Physical Health and Well-Being

Practical tips on Handwashing, Obesity Prevention, Supervision and Immunizations:

Effective Handwashing

Sickness is part of child care, but don’t you wish we could make it go away? The Minnesota Department of Health has some simple posters on its website to help us wash hands properly, and we can at least make many of the germs go away! Find more posters and information at the Minnesota Department of Health web site.

Physical Activity and Limiting Screen Time

Everyone is talking about the obesity problem in the United States.  The National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care and Early Education has produced a video that sheds some light on the problem and gives some ideas for limiting screen time in Family Child Care. 

First, turn off the TV and turn on some lively children’s music!   Try music from many different cultures- the library is a great source for children’s music. Give all children a chance to dance, jump, crawl, roll, lift and climb in a safe area. If your space is small, have children take turns by repeating a song on a CD, for example. Remember that all children need active play every day, and active play should never be withheld as punishment for misbehavior. If a child is out of control, help them cool down and then gradually return to active play. 

Taking children outside to play is required for licensed providers, and it’s also an essential component of young children’s development. Children learn through play, developing gross motor, socio-emotional, and cognitive skills. In outdoor play, children learn about their environment, science, and nature. – From Caring for Our Children, available at the Debra S. Fish Library, and can be checked out online and picked up at your local branch library anywhere in Minnesota.



Child Care Professionals, parents and child care licensors share the same goal. All want a safe environment for children to thrive in. If you break it down, there are three parts to providing a safe environment for children. First, child proof the home. Second, teach children good safety practices. Third, and most important, be diligent with supervision practices. Supervision is essential and the focus of this article.

It is important for each provider to take a few minutes to think about your proximity to the children through the course of your day and evaluate your supervision practices. The child care rule states that you must be able to intervene to protect the health and welfare of children under school age at all times.

How are you seeing that you are capable of intervening at all moments of the child’s day?

How often are children checked on during naptime?

Can you hear an infant or child in distress (not just crying) when they are in a different

room at naptime?

Are substitutes, assistants aware of the supervision requirements?

Do you give clear directions and oversee your helper’s interaction with children?

Do you move as a group from one level to another in your home where children under school age are concerned?

Do you move as a group from inside to outside?

Do you keep all children together while you are preparing everyone to go outside instead of letting those ready run out on their own?

Are you prepared for the day so that you are eliminating trips to other levels of your home?

Is contact between pets and all children supervised?

Do you have a plan for responding to school-agers in need outside when you have children under school age inside?

The child care rule states that for school-agers, a provider must be available for assistance. Although the supervision requirement for school-agers is much less intense than for children under school age, there is still a lot to consider when making decisions about school age children in your program. Do you feel comfortable allowing school-agers outside, while you are inside or alone on another level of your home? Maturity levels from child to child vary immensely. You as the provider must feel comfortable with what you allow the school-age child to do away from your immediate supervision. Remember just because a parent allows something, you as a caregiver; do not have to allow the same thing as your risk is a different level than that of the parent. Always keep in mind that you are operating a business within the auspices of the childcare rule.

Pets and supervision:

Remember that interaction between all children and pets must be supervised, so it would not be alright to have a pet out in the backyard with school-agers when you are not outside with them as well. It is also not okay to leave a pet in a room with children without a caregiver being directly in the room with children and pet.

Obviously the standard for supervision in licensed child care is higher than what would be expected of parents caring for their own children in their own home. Caring for a group of children is quite different than a few children in a parent’s own home. Supervision is a core function of licensed child care providers. More than anything else, parents want to be assured of their child’s safety. Safety is more important to parents than what their child ate, their activities of the day or what they learned. Make tight supervision practices routine in your program to protect yourself and the children.

From The Licensing Link; Dakota County Social Services, April- June 2011

Supervision Websites

A free downloadable supervision series training

National program for playground safety


As a child care provider, you must ensure that the children in your care have been vaccinated or have filed appropriate exemptions. The Minnesota Department of Health web page has some resources to help you.

Immunization schedules in 6 languages are available at the Minnesota Department of Health web page.

To learn more about Health and Safety / Nutrition Trainings, visit MNStreams or look in the Think Small Catalog under Content Area VI.