Nurturing Healthy Development & Well-Being

Physical Well-Being of Children

Children that have been taught to learn patterns in their early years; such as eating, a sleeping routine, and physical activity are helping their future selves. If a child at a young age has a inadequate amount of sleep, nutrition, a low level or no level of physical activity, and has consistent stress these problems could later lead to health problems in the child. These health problems are including "obesity, diabetes, heart disease, depression and anxiety"(Pg#29) In our field there are a variety of ways that we can help the children, such as

  1. " providing nutritious food & beverages that incorporate family and cultural preferences;
  2. creating positive eating environments with foods & portion sizes that are responsive to a child's cues of hunger & fullness;
  3. increasing children's physical activity & decreasing the amount of time spent in sedentary activities;
  4. respecting & finding ways to support each child's varied physiological & biological rhythms & needs for active play, rest, &quiet time." (Pg#29)

"There Is Clear evidence that early expierences have a significant impact on the biology of the body & brain development, with implications for lifelong physical & mental health & well-being" (Pg#29)

Self Care & Self Regulation

In a high quality childcare center the programs play an important role by supporting the children's "developing sense of self, autonomy, & competence" (Pg#30) If the childcare center is a safe environment & can offer support "for children's growing independence & capacity for self-care enables children to teach challenges, learn to persevere, & explore ways to cope with manageable levels of positive stress." (Pg#30) A child's ability to self regulate themselves is an important component of their development. Self regulation is different from self-control and compliance. "Self-regulation is about how a child is able to deal effectively with stressors and than able to recover" (Pg#30) If children are calmly focused & alert they are able to do things better than if they were angry or distracted. They are able to control their emotions better, ignore distractions from other children & the classroom, better at paying attention, assess the consequences of actions (think before they act), & understand what other children & adults are thinking or feeling.

"Ontarios Policy Framework for Child & Youth Mental Health Reports that 15-21% of children & youth in ontario have at least one mental disorder" (Pg#30)

Mental Health & Wellness

So many children are dealing with 1+ mental disorders & so many end up going untreated. When these disorders are left untreated it affects their early year experiences & consequences later in life such as "poor academic achievements, failure to complete high school, substance abuse, inability to live independently, health problems, & suicide". (Pg#30) A child's mental health & well-being should always be considered in any circumstances. The children who are living & experiencing a more challenging family life & also happen to live in communities where the resources are limited, they become vulnerable to the impact of quality in childcare programs. If a child in these circumstances happens to be in a high quality it would be able to serve as a buffer for the children that are experiencing temporary or long-term stress. As our role as the educator we able to try and help and the child and their family by doing some of the following

  1. "becoming aware of and connecting with community organizations that provide information and support;
  2. integrating practices that support resilience;
  3. ensuring that children & families with mental disorders are included & accepted;
  4. taking a strength-based approach, recognizing & valuing the capacities that families have, while supporting them in accessing supports they need." (Pg#31)
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Additional Considerations for Educators

Most programs that are around now are starting to view the outdoor playgrounds as "places for discovery & learning with bodies, minds, and senses rather than just places to blow off steam" (Pg#32) Some of the programs are starting to remove the big large fancy jungle gyms that are placed and replacing them with a normal, natural outdoor playground. "These may include a variety of natural surfaces such as grass, sand, and pebbles; pathways to follow and hills to climb; garden areas; low platforms; and an assortment of large open ended materials to encourage building & creative problem-solving & foster the imagination"(Pg#32) Simple daily routine tasks such as mealtime, naptime, getting ready to go outside is the perfect opportunity to practice the ability of growing self-care or promoting self-regulation, just to name a few. A early childhood educator knows when to let a child test their abilities, than is able to help them recognize and end up valuing their own efforts and progress.
How Does Learning Happen- Ontario's Pedagogy for the Early Years, Ontario Government, Print Document;2014