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Physical and mental health for young children
Physical and mental health for young children

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1 Introducing the Early Childhood Health Promotion Toolkit

This section explains how the Early Childhood Health Promotion started. Take a look at the video where Jackie introduces and explains the origins of the Early Childhood Health Promotion Toolkit.

In the video, Jackie describes how when she came to look for some resources or publications that were relevant to and specifically written for practitioners in early childhood settings, there was almost nothing available. There are many very useful websites from a range of organisations which do include relevant information and guidance, but there was a need to bring the resources into one location to make access easier. As well as bringing resources and information together in one place, there was also a need to create an approach that would support and guide practitioners to identify the health priorities in their settings. And this is how the Toolkit was born!

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Video 1 Introducing the Early Childhood Health Promotion Toolkit
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The following is a summary of the points Jackie makes in the video:

  • Health promotion is looking at ways that behaviour can be shaped or changed to promote the best possible outcomes, so that people feel well and can reduce the risk of developing illnesses and health problems. Health promotion is often associated with health education campaigns that are aimed at adults. However, it is really important that babies and children have opportunities to promote their health, and of course, babies and children can’t do this by themselves – they need support from the adults around them
  • We need to work together, all adults who have responsibilities for educating and caring for children. It’s not just the responsibility of parents or of early years practitioners in nurseries, pre-school settings or childminders, we can all make a contribution.
  • Child health promotion is embedded in early childhood education and care practice, for example the English EYFS states that ‘providers must promote good health’. However, there is a lack of research and resources that supports practitioners to carry out this. Because there is a lack of guidance and research, with her colleague, Professor Jane Payler at The Open University, Jackie developed a Toolkit to help support practitioners to identify how they can promote the health of babies and young children.
  • The Toolkit includes information and resources about health promotion, and the Toolkit also includes the 5 steps, which are a series of steps that have been designed to guide practitioners about how they can carry out an audit of the health issues relating to babies and children in their setting. This will help them to gain a clear picture of the health issues that are a priority in their setting, and from this information they can identify a health promotion intervention that is relevant and realistic. And very importantly, at the end of the intervention, there is a final step that helps practitioner to evaluate how effective the Toolkit and the 5 steps were in supporting them with promoting health.
  • Jackie says in the video that she was very privileged to be given the opportunity to test out the 5 steps in a nursery. Later in the course you’ll meet Jackie’s co-researcher and also with the managers of the nursery to hear their views about the use of the Toolkit.

The 5 steps of the Toolkit are summarised in the next section.