Warding off sickness during the fall and winter months can be a challenge. As colds and flu run wild, schools can be an epicenter of bacteria and infection. Encourage your children to share ideas — not germs — in the classroom, so they can stay happy and healthy this season.
Teaching your children about germs can help prevent the spread of common ailments. Some simple adjustments to your daily routine are all it takes. Here are some tips for avoiding illness at school:
Avoid Classroom Supplies
Communal classroom materials like pencil sharpeners, staplers, shared electronics and crayons can spread infection just as quickly as a cough or a sneeze. And many schools don’t have the time or resources to disinfect these objects after every use. Reduce your children’s risk by providing them with their own set of supplies. Store their school accessories in easy-to-clean plastic containers or pouches.
Be Sure Your Child Gets Plenty of Rest
Nothing will boost your child’s ability to stay happy and healthy more than sleep. Sleep recharges vital mental and physical functions like productivity, energy and, most importantly, your child’s immune system. If your kiddo doesn’t get enough sleep, they’ll be at risk for illness, fatigue and even depression.
Boost Your Child’s Immune System
Dodging the flu can be an uphill battle, so arm your child with the best weapon out there — their own immune system. Strengthen your kids’ immunity to germs with plenty of sleep, daily exercise and nutritious food.
Donate Classroom Cleaners
Teachers often can’t afford to provide lots of cleaning supplies for their classrooms. You can promote healthy practices by bringing in sanitizing wipes and sprays to control the germs. Other materials like tissues and individual drinking cups can also help prevent the spread of infection.
Encourage Your Child to Keep Their Hands Away From Their Face
Think of the most common habits of young children — nose-picking, thumb-sucking and nail-biting, to name a few. While parents generally find these habits to be more vexing than harmful, they can pose potential health risks. Your child touches up to 300 surfaces in just 30 minutes, most of which host bacteria. When they touch their face — especially their mouth, eyes and nose — they spread those germs instantly.
Gently remind your children to keep their fingers away from their faces until they wash their hands. It’s also a good idea to get them in the habit of washing their hands as soon as they get home from school.
Ensure Your Child Gets a Flu Shot
Most children would rather take on the monster under the bed than get their flu shot. But while the discomfort of the shot is temporary, the benefits can last over 6 months. Think of this vaccine as your child’s first line of defense against those persistent germs.
Know When It’s Time for a Sick Day
Sometimes sickness is inevitable, no matter how many precautions your child takes. No matter how strong the urge to fight the disruption to your family’s routine, know when it’s best for your child to rest. Do your part to avoid spreading germs and let your children relax at home while they recover. Many schools will send your children’s assignments online so they don’t fall behind.
Make Proper Hand Washing Fun and Part of Your Child’s Routine
The number one way to keep germs at bay is to teach your child proper hand washing techniques as soon as they begin toilet training. And since most children view hand washing as just another chore, mix things up and make it fun:
- Pick a song: Choose the chorus of your child’s favorite song and ask them to sing that every time they wash up.
Spike their senses: Adults aren’t the only ones who enjoy scented soaps. Use creative flavors like bubblegum or sour apple and turn hand washing into a guessing game.
- Use hand sanitizer: Sometimes children struggle to keep up with hygiene at school. Stash some hand sanitizer in their backpacks. These little bottles come in many different scents and colors.
Teach Your Child Germ Etiquette
While teaching children how to be sick — politely — can be quite challenging, there are many fun ways to help them learn to cover their coughs and sneezes:
- Be a good role model: Make sure to use the right techniques whenever you cough and sneeze — you never know when they’re watching.
- Get creative: Find new ways to encourage proper germ etiquette. The more fun you can make it, the more likely your child will be to remember it and put it into action.
- Use encouragement: Any time you see your child cough or sneeze properly, shower them with compliments.
- Use a toy: If your child has a hard time focusing, try using one of their favorite stuffed animals or dolls to engage them. Go through the proper coughing and sneezing motions with Teddy and your child will be a pro in no time.
Use Water Bottles
Staying hydrated helps your child’s body flush out toxins and bacteria, but school water fountains can be breeding grounds for germs. Encourage your children to use a disposable or reusable water bottle at school instead of sharing the water fountain with their friends.
Wipe Down Electronics
Children use their phones, tablets and laptops every chance they get — even in the bathroom. Phones alone contain 10x more bacteria than a toilet seat. Dangerous bacteria like E. coli, MRSA and streptococcus stick to these surfaces and transfer onto your children’s hands. Avoid these germs by wiping down their electronics with an alcohol-based cleaner and soft cloth daily.
Safeguard Your Child’s Health at School
Don’t let the flu season get the best of your family. Promote healthy habits with your kids at home, and teach them how to translate those skills into the classroom. You’ll be glad you did!