by Eleanor Smith, Service Manager, Strathisla Children’s Centre, Keith
There are many strands within children’s wellbeing, and each differs with individual circumstances and personalities. Children’s brain development is shaped by their experiences, and the adults around them, between the ages of two and seven; thus, the early years are a critical time to provide the fundamentals encompassing health and well-being.
Building healthy habits is essential for our youngest children and positively affects adolescence and adulthood. Physical movement keeps our bodies in good health, and shapes our mental wellbeing. As children enjoy various types of physical activities, and their photos and stories are shared with families, it can have far reaching effects.
We advocate outdoor experiences and offer a free flow system allowing children to choose the freedom of outdoor play. Play Scotland notes, “Playing outdoors enhances learning and is fundamental for children and young people to thrive in their health, well-being, and development.” When the Care Inspectorate released the guidance document – My Active World, we evaluated the experiences we offer children while considering how to develop this further.
One of our amazing parents, a teacher at the local school, offered a session at the school gym hall, where she set out various equipment for the children. The children who went along engaged immediately, their faces lit up with laughter and smiles. The resources set out allowed for an inclusive session for all children and supported physical development, resilience, confidence, social skills, communication, and creative movement.
Children have a right to choose an active life and participate in various recreational, social, creative, physical and learning activities every day, indoors and outdoors.” (UNCRC) due to the success of the session, we are lucky to have been offered regular sessions so that all children can have the opportunity to join in.
We have also enquired about a local dance teacher who would visit the setting once per month and support us in developing creative music and movement for the children. “Children learn with their bodies before they learn with their brains, and in this sense, movement is our first language.” (Goddard Blythe, Movement Your Child’s First Language)
We look forward to gathering the children’s voices on their experiences and how movement makes them feel. We will share this with our families, helping promote physical activities in the setting and the home environment.