Backpack, lunchbox, jacket… as you take inventory at the end of the school day, make sure that an invisible, unwanted guest—the germ—doesn’t sneak in along with your child.
Schools do everything they can to keep classrooms and shared areas clean and disinfected—but with so many kids in the same places for hours each day, germs are bound to breed.
As a parent or caregiver, there are plenty of things you can do to help your kids (and their classmates) stop the spread of germs. Here are some tips for keeping children as healthy as possible at school, and for preventing germs from hitching a ride home to the rest of your family.
#1: Hand washing: It’s not just for bathroom breaks
You’ve already taught your child to wash hands after using the bathroom, but how often do they do it at non-bathroom times? Frequent hand washing is the number one way to control germs and help prevent the spread of colds, flu, and other contagious illnesses.
First, make sure your child knows how to wash his or her hands the right way. Have them use a germ-fighting antibacterial soap such as Lysol, and lather both hands to the wrists. Emphasize the importance of rinsing and drying thoroughly.
Encourage your child to get in the habit of hand washing after eating, group activities, and play times—basically whenever they’re sharing things with another child or children. And speaking of sharing…
#2: It’s okay not to share (sometimes)
Sharing is good for kids—except when they’re swapping germs. In classrooms, germs breed on items that all the children share, such as toys, art supplies, and the class pencil sharpener. Provide your child with a personal set of supplies that is not to be shared with others.
Remind your child not to share meals, snacks, or drinks with their classmates. Water fountains are another germ-prone area; if possible, send your child to school with a personal water bottle instead.
#3: Tame sniffles before they’re full-blown
Illnesses like colds and flu can spread quickly through a classroom—but if you catch the sniffles in time, you can avoid having a sick child for a week. Teach your child to cover coughs and sneezes using a tissue, rather than their bare hands. Send your child to school with the right tools to stay healthy, including tissues and hand sanitizer.
It’s also important for children to avoid other students who are coughing or sneezing, and to stay home if they’re sick. Not only could they spread germs to classmates, they might also get sicker or prolong the recovery process.
#4: Battle germs on the home front
Staying healthy is a habit that can be reinforced at home. As a parent, you can help fight the spread of germs by diligently cleaning tables, countertops, and frequently touched surfaces like doorknobs and light switches. Sanitize soft items that your child brings home from school, such as backpacks, to prevent germs from spreading to others in the household.
Help avoid the never-ending school cold, or the dreaded flu, by following these healthy germ-fighting tips.