What has been happening during Early Years Well-being Week?

While Busy Bees and Co-op Childcare celebrate the work of their early years practitioners, a study in the US finds that educators are suffering from poor work-related physical and mental well-being.

Busy Bees hosts events to support practitioners’ well-being
The UK’s largest nursery chain is raising awareness of mental health and stress among practitioners in aid of National Work Life Balance Week.

Busy Bees Childcare is holding a series of events in its 375 nurseries across the UK, which will focus on healthy eating, relaxation and mindfulness to promote well-being.

Busy Bees Burntwood has created a motivational wall for staff to add personal comments that will encourage and support other members of their team.

The nursery chain has been motivated to host the series of workshops in light of the 2018 Minds Matter report by the Pre-school Learning Alliance, which has shown more than half of the early years workforce has suffered from anxiety as a result of work, while a quarter have experienced depression.

Rachel Humphreys, HR director at Busy Bees said: ‘Our staff are the backbone of our centres so it’s concerning that hardworking practitioners are considering leaving the profession. We believe that in order for staff to truly meet the needs of children in our care, they need to prioritise their own wellbeing first.

‘We use this week to remind everyone in our organisation that we care about their wellbeing, it’s also a great opportunity to thank them for all their hard work this year.’

National Nursery Practitioner Day
Co-op Childcare also wants to celebrate the work of early years practitioners by setting up appreciation walls and hosting ‘thank you’ parties on National Nursery Practitioner Day.

On 17 October, events will be held for staff across all 44 of Co-op Childcare’s nurseries, that will give parents a chance to share positive feedback with practitioners and thank them for supporting children in their setting.

The celebration falls just after Early Years Wellbeing Week, which runs between 7 and 13 October, and World Mental Health Day on 10 October.

Sally Bonnar, chief operating officer at Co-op Childcare, said: ‘National Nursery Practitioner Day is a chance for the whole industry to come together to say thank you and make all nursery practitioners feel valued for their work.  It is so important for us to recognise the inspiring work that they do to shape the minds of the future every single day.’

The celebration has received the backing of the National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA).

Purnima Tanuku, chief executive of NDNA said: ‘We are delighted to support Co-op Childcare’s National Nursery Practitioner Day. Early years practitioners are the unsung heroes, caring for and educating our youngest children, giving their dedication, experience and love on a daily basis. It’s right that there should be a special day to provide recognition and celebrate the important work that they do.’ 

The Happy Teacher Project
Research funded by the Early Childhood Education Institute and the University of Oklahoma has found a worrying relationship between early years practitioners in the US and poor mental and physical well-being.

Since December 2018, researchers followed a group of 262 early childhood teachers across 38 early childhood centres in Tulsa, Oklahoma. During the first phase of research, educators were asked questions about their well-being, their weight and cardiorespiratory fitness were assessed and workplace supports, such as designated breaks and benefits, were investigated.

In the second phase, child-teacher interactions were observed, along with environmental factors such as noise level and air quality. Lastly, 40 teachers were interviewed about what could be done to improve their well-being.

While the majority of teachers said they felt committed to the children and their career, and planned to stay in their current position, many were revealed to be suffering from poor physical and psychological well-being. While three quarters of educators were overweight or obese, nearly a quarter reported feeling depressed, in line with research found in the UK in 2018 (Mind Matters report).

Two thirds of teachers also had ergonomic pain in at least one area of the body, due to the need to constantly bend, reach, twist and squat when interacting with children.

It was also found that teachers with higher education levels reported poorer physical well-being and considered leaving their jobs more often than teachers with lower education.

The work environment was found to be responsible for a number of these issues, as nearly half of the teachers surveyed had no designated break and a third of teachers reported they do not have a space for relaxation in their setting.

Kyong-Ah Kwon, an associate professor at the University of Oklahoma, said: ‘Teacher well-being is not only important because it is linked to better care and learning outcomes, but also because it is a way we can show—not just tell—our teachers that they matter and that we care about them as human beings.

‘It shouldn’t take a group of researchers to conclude that healthy and happy teachers lead to healthy and happy children.’

Get involved on Twitter by following the hashtag #EYWellbeingWeek



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