Health, Safety, and Nutrition

♪♪♪ ♪♪♪ (female)
Indoors and outdoors,
for environmental safety, we follow licensing
requirements and guidelines, and we really
keep in compliance. And we do quarterly
check-throughs and walk-throughs of our space to
ensure that we’re up to code. So, we have our
operations manager, myself, the education director,
and then all of my line staff actually do a walk-through of
the entire classroom and then also the outside space where
all the families walk through just to make sure that we’re
abiding to our licensing and that we’re keeping up to code. Did you see the
picture on the wall? (female #2)
The learning environment
for the children must be safe. You must maintain basic
licensing regulations at all times, and so this is why
we do our own monitoring. We talk about what’s important
in the environment, and then we talk about how to maintain
that through sanitizing, through walk-throughs to do
daily checks of equipment and materials. Is everything in good repair? We talk about slip, trip, and
fall hazards and that it isn’t up to just one person to make
sure that the garbage is picked up or that there’s no
water on the floor, that it’s all of us together. I even share it
with the parents. I let them know that
maintaining a healthy and safe environment requires all of us,
all of our vigilance together. (female #3)
We did a survey
a couple of years ago, and half the centers that we
surveyed in California were spraying pesticides on site. So, we’ve been getting
childcare programs to use integrated pest management
instead of spraying and to use more targeted,
less-harmful forms of pesticides. Road builders. (Tina Tam)
To ensure
emergency preparedness, we do quarterly walk-throughs
and trial runs with all our family and participants as
if it was actually happening. So, we all actually duck,
go underneath tables. The kids are all
prepared for it. We actually have a check-off
list so that teachers take their emergency backpacks. And then we actually walk them
out and do an actual trial run as if we were going
through an emergency disaster, just to make sure that
we’re always prepared for it. (Victoria Leonard)
Children get two-thirds
of their nutrition in an ECE setting, so what we
do with them in that period will really affect the
trajectory of their health for the rest of their lives. We are hopefully changing
the way we talk about food. You have rice,
peas and carrots, bananas, barbecue
chicken or teriyaki chicken? Teriyaki chicken,
and veggie burger, and milk. Enjoy! (Victoria Leonard)
And caregivers are
sitting down at a table, modeling good eating habits. (Tina Tam)
I made a complete shift in
the past year to really change our food and beverage policy,
and so we now have eliminated all juices, all sugary drinks,
and what’s considered “junk food.” And we’ve now
implemented just water, low-fat milk, and really
just food, grains, fruits
everyday vegetables, into all of our snack meals. Apple. A-a-apple. Excellent.
Muy bien. (female #4)
We’re asking children
to make healthy choices. We’re incorporating
that into our curriculum, so we want to provide them food
that is within the parameters of healthy choices, as well
as providing families support with information. Would you like some oranges? Can I show you? We can use this big spoon to
scoop some into your bowl. Amber, did you want some? (Ranae Amezquita)
We want to introduce
the children to a variety of fruits and vegetables. And families have told us
that when they go to the store, they will say, “Mom,
that’s called an eggplant. Mom, I had that at school.
That’s zucchini.” And they will say,
“Let’s try that again. I want you to cook that.” And then families sometimes
will come back and say, “How do I cook that?” We incorporate our garden into
our program where we do cooking in the classroom as
well as the planting. We have a cook, it’s called
“Chef in the Classroom, who will come and do classroom
activities with the children. They will teach them how
to make different recipes. They will also work with
families and do inservices for families to change the way
they cook so that they could provide healthier choices. Yeah, I’ll push it.
You push it the rest. There you go.
It’s all done now. You pushed the rest in. Alrighty, buddy, all done. (male)
For children
with special needs, it’s very likely we’ll require
some specific expertise, and so I think it’s very
important that people reach out, that we collaborate,
that we coordinate to bring that special expertise. What is that on
your head, Aiden? It’s a cowboy hat. It’s a cowboy hat.
You’re right! (Whit Hayslip)
And so that what we end up
doing is we’re individualizing, not just for the child
with a special need, but we’re better improving our
ability to individualize and personalize instruction for
all the children in our care. ♪ Wash the spider out ♪♪ I had one child who
came, and he had been oxygen-dependent,
and he’s been at home. And so he came at 2 & 1/2
with his oxygen, and the family was very
concerned about it with all these children around,
and this oxygen tank, and the tube, and we
figured it out together. We figured it out together
and the children helped us figure that out. You know, that this is
something that children can be involved in. Inclusive programs
involve families, and involves early
childhood teachers, involves special educators,
and involves children. An open discussion about all
of our unique needs and what we need to do to take care
of one another can be an enriching experience. When staff sign the
paperwork at the time of employment agreeing to the
fact that they are a mandated reporter, you know, I talk to
them about what that means and I link it to our
family-centered practice, our philosophy of family care. We’re more than just
caring for a child, and sometimes we have to do
difficult things like report incidences of child abuse or
neglect–suspected incidences of child abuse or neglect. And so allowing the staff to
understand what their role is is the directors job. Help–because they’re in
the classroom every day with the children and they have
the day-to-day contact with the parents that a director
wouldn’t necessarily have. What does neglect look like? What does physical
abuse look like? And what does this mean to
me and what do I do about it? (female #5)
In the classroom, I tend
to provide the teachers with reminders about certain
things, because a lot of times, the indicators of abuse they
may not be as aware of it. And so providing them with
little bits of education or reminders about, you know,
what’s in our understanding around child abuse and
what child abuse is. So, helping them
see what it looks like, helping them understand the
process of making a report to child protective services
and it’s their responsibility to report suspected
abuse or neglect, realizing that if we do
truly care about this family by calling Child
Protective Services, we’re getting them the
outside support that they need. (female #6)
So Amber, can you rub
your hands together and get the soap on both hands? There you go. Now we need to
turn on the water. Oh, get both hands wet. Both hands wet. (Victoria Leonard)
The most important way
for early care and education professionals to
conceive of health, physical development, and
safety issues is that this is the time when children are
developing habits and practices that will be with them for
the rest of their lives. Helping teachers understand
that they are establishing habits is important in ECE. (female #6)
So Amber, can you get
some water on your other hand? This hand right here. (Victoria Leonard)
Washing your hands is the
most basic and effective way of preventing the spread
of infectious disease. When you see kids who’ve gotten
good instruction in how to sneeze in their sleeve,
it’s just automatic, and they’re preventing the
spread of infectious disease. [coughing]. (Victoria Leonard)
Brushing their teeth, that’s
a huge preventive activity. Many kids in early care and
education brush their teeth in that setting for
the first time. We have to think of health
as running through the whole ECE curriculum. When we take them outside, when
we take them to the bathroom, when we take them
to the lunch table, how we interact with their
parents around a child’s health problem, they all
relate to health. And I think now, we need
to emphasize that health is the ground for the rest of what
we want to accomplish in ECE. Alright, and then, Amber,
whenever you’re done, we need to turn off the water. (Tina Tam)
The way that we promote
health in our children and our families is really integrating
it into the curriculum for the children in our programs
to make it really fun. So, taking advantage of going
outdoors whenever we can and integrating it to
their daily routine and daily schedules. So, we have movement integrated
into our daily schedule, so they are practicing and
learning about health and safety because it’s already
integrated into everything that they do. (Victoria Leonard)
The relationships that
teachers have with children, the way they talk to children,
the way they show them regard, the way they make
them feel safe, the way they make them feel
they’re interested in the child, all of those
activities that we often think of as feeding intellectual
ability and growth… ♪ See the engine driver
pull the little handle ♪ ♪ Chuff, chuff, chuff,
and off we go ♪♪ (Victoria Leonard)
…also impact the body
and health in profound ways. Mental health consultants
are extremely useful in ECE environments, so that if a
teacher’s having a problem with a kid who it seems like it
may be a mental health issue, the mental health
consultant, again, can work with the teacher in
the classroom and then connect that child to services outside. I think many times, these
problems spiral out of control because a teacher just doesn’t
know how to handle something. And just, you know,
a consultation and some advice can just
change the whole trajectory for that child. (Christie Speck)
So, stepping back and trying
to individualize for them, really focusing on what those
individual children need from us, because
every child is different. Their temperaments, what’s
happening in their home life, their learning styles
will determine how we can support them. Having a primary caregiver or
a primary teacher so that that child knows they have one
person that they can rely on, that helps with their
social/emotional development and their resiliency. [speaking in a foreign language] (Tina Tam)
We definitely serve a wide
variety of different families from different
cultural backgrounds, and a way that we really
incorporate families and children to be really
involved with our health and safety policies is really to
get their buy-in by surveying and finding where their
interests are. We had a group of parents
very concerned about sugar intake and the number
of birthdays that were being celebrated. And of course for us, we wanted
birthdays to be celebrated in a way that families could
enjoy and participate, and that often meant
sugary treats and cupcakes. So, families got
together and decided, “Well, there’s only 10 or 15 of
us in this advisory committee “this year, and we don’t want
to speak for all families, but we’re feeling
strongly about this,” so they developed a survey. And from the survey, they were
able to develop a policy with us that birthdays would be
celebrated one day a month, include all of the children
in that month and all of the parents in that month,
and the children would engage in making the food for
the birthday celebration. And families submitted all
kinds of wonderful nutritious recipes with ripe bananas
as the sweetening agent. We thought children will
miss the cupcakes and the gooey frosting, and maybe it
won’t feel like a “birthday.” Children haven’t
missed it at all. The parents look forward
to the cooking project, the celebration afterwards,
and it’s been a beautiful way to engage families. One of the newer aspects of
ECE is really helping families to find the health resources
that they need so their kids can succeed. We really take
in consideration from the community voicing
that they really need more education around this. And so because of that,
we’ve actually developed an initiative in 2010 that
really focuses around health, safety, and education,
especially working with immigrant families
and newcomer families. We provide a lot of materials
throughout our classroom spaces as well that focuses and pays
a lot of attention around health and safety, and we provide
our parents as well with an abundance of information
that we’ve actually gained from all of our partnerships,
through our local clinics, through our partnerships with
UCSF and through NEMS Clinic right across the street. So, we do a lot of resource
sharing so that it’s very easily available and accessible
to our families here on site. (Victoria Leonard)
One of the really essential
parts of physical development that ECE providers need to
know in order to help kids be competent in the playground
and in physical activity classes later in life. People understand now
the importance of physical activity, but I think that they
also need help with curriculum and how you
implement all of this. We realize that our
children don’t always get the opportunity to run
and play outside. We don’t want our children to
go outside and sit down again. We want our children
to be moving around. The grass area takes on
multi-facets because they can exercise there, they do a lot
of activities on there. We also do that with families
where we take the families outside and we walk them
through a day of activities on the outside so that they
can see what their children are doing on a regular basis. (Victoria Leonard)
The research shows
that children really need instruction in
physical development. They really need someone to get
out there and show them how to throw a ball. And the research shows
that kids who don’t get that instruction, especially kids
who are not as physically adept as other kids, that those kids
can really be moved towards competence by instruction. And one of the things that
providers said to me was, “We don’t know how to do this. We need help with learning
how to teach kids these things.” (Tina Tam)
We also have this
coordinator actually invite instructors from the outside to
teach health-related classes to our families and children. And we’ve established great
partnerships with UCSF to actually have their health
and education interns be placed at our site to conduct
these classes and also to do workshops. ♪♪♪ ♪♪♪

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