Sun protection is a shared responsibility. Ask your service or school about their sun protection policy and ways you can support them as a member of your local SunSmart community.
Most Victorian primary schools and early childhood services are registered SunSmart members. Is your child’s school or service officially SunSmart?
See SunSmart’s sample policies for schools and early childhood services.
Help your child to be SunSmart at school or early childhood service
1. Dress your child in clothing that covers as much skin as possible
Clothing acts as a barrier between the skin and the UV radiation. Help your child choose clothing that covers as much skin as possible. If they want to wear a singlet top, add a shirt over it.
- Choose clothing with higher necklines and longer style sleeves – at least to the elbow but longer if possible. Shorts, trousers, dresses and skirts should ideally at least reach the knee.
- Clothing with a tight weave (no light comes through the fabric), correctly fitting and darker in colour will be more effective at protecting the skin.
- A UPF rating of 50 or 50+ ensures the design meets Australian Standards. The UPF rating provides information on how much UV will pass through unstretched, dry material. Get involved with the uniform committee or store. Does the uniform policy or dress code include sun protective clothing items? Does the uniform supplier provide UPF ratings for garments?
Top tips for sun-protective school uniforms
2. Apply a generous amount of SPF30 (or higher) broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen at the start of the day before drop-off
For early childhood
- At drop-off time, when signing your child in for the session/day apply a generous amount of sunscreen to any parts of your child’s skin not covered with clothing. That will not only give them a generous ‘base coat’, it will also mean they’ll be all set to go straight outside and play.
- Provide permission for sunscreen to be reapplied during the day.
- From 3 years of age, teach your child to apply their own sunscreen so they can learn independent skills ready for kinder and school.
For primary school
Teachers are not expected to apply sunscreen to students but SunSmart schools should have strategies in place to encourage SunSmart behaviour.
- Give your child plenty of sunscreen application practice at home so they’ll be all set when they are at school.
- Ensure your child has sunscreen in their school bag ready to be reapplied throughout the day. Store it with their lunchbox or hat so they’ll be reminded.
- Check what strategies the school uses to remind children to reapply sunscreen before they go outside. Sunscreen buddies, sunscreen monitors, a sunscreen station and reminders near the doors can be useful.
Top tips for sunscreen at school
3. Remember to pack their sun-protective hat each day
To be protective, hats should have a broad-brim of 6cm for children or 7.5cm for older students. Bucket hats should have a deep crown and angled brim of 5cm for younger children and 6cm for older students. Legionnaire hats should have a front peak with an overlapping back flap to protect the ears and neck.
If your child’s school or service requires sun hats stay on site (to avoid any chance of forgetting hats), have a spare hat ready for the drop-off and pick-up walk. Don’t forget your sun hat too.
4. Encourage your child to choose shady spots for play
Can you assist with shade development at your child’s school or service?
- Help at the gardening working-bee to get some natural shade planted and maintain low UV reflective surfaces (e.g. tanbark, soil, grass, dark coloured surfaces).
- Assist with fundraising or shade grant sourcing to help extend a verandah, build a shady pavilion or purchase some portable shade tents or umbrellas.
5. Encourage your child to wear UV protective sunglasses
If practical for your situation and approved by the school or service pack sun protective glasses.
Make sure they’re clearly labelled with your child’s name so they can’t get lost.