Get Up & Grow Healthy Eating and Physical Activity for Early Childhood directors/coordinator book



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Section3: Policy

Policy

Introduction to policy


Policies are an important aspect of an early childhood setting, and can be used to support healthy eating and physical activity. A policy document provides clear, consistent information for all staff and carers working with children, as well as for parents and families. Thorough policies can demonstrate a commitment to healthy eating and physical activity, and ensure a high quality of practice.

Developing policy: A ‘how to’ guide


Whether there is an existing policy already in place or one is yet to be developed in a setting, there are some important things to consider.
Policy documents should be functional – outlining strategies for all staff and carers to follow. Also, a policy document should be readily available to everyone working in the setting, and should be reviewed and updated on a regular basis.
A policy document should outline the purpose of the policy, and how it has been developed. Explanations of how policy goals will be achieved should also be included. More specific policy statements should address key areas of practice in a setting. See the outlined sample policies for ideas.

Steps for developing and implementing a policy




1.Form a working group that includes key members from the setting. This group will work together to generate or review the policy document.

2.Identify key stakeholders. Key stakeholders are likely to include parents, families, staff and carers, directors, managers, coordinators and early childhood or healthcare professionals. Invite them to join the working group. Children are also important stakeholders, so it is good to try and include their views, but they cannot officially take part in a working group.

3.Identify any current day-to-day practices that are relevant to food and nutrition and physical activity. Summarise these, as they may form the basis for the policy.

4.Prepare a draft policy document. Seek the advice and assistance of experts if possible, as they may be helpful with this. Include any requirements as prescribed by state or national licensing and accreditation.

5.Circulate the draft policy to all key stakeholders and invite feedback. It is important that staff and families have the opportunity to comment on the policy before it is put in place. A poster-size summary of the policy can be displayed, so that parents see that healthy eating and physical activity are important to the setting. Alternatively, the policy can be spread over several posters, with different points from the policy displayed over time.

6.Implement the new policy. Make any changes that have been set out in the policy document, and ensure that the setting is now operating according to each of the policy statements. Staff may need to be trained in certain areas. Display the policy, so that current parents and carers can view it. Consider ways to share the policy information with new families.

7.Monitor and review the policy. It is a good idea to monitor any changes that have been made in the setting due to the new policy. Review the policy every 12 months to make sure it is up-to-date and relevant.


A poster-size summary of the policy can be displayed, so that parents see that healthy eating and physical activity are important to the setting. Alternatively, the policy can be spread over several posters, with different points from the policy displayed over time.

Sample guidelines for implementing a healthy eating policy


In many cases, state and federal licensing and accreditation requires the development and implementation of food and nutrition policies.
Use the ideas below as a guide for healthy eating and physical activity policies. Start with the purpose of the policy, and then describe how the document has been developed. Include the policy goals in the main body. Describe the strategies that will be used to achieve the policy goals in an appendix to the main document. Add any policy points and further details as relevant to the setting.

Purpose and development of the policy


Include the following at the beginning of the policy document:
Name of early childhood setting.

Date the policy was developed and reviewed.

Role that the policy plays in meeting the needs of children attending the setting.

People involved in developing the policy.

How and when the policy will be reviewed.

Where the policy will be displayed.

How the policy information will be shared with parents.

Healthy eating policy goals

To ensure the nutritional needs of all children are met, either through food provided by the setting or food brought from home. This includes breastmilk and infant formula as appropriate.

To provide relaxed, social mealtime environments where children can try new foods and enjoy eating.

To ensure, in all possible ways, that food is safe for children to eat.



Physical activity policy goals

To prioritise safe active play for children. To ensure staff, carers, children and families are aware of the benefits of daily active play.

To reduce sedentary behaviour and screen-time, and increase active play opportunities within the setting.

To ensure staff, parents and carers understand the importance of reducing sedentary behaviour and screen-time.



Strategies for achieving policy goals


The following strategy ideas can be included when developing a setting’s policy. For each strategy, describe what happens in the setting and then indicate how the setting’s practice supports the policy goal. Of course, there will be other practices in the setting that will be added to this list.

Healthy eating

Goal:

To ensure the nutritional needs of all children are met, either through food provided by the setting or food brought from home. This includes breastmilk and infant formula as appropriate.

Strategy examples:

Breastfeeding is encouraged and supported by the setting.

A quiet, private space is available where mothers can breastfeed and/or express breastmilk (with a power point for an electric pump if needed).

Infant formula is prepared according to the manufacturer’s directions and offered in a clean bottle or cup.

Choking risks for infants are minimised – children are always supervised when eating, infants are never left unattended with a bottle and only food of the appropriate texture is offered.

Food provided by the setting is nutritious, and includes a variety of foods from each of the food groups.

It is encouraged that food brought from home is nutritious, and includes a variety of foods from each of the food groups.

Families will be provided with information and ideas on how to provide nutritious foods for their children, while they are in care.

Water is offered as the main drink and available at all times.

Goal:

To provide relaxed, social mealtime environments where children can try new foods and enjoy eating.

Strategy examples:

Meals and snacks are offered at regular and predictable intervals.

Food offered is of a suitable serving size, and children are given control over how much they eat.

Menu is displayed, so that parents know what their children are offered to eat each day.

Staff take time to discuss mealtimes with parents. Each day, parents are informed about how much and what types of food their child has eaten.

Special occasions are recognised and celebrated with limited use of discretionary choices, and with no specific focus on food. Alternatives to using food to celebrate are considered.



Goal:

To ensure, in all possible ways, that food is safe for children to eat.

Strategy examples:

Individual allergy management plans are developed for children with diagnosed allergies.

Choking risks are minimised, through the provision of appropriate foods.

Food is prepared safely and hygienically, to minimise the risk of contamination.

Hand-washing practices are observed at all times.

Food-handling staff attend relevant training courses, as required.



Physical activity

Goal:

To prioritise safe active play for children. To ensure staff, carers, children and families are aware of the benefits of daily active play.

Strategy examples:

Equipment and play spaces are varied, safe, creative and well-maintained.

A caring and positive play environment is planned, with involvement from children, families and carers.

Staff, carers and parents act as role models for positive physical activity behaviours.

Active play and movement opportunities, including outdoor play, are frequent throughout the day.

The active play program is appropriate for children of all abilities.

Parents are provided with information on how to encourage and provide active play opportunities for their children.

Goal:

To reduce sedentary behaviour and screen-time, and increase active play opportunities within the setting. To ensure staff, parents and carers understand the importance of reducing sedentary time.

Strategy examples:

Play areas offer a variety of play spaces and equipment.

Staff and carers act as role models for appropriate active behaviour, and minimise their own inactivity.

Active transport is promoted and encouraged.

Television and computer screens are not placed in children’s play spaces.

An appropriate balance between inactive and active time is maintained each day.

Parents are provided with information on how to avoid sedentary behaviour at home, and advice on showing their children how to be active.


Section 4: Further Reading

For more information


Please refer to your state or territory resources, as well as specific early childhood setting information.

Healthy eating


Allergy and Anaphylaxis Australia

T: (02) 9482 5988 or 1300 728 000

Website
Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA)

Website
Australian Breastfeeding Association

T: (03) 9885 0855

Breastfeeding helpline: 1800 686 268

Website
Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority

T: 1300 422 327

Website
Australian Dental Association

T: (02) 9906 4412

Website
Australian Dietary Guidelines and Infant Feeding Guidelines

Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing and

National Health and Medical Research Council

Website
Australian General Practice Network

Website
Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing Health Insite

Website
Australian Guide to Healthy Eating,



Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing and National Health and Medical Research Council

Website
Dietitians Association of Australia

T: 1800 812 942 or (02) 6163 5200

Website
Early Childhood Australia

T: (02) 6242 1800 or 1800 356 900

Website
Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ)

T: (02) 6271 2222

Website
Kidsafe

Website
Lactation Consultants of Australia and New Zealand

T: (02) 9431 8621

Website
National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education and Care and School Age Care

Website
Raising Children Network

Website
Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC)

T: (03) 9489 8099

Website

Physical activity


Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing

Website
Get Set 4 Life, Healthy Kids Check

Website
Healthy Opportunities for Preschoolers (HOP)

Website
Sport New Zealand

T: +64 4 472 8058 (international)

Website
2010 Legacies Now

Website


Australian Dietary Guidelines

Guideline 1


To achieve and maintain a healthy weight, be physically active and choose amounts of nutritious food and drinks to meet your energy needs.
Children and adolescents should eat sufficient nutritious foods to grow and develop normally. They should be physically active every day and their growth should be checked regularly.

Older people should eat nutritious foods and keep physically active to help maintain muscle strength and a healthy weight.


Guideline 2


Enjoy a wide variety of nutritious foods from these five groups every day:
plenty of vegetables, including different types and colours, and legumes/beans

fruit


grain (cereal) foods, mostly wholegrain and/or high cereal fibre varieties, such as breads, cereals, rice, pasta, noodles, polenta, couscous, oats, quinoa and barley

lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds, and legumes/beans

milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or their alternatives, mostly reduced fat (reduced fat milks are not suitable for children under the age of two years).

And drink plenty of water.


Guideline 3


Limit intake of foods containing saturated fat, added salt, added sugars and alcohol.
a. Limit intake of foods high in saturated fat such as many biscuits, cakes, pastries, pies, processed meats, commercial burgers, pizza, fried foods, potato chips, crisps and other savoury snacks.
Replace high fat foods which contain predominantly saturated fats such as butter, cream, cooking margarine, coconut and palm oil with foods which contain predominantly polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats such as oils, spreads, nut butters/pastes and avocado.

Low fat diets are not suitable for children under the age of two years.


b. Limit intake of foods and drinks containing added salt.
Read labels to choose lower sodium options among similar foods.

Do not add salt to foods in cooking or at the table.


c. Limit intake of foods and drinks containing added sugars such as confectionary, sugar- sweetened soft drinks and cordials, fruit drinks, vitamin waters, energy and sports drinks.
d. If you choose to drink alcohol, limit intake. For women who are pregnant, planning a pregnancy or breastfeeding, not drinking alcohol is the safest option.

Guideline 4


Encourage, support and promote breastfeeding.

Guideline 5


Care for your food; prepare and store it safely.

Glossary of Terms


Active play: All kinds of play that involve physical activity, including a range of different movements. Includes unstructured ‘free’ play and structured ‘planned’ play (both indoors and outdoors).
Active transport: Types of travel that require physical activity, such as walking, riding a bike or using a scooter.
Baby: A child under the age of 12 months.
Basic food groups: Groups of foods that are classified according to the nutrients they provide. Also known as the ‘five food groups’ or ‘core food groups’.
Discretionary choices: Foods which are high in kilojoules, saturated fat, added sugars and/or salt, and typically offer little nutritional benefit. Also known as ‘extras’ or ‘occasional foods’.
Early childhood setting: Education and care settings for children from birth to five years – including long day care, family day care, preschool and kindergarten.
Everyday physical tasks: Tasks or chores (completed either indoors or outdoors), such as packing up toys, unpacking the shopping or gardening.
Family foods: Foods that are usually offered to all family members at meal times, often with a variety of tastes and textures.
Guided discovery: A series of suggestions or questions posed by adults during play, intended to improve children’s skills.
Infant: A child under the age of 12 months.
Non-productive sedentary behaviour: Activities that don’t require a lot of energy and that are not as necessary to children’s development – such as watching television or playing video games. [See also: Non-productive sedentary behaviour:]
Outdoor play: Active play that takes place outside.
Pre-schooler child: A child aged from three to five years.
Productive sedentary behaviour: Activities that don’t require a lot of energy but which contribute to children’s development, health and wellbeing – such as sleep, reading and quiet play. [See also: Productive sedentary behaviour:]

Risky play: Activities that challenge and allow children to explore new movements and tasks. Often perceived by adults as ‘risky’ because of the risk of bumps, scratches and getting dirty.
Rough and tumble play: Activities that involve children playing boisterously, either alone or with others.
Screen-time: Time spent watching or interacting with electronic screens, such as watching television, or playing handheld or computer games.
Sedentary behaviour: Spending time on physically inactive tasks that do not require a lot of energy to complete, such as reading, sitting in car restraints or watching television. [See also: Productive sedentary behaviour:; Non-productive sedentary behaviour:]
Solids: The first solid foods offered to babies, usually at around six months, supplementing the diet of breastfeeds and/or infant formula.
Staff and carers: Staff and carers working in early childhood education and care settings.
Structured play: Planned activities, that may occur at set times, have certain rules or equipment, and that are usually facilitated by adults. Also referred to as ‘adult-directed play’ and ‘planned play’.
Toddler: A child aged from one to two years.
Tummy time: Active play time that babies spend lying on their stomach, and which helps develop head, neck and trunk muscles.
Unstructured play: Creative and spontaneous play that gives children the freedom to decide what, where and how they play. Also referred to as ‘child-centred play’ and ‘free play’.
Young child: A child aged from one to five years.

Section 5: Other Resources

Staff and Carer Book (separate document)

Family Book (separate document)

Cooking for Children (separate document)




Acknowledgements


The Get Up & Grow: Healthy eating and physical activity for early childhood resources are an initiative of the Australian Government and were developed by a consortium of the Centre for Community Child Health (a department of the Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne and a key research centre of the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute), Nutrition & Food Services at the Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne, and Early Childhood Australia.
The consortium would like to thank the Get Up & Grow Reference Group, which included nutrition, physical activity, child health and early childhood professionals, and state and territory government representatives. The consortium also thanks the early childhood education and care organisations and staff, nutrition an activity key stakeholders, and parents and families who were consulted and provided invaluable advice and feedback during the development of Get Up & Grow.
This project is funded by the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing.
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