Some children do not like to wear hats! Persistence is needed to teach them that a hat is part of their outside routine. Ensuring that children’s hats are labelled and kept in child accessible storage helps to make it easier to implement a ‘hat’s on, fun’s on’ kind of routine.
Children who have left their hat at home, or bring a baseball-cap or refuse to wear a hat can:
- play indoors
- play on a veranda
- play in shaded areas
- wear spare hats provided by the service
Play-based activities that may encourage children to wear hats include:
- Engaging in imaginative/dramatic play – having a toddler putting a hat on a teddy or doll and using positive/encouraging feedback “what a beautiful shady hat the doll is wearing today”. Ensure materials are available to encourage dramatic play involving SunSmart practices; providing a basket of hats.
- Younger children are likely to enjoy opportunities to practice putting on hats of various designs. Have a mirror mounted on a child-size dressing table or on a wall. Add a basket of various types of hats (broad-brimmed, no brim, see through, a visor and hats from various cultures).
- When involving older children in play-based learning activities, invite discussion about which hats offer the best protection from the sun. Try shining a torch from above to check their predictions.
- Read story books such as Dorothy the Dinosaur and her Magic Hat by Liane McDermott, The Quangle Wangle’s Hat by Edward Lear or The Magic Hat by Mem Fox to reinforce hat wearing messages and when reading out aloud, make special mention of illustrations; ie “spot the beautiful broad-brimmed watermelon hat or the comical legionnaire style fish hat”.
- Manipulative play – use photographs cut from magazines or photographs of children in the group mounted on card. Photographs could display putting on a hat.
- Don’t forget that simply putting on a hat requires considerable fine motor skills. Encourage children to apply it themselves always with supervision and help where needed.
- Creative play – invite children to make SunSmart hats from reusable containers such as cardboard boxes or plastic ice-cream containers.
- Encourage the use of SunSmart “Spot-the-Difference” posters.