Prepare and Prevent: Safety Practices in Early Childhood Programs

Congratulations and welcome to the world of early childhood! To be honest, walking into your classroom and seeing so many little faces staring back at you can feel a little daunting. How do I keep them all safe? How do I keep track of them and ensure they are “returned in the same order received?” 

mother and her child on the playground
Photo by Yan Krukov on

Every child care provider should receive training on the most recent research in safety and child development. Training in basic safety practices equips you with the skills to keep children safe during their day and in emergency situations. Beyond the training, policies need to be put into practice. As children grow and develop, they constantly acquire new skills and knowledge about the world around them. It’s up to us to be knowledgeable about what they can do and proactively provide safe environments to reduce the risk of injury.  

What does a “safe” environment look like?

As children grow in their understanding of the world around them, their excitement to explore may result in taking risks. The choices young children make are not always the safest, despite their growing judgment skills. Being an active partner in the children’s exploration is key to a safe learning environment. We can do this in the following ways: 

Actively Supervise:

By setting up the environment in a way that limits hiding places or safety concerns, teachers can position themselves to see the whole classroom. Taking time to scan and count children, listen to conversations (or the dreaded “quiet” in a room) allows teachers to anticipate children’s behavior. Check often on sleeping infants and always follow the ABC’s of safe sleep. Ensure you are in “ratio” of the number of children to adults in the classroom. Following these preventative strategies, we can quickly identify, intervene and redirect as necessary.

Creating and Maintaining a Safe Environment: 

Safety is more than just where teachers are positioned in a classroom. Consider the size, variety and construction of the furniture in the classroom. Can I see over this shelf to the children playing in the block area? Will that shelf fall if someone tries to climb it? Does anything have broken parts or is not able to be cleaned? Providing age-appropriate furniture and equipment will limit the potential for future safety concerns. Safety locks or gates may be used to allow young children to explore safely.  Keep chemicals, medication and personal belongings out of reach and locked away. Complete safety “checks” daily on equipment and materials children are using. Don’t limit these checks to indoor play spaces. Think about the equipment, materials and grounds where children are exploring outdoors too.

Read more about How Do I Set Up My Room

Is It Child Abuse or Neglect? 

As mandated reporters, it is our responsibility to say “something if you see something”. The best way is to prevent child abuse and neglect from happening in the first place. By building relationships with the families, providing support and resources are effective prevention strategies. Know your state’s policies and the program’s practices to create safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments.  Read more about Prevention Strategies

Be Prepared!

Benjamin Franklin once said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Every time I forget my umbrella on a cloudy day, it inevitably rains. Being prepared for any disaster will not only give you confidence in your abilities but ensure your kids are safe, should the time arise. Keeping up on First Aid, CPR and other health/safety training will remind you of the procedures and ensure you have the most accurate information to give help.  Know where the first aid kits, phone and emergency numbers are located. Have a list of emergency contacts and plans for medical needs or allergies. Read more about Emergency Preparedness. 

Basic safety precautions are the first step in ensuring quality child care. Working with the families, seeking out support and continuing in your education around safety practices will ensure you are prepared for daily life in an early childhood setting. 

Working with children can be challenging, rewarding, and let’s face it…. Stressful! But with confidence, proven techniques and strategies you can start each day with the knowledge and understanding ready to succeed.

Join us each session as we tackle a new area of professional development. Perfect for all educators to build confidence and strategies to support their work every day.

Schedule and Topics

  • Monday, December 5, 2022, 1pm EST- New staff, LOADS of nerves
  • Monday, December 12, 2022, 1pm EST- Health, Safety and YOU!
  • Monday, December 19, 2022, 1pm EST- The Importance of Play
  • Monday, January 9, 2023, 1pm EST- Scheduling Routines
  • Monday, January 23, 2023, 1pm EST- 100 Languages of Children
  • Monday, January 30, 2023, 1pm EST- Oh Me, Oh My! Circle time has gone Awry!
  • Monday, February 6, 2023, 1pm EST- Time Management
  • Monday, February 13, 2023, 1pm EST- Hot Spots!
  • Monday, February 27, 2023, 1pm EST- Balancing your classroom and home! Work/Life Balance!

Save your Spot here. 

Caitlin Hackett
Caitlin Hackett

Caitlin Hackett, an Education Support Specialist for Experience Early Learning, with over 17 years in the field of early childhood, holds her BA and teaching license in Elementary Education. She has served as a former toddler teacher, center director, in-home child care owner, foster parent, and with the CCR&R in coaching, professional development, children services and leadership. She is a certified PITC (Program for Infant and Toddler Care) instructor and PAX Community Educator. Her passion is in child advocacy, specifically around high-quality child care and promoting available resources in the foster care system.

American Academy of Pediatrics. (2022). Safe sleep.

Early childhood national centers. (2015). Emergency preparedness manual for early childhood programs.

Head Start. (2022). Active supervision. Early Childhood Knowledge and Learning Center.,ages%20explore%20their%20environments%20safely.

National Center for Injury Prevention. (2022). Prevention strategies. Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

US Consumer Product Safety Commission. (2015). Public playground safety handbook.