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Perspectives on Children’s Health and Well-Being

Learning Outcomes

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By the end of this module, you will be able to:

Define children’s health and well-being;

Identify various determinants of health and well-being;

Describe why a focus on children’s health and well-being is important within the context of early childhood education and care.

Goal 3 Infographic

https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/E_Infographic_03.pdf

Goal 3: Good Health and Well-being

To ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.

Please follow this link for a two-page overview of Goal 3:

https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/3_Why-It-Matters-2020.pdf

SDG3: Health & Well-Being [2:23 mins]

https://youtu.be/z_jjX-i45hU

Children’s Health and Well-Being in Early Childhood Education and Care

Within early childhood settings, educators, support staff, parents, community members, and other stakeholders work together to nurture safe, secure, and supportive environments to care for and educate young children—one of society’s most vulnerable groups (Early Childhood Educators of BC [ECEBC], 2021; Province of British Columbia, 2019). In fact, the ECEBC Code of Ethics https://www.earlychildhoodeducator.com/static/downloads/ECEBCcodeofethics.pdf

explicitly identifies the promotion of health and well-being of all children as a first principle in the ethical practice of early childhood educators and recognizes the essential role of individuals working within these early childhood settings in terms of protecting, supporting, and promoting the health and well-being of all children within their care (ECEBC, 2021).

Early Childhood Educators of BC Code of Ethics

“Early childhood educators are responsible for the children in their care. They create environments for children that are safe, secure and supportive of good health in the broadest sense. They design programs that provide children with opportunities to develop physically, socially, emotionally, morally, spiritually, cognitively and creatively. A healthy environment for children is one in which each child’s self-esteem is enhance, play is encouraged, and a warm, loving atmosphere is maintained.”

— ECEBC, 2021, p. 5

What is Children’s Health and Well-Being?

Within the literature and practice of early childhood education and care (ECEC), there is a growing focus on children’s health and well-being. While this focus communicates its importance, literature surrounding children’s health and well-being reveals the complexity of the topic and the challenge of providing a single definition or understanding.

Nevertheless, the World Health Organization (2020) offers a good starting place with a universally adopted definition of health: “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity” (p. 1). They further describe well-being as a state in which “an individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and is able to make a contribution to his or her community” (WHO, 2018, para. 2).

Within this description, the idea that health and well-being encompasses more than just physical aspects of the body is introduced. In this respect, health and well-being can be understood as a holistic and multidimensional concept.

 

 

What Does Wellbeing Mean to You? [1:59 mins]

In the following video, a similar perspective of health and well-being is presented. As you watch the clip, please make note of how the children and youth featured in the video discuss health and well-being as holistic and multidimensional.

https://youtu.be/oSIWo5nxF2A

 

Many conceptualizations and understandings of health and well-being present and embrace a holistic perspective. Here are three examples:

Example 1

In Worlds of influence: Understanding what shapes child well-being in rich countries – Innocenti report card 1

(Links to an external site.)

(Unicef, 2020)

(Links to an external site.)

, good mental well-being, good physical health, and possessing the skills for life are viewed as collectively contributing to a good childhood. Within this report, a multi-level framework of child well-being is presented, which includes the world of the child (activities, relationships), the world around the child (networks, resources), and the world at large (policies, context).

Example 2

The First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) offers a holistic and fluid vision of health and wellness for FNHA and First Nations Communities. The visual representation of the Perspective on Health and Wellness

(Links to an external site.)

aims to create a shared understanding of a holistic vision of wellness and “can be adapted and customized freely” (FNHA, 2021, para. 2).

Example 3

Well-Being BC (2021)

(Links to an external site.)

define well-being as “the experience of feeling happy and healthy, mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually” (para. 1).

 

 

 

 

Determinants of Health and Well-Being

There is a broad range of personal, social, economic, and environmental factors that directly and indirectly impact children’s health and well-being (GOC). These factors are frequently referred to as determinants of health and well-being. For example, the presence or absence of adequate housing can impact a child’s health and well-being in positive and negative ways.

The following readings and viewings provide further insight into children’s health and well-being health in Canada, and introduce some of the ways that children’s health and well-being can be affected by various determinants of health and well-being.

As you complete the followings viewings/readings, please make note of the key ideas and concepts being presented, as well as any thoughts and/or questions that emerge for you.

Social Determinants of Health – An Introduction [6:28 mins]

https://youtu.be/8PH4JYfF4Ns

 

Health Inequalities in Canada [3:40 mins]

https://youtu.be/RMkBUXJLW9g

 

Government of Canada. (2008)

https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/health-promotion/population-health/population-health-approach/what-is-health.html

 

Government of British Columbia. (2021).

https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/health/practitioner-professional-resources/health-information-standards/standards-catalogue/bc-social-determinants-of-health-standards

 

Greenwood, M. L., & de Leeuw, S. N. (2012). Paediatrics & Child Health, 17(7), 381–384.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3448539/pdf/pch17381.pdf

 

The Current State of Children’s Health and Well-Being

The COVID-19 pandemic has influenced and continues to impact the health and well-being of people around the world. Prior to the pandemic, research indicated that while children and youth in British Columbia enjoy reasonably good health and well-being, “a portion of children and youth are continually left behind” (Office of the Provincial Health Officer, 2016, p. xxi). Moving into the pandemic, early research from the Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) found that a large majority of children and youth (ages 2 to 18 years) experienced a decline of mental health during the first wave of the pandemic (Tombeau Cost et al., 2021). Likewise, a study by Moore and colleagues (2020) found that the COVID-19 pandemic had an adverse impact on the movement and play behaviours of Canadian children and youth. As more research begins to emerge, so too will a greater understanding of how the pandemic has impacted children’s health and well-being.

The following documents provide some insight into the state of children’s global and provincial health and well-being prior to and moving into the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Readings

Please take some time to review the following three documents which are linked or can be accessed via the Library Online Course Reserves (LOCR). You do not need to read every page of these reports. Rather, you are asked to please:

· Read the introduction sections;

· Skim through the entire documents to see how health and well-being is being discussed and/or what information is being presented; and

· Read any sections that seem particularly interesting or intriguing to you.

Please review the following three documents:

· Office of the Provincial Health Officer. (2016). Is “good”, good enough? The health & well-being of children & youth in BC

· (Links to an external site.)

· .

· Unicef. (2020). Worlds of influence: Understanding what shapes child well-being in rich countries – Innocenti report card

· (Links to an external site.)

· 16.

· Unicef. (2021). The state of the world’s children 2021 – On my mind: Promoting, protecting and caring for children’s mental health

· (Links to an external site.)

· .

 

Connection to Practice: A Holistic Approach

Throughout this course, we will embrace a broad and holistic understanding of children’s health and well-being as we explore various dimensions and supports within the context of early childhood education and care.

Within the British Columbia Early Learning Framework, a holistic approach is described as one that “encompasses the physical, social, emotional, intellectual, and creative nature of a child” and “focuses on the whole child, rather than concentrating only on individual components” (Province of British Columbia, 2019, p. 102). Such an approach highlights the importance of recognizing and supporting the whole child when nurturing children’s health and well-being within early childhood settings.

 

Adele Diamond: The Importance of the Whole Child [1:27 mins]

https://youtu.be/g6d8rDRb8yU

 

In addition to a broad and holistic understanding of children’s health and well-being, we also recognize the complexity of exploring such a topic, especially when we begin to consider that children are not the only daily participants, recipients, and agents of change in the early childhood setting. Daily participants may also include parents/guardians, family members, educators, administrators, and community members—all with differing experiences, developmental and lifespan positions.

While it is invaluable to acknowledge and appreciate each of these perspectives individually, we must also remember that they are closely interwoven and interdependent. The health and well-being of one person affects the health and well-being of others in some way. Therefore, considering health and well-being from multiple perspectives becomes relevant. As is common in early childhood education and care, it is within these spaces among people that another level of depth, complexity, and meaning can be found.

As this course unfolds, we will continue to build on the broad and holistic understanding of children’s health and well-being established within this module. Although this course cannot cover every facet, it will introduce and explore various dimensions of children’s health and well-being within the context of early childhood education and care, with consideration of multiple perspectives, experiences, and connections to professional practice.

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