Subscribe to our newsletter

Being Healthy in the Early Years

April 5, 2024
6 minute read

Becky Haynes, Nursery Manager, Codsall Community Nursery

Being healthy, it’s something that we all strive for, right? Of course. Something easy for some and not for others? For sure. Is it something that we need to make that we encourage our children from a young age so that this gives them the life skills to make healthy choices for later in life? 100% it is.  

World Health Day is a global health awareness day celebrated every year on April 7th. It's a great opportunity to raise awareness of the importance of health and wellbeing, particularly in the early years. Encouraging healthy habits from a young age can have a positive impact on children's long-term health outcomes. It's important to educate children on the benefits of healthy eating, regular exercise, and good hygiene practices. By doing so, we can help them develop the life skills they need to make healthy choices as they grow older. 

There are many ways to promote World Health Day in the early years, here are a few ideas which are used at my Nursery, Codsall Community Nursery: 

1. Organize a healthy eating and cooking activity: Encourage children to make healthy snacks or meals, talk about the importance of different nutrients and food groups, and create a fun environment that encourages healthy eating habits. Our children love to take part in cooking activities which allows the children to not only talk about different foods which are good for us and food that are ok in moderation, but these activities will also allow the children to develop life skills such as using kitchen utensils safely and correctly, as well talk about good food hygiene routines when we are handling food.  

2. Plan a physical activity challenge: Encourage children to get active by setting a physical activity challenge that can be completed either at home or in the classroom. You can track progress throughout the day or week and award prizes to those who complete the challenge. It is recommended by Ofsted that children have access to regular physical activity and fresh air, it is recommended up to 3 hours per day. The children at the nursery have regular access to the outdoors as well as doing large physical activities indoors when doing dance sessions and rhymes with actions.  

3. Teach good hygiene practices: Teach children good hygiene practices, such as washing hands regularly, covering their nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing, and avoiding touching their face. This can help prevent the spread of germs and keep children healthy. At nursery, the children are encouraged to be independent, and this includes teaching the children good hygiene practices from a young age. The children are encouraged to wash their hands when coming back in from the garden, before and after meals and snacks, the children are also encouraged to use alcohol-free hand foam after wiping their noses or sneezing. The children are also encouraged to wash their hands after going to the toilet and having their nappies changed (even the babies have their hands wiped after nappy changing). 

4. Invite a healthcare professional to talk to the children: Invite a healthcare professional to speak to the children about the importance of health and wellbeing. This could be a nurse, a doctor, or a dentist, and they could talk about topics such as healthy eating, exercise, and oral hygiene. We regularly talk about the people who can help us within our community and parents and professionals at nursery must encourage the discussions about the people that help us so that children aren’t scared of them and know they are there to help. It is also encouraged that healthcare professionals come and visit the children within the setting, as this will hopefully make the children feel more comfortable and at ease seeing them in an environment that is familiar to them rather than an environment that is strange and unfamiliar to them.  

5. Self-serve: Self-serve is something that we encourage from a young age also. This will enable you to be able to have conversations with children about likes and dislikes in food, it allows you to talk about what is in the food, the process of preparing the food, also portion control and that eating much of something might not be a good healthy choice for us.  

6. Staff being role models: when practising a certain practice within the setting it is important that all staff are on board, and they are demonstrating these healthy choices. What is one of the main things that children do, watch, and observe? This includes the people that they feel most comfortable with. So, for example, if you are speaking with the children and are talking about chocolate is ok for you but in small amounts as a treat then eating a big bar of Cadbury chocolate in front of the children isn’t the best idea. The same goes with hygiene practices if we are encouraging or expecting the children to blow their noses or cover their noses or mouths after they have sneezed then staff are expected to do the same. This will also make children think that if their familiar adults are doing it then it's good/ok so they must do it too.  

7. The art of communication: interactions with children are so important and good quality communications are very important this allows us to feed and drip information/knowledge into the children. The more we talk about this information with the children the more that they will understand. Ensure that those conversations are taking place all the time at nursery, in shops/supermarkets, during snack time, mealtime and during play opportunities throughout the day.  

Time to reflect:  

Why not use this blog to reflect on what you do within your setting to encourage being healthy, what you feel that you need to work on and how are you going to make these changes within your setting?  

Remember, promoting World Health Day in the early years is a great opportunity to encourage healthy habits that can last a lifetime. 

linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram