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Nutrition, Active Play and Oral Health Policy

Mandatory – Quality Area 2

Purpose

Apex Preschool acknowledges the importance of healthy eating, physical activity and oral health behaviours and its contribution to good health and overall well-being.

This policy will provide guidelines to:

  • Promote a healthy lifestyle to children at the service, including eating nutritious food, participating in physical activity and maintaining oral health.

  • 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

Values

Apex Preschool 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 recognizing 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.

  • Promoting oral health.

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 Apex Preschool.

Background and legislation:

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 behavior 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 well-being and helps protect from disease. Active play is about moving, being and doing.

Oral health is essential for children’s overall health and well-being. Oral disease can negatively affect individuals through pain, discomfort, general health and quality of life. The main oral health condition experienced by children is tooth decay, affecting over half of all Australian children, making it five times more prevalent than asthma. Tooth decay is Australia’s most prevalent health problem despite being preventable.

It is important to provide access to and establish good healthy eating and oral health practices at a young age as most children have formed lifelong habits by school age.

A strong sense of health and well-being, 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).

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