this happens to protect not only the children but the teachers and whanau too. Healthy Messages (Ministry of Education, 1997) suggests that early childhood centres develop and change policies so that they promote a safe and healthy environment and that these policies are a good way to introduce children to healthy messages.

For example, how to avoid the spread of infectious illness through personal hygiene procedures, washing of soiled children procedures and hygienic laundering and cleaning procedures. As discussed above, encouraging healthy eating and good nutrition, providing a safe environment and recognising and responding to childhood illnesses are all important practices to foster. Teachers have an important role in promoting these practices and by effectively performing them, they will be promoting good health and safety in an early childhood setting.

Reference List: Auckland Regional Public Health Service. (2008). Food For Under 5's: A practical guide to food and nutrition for early childhood education services. Retrieved 17th August 2012, from http://www. arphs. govt. nz/Portals/0/Health%20Information/HealthyEnvironments/Early%20childhood%20education%20centres/ECEC%20Food%20for%20under%205s/Food%20for%20under%205s%202008/Food%20For%20Under%205's%20ECE%20resource%20Final%20Jun e%202008-1. pdf Ministry of Education. (2008).

Licensing Criteria for Early Childhood Education and Care Centres 2008 And Early Childhood Education Curriculum Framework. Wellington: New Zealand Government. Retrieved 17th August 2012, from http://www. lead. ece. govt. nz/ServiceTypes/CentreBasedECEServices. aspx Ministry of Health. (1997). Nga kupu oranga: Healthy messages. Wellington: Ministry of Health. Republished on the web:   November 2003. Retrieved 25th August 2012, from http://www. arphs. govt. nz/Portals/0/Health%20Information/HealthyEnvironments/Early%20childhood%20education%20centres/Nga%20Kupu%20Oranga%20HealthyMessages. pdf

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