Every school and nursery in Scotland are on a journey to excellence, all schools and early years settings are at different stages of implementing a new Scottish curriculum, entitled Curriculum for Excellence, where there are three core subjects, one of which is health and wellbeing. The experiences and outcomes of this subject are listed under the headings mental, emotional, social and physical wellbeing, planning for choices and change, physical education, physical activity and sport and food and health.
As stated in the Curriculum for Excellence "Children and young people will develop their learning in health and wellbeing by developing the knowledge and understanding, skills, capabilities and attributes which they need for mental, emotional, social and physical wellbeing now and in the future".
In preparation and during the compilation of this project, I have taken account of university readings and notes, literature, legislation, government guidelines, local authority and the nursery improvement plan. The first reading which influenced my project was "Promoting Health a Practical Guide by L Ewles and I Simnett" I realised health has to be promoted in a holistic view and all aspects of health are interrelated and interdependent. (See appendix one)
I will relate the theory of health and wellbeing within the area of physical exercise for the children, parents and staff in Abronhill Nursery School. At present addressing health and wellbeing, the nursery have already received the gold award for health promotion. The way forward here is to ensure all experiences and outcomes, at the early level are being addressed. Taking account of the guideline which is supported by The World Health Organisation, children should have at least one hour of moderate activity most days of the week. In "Let's Make Scotland More Active" it is emphasised that this hour will only have a positive outcome if it is quality time, therefore my planning for the learning experiences in physical exercise had to be thought out and implemented to ensure children benefit from them. I knew that I had to manage my time in order to achieve the 10 experiences with the children and discussed this with the head teacher and the two members of staff assigned to be my mentor.
My main focus in each experience was the outcomes and experiences from the Curriculum for Excellence, in addition to this I researched and read relevant readings. As detailed in planning grid one (Appendix two), I read the Curriculum for Excellence and the Health promotion and nutrition) (Scotland) Act 2007. I gained a knowledge and understanding and was able to choose the appropriate outcomes for my planning. When forward planning, I took into account that physical exercise is vital for physical development, but also cognitive development, which I learned in one of my lectures. This is highlighted in The Helping Young Children to Learn Through Movement Programme by Celia O Donovan who points out that "Children learn through movement and have a better chance of becoming successful learners if they develop, body awareness, muscle tone, balance control, grip and finger movement and hand to eye co-ordination", this in turn links to the five major components of health, "cardio-respiratory, muscular strength, muscular endurance, flexibility and body composition". (Powers and Dodd 2009)
In my first learning experience, I planned an experience that related to nursery planning and took account of children interests. On reflection I know that I provided an activity where the children were fully engaged, highly motivated and interacted well, but in discussion with my mentor, it was pointed out that I must focus more on the outcomes I wanted the children to achieve, this was constructive criticisms. I will focus on the children's progress and I will evaluate appropriately. My self-evaluation allowed me to plan my next experience successfully. "Self-evaluation has become increasing bedded across Scottish education and has contributed well, to improving achievement for all children" (HIME, 2007)
With reference to The Child at the Centre, quality indicator 2.2 "The extent to which parents, carers and families are committed to and actively involved in the life of the centre". My next planned experience learning grid three (Appendix two) takes account of parents and carers who where encourage to take part in a Zumba class. It promotes a knowledge and understanding of what I am trying to achieve with the children and involves the parents in physical exercise. I have read parents as partners and I know that in Abronhill nursery school "Parents and carers will be encouraged to take part in the service with staff establishing effective partnership and keeping in regular communication" (National Care Standards, 2002). This experience also takes account of "Young Children's Health and Wellbeing by Underdown A" which states "Parents are the most crucial resource in promoting children's health and wellbeing, and they should be valued, respected and supported". On reflection I can clearly see how this has been put into practice and how to include parents in their children's learning.
I have included photographs of the wall display I created, using parent's comments (See appendix three).
Within this experience I had a responsibility to meet the needs of an individual child. I was specifically asked to support her in the afternoon zumba class, as she had already participated in the morning. Her keyworker felt support was necessary as she attendances nursery all day. As my observation notes show alternative support was offered. I closely monitored her progress and attended to her individual needs.
My continuous planning for physical exercise within the core subjects of health and wellbeing, I am very aware of making sure I plan a variety of activities to address the outcomes. The children have to be excited and motivated by the challenge set within the activity and this time I planned an obstacle course. Planning grid four (Appendix two). As my observation notes show the children where a bit over excited at the beginning, but I was able to settle them, by calmly speaking to the children and including them in the demonstration. It was important for the children to listen to the rules and stay safe. On reflection in conversation with my mentor I was aware of pre-positional language and she specifically asked me to listen for children who used this, as she will further develop this language and take the children's learning forward. I now understand that during activities there can be very important links to other areas of the curriculum.
The experience I planned for Monday 8th November learning grid number five (Appendix two) was to be held outdoors. This experience was included in nursery planning. (See Appendix four) On reflection I feel the weather was a factor that influenced the children's enjoyment, it was freezing cold and the children did not benefit from this experience, even though they had appropriate clothing on and I am aware if the importance of outdoor learning in all weather conditions. With reference to (Appendix two) experiences numbered six and seven, I feel the equipment (See appendix five) played a big part in the children's learning and promoted physical exercise. The difference was apparent with all of the children, in one case a boy need a drink of water from being on the Wii fit and said to me "I will be back for another go". I noticed this in contrast to experience number five, did nothing to excited them or want them to carry-on. I really learned from this experience how equipment, weather and motivation really affects the children's engagement and learning, in future I would will assess these factors and have another experienced planned as a back up.
I feel the Wii fit is relevant up-to-date, educational and popular with the children and the experience can be linked from home. On reflection I used praise appropriately to motivate the children and promoted independence, the children enjoyed the opportunity to exercise.
In health and wellbeing, during this placement I have addressed and been successful in providing many opportunities for the children to develop a "positive experience of healthy living activities to learn to cope with challenging situations and help them to begin to "acquire the capacity to sustain physical, emotional and social wellbeing" (Curriculum for Excellence )
Within this nursery setting the head teacher and staff are promoting healthy education to each other, visiting staff, children and parents. My work fitted in the overall propriety in the nursery improvement plan and I successfully addressed physical exercise in the early years setting. Relevant readings and further studies made me aware of how other factors influence the health and wellbeing of children e.g. obesity, poverty, attitude of parents and environmental factors.
In the future I will be able to confidently use the knowledge and skills I have gained in the area of physical exercise. I shall extend my knowledge of the other factors by reading and research. I will be able to go in to other early years settings and put my knowledge into practice, but I also need to study the others two areas entitled diet and nutrition and mental health and wellbeing as they are interlinked.