A key person plays a crucial role in the healthy development of a child. In addition to the choices made by mum and dad, what you do day-to-day will make a huge difference to that child getting the best possible start in life. Promoting a healthy lifestyle at your setting is all about striking a balance between healthy eating, physical activity, good hygiene and rest.
Getting adequate rest is crucial for a child’s development. As an adult, we produce growth hormone throughout the day – but toddlers only release this during deep sleep. While asleep, children are able to make sense of their day, as well as process new skills and memories. Children who are well rested also have strong immune systems compared to their peers who aren’t getting adequate amounts of sleep.
Children will naturally experience variations in their appetite which are normally linked to periods of growth – they could be ravenous one day and not each much the next. In the early years, children tend to be very active, so it’s important to eat the right food for sustained energy release. Snacks and mealtimes should incorporate fruit and vegetables which count towards 5 a day.
As a key person, you understand each child’s sensitivities and no doubt provide comfort when they child is distressed or upset. Children have complex emotional needs in their formative years, but in order to thrive they need to form relationships where they feel loved and cared for. You should provide the safe haven they need from which to explore the world.
As a childcare practitioner, children will look to you as a role model to teach them about the importance of good hygiene – this can be discussed at key points in the day such as after toileting and before eating food. Encouraging visits from health care professionals and dentists will also help children understand the importance of good oral care.
Knowing that the relative state of a child’s health in the Early Years has a significant impact on their later life makes it all the more crucial that you promote healthy living. Try to discuss good hygiene practice regularly with your children and promote a balanced and healthy lifestyle within your setting whenever possible.