08 Apr Keeping Children Safe by Charlene Orwin – Head of ELC
In educating young children, a lot of time and planning is spent ensuring the well-being of the children in our care and we spend a lot of time reviewing our safety protocols to ensure we are always on top of our game.
Safety is a broad topic that is an integral part of so many aspects of our day. From physically doing daily safety checks of all indoor and outdoor environments, rehearsing fire-drills and evacuation drills, critically analysing our strategies in re-directing inappropriate play, conducting in depth discussions on road safety, animal safety and self-protection all the way through to educating our parents and teachers on topics such as bullying and cyber-safety and child protection.
Ensuring that we are prepared for a crises to the best of our ability, is a regular discussion and practice in any school setting. Especially with children of young age, it is imperative that we best prepare ourselves in the unlikely event of an emergency at our centre. This week we practised our first Emergency Lockdown drill for 2023. The build-up and understanding of what was going to take place, was imperative for all concerned. This was first discussed at a class representative meeting to ensure that the parents were well-informed and prepared the families for the drill. This pre-warning was not only to re-assure our families that a practice-drill was occurring, but also an important step in insuring that our communication systems are efficient and effective. Our staff were informed and policies discussed prior to the drill occurring. And then we spent a few days preparing our children. We introduced them to the sound they would hear, what was expected of them and how we were going to sit quietly in an area of the room with the lights off and blinds down – listening to a story. The drill took place and thankfully all of the necessary preparation paid off and we completed a successful lockdown drill rehearsal with little fuss. Thank you to our parents, our educators and our administration staff for their support.
One’s health and well-being is another important component of safety. Ensuring healthy lunch boxes for your child, being aware of and respecting those with allergies, keeping a sick child at home etc are all areas where your support is integral in relaying these messages to your children.
Teaching children about the natural world is not just a nice thing to do – it is vital for the future of our children and the future of all life. Children are naturally curious and open to learning about nature, but in an increasingly urban society we often need to consciously create opportunities to help children bond with nature and learn about their environment. This is an important component of our learning. Discussions on recycling, scraping our leftovers and peels into the compost bin, looking after our beautiful outdoor spaces and picking up litter are all part of our learning.
Children’s health and safety is about more than just their physical wellbeing; it also refers to their whole welfare. This means that our educators think about more than practical health and safety issues in their day-to-day work. They also recognise that children will have differing emotional support needs and therefore deal with each child differently, respecting their individual life contexts. Learning about how to live in a healthy way, and being able to take increasing responsibility for making good healthy choices. Caring for themselves, enables children to experience wellbeing in their present lives, and lays the foundation for a healthy lifestyle in the future.
A key component of learning about and adopting healthy lifestyles involves children seeing these modelled positively and enthusiastically by the important people in their lives, including their peers, families, communities and early childhood educators. Learning about healthy lifestyles often occurs most effectively when educators identify and use the learning opportunities in everyday experiences such as meal times, hygiene procedures, active play times and toileting routines. Children who become strong in their social and emotional wellbeing are resilient and confident learners; they are able to cope with day-to-day challenges and frustrations, and they are able to recognise and feel good about their own achievements and those of others. Educators support this by acknowledging each child’s cultural and social identity, and responding sensitively to their emotional states. When children can see and feel that there experiences are understood and valued in the early childhood setting, their feelings of belonging increase and this in turn supports them to become confident and involved learners.