With the start of the school year, keeping one’s family healthy and free of sore throats, stuffy noses, and annoying coughs can be a challenge. However, one simple act repeated throughout the day can help minimize everyone’s exposure to cold and flu germs—hand-washing. Hand-washing is the easiest and most effective way to keep nasty bacteria and virus germs away.
Germs are what make everyone sick, and unfortunately, germs are everywhere—on kitchen countertops, doorknobs, computer keyboards, and on our pets’ fur. However, by washing our hands thoroughly and frequently, we can wash away those germs and minimize our chances of getting sick as well as passing our germs along to others.
Teach Our Children
Teaching our children about how germs spread and the importance of hand-washing can ensure they do their part to stay healthy, even when we’re not around to remind them. First, discuss with your child that germs are what make most people sick. Certain children’s books can help explain bacteria and viruses in ways young children can understand. For example, the Reading Rainbow Book Germs Make Me Sick! by Melvin Berger uses upbeat cartoon illustrations that are both entertaining, informative, and reassuring to children.
Next, share how washing our hands is one of the best defenses for fighting germs. Remind your child of these proper hand-washing techniques:
Turn on the faucet and wet your hands.
Use soap and work up a good, soapy lather.
Scrub your palms, the backs of your hands, and in between your fingers.
Most importantly, we should all wash our hands for at least 15 seconds in order to kill all germs. That’s about as long as it takes to sing “The ABC Song” or “Happy Birthday.” Make a fun game out of hand-washing with your child by singing these songs or other favorites that also take about 15 seconds to sing.
When it’s Most Important…
Finally, share with your child the important times during the day when he or she should wash his or her hands, such as:
after sneezing or coughing;
after touching things outside;
after going to the bathroom;
after petting or playing with animals;
before preparing food; and
before and after eating. Helping children learn to take responsibility for their own health is not only empowering, it’s one of the best life lessons we can give them.
About the Author
Megan Riede is the Senior Director, Education Programs with Knowledge Universe, the parent company of KinderCare. Megan oversees the curriculum development for all of the education curriculum programs (core and enrichment programs) taught within KinderCare. Additionally, she supports the training of the bilingual teachers dedicated to Knowledge Universe’s Bilingual Mandarin Immersion Program and partners with Knowledge Universe’s Singapore business to develop the Mandarin Curriculum as needed for KinderCare. Before coming to Knowledge Universe, she spent 4 years as a Producer at Leapfrog in Emeryville, CA. developing interactive toys for children ages 3 to 6. Megan holds a BA in Elementary Education from the University of Arizona.