Nutrition and Active Play

Nutrition and Active Play Policy

Mandatory – Quality Area 2

Purpose

Elsa Macleod Kindergarten acknowledges the importance of healthy eating and physical activity, and its contribution to good health and overall wellbeing.

This policy will provide guidelines to:

  • promote a healthy lifestyle to children at the service, including eating nutritious food and participating in physical activity
  • provide opportunities for active play
  • encourage children to make healthy lifestyle choices consistent with national and state guidelines and recommendations
  • ensure that the dietary and cultural needs of children and families are taken into consideration when planning menus for service events and activities.

Policy statement

1.   Values

Elsa Macleod Kindergarten is committed to:

  • promoting nutritious food and eating habits that will contribute to healthy growth and development in children
  • providing a safe, supportive and social environment in which children can enjoy eating
  • consulting and working collaboratively with families in regard to their child’s nutrition and dietary requirements, including responding appropriately to food allergies and recognising cultural and religious practices, and lifestyle choices
  • ensuring that food and drink items provided by the service are consistent with national and state guidelines and recommendations
  • providing children and families with opportunities to learn about food, nutrition and healthy lifestyles
  • ensuring adequate health and hygiene procedures, including safe practices for handling, preparing, storing and serving food
  • encouraging physical activity by providing a range of active play experiences for all children at the service.

2.   Scope

This policy applies to the Approved Provider, Nominated Supervisor, Certified Supervisors, educators, staff, students on placement, volunteers, parents/guardians, children and others attending the programs and activities of Elsa Macleod Kindergarten.

3.   Background and legislation

Background

There are many benefits to promoting a healthy lifestyle in early childhood education and care settings, including the positive impact this has on each child’s learning and development. Being made aware of positive eating behaviour and the importance of physical activity from an early age can instil good habits that will remain throughout a person’s life. Educators/staff are well placed to build this awareness among children and their families, while respecting lifestyle choices, and cultural and religious values.

The foods we eat provide our body with the nutrients we need to stay healthy. Good nutrition is the balanced eating of a variety of foods, and is especially important for children as they require a large amount of nutrients for growth and development. Research has shown that, when offered a variety of healthy foods, children can and do make good choices. It is also important to provide preschool children with a good foundation in healthy eating, as most children have formed lifelong eating habits before they reach school age. Education and care settings provide many opportunities for children to experience a range of healthy food, and to learn about food choices from educators and other children (Belonging, Being & Becoming – The Early Years Learning Framework for Australia, p30 – refer to Sources).

Active play (play that involves using the large muscles in the body) develops a strong and healthy body, builds motor and co-ordination skills, creates a sense of wellbeing and helps protect from disease. Active play is about moving, being and doing.

A strong sense of health and wellbeing, supported by good nutrition and an active lifestyle, can provide children with confidence, energy and optimism that will contribute to their ability to concentrate, co-operate and learn (Belonging, Being & Becoming – The Early Years Learning Framework for Australia, p30 – refer to Sources). Learning about healthy lifestyles, including nutrition and active play, links directly to Outcome 3 in both the Early Years Learning Framework and the Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework (refer to Sources).

The Australian Government has produced guidelines, recommendations and resources for healthy eating and physical activity in early childhood settings, including the National Health and Medical Research Council’s Dietary Guidelines for Children and Adolescents in Australia (refer to Sources) and the Get Up & Grow: Healthy Eating and Physical Activity for Early Childhood resources (refer to Sources). Practical, healthy eating advice is also available to early childhood services and schools via a telephone advice line: the Victorian Healthy Eating Advisory Service (VHEAS – refer to Sources), run by Nutrition Australia. Early childhood education and care services can also register for the Victorian Prevention and Health Promotion Achievement Program (refer to Sources). This program is designed to create safe, healthy and friendly environments for learning, by promoting physical, mental and social health and wellbeing.

Progressive meal times

In recognising children as active participants in their own learning, children should be encouraged to make meaningful decisions about elements of their own education and care. Incorporating progressive meal times into the educational program allows children to choose to eat when they are hungry, rather than according to a timetable. Children can gather in small groups to enjoy meals together, without interrupting the needs and play of others. This also encourages quieter, more social and meaningful interactions at meal times and allows for a smoother flow throughout the day. Children can make decisions based on their own needs, and can be supported to access food and water throughout the day by educators/staff, who actively participate in meal times.

A decision with respect to incorporating progressive     meal times into the educational program must
take into account the needs of all children at the service, particularly     children with specific medical conditions such as diabetes. The National Regulations     require services to ensure that children with medical conditions are able     to participate fully in the educational program, and are not discriminated     against in any way.

 

Legislation and standards

Relevant legislation and standards include but are not limited to:

  • Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code
  • Child Wellbeing and Safety Act 2005
  • Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth)
  • Education and Care Services National Law Act 2010
  • Education and Care Services National Regulations 2011: Regulations 77–78, 79–80 (if the service provides food), 168
  • Equal Opportunity Act 2010 (Vic)
  • Food Act 1984 (Vic), as amended 2012
  • National Quality Standard, Quality Area 2: Children’s Health and Safety

–    Standard 2.2: Healthy eating and physical activity are embedded in the program for children

–    Element 2.2.1: Healthy eating is promoted and food and drinks provided by the service are nutritious and appropriate for each child

–    Element 2.2.2: Physical activity is promoted through planned and spontaneous experiences and is appropriate for each child

  • Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004

4.   Definitions

The terms defined in this section relate specifically to this policy. For commonly used terms e.g. Approved Provider, Nominated Supervisor, Regulatory Authority etc. refer to the General Definitions section of this manual.

Active play: Large muscle-based activities that are essential for a child’s social, emotional, cognitive and physical growth and development.

Adequate supervision: (In relation to this policy) supervision entails all children (individuals and groups) in all areas of the service, being in sight and/or hearing of an educator at all times including during toileting, sleep, rest and transition routines. Services are required to comply with the legislative requirements for educator-to-child ratios at all times. Supervision contributes to protecting children from hazards that may emerge in play, including hazards created by the equipment used.

Adequate supervision refers to constant, active and diligent supervision of every child at the service. Adequate supervision requires that educators are always in a position to observe each child, respond to individual needs, and immediately intervene if necessary. Variables affecting supervision levels include:

  • number, age and abilities of children
  • number and positioning of educators
  • current activity of each child
  • areas in which the children are engaged in an activity (visibility and accessibility)
  • developmental profile of each child and of the group of children
  • experience, knowledge and skill of each educator
  • need for educators to move between areas (effective communication strategies).

Healthy eating: Describes eating patterns that provide all the recommended nutrients for growth and development, and good health and wellbeing, now and in the future. It also refers to preparing, serving and eating food in a way that recognises its importance as a social and cultural activity.

Nutrition: The process of providing or receiving nourishing substances.

‘Sometimes’ foods and drinks: Food and drink items that are high in fat, sugar and salt, and that contain minimal vitamins, minerals or fibre.

5.   Sources and related policies

Sources

  • Belonging, Being & Becoming – The Early Years Learning Framework for Australia:
    www.deewr.gov.au/EarlyChildhood/Policy_Agenda/Quality/Pages/
    EarlyYearsLearningFramework.aspx#key documents
  • Dietary Guidelines for Children and Adolescents in Australia (currently being reviewed):
    www.nhmrc.gov.au/guidelines/publications/n29-n30-n31-n32-n33-n34
  • Food Safety Victoria, Department of Health – Food Safety and Regulation: 1300 364 352
  • Better Health Channel: www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au
  • Cancer Council Australia – for information on sun safety: www.cancer.org.au/sunsmart
  • Cavallini, I and Tedeschi, M (eds) (2008), The Languages of Food: recipes, experiences, thoughts. Reggio Children Publications
  • Food Standards Australia New Zealand – for information on food safety and food handling: www.foodstandards.gov.au
  • Get Up & Grow: Healthy Eating and Physical Activity for Early Childhood:
    www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/phd-early-childhood-nutrition-resources
  • Kids and Traffic – Early Childhood Road Safety Education Program: www.kidsandtraffic.mq.edu.au
  • Kidsafe: the Child Accident Prevention Foundation of Australia – for information on preventing childhood accidents in children under the age of 15 years: www.kidsafe.org.au
  • Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne, Limit ‘Sometimes’ Foods Background Paper
  • Nitzke, S, Riley, D, Ramminger, A and Jacobs, G (2010), Rethinking Nutrition: Connecting Science and Practice in Early Childhood Settings. Redleaf Press, St Paul, USA
  • Oberklaid, F (2004), Health in Early Childhood Settings: From Emergencies to the Common Cold. Pademelon Press, NSW
  • National Health and Medical Research Council (2005), Staying Healthy in Child Care: Preventing infectious diseases in child care: www.nhmrc.gov.au/guidelines (Note: this publication is currently being revised and will have significant changes. It is important that services refer to the most up-to-date version of this resource.)
  • Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework: www.education.vic.gov.au/
    earlylearning/eyldf/default.htm
  • Victorian Healthy Eating Advisory Service (VHEAS) provides advice for Victorian primary and secondary schools and all licensed children’s services on healthy eating, including:

–    over-the-phone advice from nutrition experts on providing healthy food and drink to children

–    menu assessments

–    direct contact through an easy-to-access email address (Nutrition Australia).

Contact VHEAS: phone 1300 225 288 or email vheas@nutritionaustralia.org

  • Victorian Prevention and Health Promotion Achievement Program: www.health.vic.gov.au/
    prevention/achieve_early_childhood.htm
  • Anaphylaxis Policy
  • Asthma Policy
  • Curriculum Development Policy
  • Dealing with Infectious Diseases Policy
  • Diabetes Policy
  • Excursions and Service Events Policy
  • Food Safety Policy
  • Hygiene Policy
  • Incident, Injury, Trauma and Illness Policy
  • Inclusion and Equity Policy
  • Sun Protection Policy
  • ensuring that the service environment and educational program supports children and families to make healthy choices for eating and active play
  • ensuring the implementation of adequate health and hygiene procedures, and safe practices for handling, preparing and storing food, to minimise risks to children being educated and cared for by the service (Regulation 77) (refer to Hygiene Policy and Food Safety Policy)
  • ensuring that all educators/staff comply with the Food Safety Act
  • ensuring that all educators/staff are aware of a child’s food allergies and/or other medical conditions on enrolment or on initial diagnosis
  • ensuring measures are in place to prevent cross-contamination of any food given to children with diagnosed food allergies and/or diabetes (refer to Anaphylaxis Policy, Asthma Policy, Diabetes Policy and Food Safety Policy)
  • ensuring that all educators/staff are aware of, and plan for, the dietary needs of children diagnosed with diabetes (refer to Diabetes Policy)
  • providing healthy suggestions for morning/afternoon tea and/or lunchboxes for children
  • discouraging parents/guardians from providing children with ‘sometimes’ foods and drinks (refer to Definitions)
  • ensuring that fresh drinking water is readily available at all times, and reminding children to drink water throughout the day, including at snack/lunch times (Regulation 78(1)(a))
  • ensuring that food and drinks are available to children at frequent and regular intervals throughout the day (Regulation 78(1)(b))
  • ensuring that the service environment and the educational program supports children and families to make healthy choices for eating and active play
  • ensuring the implementation of adequate health and hygiene procedures, and safe practices for handling, preparing and storing food, to minimise risks to children being educated and cared for by the service (Regulation 77) (refer to Hygiene Policy and Food Safety Policy)
  • ensuring that all educators/staff comply with the Food Safety Act
  • ensuring that all educators/staff are aware of a child’s food allergies and/or other medical conditions on enrolment or on initial diagnosis
  • ensuring measures are in place to prevent cross-contamination of any food given to children with diagnosed food allergies and/or diabetes (refer to Anaphylaxis Policy, Asthma Policy, Diabetes Policy and Food Safety Policy)
  • ensuring that all educators/staff are aware of, and plan for, the dietary needs of children diagnosed with diabetes (refer to Diabetes Policy)
  • ensuring that fresh drinking water is readily available at all times, and reminding children to drink water throughout the day, including at snack/lunch times (Regulation 78(1)(a))
  • ensuring that food and drinks are available to children at frequent and regular intervals throughout the day (Regulation 78(1)(b))
  • ensuring that cultural and religious practices/requirements of families are accommodated to support children’s learning and development
  • complying with the service’s Nutrition and Active Play Policy and with the Food Safety Act
  • implementing adequate health and hygiene procedures, and safe practices for handling, preparing and storing food, to minimise risks to children (refer to Hygiene Policy and Food Safety Policy)
  • being aware of a child’s food allergies and/or other medical conditions on enrolment at the service or on initial diagnosis
  • implementing measures to prevent cross-contamination of any food given to children with diagnosed food allergies and/or diabetes (refer to Anaphylaxis Policy, Asthma Policy, Diabetes Policy and Food Safety Policy)
  • being aware of, and planning for, the dietary needs of children diagnosed with diabetes (refer to Diabetes Policy)
  • ensuring that the service environment and the educational program supports children and families to make healthy choices for eating and active play
  • discussing healthy eating choices with children, introducing the concept of ‘sometimes’ foods and drinks, and role-modelling positive behaviours
  • exploring and discussing diverse cultural, religious, social and family lifestyles
  • considering this policy when organising excursions and service events
  • supporting students and volunteers to comply with this policy while at the service
  • ensuring that fresh drinking water is readily available at all times, and reminding children to drink regularly throughout the day, including at snack/meal times
  • ensuring that children can readily access their own clearly labelled drink containers
  • providing food and drinks at regular intervals, and encouraging children to actively participate in, and enjoy, snack/meal times without feeling rushed
  • providing adequate supervision (refer to Definitions) for all children during meal/snack times
  • encouraging children to be independent at snack/meal times e.g. opening lunchboxes, pouring drinks, self-feeding, serving and using utensils in a culturally-sensitive way
  • planning and providing outdoor, active play that is stimulating, promotes skill development, considers safety issues and provides adequate supervision (refer to Definitions)
  • considering opportunities for children to be physically active indoors, particularly in adverse weather conditions
  • providing daily opportunities for all children to participate in age-appropriate active play
  • promoting safe behaviour through daily practice as part of the program.
  • complying with the requirements of this policy
  • providing details of specific nutritional/dietary requirements, including the need to accommodate cultural or religious practices or food allergies, on their child’s enrolment form, and discussing these with the Nominated Supervisor prior to the child’s commencement at the service, and if requirements change over time (refer to Anaphylaxis Policy, Asthma Policy and Diabetes Policy)
  • communicating regularly with educators/staff regarding children’s specific nutritional requirements and dietary needs, including food preferences
  • encouraging their child/ren to drink an adequate amount of water
  • providing healthy, nutritious food for snacks/meals, including fruits and vegetables where applicable
  • providing healthy, nutritious food, including fruits or vegetables for sharing at morning or afternoon tea, where applicable
  • providing nutritious food and drinks for celebrations, fundraising activities and service events, consistent with service policy
  • encouraging children to exercise by engaging in active play

Service policies

Procedures

The Approved Provider is responsible for:

The Nominated Supervisor is responsible for:

Certified Supervisors and other educators/staff are responsible for:

Parents/guardians are responsible for:

Volunteers and students, while at the service, are responsible for following this policy and its procedures.


Evaluation

In order to assess whether the values and purposes of the policy have been achieved, the Approved Provider will:

  • regularly seek feedback from educators, staff, parents/guardians, children, management and all affected by the policy regarding its effectiveness
  • monitor the implementation, compliance, complaints and incidents in relation to this policy
  • keep the policy up to date with current legislation, research, policy and best practice
  • revise the policy and procedures as part of the service’s policy review cycle, or as required
  • notify parents/guardians at least 14 days before making any change to this policy or its procedures.

Attachments

Nil

Authorisation

This policy was adopted by the Approved Provider of Elsa Macleod Kindergarten in September, 2013

Review date:    September, 2017