5 ways to introduce First Aid concepts in early years

You are never too young to learn to save a life!

Our recent Rescue Rangers series on our YouTube channel shows how easy it can be for youngsters to pick up these important skills. However,  we tend to only think about first aid in a care context such as providing treatment or completing risk assessments. Introducing some of the skills and concepts to children early can help demystify the process of doing first aid, creating more robust and rounded learners. It also has numerous transferrable skills covering much of the curriculum including health and wellbeing, science, literacy, numeracy, music and other arts. You can watch our Rescue Ranger series of videos here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WgV6IGl3dEw&list=PL_v8gOxjcjtcxX3lH0CyHOc8Qbjju_bJa

Here’s our 5 top tips to introducing First Aid concepts at an early age:

1. Get creative with the first aid kit! Introduce first aid materials early. Keep out of date supplies for use in artistic projects, an old triangular bandage can be great for hapa-zome projects. If you have never tried the Japanese activity called hapa-zome definitely give it a go. You can view a worksheet here: https://outdoorclassroomday.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2018/09/The-japanese-art-of-hapa-zome-Final-version.pdf. Rolled bandages are obviously great for creating mummies but we can also use them in crafts. We can pick off the dressing pad for tinder in Forest School or as a cotton wool substitute in crafting. We can play with foil blankets as reflectors, ribbons and as an incredible source of sound and texture. Through all this we can practice our own first aid skills and familiarise ourselves with the equipment we have and what it looks like out the packaging whilst also educating children on what the first aid kit is for.

2. Think about “environmental print”.  Have our learners seen the symbols for a first aid kits, eye wash stations and defibrillators? These are common but often blend into the background. Can they spot them around the building or out in the wider world? Can we do a map of the school or local area showing where the equipment is located? Could we interpret some of the simpler instructions, particularly those in pictorial form, that are common on first aid signage? We may even be able to use this to pop ourselves in recovery positions or identify 999/112 as important numbers and discuss when it may be appropriate for children to use them.

A boy and a girl playing in falling autumn leaves

3. Keep it playful – but with a surprise! Make old materials available during free play. We recently heard of a rural forest school in which the favourite activity was “mountain rescue” – basically a form of tig but the children were looking for cold people. This is a great concept to get across and a real reflection of the community this school was in. It’s a theme mimicked by emergency service style games nationwide (how often do we hear the relentless “nee naw” echoing round the grounds?). This awareness of emergency situations and the people who help us can be supplemented by throwing in an old bandage or foil blanket to appropriate games with some simple directions like wrap up the sore bit or keep them nice and warm. Though we aren’t giving a full first aid course to our learners we can enhance free play like this and encourage at least a familiarity with the concepts. And as essentially a waste resource when often these out of date supplies get binned anyway so it’s added value at zero cost which is always a bonus!

4. Learning who’s there to help. Many settings look at “the people who help us” at some point within the calendar and we see a variety of external services discussed and maybe even a visit from emergency services to talk about their job. However, we rarely look closer to home with these sessions. This would be another nice opportunity to talk about first aid and care in our settings; do you have a first aid room you can visit or a school nurse or health visitor that can talk to the class? Again, this encourages recognition of equipment and more comfort with the care children may need in the future. If the first aider or visitor could demonstrate putting on a plaster or bandage to a popular class teddy (or their best friend) and the children understand the process they may be more receptive and understanding of the process if they do need aid in the future.

5. Find more courses and resources. There are a variety of courses and resources out there that can be delivered to all ages. Definitely watch at our Rescue Rangers series, all you need is a few soft toys, and you can learn some lifesaving skills while having fun doing it. Some emergency service staff, including first aid trainers, are often available to come to your setting and work with children of all ages discussing emergency calls and the fundamentals of first aid in a fun and engaging way. While there they’ll often work with you through hands on scenarios specifically aimed at the setting you work in benefitting the adult as well as the children’s learning.

What are the benefits of doing this?

Practicing these skills in context out of training courses is hugely valuable. When you assist a child in becoming a first aider you are also getting practice in applying dressings safely and securely to a child in your care. There is no substitute for quality training but there is also no substitute for being comfortable with your own skills and the materials at your disposal. We all put our setting, our staff and our children through regular fire drills to keep them safe and calm in an emergency, so why do so few of us do the same for first aid?

You may not use all or any of these methods in your setting however allowing children, particularly in early years some familiarity with the skills and equipment involved can greatly reduce worry in an emergency situation. If children know in advance roughly what to expect if they or one of their classmates is sick or injured, it has the potential to reduce anxiety and fear and even improve the outcome for that child. This will also benefit you as staff and settings as all staff are more aware of what equipment there is, where it is and how it can be used.

Want to learn more about early years first aid?

Join us on one of our first aid courses. We do Forest School specific courses as well as Paediatric courses. Find out more about our range of courses here: https://firstaidtrainingcooperative.co.uk/

Download our newly updated and digital Paediatric First Aid Manual here: https://firstaidtrainingcooperative.co.uk/first-aid-shop/