Don’t want your child catching germs from other kids? Discover 9 ways to keep kids from getting sick at school.
Kids getting sick at school seems inevitable sometimes.
You enroll your child in preschool, but he misses half the month because he keeps getting sick. Or you can’t seem to go a week without someone catching something from school. Maybe you picked your child up from school and realized half the kids have snot running down their noses.
With the pandemic this past year, getting sick at school has been a bit different.
For one thing, most kids spent the majority (if not all) of the school year learning at home. Even those who’ve returned either in a hybrid model or full-time wear masks and stay a few feet apart from one another. And of course, schools have been stringent about following safety procedures to keep everyone safe.
How to keep kids from getting sick at school
But at some point, schools will relax the rules as the pandemic becomes a thing of the past. While I can’t imagine kids wearing masks forever, we can still promote habits to prevent them from getting sick at school.
That way, no matter what happen at school, you can still help build your child’s immunity and reduce the chances she’ll get sick. Hopefully we’ve picked up a few good habits so that, moving forward,
Take a look at nine simple habits to start that keep kids from getting sick at school, habits you can start even right at home:
1. Use utensils to eat
One simple way to prevent common colds and coughs is to encourage your child to use utensils to eat. This keeps her from having to touch her food and place it into her mouth.
While some foods lend themselves to using your hands (like pizza and pretzels), many can be eaten with utensils. For instance, she can pierce diced fruit or slice chicken tenders with utensils.
And if she has a habit of picking at her food with her hands, point it out and encourage her to find other ways to eat. For instance, give her a knife to push her pasta onto her fork.
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2. Wash hands
By now, we all know the importance of washing our hands the right way, considering how effective it is to stopping the spread of germs.
Make it part of your child’s routine so that it simply becomes a natural, automatic activity. After getting home from school, send her straight to the sink to wash her hands. Do the same before and after meals, and after each time she uses the restroom.
And she should wash for a good 20 seconds. Remember that she doesn’t have to keep the water running as she’s washing up. Turn the faucet off while she scrubs, then on again to wash the soap away—this will help conserve water use.
3. Don’t touch eyes, nose or mouth
The easiest ways for germs to enter the body is through the eyes, nose, or mouth. Catch her when she’s rubbing her eyes or picking at her nose. These habits can feel so automatic that she needs to be reminded in the act.
Then, give her alternatives. She can wash her face if she feels like something is in her eye, or use a tissue paper to pick at her nose. Have a few tissue boxes ready throughout the house, too—that way, she knows exactly where to go should she need one.
4. Sneeze into the elbow
Covering your mouth during a sneeze is important, but just as important is using your elbow. Kids (and adults) are less likely to spread germs when they sneeze into elbows instead of their hands.
Make sure your child actually covers her mouth with the inside of her arm. Doing a cursory arm bend isn’t going to stop the spread of germs than actually making sure her mouth is covered. And of course, the best place to sneeze into is a tissue paper, which she should then throw away afterward.
5. Get enough sleep
Help your child build his immunity by making sure he gets enough sleep. About 10 to 12 hours of sleep per night will keep his body well-rested and better able to fight germs.
How do you know he’s getting enough sleep? He should wake up and feel ready and refreshed to start the day, not grumpy and sulking for more sleep. This is especially important during the school year, when he likely has to wake up by a certain time to get to school.
Staying active is important to keeping your child healthy. With distance learning for many kids, exercise may not have been as possible as being on campus. Make sure that she’s active, from riding her bicycle around the block to playing chase in the yard.
My kids’ pediatrician recommends that children not remain sedentary for more than an hour at a time (other than sleeping). Be mindful of sedentary activities like reading or watching TV and encourage movement at the one-hour mark.
7. Eat well
Good food matters. Plan family meals with plenty of healthy ingredients, and pack nutritious snacks and lunches. If your child eats cafeteria food, supplement at home with fruits, vegetables, and grains like sugar snap peas, carrot sticks, or fruits.
The same is true with other meals of the day, from having a healthy breakfast to delicious dinners in the evenings. Buy food from a farmers market where the nutrient density of, say, an apple, is far more packed than a similarly-sized one at the grocery store.
8. Use hand sanitizer
Sometimes you can’t access soap and water, so keep hand sanitizer handy. Have a bottle ready in the car after school pick up, and bring a travel size bottle with you on outings. For instance, sanitize your hands before eating at a restaurant, or after playing at the playground.
9. Check your school’s policy
Stay informed about your school’s policy on sick kids and see if it’s enforced. For instance, kids with fever, vomiting, or diarrhea should stay home 24 hours after their last bout or fever (not since the first time they were sick).
With the pandemic, schools are clearer about their sick policies, so find out when you have the go-ahead to bring your child back to school if she gets sick.
Staying home sick from school can seem like an inevitable part of the year. With rising awareness of preventing even general colds and coughs, you can help your child steer clear of getting sick.
Simple habits like using utensils, washing hands, and sneezing into your elbow help avoid spreading germs. Getting enough sleep, exercise, and good food prepare her body to fight any that come her way. Avoiding touching her eyes, nose, and mouth decreases the chances of getting sick.
Using hand sanitizer keeps hands clean, and of course, check with your school’s sick policy and make sure it’s enforced.
With my kids at home for most of the year, none of us have so much as caught a cold. Hopefully we’ll continue this streak of not getting sick, both by practicing good hygiene and staying healthy to begin with.
Get more tips:
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- Preschool Pros and Cons: Should You Send Your Child to Preschool?
- Help Your Child Transition to Preschool (and Calm Your Nerves as Well!)
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