Creating a safe environment for children must be a priority of every caregiver – a parent and an early childhood educator. A safe environment for a child is one that provides freedom from harm and offers a sense of security in which he/she can play, develop, and learn. As young children play and explore, minor injuries and accidents naturally occur. Since young children are at a stage where their physical, cognitive and emotional skills are still developing, injuries are bound to happen. These accidents can however be prevented. The first step towards providing for safety is to ensure that the preschool follows strict safety guidelines.
At preschool every aspect needs to be carefully supervised, right from the toys and equipments, to the furniture and the classroom infrastructure.
Check for safety….
- Do the toys and furniture have sharp edges?
- Are the toys washed on a regular basis?
- Is the school clean, safe and secure?
- Are all the electrical fittings beyond the child’s reach?
- Are the bathrooms clean?
- Are there gates in front of the stairways?
- Is the outdoor area fenced?
Check for all safety hazards within the classroom. Plug points need to be beyond the child’s reach. All loose cords should be tied to avoid children getting trapped. There should be no gaps where the children’s fingers, arms or legs can get caught. These are gaps between parts or holes in the furniture’s, equipments, etc. Ensure that there are no sharp or pointed edges on any equipments or furniture. It is important that the classrooms are bright and colourful, but at the same time we must ensure that the paints used are non-toxic and lead-free. Use doorstoppers and ensure that the doorknobs are beyond the child’s reach. This will ensure that no child can open or close the door themselves. The stairs need to have safety gates and the windows need to be grilled.
Check all the toys and play materials used in the classroom. Ensure that they are clean as children are likely to put them in their mouth. No toy that is broken or that has sharp edges must be used. Art materials such as paints, crayons, or play dough must be non-toxic. Above all check the quality of the toys used.
Children engage in outdoor play every day. Outdoor activities include playing on large motor equipments such as swings, trampolines, slides, etc, water and sand play etc. As children play with such equipments we need to ensure that these are safe. Outdoor activities should be conducted in an open area. The outdoor area needs to be fenced and all equipments need to be placed on a shock-absorbing surface such as sand or grass. It is important that all the materials are clean and have no sharp edges. Teach children some basic rules of playground safety, such as not climbing up slides or walking in front of or behind a swing when another child is on it.
Constantly supervise children when they engage in water play or sand play. Plastic tubs or inflatable pools can be used during water play. Children must not duck their face into water and neither taken in or taste water. The water should neither be hot nor cold. Use water toys of good quality. After the water play, ensure that all the toys are removed from the water. Similarly for sand play, use sand that is free of dirt and is well sieved.
The bathroom is a potentially dangerous area for children, but it is not possible to make this area out of bounds for the child. Thus it should be carefully planned. The floor surface should be anti-slip to prevent falls since the surface is likely to be slippery due to water. The attendants must keep the floor free of spillages to avoid accidents. Keep all disinfectants, acids, brooms etc beyond child’s reach. No child must be allowed in the washroom unattended.
In case of an emergency, administer first aid to the child, seek medical help and contact the parents immediately.
Safety is the right of the child and they must have it.