When it comes to teaching primary aged children about the basic elements of health and safety, too much emphasis is usually placed on response. Of course, teaching children of any age how to respond in an emergency is important, but it should be taught alongside risk identification if you want a more rounded educational program. The faster that children are able to recognise a potential danger, the faster they will be able to alert an adult or take the appropriate independent actions. It is also important for their ongoing development, because children are not in the classroom at all times, and by teaching them how to identify risks anywhere, you will make their lives significantly safer in both the short and long term.
This should be a priority when it comes to your health and safety lessons. It’s important that you make your lesson plans non-environment dependant. After all, accidents can happen anywhere. Split your lesson into segments so that you have a firm focus on the main areas of concern. Consider:
● How health and safety risks are different at home, at school, or on the road
● How to evaluate the seriousness of a risk
● How to get help from an adult as quickly as possible
● Highlighting dangerous behaviours
The more rounded your health and safety lessons, the more that children will understand the potential risks that may be around them no matter where they are.
Kids love it when a professional comes in to talk about their jobs. Not only is it an appreciated change from their teacher, it also means that they are given fresh perspectives and professional levels of information. Teachers can’t be expected to know every single thing about the world, but having professional educators teaching them about fire extinguishers and how to use them is both fun and important. Breaking up your lesson plan with the excitement of a new adult in the classroom is a great way to get children interested in a new subject, and it’s always a useful tactic for highlighting the importance of a lesson. When it comes to health and safety, you need your class to understand that importance.
There’s no disputing the educational value of game playing, and you probably already make use of strategic playtime in your existing lessons. However, don’t underestimate or ignore the potential scope for health and safety lessons to incorporate some level of game playing. There are a number of relevant games that you can integrate into your lesson plans, but even simple colouring books about firefighters or ambulance drivers can be useful. Everything from knowing how to call the emergency services to how to cross the road safely can all be taught using games in non-demanding ways, although it may take a little creative thinking in order to create your own games.
Children need to be aware of the potential dangers around them, but more importantly, they need to know what to do should the worst happen. Fast responses are vital in any dangerous situation, and the better your class is at identifying risks, the quicker they will be able to take the appropriate steps.