Back-to-School is a busy, exciting time for most families. It means new friends, new teachers, and new schedules for all. It also means that kids are exposed to a lot of new ideas, activities, and… germs. And while we can’t monitor their every move during school hours (they have to grow up sometime, right?), we can do a few things to ensure that they don’t suffer too much through Cold Season.
Keep Them Well While They’re Away.
One of the most important things you can do is to teach your children how to properly wash their hands. According to Web MD, only 33% of female middle and high school students use soap when they wash their hands. That number drops to a frightening 8% of boys in the same age group. Yikes! Most illnesses are contracted when kids get germs on their hands and then touch their eyes or nose, so teach them that they are best off just avoiding contact with these parts of their face unless they’ve cleaned their hands first. Instill healthy habits by teaching them to wash their hands for approximately 20 seconds, and make sure that they always, always, always wash their hands before they eat food. Using hand sanitizer is another way to help your children avoid school-time illnesses. Kids older than 6 years old can be allowed to use sanitizer to keep hands free of germs, though visible dirt should still be cleaned off with soap. Some schools provide sanitizer for their students, while others may even allow kids to bring a travel-sized sanitizer. Find what is permitted or provided at your child’s school. Your child should also know the proper way to cough or sneeze- into his or her elbow crease. Doing this keeps germs off their hands, which helps to stop germs in their tracks.
Another way to help keep your child well is to help his or her school to maintain a germ-free environment. Some schools struggle to afford wellness products for their classrooms, so get involved by offering to donate tissues, hand sanitizer, soap, or anti-bacterial wipes. This also helps you to engage with the administration on what is being done to keep kids healthy, and opens the conversation to allow further discussion on how parents can help make their kids’ schools clean and safe.
Do Your Part.
Of course, keeping your child healthy at home is the primary way to keep them well. Make sure that they get enough vitamins, sleep, and exercise to maintain a healthy immune system. Keeping your home free of dust and mold are also critical to keep everyone healthy. And it goes without saying that keeping YOURSELF well is important. Running yourself ragged and having too much stress on your own body will not only increase the likelihood of you becoming sick yourself, but also impair you from giving 100% of your chicken soup-making, VapoRub™-soothing, bedtime-cuddling self.