“I have used observations to plan opportunities that encourage physical activity for an infant, three 2-year-olds, one 4-year-old and two 6-year-olds. I watch for the types of activities that are piquing their curiosity at each age.”
– Brenda Flannery, Owner
Li’l Blessings, Crandon
Brenda Flannery whole-heartedly took on Active Early with a child-centered approach. At Li’l Blessings Child Care, her family childcare center in Crandon, WI, Flannery typically cares for 5-7 children, all under the age of 5. The range of ages and physical abilities made it difficult for Flannery to guide teacher-led activities. Instead, she began by observing the children’s self-directed play and capitalized on their natural tendencies. For a child in the developmental phase of learning to climb, Flannery would offer more climbing opportunities, because it is the activity that the child wants to do. She would further encourage the physical activity by incorporating the climbing activity into a relay race.
Implementation of the Active Early program was not difficult for Flannery. Because pre-school aged kids are inherently energetic, Flannery only had to provide the equipment and time to facilitate active play and learning. With the Active Early grant, she improved her facility by installing an interactive play deck with slides, ladders, tunnels, and boxes for sand or water play. Flannery worked with her licensing agent to expand her existing written policies to include specific details about the types of activities and foods offered at her center. She asked parents to help draft these policies. Involving parents in the process was pivotal in garnering their support.
Not only did Flannery get the parents on board with Active Early, but also she kept them on board with regular communication via in-person conver-sations, a monthly newsletter, the center’s bulletin board, and now with daily updates on a new Facebook page. The topics of these posts range from general Active Early information to relevant legislation topics to descriptions of the day’s activities. Her hope is to keep the parents in-formed and educated, and so far, her efforts are working. Flannery says her experience with the Active Early program has been an enjoyable one, and definitely something she would do again.
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Funding for Active Early 2.0 was provided by the UW School of Medicine and Public Health from the Wisconsin Partnership Program.
Why Being Active Early Matters
Establishing healthy habits at an early age is key to promoting life-long health. Movement benefits children’s:
- Brain development
- Vision and hearing
- Muscle coordination
Activity benefits everyone. Children who are regularly active:
- Have less behavioral problems
- Sleep better at night
- Feel better about themselves
- Are more alert and ready to learn
- Maintain a healthy weight
Early child care providers can improve child health and wellness by establishing policies for the expert recommended 120 minutes of physical activity each day. The Active Early guide gives providers concrete strategies to get kids active.
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