Supporting sun safety in early childhood services

Issue: Volume 97, Number 2

Posted: 12 February 2018
Reference #: 1H9hQ9

An online training module for early childhood practitioners supports them to protect children from the sun.

Outdoor play is an important element in early childhood education and in summer, keeping young children safe from the sun’s harmful rays can be a constant consideration for teachers.

The Cancer Society of New Zealand has developed an online training module for early childhood educators about the importance of keeping young children protected from the sun.

The module takes about an hour to complete and includes information about ultraviolet (UV) radiation and skin cancer risk, as well as practical advice for the early childhood education setting, including templates and checklists.

The module ends with a quiz and upon passing participants receive a certificate and an action plan based on their answers to some reflective questions.

These documents can be printed and added to a teacher’s professional development folder as evidence they are meeting the Code of Professional Responsibility:

  • A commitment to learners – promoting the wellbeing of learners and protecting them from harm
  • A commitment to families and whānau – engaging families and whānau in their children’s learning.

Cancer Society of New Zealand health promotion advisor Heather Knewstubb says the training module aims to equip early childhood educators with technical knowledge about the special atmospheric conditions in New Zealand, as well as practical know-how to support them to be SunSmart in their ECE setting.

Participants so far have ranged from centre managers/owners to in-home private caregivers.

“We know that many early childhood settings already do have processes in place, but the whole point of this unit is to really understand why these processes are so important.

“With sun safety, you don’t know what you don’t know, so to speak. I believe the training module has the potential to change a teacher’s behaviour both at work and at home.”

Teachers are also encouraged to share their knowledge with their community where possible, and parents and whānau members are welcome to undertake the module at home.

Kathy Warne is director and centre manager at Rosy Cheeks Early Learning Centre in Christchurch and she attended the course at the beginning of summer.

“When it started to warm up in November, I thought it would be a good opportunity to refresh my knowledge on sun safety,” she says.

“I found it very user-friendly and simple in the way it was written and designed. It was informative and provided information in digestible chunks. I decided to do it all in one sitting, but you are able to dip in and out of the course if you prefer.

“It was accessible but also very interesting – it challenged some preconceptions I had about skin cancer risks.”

Kathy says sun safety is constantly on her mind in the summer, and the knowledge from the course has inspired changes at Rosy Cheeks.

“As the centre owner, I’ve updated our sun safety policies with what I’ve learned. We’ve limited outdoor play in the summer and have moved more equipment into shaded areas.

“Currently we provide sunscreen for the parents to apply to their children upon arrival at the centre, and then they tick off their names on a list.

“Our children are good at remembering to put their hats on whenever they go outside. The next step is for us to create a ‘sunscreen station’ outside with a mirror and for that we would have some teacher supervision and monitoring.”

Kathy plans to encourage every Rosy Cheek staff member to take the course and share their knowledge with whānau.

The module is free to complete and can be found here: link)

Te Whāriki links

Te Whāriki’s Wellbeing | Mana Atua strand outlines the curriculum’s goal in protecting tamariki from harm.

Practising sun safety in early learning settings means children experience an environment where their health is promoted and they are kept safe.

Sun safety provides a good context for children to learn how to keep themselves safe. Over time and with encouragement, children become increasingly capable of caring for themselves and for others.


BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero,

Posted: 9:00 am, 12 February 2018

Get new listings like these in your email
Set up email alerts