Wednesday, January 6, 2016


                                         Physical Fitness          

Physical fitness has a great impact on the developmental growth of children.  Physical activity is important for children’s health and well-being for many reasons.  Keeping preschoolers active for at least 1-2 hours daily can help increase and strengthen muscles and bones, strengthen the cardiovascular system, and lessen the risk of obesity.  Physical activity can also “help children build endurance, flexibility, and strength” (Robertson, 2013). 

There are many skills that children are working on that physical activities can help them master.  One skill is locomotor skills, or “moving the body from one point to another” (Goodway, Robinson, 2006).  Children need to be taught how to skip, run, jump, or even hop.  Another skill that physical activity can help children master is manipulative skills.  By throwing, catching, and even kicking a ball or object children can master critical manipulative skills.  Physical activity can also help children master social skills such as teamwork, taking turns and respect. 

Allowing children the time for these activities and spending time on setting reasonable fitness goals can help encourage healthy activity and prevent obesity.  It is not enough to focus on diet alone when it comes to obesity.  Choosing “healthy physical activity as well as foods” (Robertson, 2013) can help children in creating a better sense of self.  The impact of not engaging in healthy fitness activities can be devastating.  Not only can it affect a child’s weight, but it can also affect their self-esteem.  If children are not being challenged enough they can become sedentary and may not feel as confident in their skills.

There are many ways in which adults can help children develop good fitness habits.  One way to encourage this is by combining music with movement.  A simple move such as adding scarves to a dance area can help children “learn to control their bodies, helps them learn to coordinate their movements, and encourages them to be creative and to move safely” (Robertson, 2013).  Dancing with scarves can be enjoyable for both the child and the adult.  Try using the scarves to create shapes in the air, practice opposites (fast/slow, up/down), and so much more. 

Bean bag tosses can be helpful to work on manipulative skills.  Depending on the developmental level of the preschooler, bean bag tosses can vary in skill level.  They can be as simple as tossing bean bags into a basket from various distances, or as complicated as trying to toss to a specific target.  Literacy and mathematical skills can be added for extra learning, as well.  Patterning with beads on string or pipe cleaners is a way to add mathematical skills and work on fine motor skills, as well.

Physical activity can have an incredibly positive impact on children’s health and well-being.  What they learn can guide their future activity and health.  A quote which stuck with me through my research on children’s physical fitness is “All it takes to encourage an active start is a little time and imagination and a commitment to a healthy lifestyle” (Robertson, 2013).  Physical activity and fitness goals do not need to be difficult to make a difference, they can be easy and fun.  Getting the children involved and having fun is the most important part. 

 

References:

Goodway, J. D., Robinson, L. E. (2006, March). SKIPing toward an active start: Promoting physical activity in preschoolers. Beyond the Journal: Young Children on the Web. Retrieved on January 2, 2016 from http://www.naeyc.org/files/yc/file/200605/GoodwayBTJ.pdf

Robertson, C. (2013).  Safety, Nutrition and Health in Early Education (5th edition). Belmont,

            CA: Wadsworth/Cengage Learning

                                 Healthy Food and Nutrition  

Healthy food and nutrition are imperative in helping children’s growth and development.  There are many reasons that creating good nutrition and eating habits are so important for children of all ages.  It is also important that all adults in the child’s life be a part of maintaining a healthy and nutritious environment.  Throughout the many stages of childhood there are different nutritional needs and dietary guidelines that will help a child to grow.

As an infant, good nutrition and eating habits are important for several reasons.  During infancy, babies “receive most of their nutrients from formulas or breast milk” (Robertson, 2013).  When the mother’s breast milk can no longer provide the amount of iron that the baby needs, iron-fortified baby cereal can help maintain a balanced diet.  It is important during this time to keep mealtimes pleasant, avoid serving foods that could become a choke hazard, and also to become aware of the babies cues as to when they are hungry or full.  Keeping this all in mind during this time can help lay the groundwork for future eating habits. 

During the toddler years children begin to assert more independence with their eating habits.  This can cause frustration between the parent and the child.  Patience and reinforcement are important during this time to help guide good eating habits.  Toddler years are a great time to introduce new foods in an exciting way.  It is also a good time to “model appropriate food behaviors and choose healthy options” (Robertson, 2013) so that toddlers can be encouraged to eat a well-balanced meal.

Fostering good nutrition and eating habits with preschoolers can be quite easy.  Though sometimes they may be fussy eaters, a positive social environment, with the adult sitting and modeling can help guide a more positive outlook on nutrition.  Since preschoolers are “likely to be influenced by others and by television as to their food choices” (Robertson, 2013), it is important for them to be included in selection, preparation, and any other nutrition/food activities that may help encourage healthier choices.

Since most children model their behavior off of what they see or hear, it is important for adults to be actively helping children develop healthy eating habits.  One way that this can be accomplished is by educating children about the various types of foods and their nutritional value.  This can be done with games, during mealtimes, or even during preparation of healthy meals.  Allowing children to be a part of preparing meals is another way that adults can actively help children develop healthy eating habits. 

While this can be a daunting task, cooking together can be an incredibly enjoyable learning experience.  Using recipes with pictures and large numbers can help encourage children to be more actively involved.  Also, teaching them the proper use of kitchen utensils and giving them the chance to measure or pour can help create a bonding experience.  Three nutritious recipes that are great starters to prepare with preschoolers are bananas in a blanket, symphony of fruit pizza, and crazy curly broccoli bake.

To make bananas in a blanket, which is a great source of fiber, vitamin C, potassium and more, you need to lay one whole wheat tortilla on a plate.  Spread 1 tablespoon of reduced-fat smooth peanut butter evenly on the tortilla and sprinkle 1 tablespoon of crunchy cereal over top.  Peel and place a banana onto the tortilla, roll it up, and drizzle honey on top.  Cut the tortilla in half to encourage sharing.

For the symphony of fruit pizza, you will need a toasted English muffin.  Spread 2 tablespoons of whipped fat-free strawberry cream cheese onto each slice of muffin.  Then take sliced strawberries, quartered red grapes, and mandarin oranges and layer them on top.  This treat is “an excellent source of vitamins A and C, and a good source of folate and fiber” (PBH, 2015).

For the crazy curly broccoli bake, you will need 1 ½ cups of whole wheat corkscrew pasta, cooked to package directions.  You will then coarsely chop 3 cups of cooked broccoli, mix in 1 can of cream of broccoli soup mixed with skim milk, and add the cooked pasta.  Once it is topped with bread crumbs, bake it in the oven for 10-15 minutes.  This recipe is great for vitamin C, vitamin A, fiber, folate and magnesium.

There are many other great recipes out there to try with children, which also offer great nutritional value.  The most important part of creating healthy eating and nutritional habits for children is to model and make it fun.  Working together as a team can make healthy eating less of a stigma and more of an encouraging and positive time to interact and bond.  Being committed to children’s nutrition and health can help create building blocks for their future food experiences. 



Reference
s

Produce for Better Health. (2015). Fruits & Veggies More Matters. Symphony of Fruit Pizza.


Robertson, C. (2013).  Safety, Nutrition and Health in Early Education (5th edition). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Cengage Learning

                              CPR and Choking Emergencies        

Within an early childhood setting it is important for teachers, aides and even volunteers to know how to handle emergency situations.  In the case of CPR and choking emergencies, they are always life threatening.  It is important for staff to be trained on the proper procedures for handling these types of emergencies.  There are different procedures for each, as well as slightly different procedures for the various age groups.  These emergencies can happen at any time, and typically without any notice. 

The first scenario that I would like to bring to attention involves choking.  A 4-year-old preschool student is sitting at the snack table enjoying a birthday treat brought in by a fellow student.  There are two teachers in charge of the classroom of 11 children.  One of the teachers notices that this student has become silent and is having trouble breathing.  They act quickly and follow the steps for a choking emergency.  The first step is reacting immediately and calmly.  One teacher should be given the task of helping the child, while the other teacher is in charge of the other children. 

Keeping calm in the situation is not only beneficial for the child in distress, but also for the other people involved.  The American Heart Association’s recommendation for treatment for a choking person, especially if they turn blue or stop breathing is the Heimlich maneuver (for children and adults above the age of one).  This may dislodge whatever is stuck in the child’s throat.  Parents should be notified once all is dealt with, and an incident report written up for documentation purposes.  The Heimlich maneuver, or abdominal thrusts, “creates an artificial cough” (WebMD, 2015). 

In order to perform the Heimlich manuveur on a preschool child, the teacher would lean them forward slightly and stand/kneel behind them.  Then the teacher should make a fist with one hand and put their arms aournd the child, grasping the fist with the other hand just below the ribs.  Moving inwards and upwards, they should make quick, hard movements.  This movement should be repeated until the child is able to breathe or loses consciousness. 

If, for some reason, the child were to lose consciousness, CPR would then be required.  A teacher should have someone call 911 and begin CPR.  The teacher would make sure that the child was on a flat surface, place the heel of their hand on the lower half of the breastbone, between the nipples.  They would then push straight down and then release for 30 compressions, adding two breaths, and then continuing this five times before 911 arrives.  If help has not arrived, the teacher should continue CPR until they do. 

It is important that at least one, if not more, staff members be trained in CPR/first aid in the facility.  Knowing the signs and having an emergency plan in place can help prevent these emergencies from occurring.  In the younger rooms, teachers should be given choke tubes to test any items in their room that may cause a hazard to the children in the classroom.  Meal times should be monitored at all times by an adult in order to cut down on the risk of choking.  Having these plans in place, as well as having drills or trainings throughout the year, can help teachers and even parents feel more at ease if these situations arise. 

Since family members should be contacted if such emergencies arise, it is important that contact information stay up to date.  It is also important to communicate with families about what steps would be taken, who would be contacted, and what the medical preferences (i.e. hospitals) are.  Some other ways to stay prepared are to “have available a first aid kit that is comprehensive enough for most emergencies” (Robertson, 2013).  Things to include may be emergency numbers, maps and plans, and any other emergency supplies that may be needed. 

Advance planning and training is imperative and can help prevent/resolve emergencies that may occur.  Since safety of the children is our top priority, refreshing our memory and keeping up to date on new information can help save a child’s life.  These emergencies can happen at a moment’s notice, and may be life-or-death.  Planning and preparation “will help the emergency situation go more smoothly and help teachers to remain calm” (Robertson, 2013).
Reference
s

Robertson, C. (2013).  Safety, Nutrition and Health in Early Education (5th edition). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Cengage Learning

WebMD (December, 2015). Choking Causes, Symptoms, Treatment. The American Heart Association’s Recommendations for Choking. Retrieved on December 18, 2015 from http://www.emedicinehealth.com/choking/page7_em.htm
                    Emergency Preparedness: Natural and Human-Generated Disasters

A crisis arises and you are unsure of what to do.  Many people think that disasters won’t occur in their area, or won’t affect them; this is false.  Though they may not occur frequently, there are many different types of natural and human-generated disasters that could occur right within our area.  They can happen quickly and suddenly.  It is important that we are prepared for these possible disasters in order to keep the children’s safety at the top of our priority list.  There are two specific dangers that could threaten an early childhood environment in Lancaster, Pennsylvania: tornadoes and nuclear meltdowns.

While not residing in tornado alley, tornadoes do occur throughout the state of Pennsylvania.  Within moments of a tornado forming, an early childhood setting could be at risk if they, for instance, are located in a building consisting of mostly large windows.  Since tornadoes are “capable of completely destroying well-made structures, uprooting trees and hurling objects through the air like deadly missiles” (The American National Red Cross, 2015), potential complications would be posed in this situation. 

Some of the potential risks with this situation could be: finding a safe shelter within the building, little to no warning (since tornadoes occur so quickly), and potential downed power lines.  Having an emergency plan in place for these types of risks can help keep the situation more calm and orderly, that way the children’s safety remains the top concern.  Due to the fact that the building is made up of mostly large windows, planning a safe and secure (windowless) meeting place is the first priority.  Without a safe meeting place, the strong winds could damage the windows, causing injury to children and staff alike.  Assigning a tornado look-out in the event of a tornado watch/warning can give the school a small heads-up if shelter would be necessary.  Since the building is also surrounded by power lines, a power shut-off switch should be labeled in case of emergency. 

Developing a plan for this type of disaster would require staff to assess the different aspects of the building.  The staff and children should be aware of the warning signs of a tornado, as well as be a part of drills to make sure that they are fully aware of how to respond if one were to occur.  Each classroom should have a designated emergency bag, complete with first aid kit and emergency contact information.  They may also want to have on hand an emergency kit with food, water, and any other materials that may be needed (i.e. diapers and wipes, if infant/toddler care is within the facility). 

Though a nuclear meltdown may seem like a scene from a movie, with Three-Mile Island being located within Pennsylvania, it is not so far-fetched.  There are major dangers posed by this type of crisis, including inhalation of fumes and chemical burns.  In the event of a nuclear meltdown, fume inhalation would be the most likely risk.  Chemical exposure is detrimental to both children’s and adult’s health.  To cut down on the risk of chemical exposure, it is important that a clear set of plans be put into place. 

In the event of an emergency involving a nuclear meltdown, the first step would be to carefully follow the instructions of any authorities involved.  There may be a possibility of evacuation or “shelter in place”.  The childhood care setting should have a “shelter in place” policy.  The Red Cross, and most childcare settings, suggest “go inside, close all windows and vents and turn off all fans, heating or cooling systems” (The American National Red Cross, 2015).  Finding a safe room in which to meet, sealing doors and windows (whether with plastic and tape, or whatever is available), and listening for further instruction from the emergency broadcasting stations, is the safest way to respond to a “shelter in place” call. 

Within the childcare facility, there should be a few staff who are in charge of sealing doors and windows, getting the supplies necessary, and someone in charge of listening for further instructions.  There should also be a group of staff in charge of keeping the children calm and entertained.  In this situation, as with the tornado, an emergency kit with materials (toys, toiletry supplies, etc.) is an excellent way to maintain order during a crisis.  Again, discussing possible crisis/disasters, as well as the plans for safety, can help children become involved in being more prepared and calmer within the situation.

It is important that families “understand the types of emergencies they may face and how the education environment will respond” (Robertson, 2013).  A good way to keep families involved is to have a family handbook with an emergency plan outlined.  This keeps the families up to date with what procedures and plans are in place to keep their children safe from disaster/crisis.  Another way that families can stay involved in emergency preparedness is to discuss with their children what they would do if the emergency were to occur while at their home.  Coming up with a plan for the homestead can help alleviate stress, keep children prepared, and help identify any problems that may occur that need reviewed or changed for maximum safety.

Emergencies can happen at any time and having a plan in place is the first step to being properly prepared.  As always, our first priority should be the safety of the people in our care.  Teachers should become educated on their environment’s plans, preparations, and drills in order to maintain a safe place.  Planning in advance can help adults to resond quickly and effectively during dangerous situations. 


References

Robertson, C. (2013).  Safety, Nutrition and Health in Early Education (5th edition). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Cengage Learning

The American National Red Cross (2015). Plan and Prepare. Chemical Emergency Preparedness. Retrieved on December 10, 2015 from http://www.redcross.org/prepare/disaster/chemical-emergency

The American National Red Cross (2015). Plan and Prepare. Tornado Safety. Retrieved on December 10, 2015 from http://www.redcross.org/prepare/disaster/tornado
                                               Safety Practices and Policies

When it comes to our children, safety is of the utmost importance.  Between the ages of three to five, children are beginning to become more independent in taking care of needs and desires.  It is the role of educators and parents to help maintain a safe and healthy environment for these children as they continue to grow and learn.  There are several potentially hazardous situations/safety threats that are common during this particular time in their lives.  Five that I would like to highlight and discuss are: toy safety, playground safety,  toxic materials, interpersonal behaviors, and pets.

Between the ages of three and five, toys become a hot commodity.  While seemingly safe, “toy-related accidents caused more than 235,000 children to be injured in 2008, and at least 35 percent of those injured are children under 5 years of age (Robertson, 2013). Within a child care setting, teachers look to maintain age-appropriate materials for the children in their classroom.  Teachers are required to do safety checks of toys and materials within their classroom, so as to cut down on risk of injury.  Parents can assess the age-appropriateness of the toys and materials given to their child, as well as doing regular checks to make sure that none are broken or recalled. 

In playground spaces, riding toys and falls tend to be the cause of many unintentional injuries for children aged 3-5 years, therefore safety measures are put in place, such as use of helmets, supervision of children, and determination of age-appropriateness.  While at home, similar measures can be taken to ensure safety on a playground.  Parents can make sure that children are wearing the proper safety gear while on riding toys.  They can also pre-screen the play space or set up play groups to allow for better supervision.  Carrying a safety kit is another way to help with playground injuries. 

Such measures can also be taken into account with toxic materials.  In a child care setting, it is required to keep all toxic materials locked, preferably high out of children’s reach.  Whether the materials be art, chemical, or otherwise (including plants), it is important that they stay out of children’s hands.  Checking the contents, research, and storage of such materials is imperative in ensuring the safety of children. It is also important that the number for Poison Control be readily available in case of accidental ingestion, inhalation, or other situations involving toxic materials. 

Between the ages of 3-5, children’s behavior can play a role in potentially hazardous situations.  To reduce the risk to interpersonal safety and help prevent behaviors that may cause a safety issue, it is important for educators to “organize the environment to have a positive effect on how children function” (Robertson, 2013).  This can be done both at home and at school by providing rules, routines, and by catching and encouraging good behavior and positive comments.  Children at this age look up to adults for guidance, so modeling positive behavior is also key in preventing negative situations. 

Pets can also be the cause of hazardous/un-safe situations at this age.  If a pet is going to be present, it is important that within the child care facility all “licensing regulations, school policies, and proper sanitary procedures be followed” (Robertson, 2013).  Since each school policy may be different, it is important to keep in mind the friendliness of the animal.  It is also important that the children be monitored and supervised to ensure health and safety. 

While children at this age are becoming more independent and self-reliant, it is still imperative that educators and families keep a watchful eye for any safety risks.  Accidents do occur, but can be prevented or have a lower risk of happening if children are supervised and monitored.  Communication with children about these risks can also aide in the practice of better safety practices at home and in a school setting.



Reference:

Robertson, C. (2013). Health, Safety & Nutrition in Early Education (5th edition). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Cengage Learning