Early Childhood Health and Nutrition
Health and nutrition is essential to support school readiness
A child’s health can greatly impact their ability to learn. In order to ensure that each child is ready to learn it is important to meet all of their health and nutrition needs. The Early Childhood school environment is prepared to recognize any signs or symptoms the child may be experiencing and work with families to provide for individual needs. A safe environment allows children to be more independent in their play, to explore their surroundings, and learn about rules and routines to know what is safe and appropriate.
Students learn independence and self-help skills through the daily routine of handwashing, toileting and mealtimes. When children learn and practice all of these healthy habits in school, it makes it easier for them to continue them at home and for the rest of their lives.
Children learn how to properly wash their hands, which helps prevent the spread of germs and illnesses.
Children develop toileting skills at different rates. Adults support the students learning the routine of toileting and handwashing and provide assistance as needed.
Mealtime in the classroom is considered a part of the classroom day and is an integral part of the total education program. Adults model appropriate mealtime behavior and food practices. Adults facilitate the development of social skills and language skills by participating in mealtime conversations. Mealtimes provide children with opportunities for decision making, responsibility, sharing, communication, fine motor skills, eye-hand coordination, self-help skills, math skills and independence.
Meals in the FECEP/Head Start classroom:
Healthy foods are provided in the FECEP/Head Start classroom. Each day, students receive breakfast, lunch and one snack. The goal of the menu is to help introduce healthy foods to each child. Exploring new foods with their peers and teachers in the classroom can help children learn how to make healthy choices for the rest of their lives. Another key component of meal time is the practice of family style meals. Conducting family style meals appropriately in the classroom provides an interactive way for teachers to model and support healthy behaviors, and provides multiple opportunities for nutrition education.
A typical menu for a day in the classroom might look like this:
- 1 oz Breakfast Bread
- ½ c Peaches
- ½ pt 1% Unflavored Milk
- ¼ c Teriyaki Chicken
- ¼ c Brown Rice
- ¼ c Snap Peas and Green Beans
- ¼ c Pineapple
- ½ pt 1% Unflavored Milk
- ½ c Zucchini Coins w Veggie Dip
- ¾ oz WG Goldfish
Dental, Hearing & Vision
In the FECEP/Head Start classroom children also learn the importance of dental hygiene by participating in classroom activities focused on dental health and by brushing their teeth every day under the supervision of a teacher. Also, all students enrolled in the FECEP/Head Start program receive yearly vision and hearing screening. The program’s health and family service teams work closely with classrooms and families to provide resources and student support.