As an Early Childhood Educator, you have much to worry about in your day. You juggle snack times, create educational invitations to play, and make sure 25 children are happy, healthy and safe at all times. It’s a big job. Adding a sunscreen application before the kids head outside seems like a big time-consuming burden. We get it. But sunscreen prevents sunburn, and sunburns during childhood are a predictor of skin cancer later in life.
So what can you do? Use these 3 ideas to make sunscreen application a breeze at your Centre:
1) Avoid line ups – bring the sunscreen to them
If we make kids stand in line while we apply sunscreen on their peers, they’ll wait for an eternity and inevitably get bored, whine and misbehave. Speed up the transition from indoor to outdoor play by bringing the sunscreen to them. Go over to the child and apply sunscreen with as minimal interruption to their play as possible. It will be stress free for you, and more fun for them!
2) Create a “You’ve Been Screened” bin
If you’re walking around to apply sunscreen and there are several Early Childhood Educators on the job, it can be hard to know who has had their sunscreen applied, and who has yet to be protected. Make teamwork easy with a simple organizational trick. First, make sure each child has their own sunscreen labeled with their name. Then, create two bins of sunscreen, one labelled: “Needs sunscreen” and one labelled: “You’ve been Screened!” Once you’re done with a child, put their bottle of sunscreen in the “You’ve been Screened” bin, so you and other Early Childhood Educators know that they’re ready to go outside. You’ll save time and avoid confusion. And you won’t hear any complaints from kids that they already have sunscreen on.
3) Slop it on!
We have a tendency to think: “a little dab’ll do ya”. We delicately dab dots of sunscreen on their noses and cheeks and rub in gently. Not only does that approach slow you down, it’s not effective. Sunscreen only protects against the sun’s rays if you apply enough! Use more than you think, slop it on, and rub it in quickly. If age appropriate you can even ask the child to help rub in their own sunscreen, as long as you still control the amount. Save time and slop it on!
Like any change, sunscreen application will become a habit the more you do it and the more you have buy-in from other Early Childhood Educators, families, and the kids themselves.
For more tips about making sun safety part of the routine in your Early Learning Centre, register for our online training program for Early Childhood Educators here.