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Celebrating World Health Day: Our Role as Early Years Educators in Promoting Good Health

World Health Day is an annual occasion celebrated on April 7th, reminding us of the significance of good health and wellbeing. This year’s theme, “Building a Fairer, Healthier World,” is particularly relevant given the global challenges we’ve faced during the COVID-19 pandemic. Practitioners working within the early years sector play a vital role in promoting good health from an early age throughout childhood.

One of the best ways for childcare practitioners to promote good health is to create a supportive environment where children feel encouraged and safe to make healthy choices. This can involve offering healthy snacks and meals, organizing physical activities such as outdoor play and structured exercise, and promoting good hygiene practices such as handwashing. It is important to lead by example as children learn by watching and imitating adults, hence modelling healthy behaviours is crucial.

It is also essential to teach children about the importance of good health through various activities and experiences. For instance, practitioners may use books to educate children about healthy eating, sensory play that promotes exploration of different foods, or incorporate physical activity into daily routines through dance, yoga or other forms of exercise.

Partnering with families is another crucial aspect of promoting good health in the early years. Parents and caregivers are the primary influencers of children’s health behaviours, so it is crucial to engage them in conversations about how to work together to support their child’s health and wellbeing. This can involve sharing information about healthy eating and physical activity, providing resources and tips for families, or offering support and guidance to help families make positive changes.

Let’s take some of the theories discussed earlier and apply them to practical examples. To promote healthy eating, practitioners can involve children in meal planning and preparation, create colourful and engaging food displays, or host taste-testing sessions to introduce new foods. To promote physical activity, practitioners can create obstacle courses, dance parties or sports events. Additionally, to promote emotional wellbeing, practitioners can incorporate mindfulness activities, provide a safe space for children to talk about their feelings, or encourage creative expression through art, music or drama. By implementing these practical strategies and approaches, practitioners can create a dynamic and engaging environment that promotes good health and wellbeing in the early years.

Promoting good health in the early years is about creating a holistic approach that encompasses physical, emotional, and social wellbeing. By creating an environment that is conducive to good health, modelling healthy behaviours, and working in partnership with families, childcare practitioners can help children to establish good habits that they can carry into adulthood. This not only promotes individual health and wellbeing but also contributes to building a fairer, healthier world for all. There are numerous specific ideas and approaches that practitioners can take to apply these theories, such as, creating sensory gardens, partnering with local health organisations, and organising physical activity challenges and competitions to promote teamwork and motivation. By incorporating a range of approaches and activities, practitioners can create a comprehensive and engaging approach to promoting good health in the early years.