A new school year has begun. You have purchased the needed school supplies, signed up for classroom duty, got all the medical forms filled out and now you can relax, right? No, with every new school year comes a new season of germs and sick days. If you’re the parent of a daycare child or kindergartner be prepared; in the early school years a child’s immune system is being built up and they seem to catch every cold and stomach virus that comes along. So how do you keep your child safe from all the germs and illness going around the classroom?
One of the best ways to reduce the spread of germs is by washing your hands. Teach your child to wash their hands often and teach them how. Many children and adults don’t know how to properly wash their hands; use soap while rubbing together under running warm water. Remind your child to wash their hands before eating, after using the bathroom, blowing their nose, or playing outside. I have a friend who taught her little ones to sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice while washing their hands to insure they spent enough time on the task.
The use of hand sanitizer is also a good way to reduce germ exposure in school. Keeping an alcohol based hand sanitizer at or in your child’s desk is the perfect way for them to keep hands clean and germs at bay when unable to wash their hands. A pocket sized hand sanitizer is perfect for keeping in your child’s book bag or lunch bag. Discuss with your child hand sanitizer opportunities, such as snack time, after using classroom community property such as the water fountain or computer.
- Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze. Give your child a package of tissues to keep in his or her desk. Encourage your child to cough or sneeze into a tissue – then put the tissue in the trash, and wash his or her hands or use hand sanitizer. If it isn’t possible to reach a tissue in time, remind your child to cough or sneeze into the crook of his or her elbow.
- Keep your hands away from your eyes and out of your mouth. Remind your child that hands are often covered in germs.
- Don’t share water bottles, food or other personal items. Offer your child this simple rule – if you put the item in your mouth, keep it to yourself.
Also help your child avoid anyone who has a communicable infection. Close contact with a friend who’s contagious – such as play dates or sleepovers – could lead to your child’s own illness.
Of course, it’s also important for your child to eat a healthy diet, get plenty of sleep, and stay current on his or her vaccinations – including a yearly flu vaccine. To prevent spreading illness at home, use the same tips for the entire family. Happy school year!