Early Years Update focuses on the importance of the personal and physical safety of babies, toddlers and three- to five-year-old children. This is part of a range of practical ideas to underpin the information in the Early Years Foundation Stage Principles into Practice cards

PiP Card Theme: A Unique Child
‘Every child is a competent learner from birth who can be resilient, capable, confident and self-assured.’

Commitment 1.3 Keeping Safe
‘Young children are vulnerable. They develop resilience when their physical and psychological well being is protected by adults.’

Areas of knowledge covered:

  • Discovering boundaries.
  • Being safe and protected.
  • Making choices.

On the Inclusive Practice section of the CD-Rom you will find a series of research reports on key aspects of what safety means for young children. These include: ‘Growing and developing’, ‘Keeping safe’, ‘What does healthy mean’ and ‘Being safe and protected’. Links are provided to websites covering different aspects of children’s safety, both physical and emotional and there is information on the role of local safeguarding children boards and the action you should take if you suspect a child is being abused.

Clicking on the ‘in depth’ logo gives access to a range of resources dealing with the steps one should take to keep children physically safe. These include helping children of different ages to become independent, developing their understanding the need for boundaries and supporting their growing understanding of the concept of danger and how to protect themselves from harm.

Supporting effective practice
To support effective practice within this area of the EYFS practitioners should:

  • use the resource material as a starting point for discussing individual attitudes to enabling young children to experience risk and challenge, leading to an agreed communal approach
  • share information and advice with parents to build a consistent approach to the management of children’s behaviour
  • find day-to-day opportunities to help children recognise their responsibility for managing their own safety and the safety and wellbeing of others.

Working with babies
Use interactions during daily routines, for example, cleaning hands before meal times or putting on sun hats for protection on a sunny day, to talk to even very young babies about keeping safe from harm. Provide appropriate physical support for babies as they begin to explore the world around them by crawling, standing and moving independently. Encourage babies to interact with their environment and the resources it contains while at the same time giving clear and consistent messages about what is and is not safe to explore, thereby building their growing understanding of the concepts of safety and danger.

Ideas to use with toddlers Provide opportunities for toddlers to explore outdoors and to take on appropriate challenges, such as climbing the first few rungs of the climbing frame or crawling through a willow tunnel. Be sensitive to individual fears and anxieties and provide plenty of time and lots of verbal encouragement to build children’s confidence. Use routines such as dressing to go outside to talk about the need for protective clothing and be patient while children attempt to master the skills of dressing and undressing independently. Value opportunities for children to look out for one another’s welfare, such as meal times and sleep times, and make a point of commenting on and praising examples of kind, caring behaviour.

Working with three- to five-year-olds

As children become older it becomes increasingly feasible to involve them in agreeing the standards of behaviour which are acceptable in the setting. Spend time talking with the children about the need for rules and ask them to agree some simple rules which will help the setting to run smoothly. These could include, for example, deciding how many children can play in the role play area at any one time or agreeing a fair way of sharing out access to the outdoor wheeled toys.

Encourage children to experience risk and challenge by presenting experiences which require them to develop new skills and take small steps into the unknown. Be aware that every child will be different and that what may be simple for one individual may well be a significant challenge for another.

Build children’s awareness of personal safety by talking about road safety, safety near water and safety in the sun. Provide suitable resources so children can become involved in imaginative play experiences and role play scenarios which help to develop their understanding of danger and how to avoid it.

Invite visitors, such as the school crossing supervisor, community policeman or a member of the fire brigade, into your setting to talk to the children. Ask your visitor to explain to the children the work that they do and to pass on important safety information.