Early years is a crucial time for children. The first three years of a child’s life are particularly important for healthy development, and investing in children at this early age can dramatically improve the rest of their lives.
The Vale of Glamorgan Healthy and Sustainable Pre School Scheme aims to promote the health of pre-school aged children, their families and carers.
The scheme reaches young children through the child care organisations they attend (nurseries, playgroups and childminders) and encourages healthy behaviour from the very earliest age.
The scheme is divided into 8 health topic areas:
Childcare organisations collect evidence to show they are meeting criteria in all of the above areas. Support and encouragement is provided through training events, newsletters, resources and visits from a member of the Vale of Glamorgan Healthy and Sustainable Pre Scheme Team. Partnership work is key to success and many different organisations and individuals are involved. Early years practitioners have the potential to make a huge contribution to the health and wellbeing of children in their care, and the Vale of Glamorgan Healthy and Sustainable Pre-school Scheme makes the most of their skills and experience. To create a happy and healthy society, we need to raise our children in a happy and healthy way.
These projects are part of the Vale of Glamorgan Healthy and Sustainable Pre School Scheme:
Mental and Emotional Health and Well Being
We have teamed up with Barnardo's to run the Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies (PATHS) project that helps children become more aware of their emotions, increase their vocabulary, and develop skills in friendship, kindness, sharing, self-control and general social and emotional learning skills. Kindness and care for self and each other is valued.
We help settings follow latest guidance, so that the food offered to children is not only healthy and nutritious, but that meal and snack times are pleasant and sociable too. Children help prepare and choose their own food as much as possible. We help settings undertake healthy cookery, by providing training, equipment and resources.
Promoting Physical Activity
We help settings plan their sessions so that children are as active as possible. Many activities take place outside, and often settings have a covered area which makes this even easier. We ensure children take part in indoor activity sessions, often to music, which help develop a wide range of skills. Families are encouraged to travel to and from the setting in an active way, perhaps by walking or scooting.
Creating a Healthy Environment
From a young age children learn about reducing, reusing and recycling products, and minimising waste. Gardening is encouraged. We run an annual potato growing project, helping children learn about where food comes from, and how to nurture a living thing. We help settings create a warm and welcoming environment.
Hygiene and Safety
Preventing the spread of infection is vital in a childcare setting. We provide resources and ideas to promote good handwashing, and emphasise how important immunisation is.
The advice we give to childcare settings is based on current research and guidance. Here are some examples:
- We follow NHS guidance on physical activity for under 5’s.
- We follow the Public Health Wales guidance on ‘Infection Prevention and Control for Childcare Settings’ when discussing matters relating to safety and hygiene.
- We are developing a project to improve uptake of immunisations.
- We are helping people afford healthy food by promoting Healthy Start vouchers.
Many childcare settings and families find the following websites useful:
Catherine Perry, Senior Public Health Specialist: Catherine.Perry@wales.nhs.uk
Victoria Extence, Public Health Practitioner: email@example.com