The World Health Organisation (WHO) describes health promotion as:
‘the process of enabling people to increase control over, and to improve their health.’ (WHO 1986, p.11)
Through discussion with the Head of Establishment and members of staff at Kirklandpark Nursery, staff wished to incorporate diet and nutrition into their room planning. They felt this would be an effective area of focus as the nursery was working towards its silver award in the Health Promoting Nurseries. Staff also informed me that what I carried out would be used as evidence towards this.
One of the strategies that educators can use to promote the health and wellbeing within children’s services is the enablement strategy. This aims to ensure there are equal chances for all to reach optimum health (Naidoo and Wills, 2000:86).
This strategy also helps people expand their knowledge and skills in health matters, so they can recognise and deal with health issues in their lives (Naidoo and Wills, 2009:62).
Within the Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) there is a significant focus on the curriculum area ‘health and wellbeing’. In the experiences and outcomes there is a section on ‘Food and Health’, which aspires children to build on their existing skills and knowledge to make better food choices for a healthier future.
According to the Curriculum for Excellence:principles and practice:
‘A poorly balanced diet can contribute to the risk of developing a number of diseases and conditions including tooth decay, obesity, certain cancers, diabetes, coronary heart disease and stroke’ (Scottish Executive 2007, p.7)
With the CfE’s assessment in mind, and having liaised with children and staff, I planned an experience and used the enablement strategy to promote this. Observation 5 demonstrates that children were enabled with information and knowledge about the reasons for their own health, as we discussed why healthy/unhealthy foods were good and not so good for our bodies.
While confident about the general promotion of health and wellbeing, when educating the children on the causes of their own health. I initially found it difficult to explain exactly what unhealthy foods can do to our bodies. I consulted my mentor for ideas and she provided me with suggestions on how I could implement this. I strongly feel this is an area for development.
The enablement strategy resembles the empowerment strategy as it requires practitioner’s to act as a facilitator, then step back, giving control to society (Naidoo and Wills, 2009)
Adventures in Foodland is a pack which aims to direct educators in positively inspiring children to acquire a taste for eating healthily at a young age. (NHS Health Scotland, 2003). I used the enablement strategy to do this.
As an educator I found this pack extremely relevant and helpful. In observation 7 the children were given control as they informed me which foods they would like to try. I listened and acted as the facilitator by purchasing the foods, helping to prepare them and then stepping back, allowing the children to be in control. The children were given the choice to try the foods which I provided them. A social learning theorist, Albert Bandura believed that children copy others who have more power than them e.g. adults (Sayers, 2008 cited in Flanagan 2004) In observation 7 I was a good role model and tried the foods with the children, which encouraged others to try as well.
I also used the educational strategy. This is similar to the enablement strategy as it aims to provide people with knowledge and information, in order for them to make a choice about the way they feel about their health. (Naidoo and Wills, 2000)
The educational strategy differs from the behaviour change strategy as it does not make a person change the way they do things but instead encourages change (Naidoo and Wills 2000).
The National Care Standards, Standard 3.3 ââ‚¬” Health and Wellbeing states:
‘children and young people have opportunities to learn about healthy lifestyles and relationships, hygiene, diet and personal safety’ (Scottish Executive, 2009).
Diet and nutrition relates to this standard and links with the educational and enablement strategy I used. The children were given equal opportunities to learn about these stated in standard 3.3. In observation 7 I used a big book with the children to gather their ideas on hygiene and personal safety. I strongly believe that doing this was a useful and effective way in gathering ideas to promote the health and well-being to everyone in the setting.
I explained to the children what the book would be used for, I listened to their ideas and worked in a team with all partners. I was also assertive in speaking to children about the big book, and consulting them about ideas.
My mentor offered valuable feedback and encouraged me to consult more with parents and show them their child’s work.
A publication by Her Majestyââ‚¬â„¢s Inspectorate of Education’s (HMIE) titled How good is our school? The Journey to Excellence promotes well-being and respect. In dimension 9 there is an aspect on ‘promoting positive healthy attitudes and behaviours’ (HMIE, 2006)
This links with the educational strategy I used as it encourages and provides people with the knowledge and information they need to make choices.
Observation 6 demonstrates how important the educational strategy is in providing children with knowledge of a healthy balanced diet. This allowed children to think about what they eat. Some children thought differently and changed their views in a positive way. However, I found it difficult to explain what was meant by a healthy balanced diet in words that children would understand. I came across ‘the eatwell plate’ after finishing the project which would have been a fantastic resource to use with the children and help further their understanding. For my continuing professional development I aim to focus on how to better myself in finding other ways to communicate with children effectively when explaining what is meant by a healthy balanced diet.
Advocacy is a further strategy used to promote health and wellbeing. Advocacy means talking on out for someone, such as a child, parent or a subject matter (Hall and Elliman 2007).
Advocacy is also about expanding people’s knowledge on the health matter. (Naidoo and Wills 2009)
Improving Health in Scotland: The Challenge aims to better the health of people living in Scotland (Scottish Executive, 2003) I used advocacy to do so by speaking out for the children in regards to their diet and nutrition. Observation 2 helped to expand knowledge among children, parents and staff regarding this. I helped change the home corner into a fruit and vegetable shop. Multi-agency working was used and I demonstrated assertiveness in putting my point across when communicating with staff about which ways to promote health and wellbeing.
I also employed the enablement and the empowerment strategy when I acted as the facilitator and allowed the children to take control of the experience, as they chose which resources they wanted to go in their shop.
The Schools (Health Promotion and Nutrition) (Scotland) Act 2007 puts emphasis on health promotion being a huge part of the activities provided in schools.
(Scottish Government, 2007) The 10 learning experiences I carried out played a significant part in promoting the health and wellbeing of others.
I feel the enablement and empowerment strategy was successful in promoting health and wellbeing to all partners. The children were given choice and were in control. Parents were also empowered to take control and choose to take on board the knowledge provided. I involved parents by writing on the white board to inform them of what the children had been learning. This ties in with the Nutritional Guidelines for Early Years as it encourages educators to speak to parents daily to inform them what was available for snack (Scottish Executive, 2006) In observation 10 M’s grandfather told me he had never considered making fruit kebabs before but he liked the idea and intended to make them for M’s birthday party at the weekend. A further area I can improve on is building relationships with all parents.
I also feel the educational strategy worked in the sense that some children made healthier choices at snack and at home. This also promoted health and wellbeing for parents as their child was influencing healthier choices at home. A few children continued to make unhealthy choices by asking for a biscuit at snack. As the educational strategy encourages rather than instructs change, this did not work well with a couple of the children/parents.
If I had more time, I would involve parents and other commercial partners more, such as Sainsburyââ‚¬â„¢s and deepen children and parents understanding further.
My mentor also said if I had longer I could make parents more involved, by inviting them for snack and encouraging them to help out, such as taking the children to the shops to buy snack.
In conclusion, I feel my ability to promote the health and wellbeing in the area diet and nutrition to service users in Kirklandpark nursery was done well considering the short period of time I had. I took account of literature, national advice and my mentors feedback. The strategies I used were effective and my findings from literature, government publications and initiatives helped me discuss this. By doing this project it has made me realise there are strategies I need to work on in order to professionally develop.
WORD COUNT 1648
Hall, D. and Elliman, D. (2003). Health For All Children (4th Edition). Oxford: Medical Publications.
HMIE (2006) How good is our school? A Journey to Excellence, Livingston
Naidoo, J. and Wills, J. (2009) Foundations for Health Promotion (3rd Edition)
Naidoo, J. and Wills, J (2000) Health Promotion: Foundations for Practice (2nd Edition)
NHS Scotland (2003) Adventures in Foodland, Edinburgh
Sayers, S. (2008) HNC Early Education and Childcare Heinemann
Scottish Executive (2007) Curriculum for Excellence: health and wellbeing principles and practice,Learning and Teaching Scotland
Scottish Executive (2003) Improving Health in Scotland: The Challenge, Edinburgh
Scottish Executive (2006) Nutritional guidelines for early years: food choices for children aged 1-5 years in early education and childcare settings, Edinburgh
Scottish Executive (2009) The National Care Standards for Early Education and Childcare up to the Age of 16; Standard 3 Health and Wellbeing