Starting off the healthy way — how the great outdoors provides fantastic learning environments for young children

Childminders from Barry joined local public health colleagues and Grow Cardiff to discuss and highlight the fantastic benefits outdoor play has to offer.

As part of the Vale of Glamorgan Healthy and Sustainable Pre School Scheme’s (HaSPSS) recent online seminar ‘Promoting a Healthy Weight for Pre-School Age Children’, childminders Sarah Sharpe and Lee Walker-Metzelaar showcased how the great outdoors provides fantastic learning environments for young children.

Sarah, of Poppins Daycare, and Lee, of Totally Tots Childminder, highlighted how the children in their care love pulling on their wellies and getting down to the allotment and learning first-hand how healthy, delicious food is grown.

Not only do the children watch their plants grow and develop, but when ready they hunt around in the soil for their potatoes and sample fresh blackberries straight from the bush. Learning about healthy food and where it comes from has never been so much fun!

Organised by Victoria Extence, Public Health Practitioner at Cardiff and Vale UHB, and Catherine Perry, Senior Health Promotion Specialist at Cardiff and Vale UHB, the seminar brought different Move More, Eat Well partners together to discuss the different ways engaging with nature can promote a healthy lifestyle in young children.

Victoria and Catherine said: “The natural world provides endless opportunities for children to learn not only about growing healthy food but also about caring for a living thing.

“In a simple way, they start to understand the importance of looking after the environment and how we rely on it for food.  At the same time, children are moving and exercising their bodies, and developing social skills too.”

Other contributors included Rhiannon Dunlop, Public Health Dietitian from the Cardiff and Vale UHB Nutrition and Dietetics Team; Rachel Shepherd, Senior Healthy Living Officer (Sports) from Vale of Glamorgan Council Leisure Services; and Isla Horton, Director of Grow Cardiff.

All are working collaboratively to provide an environment in which children will grow up to be happy and healthy, both mentally and physically. They offer inspiration and encouragement to childcare workers and help ensure children develop healthy ways of living from the earliest age.

The Vale of Glamorgan Healthy and Sustainable Pre-School Scheme works in partnership to promote the health of pre-school age children by working through the childcare settings they attend — such as nurseries, playgroups and childminders.

To find out more about the Vale’s Healthy and Sustainable Pre-School Scheme, please click here.