The health and well-being of children are considered crucial in the development of a child both in the early years setting. Within the early years setting, some social, economic, cultural and environmental factors affect the health and well-being of children as discussed below.
Nutrition plays a major role in the health of children. It is an important factor in the development of a fetus. If a pregnant woman takes inadequate good nutrition, then this will affect the health and well-being of the infant yet to be born. When the baby is born, they require breast milk as it contains unique nutrients of proteins and fats needed for the development and health enhancement of the child. Breastfeeding should be done exclusively up to six months as this contributes and improves the health and development of the child. As children grow and develop, they require both macro and micronutrients in their diet for better health and well-being. These nutrients include proteins, vitamins, carbohydrates, and fats. The absence of these nutrients to children causes malnutrition and food- deficiency diseases which have an adverse impact on a child’s health and well-being.
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The health and well-being of most children may be affected by the behavior of their parents or their primary caregivers. For example, a woman who smokes or consumes alcohol during her pregnancy will affect the health of the infant yet to be born. Children depend entirely on their caregivers for provision, care, and growth. Inadequate parental care, ill-treatment, and neglect during the early years of a child’s development have a negative effect on the health and well-being of a child.
Children ought to be provided with a safe and clean environment to live in. In places where children lack clean water and well-cooked foods, diseases like diarrhea are eminent, and this affects the health and well-being of a child negatively.
Ofsted is a national initiative that looks at how early years setting supports children in their health and well-being. This framework dictates that early years settings must show their efforts in providing a well-balanced diet for children and how they promote the health of the children. Inspections can be carried out to observe how children are kept healthy which can be through activities such as eating and exercising. The inspections can also scrutinize food preparation areas and what the children are offered within their diets (GOV.UK, 2014).
The Eat Better, Start Better programme is run by the Children’s Food Trust. Its objective is to assist early year’s care givers to meet the nutritional needs of children more often and also help the families with young ones to acquire better cooking skills to cook and eat healthily. The programme also encourages children to eat well by encouraging them to consume foods with special dietary requirements (Tassoni, 2014).
An early year practitioner works with young children in a childcare environment such as a nursery or a school. It is their role to ensure that children have a healthy environment to live and learn in. They do this by creating a secure environment for children and assisting the children in learning. They also work hand in hand with parents to support their children.
Practitioners are required to meet the needs of each child and come up with activities that keep the children active and engaged throughout the day. Practitioners help the children in the early years develop listening and reading skills, communication expertise and the capability to read quietly in a class environment. They also observe and monitor the progress of the children in helping them develop. They also maintain the hygiene of children by ensuring that they consume clean food with the right amounts of nutrients. Practitioners include nannies, early year’s teachers, child-minders and pre-school assistants.
Parents partnerships are crucial in the health and well-being of children. These partnerships involve practitioners and parents who work together for the benefit of the child. The partnership involves responsibility on each side, and each of the parties involved respects, values and recognizes the deeds of the other. Practitioners communicate regularly to parents and pass information on the development and progress of their children and their health status.
Practitioners and parents ensure that children are comfortable in their learning and development environments. The partnership is based on trust between the parents and professionals. Through this, parents feel are more involved in the well-being of their children. Also, they can confidently share any health-related information about their children with the practitioners, and this enhances the well-being and health of their children (Institute of Public Health and Ireland and the Centre for Effective Services, 2016). Practitioners also get the chance to understand the children and their families better and the information acquired is used to create a healthy learning environment for the children. This enhances the health and well-being of the children.
The early years of a child’s development significantly determine their health status and their welfare. Proper nutrition and feeding habits, a safe and a clean environment all contribute to the health of children. Also, caregivers and parents should work in partnership to enhance the health and well-being of children.
GOV.UK. (2014). UK Government Organizations -National and Local Initiatives in Health and Well-being of Children. Retrieved September 29, 2017, from GOV.UK: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/ofsted
Institute of Public Health and Ireland and the Centre for Effective Services. (2016). Improving Health and Wellbeing Outcomes in the Early Years. Dublin: Institute of Public Health and Ireland and the Centre for Effective Services.
Tassoni, P. (2014). Health and well-being. London: Hodder Education.
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