Nurturing Healthy Development

Physical Health & Well Being

Every child is developing a sense of self, health and well-being.

When healthy patterns of eating, physical activity and sleep are established early in childhood, it continues into later life. Inadequate nutrition, sleep and physical activity in the early years of childhood, can later lead to health problems in adult years.

Early Years Programs having positive influences by;

* Providing nutritious food and beverages, that include family and cultural preferences

* Creates positive eating environments

* Increases children's physical activity

* Supporting each child's varied physiological and biological rhythms and needs for active play, resting and quiet times.

The link between cognition, physical and emotional well-being.

Children grow in programs where they can engage in dynamic physical play in natural spaces. While these environments need to be safe, it is essential for them to provide them with interesting opportunities for a reasonable degree of risk taking.

Outdoor active play strengthens the functioning in cognitive areas such as, perception, attention, problem solving and complex thinking. Children also gain high levels of independence, they learn to persevere and practice self control. They also learn to develop a sense of physical, emotional, and intellectual mastery and competence.

Self care and self regulation.

High quality early childhood programs play an important role in supporting children's developing sense of self, autonomy and competence.

A safe environment that includes consistency and continuity, allows the children to;

* Tackle challenges

* Learn to persevere

* Explore ways to cope with manageable levels of positive stress

The ability to self regulate is an important element of a child's development. A number of studies have showed this is central to the children's long-term physical, psychological, behavioural and educational well being.

Self-regulation is about how the child is able to cope with the stress and the recovery process. When children have the ability to be calmly focused and alert this gives the children the opportunity to regulate their emotions, pay attention, ignore distractions, inhibit impulses, assess the consequences of their actions and understand what others are thinking and feeling.

Educators play an important part in self-regulation by reducing the child's stress, while supporting the children's ability to self-regulate. Educators can help children learn strategies for staying calm and focused, by helping them to recognize their emotions.

Mental Health and Wellness

15 to 21 percent of children and youth in Ontario have at least one mental health disorder, researched by Ontario's Policy Framework for child and youth mental health. The most serious of these illnesses can also continue into adulthood. That is affecting functioning and productivity and the healthy development of the next generation. If they go untreated, these can have serious impacts on the quality of children's experiences in early years settings. Including consequences later in life such as poor academic achievement, failure to complete high school, substance abuse, the inability to live by oneself, health problems and suicide.

Children are effected and at greater risk when the people that are caring for them experience persistent and severe adversities. Children that experience challenging family circumstances and live in environments where they have limited resources are also more vulnerable. When they spend more time in very poor child care environments without having supportive adult relationships their likelihood for experiencing severe physical and mental health problems in early years are increased and it can continue into adulthood. By establishing responsive, nurturing, and stable relationships with children and their families, high quality early childhood programs can help the children that experience temporary or long term, persistent stress.

Recent studies have shown that prevention and intervention is most effective to build skills in children and to strengthen the capacity of all who have relationships with children. By doing so you are building children's skills such as, coping with stressors, focus attention, and making decisions.

Early years programs also support families by taking a strength based approach. Educators can establish positive, authentic and caring relationships and provide a safe, non-judgemental for shared learning. They also play an important role in supporting optimal mental heath and well-being for not only the children but the families as well.

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