In the aftermath of a global pandemic, many parents are still on high alert regarding the spread of germs in their children’s schools. While we can do everything in our power to keep our kids healthy and germ-free at home, we lose much of that power when they head into their crowded classrooms. Then before you know it you are reaching for cough medicine for kids, boxes of tissues, and chicken noodle soup. If you are determined to beat this year’s flu season, here are five tips to help keep your child germ-free at school.
1. Encourage Them to Wash Their Hands
Handwashing is the best way to prevent germs from spreading from kid to kid. Our children touch countless surfaces and objects throughout the day, as do everybody else’s kids. And you cannot control what the other kids are doing before they touch the same surfaces as your child. The point is germs spreading at school are unavoidable. This is why it is essential to share with your child how crucial it is to wash their hands properly and often. You first want to let your child know when their hands need to be cleaned. Tell them that their hands need to be washed not only when they are visibly dirty but also after using the bathroom, before and after eating or touching food, after blowing their nose or coughing into their hand, after touching pets, and after playing outside.
In addition to teaching your children when they need to wash their hands, you also want to teach them how to wash their hands. They should know that warm water is best and always wash with soap. They should also know how long to lather the soap on their hands for. A good rule of thumb is to have them recite the alphabet or sing happy birthday in their head. Ensure they know to wash the front and back of their hands and dry them with a clean towel when they are done rinsing off all the soap.
2. No Sharing Personal Items
Another thing you will want to teach your child before their first day of school is sharing rules. While you have probably spent plenty of time teaching your child when and how to share, you must also let them know when it is ok and preferred not to share. Personal items like water bottles, earbuds, hats, brushes, lip balms, and food containers should never be shared with others. Also, tell your child not to accept any of these items from other kids. Germ transfer will be high for personal items, so it is best to avoid letting your child pass them around.
3. No Face Touching
Younger kids especially have questionable judgment when putting their hands in places they should not. Let it be their face if you can convince them to keep their hands off anything. Make a rule for them that fingers should be kept away from their mouths, noses, and ears, as these are all direct ways for germs to enter the body. Additionally, instead of having them bring their hands to their mouth to cover a cough or sneeze, teach them to use the crook of their elbow or a tissue. This way, they are not getting mixed signals about the face touching and will be less likely to spread extra germs.
4. No Water Fountains
Kids don’t always have the wherewithal to keep their little mouths off the spout of a public water fountain. This is an issue for obvious reasons. Send them to school with a refillable water bottle instead. This way, they don’t even need to go near that water fountain that dozens of other kids have had their hands and mouths all over.
5. Keeping Them Home When It Counts
While keeping your child home from school can be an inconvenience to their studies and working parents, it will always be worth it. The quickest way to spread germs around the whole school is to send a sick child into a public space. Be respectful of all the other kids and their families by keeping your sniffling and sneezing child at home and hope that other parents will show the same respect for you and your child if the roles are reversed.
While we know that kids will be kids, especially once we let them out of our sight, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to be proactive. Teaching your kids behaviors that will help keep them healthy and germ-free is vital to ensuring they don’t get sick this flu season. Take some time to teach your kids some of these behaviors before they head off to school this year.