Want your kids to stay healthy at school? Teach them to wash their hands.

Partners Post, August 2015

Father and son washing handsWho has had this experience? A week or two into the new school year, your son, granddaughter, nephew, or cousin comes home with a whopper of a cold.

It's fairly common. That's why it is called the common cold. In fact, American students miss nearly 22 million school days each year just because of the common cold, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

With back-to-school season upon us, it's a great time to reinforce good hygiene practices, especially hand-washing, which can significantly reduce lost school days:

Teach your children to wash their hands. Many kids don't want to spend time washing their hands. There are games to play and fun to be had. It's up to parents and other caring adults to teach the importance of taking enough time to wash with soap, scrubbing in between fingers and under fingernails. Make a game of it. Teach your kids to sing "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" or "Happy Birthday" while they wash their hands. When they are done, teach them to dry their hands and use a paper towel to turn the faucet off.

Make hand-washing part of the routine. Make it a practice in your house to wash hands before eating or handling food and after using the bathroom. Teach kids to wash after coughing, sneezing, or nose-blowing, or after touching used tissues, garbage, or contaminated surfaces.

Keep hand sanitizer handy. If your child is on the go, be sure to have hand sanitizer on hand. Pack it with other school supplies.

In addition to routinely washing hands, teach your children to cover their mouths with an arm rather than a hand when coughing or sneezing, to dispose of tissues rather than leaving them out, and to avoid sharing beverages, food, or utensils.

Have fun while you're at it. To teach kids to keep their hands away from their faces, tell a story about how much germs love to take a ride on their fingers into the fortress of their bodies through entryways in their mouths, eyes, or nostrils. Be dramatic. Kids will get the point and have a good laugh, too.

Get more information on healthy habits from the Healthy Habits School Program, a joint effort of Lysol, the National PTA, and the National Education Association (NEA).



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