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Health, Safety, and Nutrition: Improve

Infants and Toddlers

Reflecting on and improving your skills and knowledge to support children's emerging understanding and knowledge of safe, healthy behaviors and routines is important work. Here are some ideas you can try with your coach or supervisor to build your teaching practices in this area:

Planning Goals and Action Steps

  • Work with your coach or supervisor to identify the teaching practices you want to build and strengthen. Here are some practices that support infants' and toddlers' emerging understanding and knowledge of safe, healthy behaviors and routines.1
    • Respond positively and promptly when child indicates a need (e.g., hunger, thirst, sleepy, diaper change).
    • Describe what is happening during routine care (e.g., diapering/toileting, dressing, meals, naptime, bathing).
    • Offer healthy foods and provide appropriate portions. Talk with children about the food they are eating and why it is good for them.
    • Follow children's cues as to when they are full rather than pushing for a "clean plate."
    • Establish care routines (e.g., hand washing, toothbrushing, naptime, mealtime, dressing, diapering/toileting) and set up the environment for children to participate (e.g., sturdy step stool to reach sink for handwashing, tissue boxes where children can easily reach them), taking into consideration parent/family values and beliefs regarding independence in self-care.
    • State clear expectations for safe play behaviors. Use a variety of reminders to help children learn and remember what, why, and how to do it and when it is done.
  • In home‐based programs, effective practices may also include broader relationship‐building practices such as those described in Building Partnerships: Guide to Developing Relationships with Families.
  • Create an action plan with timelines to help you use the practices consistently and effectively.

Focused Observation

  • Revisit the teaching practice that you outlined in your planning goals and action steps with your coach/supervisor. Together, plan for and schedule an observation where she can focus on how you implement the practices you've identified.
    • For example, if you chose to focus on the practice, Describe what is happening during routine care, invite your coach/supervisor to observe during a time when you are changing diapers or feeding children. Ask her to listen for the ways that you narrate your actions and the actions of the children involved in the routine care.
  • In home-based programs, observations may focus on how the home visitor engages with parents to identify, adapt, and use the identified teaching and relationship-building practices. They may also focus on how you model the practices.

Reflection and Feedback

  • What went well? What did you do? How did the child/children react or respond?
    • In home-based settings, how did the parents react or respond? How did their reaction support the relationship with their child? Their child's emerging understanding and knowledge of safe, healthy behaviors and routines?
  • Cite specific evidence from the observation. 
  • What seemed challenging? What did you do? How did the child/children react or respond?
    • In home-based settings, how did the parents react or respond? Their child?
  • Cite specific evidence from the observation. 
  • Did your coach/supervisor offer feedback from the observation that was surprising? What supports do you need from her to refine and strengthen the practice? What else would help you strengthen the practice?
  • What would you do differently if you were to use this practice again?
  • What do you hope the child/children/parents will gain by using this practice? How will you know?

Preschoolers

Reflecting on and improving your skills and knowledge to help children gain knowledge of and use safe, healthy behaviors and routines is important work. Here are some ideas you can try with your coach or supervisor to build your teaching practices in this area:

Planning Goals and Action Steps

  • Work with your coach or supervisor to identify the teaching practices you want to build and strengthen. Here are some practices that help preschoolers gain knowledge of and use safe, healthy behaviors and routines.2
    • Teach children basic hygiene and disease-prevention actions and incorporate them into routines throughout the day (e.g., when and how to wash hands, how to use and dispose of tissues).
    • Reinforce good hygiene practices with stories and music.
    • Encourage children to participate in self-care routines with increasing independence (e.g., hand washing, toothbrushing, naptime, mealtime, dressing, toileting). Set up the environment so that children can take care of their own needs (e.g., sturdy step stool to reach sink for handwashing and toothbrushing, toothbrushes where children can easily reach them), taking into consideration parent/family values and beliefs regarding self-care independence.
    • Discuss and model indoor and outdoor safety rules and provide children with many opportunities to practice. Provide gentle reminders as needed. Acknowledge when you see children follow the rules and use safe practices.
    • Recognize and accommodate differences in eating habits and food choices. Be attentive to food allergies and religious and cultural preferences.
    • Integrate nutrition education with basic hygiene education.
    • Emphasize eating foods that "help us grow" or "help us get strong" and limit discussion about weight gain, obesity, or dieting.
    • Encourage children to taste all foods, but do not make them taste or eat food. Allow children to taste and eat foods in the order they prefer.
    • Encourage children to communicate when they are hungry or full and allow them to decide how much to eat.
  • In home‐based programs, effective practices may also include broader relationship‐building practices such as those described in Building Partnerships: Guide to Developing Relationships with Families.
  • Create an action plan with timelines to help you use the practices consistently and effectively.

Focused Observation

  • Revisit the teaching practice you outlined in your planning goals and action steps with your coach/supervisor. Together, plan for and schedule an observation where she can focus on how you implement the practices you've identified.
    • For example, if you chose to focus on the practice, Encourage children to communicate when they are hungry or full and allow them to decide how much to eat, you might invite your coach/supervisor to join you during mealtime. Ask her to observe the way you invite children to communicate whether they are still hungry or full and how you engage children in making decisions about how much to eat. Your coach/supervisor can also watch children's reaction to your efforts to provide additional information about the effectiveness of your practice.
  • In home-based programs, observations may focus on how the home visitor engages with parents to identify, adapt, and use the identified teaching and relationship-building practices. They may also focus on how you model the practices.

Reflection and Feedback

  • What went well? What did you do? How did the child/children react or respond?
    • In home-based settings, how did the parents react or respond? How did their reaction support the relationship with their child? Their child's knowledge and use of safe, healthy behaviors and routines?
  • Cite specific evidence from the observation. 
  • What seemed challenging? What did you do? How did the child/children react or respond?
    • In home-based settings, how did the parents react or respond? Their child?
  • Cite specific evidence from the observation. 
  • Did your coach/supervisor offer feedback from the observation that was surprising? What supports do you need from her to refine and strengthen the practice? What else would help you strengthen the practice?
  • What would you do differently if you were to use this practice again?
  • What do you hope the child/children/parents will gain by using this practice? How will you know?

1Massachusetts Association for the Education of Young Children, Massachusetts Early Learning Guidelines for Infants and Toddlers (Boston, MA: Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care, 2010), 70–72, 76, 149–152, Physical Health and Wellbeing, http://www.eec.state.ma.us/docs1/Workforce_Dev/Layout.pdf.

2California Department of Education, California Preschool Curriculum Framework Volume 2 (Sacramento, CA: author, 2011), 234–237, Health Habits, 253–275, Safety and Nutrition, http://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/cd/re/documents/psframeworkvol2.pdf.

 

Last Updated: July 26, 2018