Healthy Early Years
Here at the EYEC, we are a part of The Healthy Early Years programme an award scheme which is funded by the Public Health team for Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea and Westminster. The scheme was first run as a pilot in schools and proved to be a huge success. The programme is now open to all early years settings including nurseries, and its main aim is to support, help, guide and encourage settings to develop and expand their focus on health and wellbeing for the children and families they work with.
How the awards are structured
Achievements are recognized by awarding settings who are working on supporting the health and wellbeing of the children and families they work with. The Bronze and Silver awards need to be achieved before the gold can be achieved. This is in place to ensure that settings are developing their knowledge and targets set in place are achieved and change is implemented.
Bronze Award. This is the first stage of the awards and all settings who participate will need to complete the Healthy Early Years Bronze Review Tool to show that they take are taking a whole setting approach to health and wellbeing. This will need to include, physical activity, nutrition, oral health, emotional well-being, safety and immunisations.
Silver Award. Once a setting has achieved the Bronze award it will be able to move on to the Silver award. To achieve a Silver award, settings will recognize the main health and wellbeing priorities for the children and families they work with. Health priorities are identified by conducting surveys, collecting and analysing data. Some example of health urgencies might include healthy weight, emotional health and wellbeing, and oral health. An action plan will need to be submitted with the results of data collected by completing Healthy Early Years Silver Review Tool
Gold Award. The Gold award is achieved by implementing the action plan compiled in the Silver Review Tool. Once Gold has been achieved in one health area, settings will be able to identify up five health priorities in their settings and begin the process again.
The Early Years team have all worked hard towards the Healthy Early Years Award led by Tajinder, who is the 3-5’s section manager and we are pleased to announce that we have now been awarded the Bronze Award.
The main areas we have worked to improve on have been oral health, emotional well-being, physical activity and nutrition. The team have all worked so hard to ensure that all children are reaping the benefits of improved menus, nutrition, sociable mealtimes, encouraging children to drink more water, making healthy choices, dentist visits and activities galore and not forgetting brushing teeth in the afternoons is now part of everyone’s routine.
Silver Award in Emotional wellbeing March - September 2017
After achieving our Bronze award with HEP we decided that the first area of improvement to work on would be Emotional wellbeing. We applied to work on the Silver award and this consisted of collecting data via staff surveys and extracting information from the children's developmental tracker. We collected and analysed the data of 143 children's development and staff completed surveys in relation to their own and the children's emotional well-being. Once the data was analysed, it was highlighted that an improvement was required in the emotional environment for the children and staff communication and wellbeing.
An action plan was put together to work on the emotional environment for the children. This involved activities such as whole staff training on emotional wellbeing including learning about the emotional environment and how routines contribute to a child's wellbeing. Staff to reflect on the emotional environment in their rooms, identify areas of improvement and implement these changes. Some of these improvements were self-registration photos, 'how are you feeling?' walls, images of various emotions, internal parent and child visits to their new rooms, sociable meal times and a focus on activities on friendships and social skills development. Our target was to increase the number of children who are either achieving or exceeding expectations in managing feelings and behaviour from a baseline of 76% to an endline of 85%.
To further improve staff communication and wellbeing, an action plan was put together where staff would attend a wellbeing training course. Staff would be trained on practical strategies to help with their wellbeing. An action plan was also put in place for staff communication this involved activities such as having an 'open door' policy, consistent staff supervisions and expanding the use of a texting system to get information to all staff across the setting. Our target was to increase staff wellbeing and communication from a baseline of 64% to an endline of 75%.
We were thrilled when our action plan was approved by the Quality Assurance Group and we achieved our Silver award in emotional wellbeing.
Gold Award in Emotional wellbeing September 2017 - September 2018
Work with the Children
Staff training helped to raise the profile of emotional wellbeing and facilitated staff reflections. As part of the training, we looked at our routines in more detail and how we could improve the experience for the children and made changes to the routine as a result. The changed varied from one room to another based on issue's identified by the room staff. changed made in the rooms included the following:
- Encouraged Mums to come in and breastfeed during the day. This helped to settle the babies and the Mums were happier with this too.
- Increased use of Makaton to support communication, with parents being informed of this.
- Smiley Shark story to address biting, with leaflets also being sent home to parents to re-enforce this.
- The staff role modelled being gentle, eg gentle hands, gentle hugs etc, and this lead to the children then being more gentle.
- More recognition of individual children’s needs which were responded to. For example, does that child need more time indoors or outdoors.
- Working with the parents to their child’s home routine and slowly helping the child learn the room routine over time.
- A focus on improving eating new foods and exploring new tastes.
- Talking about the emotions of Happy and Sad. There was an increased focus on asking the children how they are feeling at circle times.
- Focus on mealtimes and improving children’s eating. There were a number of children that were showing strong food preferences, and not eating some of the foods offered. Through encouraging better eating, we saw improvements in the behaviour of the children.
- At mealtimes, set up a rising 3 table for those older children who would be transitioning to the pre-school room soon. These children focused on building more independence skills such as cutting their own food and pouring their own drinks. They also got to know the other children who would be moving to another room soon and this process also helped with the transition.
- Implemented Yoga into weekly activities. Staff were able to see visible changes with the children behaviour and an attitude towards learning new skills.
- Access to comfort toys throughout the day and as the child may need it
- Focused on longer and more frequent visits when transitions were happening for the children.
- An increased use of emotional puppets for the children to help explore emotions and feelings.
- Purchased more books for the book corner that had a focus on feelings and emotions. We also bought some ‘You Choose’ type books and used these to encourage interaction and discussion to help build social skills
- Made a rulebook with the children. The rules were framed in positive language (i.e. we do….) rather than negative (i.e. we don’t….). We also put up more positive images around the room
- Encouraged more social meal times, by getting the children to serve each other and help each other out.
- Having a consistent routine to the days and explaining any changes to the routine, allowing them time to process this
- A focus on developing empathy towards other peers in the room and moving away from saying 'sorry', how to resolve conflict, understanding the changes in life, such as leaving the nursery and going to school.
- More family photos, photos of the children’s experiences and parent involvement displays.
- A huge emphasis on ‘Show and Tell’ in all three rooms, helping the children social and conversational skills.
- New children would have a small photo of themselves attached to their signing in name to help them recognise their names when they first begin in the room. The picture will be removed once the child is confident to recognise their name by looking at the letters.
After working on these activities to help improve the emotional environment for the children we were delighted to see that we have exceeded our endline target. We aimed for our endline target to be 85% however we ended on a higher result of 92%. This was achieved through excellent teamwork and staff committing to making a change for the children and their families who attend the EYEC.
Work with Staff
- Training for all staff on EWB was run in September 2017 across a full day. The morning session focused on a whole setting approach to Emotional Wellbeing and the afternoon session looked at staff wellbeing and stress management. This training was well received and helped to increase the focus on this area. Some staff have also attended other training which has impacted on EWB. For example, music training has lead to more active and engaging circle times with the children.
- Two members of staff attended and completed the Emotional Wellbeing Practitioners training, offered by the Educational Psychology Team. Having two members of staff training in this way helped to raise the profile of EWB across the setting. The two members of staff who completed this training were passionate about EWB and this has helped to increase their confidence in this area. They now work alongside the staff in the rooms and provide support and advice where needed.
- There has been a greater focus on mental health across the setting. One member of staff has completed the mental health first aid training and they are onsite at the EYEC. Staff have access to meditation sessions 3 times a week at the college.
- Over the course of one week, the managers did something special for all of the staff, including giving hand massages, supplying food for a staff breakfast in the kitchen and running a meditation class.
- Increased communication to all staff through text messaging
- Twelve months ago, we started having section meetings every three-four months. This means that staff in the babies, toddlers and pre-school sections can meet with each other to discuss any issues that are of most relevance to their children. We also come together as a large team 4 times a year.
- Staffs successes are celebrated with certificates or prizes.
- Staff have quarterly 1-2-1’s and yearly appraisals.
- Senior staff team have monthly 1-2-1’s with section managers and yearly appraisals.
- Section managers have monthly 1-2-1’s with Head of EYEC and yearly appraisals.
After working on these activities to help improve staff wellbeing and communication we were delighted to see that we have exceeded our endline target. We aimed for our endline target to be 75% however we ended on a higher result of 81%. This was achieved through excellent teamwork and staff committing to making a change for themselves and the wider team.
Our aim is to continue to sustain the work we have put in for the children and staff's emotional well-being. We will always thrive to grow and improve our services to the children and their families of the EYEC.
If you would like more information please contact the Healthy Early Years lead Tajinder Pal: firstname.lastname@example.org