Pioneering Childminding Project scoops National Health Award
Childminders involved in the very first Scottish pilot have achieved a National Health Award for a pioneering outdoor activity scheme, which aims to improve the health and wellbeing of children.
A joint initiative between NHS Forth Valley’s Health Promotion Department and the Scottish Childminding Association (SCMA), the National Health Award is designed to recognise the health benefits of getting outside into nature at an early age, and the importance of being active and leading healthier lives.
Specifically developed for childminders – and believed to be the first of its kind in Scotland – it is the only award for children aged under five which aims to improve health and wellbeing through interaction with the natural world. Based on best practice, the project focussed on national guidance and used recommendations from the Care Inspectorate’s ‘My World Outdoors’.
20 childminders from the Stirlingshire area, along with more than 90 children, took part in a range of outdoor activities over the course of several months to gain the award. Activities included visits to parks and wooded areas, along with bug hunts, playing hide and seek, and walking 1000 steps.
Elaine Cochrane, NHS Forth Valley Health Promotion Officer, said: “Childminders can play an important role in increasing children’s physical and mental wellbeing by developing and nurturing an interest and love of nature. Not only does this improve their health now, but also their future health, as healthy habits learned early on will stay with children in later life.
“The Natural Health Award also recognises the growing evidence of the beneficial effects which spending time outside has on our overall mental health and wellbeing.”
Taking part in the project, SCMA childminder Caroline Stuart from Stirling, said: “A childminder can offer a child so many different experiences and opportunities in their daily routine. This National Health Award has been a great project to be a part of, giving both the childminder and their minded children something to work towards whilst learning and most importantly having fun outdoors.
“The wellbeing of the children in my care is paramount and this award encompasses their physical and mental wellbeing as well as their development. Involving the families with the award has also promoted a healthy wellbeing for them too and it was very well received.”
Lynne Murray, Quality Improvement Officer from Scottish Childminding Association (SCMA) said: “Outdoor play has huge benefits on the learning, development and overall wellbeing of children – and we also know childminders are ideally placed to offer a wide range of outdoor activities.
“The flexible, nurturing home-based nature of childminding allows more quality time to be spent outdoors, which is more important than ever. Children can play with more freedom; learning through play, stimulating their senses, being active and exploring their ever-changing surroundings.
“New environments and encouragement from childminders to explore and be active has a very positive impact on their health, overall wellbeing and their future - helping them be the best they can be.”
The National Health Award pilot scheme is now being evaluated and organisers hope it can be extended across Forth Valley soon, and possibly beyond.