One of the biggest differences I found when I moved from Brisbane to Adelaide, was the sun safety rules. Although both schools and childcare support sleeved shirts, and avoiding outdoor play between 11 – 3, the ‘no sun screen’ between April and September really threw me. My children’s schools even have hat free terms! In the cooler months our childcare centre continues to promote hat use, but includes the catch cry of ‘hats or hoodies’ and accepts beanies as hats. If I was confused, then how were the kids meant to take in the Sun Safety ideals? Well, with practice, I’ve learnt that the kids are much more fluid than I, so it’s me who needed to re-think the situation. They accept that we’ll be chasing them down for their hats. But Lately, it’s been heaps easier!
We took to introducing hats to the babies dress ups, with the hopes that the children would become comfortable with them in play, therefore more willing to wear sun safe hats outside. It made for a great play time, but not effective against sun damage unless the dress ups were outside!
Instead of supplying all the hats and chasing children to wear identical, non-personal items, we’ve asked them to bring their own. For the children who haven’t been able to provide hats, we’ve dug out the old spare hats that have been left by previous children. Now here comes the exciting part. We used a great big nikko and wrote their name on these hats and presented them back to the children as “their” hats. These are theirs to look after, to wear and to return to the special pockets with their names on them. Sure most of them can’t read their names yet, but they get the significance of owning a piece of childcare. This is their hat, they are taking responsibility for it…and most of all for their sun safety!
I’m so impressed with the kids and the choices they’ve made. I’m equally stunned with myself for not recognising that giving a little piece of ownership to the children, would have such an impact! We’ve got word cues to give children ownership of toys and sharing. We’ve got physical cues that allow others to know that we have taken on ownership of *this* space…how did I miss it with the hats?
Thank goodness the kids are there to remind me how they need to be taught!