Health for kids is a very important factor to consider in preschool education. The role of the school is geared towards the correct attitude to health practices which the kids can develop as early as possible. As the schools strive to provide a safe, encouraging and stimulating environment for optimal cognitive development, measures should also be taken to make sure that health, safety and nutrition are included.
There are many factors that influence the health of children. Included in these factors are the following: Heredity, the environment where the kids live (which comprises the physical, economic, social and cultural factors), access to medical and dental care, good dietary habits. All these aspects contribute to the wellness of the child.
When kids have good health, they are expected to be cooperative and participative in the classroom. They are more likely to benefit from the activities and lessons taught in school. All the sophisticated teaching strategies will not be effective if they are feeling low, tired or depressed. Notice how a child who has a simple cold and coughs or toothace ceases to join in the discussion. Any illness will interfere with the child’s energy level and their interest and enjoyment of learning is greatly affected.
ROLE OF EARLY CHILDHOOD TEACHERS
The teachers in preschool play a very important role in promoting health for kids. They should have a basic knowledge and understanding of health, safety and nutrition issues that affect young children. Early signs of many health problems will affect learning. Therefore, teachers should also work together with the parents to ensure the most favorable health for kids.
Being aware of the children’s health status can be very helpful in detecting health problems in the early stages of a child’s development. In school, this can be done by using observation as a screening tool. The teacher can set up an area in the classroom where she can conduct health checks. Health checks should be conducted in the same area so that the kids become familiar with the place and the routine.
HEALTH OBSERVATION CHECKLIST
Here are the different aspects that the teachers should note and observe. The teacher should also know the normal growth and development of children. Coupled with knowledge and information gathered during observation, this can be used as a baseline of the typical behavior and appearance of each child.
General appearance: Get the child’s weight. Is he gaining or losing weight? Are there signs of fatigue or unusual excitability? Is her skin tone pale or flushed? What is his size for his age group?
Scalp: Observe the scalp for sores, head lice, itching, hairloss and cleanliness.
Face: Check to see if there are rashes, scratches or bruises. Also note the child’s general expresssion. Is she fearful, angry, happy, tired, sad?
Eyes: Spot any puffiness or redness in the eyes. Are there discharges? Examine for uncoordinated movements, sensitivity to light and even frequent rubbing. Also note if the child has the tendency to watch the letters or objects closely.
Ears: Are the ears clean? Check for drainage, redness and appropriate responses to sounds or verbal requests
Nose: Is the child always having colds? Sniffing? Note any deformity, frequent rubbing, congestion, or sneezing.
Mouth: Using a flashlight, look inside the mouth. Check the teeth, tooth cavities, malformations, sores or mouth breathing.
Throat: Inspect for enlarged or red tonsils, red throat, white patches on throat or tonsils, drainage, or unusual breath odors.
Neck: Touch the neck. Feel for enlarged glands.
Chest: watch the child’s breathing and note any wheezing, rattles, shortness of breath, coughing
Skin: Open the shirt and check the chest and back for color (pallor or redness), rashes, scratches, bumps, bruises, scars, unusual warmth and perspiration.
Extremities: Observe the child’s posture, coordination; note conditions such as bowed legs, toeing-in, or arms and legs of unequal length.
Speech: Listen for clarity, nasality, stuttering, mispronunciations, monotone voice, and appropriateness for her age.
Behavior and temperament: Note any changes in alertness, cooperation, appetite, interest in doing the activities, temper tantrums, toileting habits, irritability or uncharacteristic restlessness.
OTHER TYPES OF INFORMATION GATHERING:
- Dietary assessment
- Health histories
- Results of medical examinations
- Teacher observations and health checks
- Dental examinations
- Parent interviews
- Vision and hearing screenings
- Speech evaluations
- Psychological testing
- Developmental evaluations
Armed with this information and data, teachers and parents are made aware of their role in the promoting good health for kids. After all, we must never forget that good health is essential for effective learning.