Ahh, a new school year. Sights and sounds of freshly sharpened pencils, starchy new clothes and clean backpacks assault your senses. Unfortunately, these things are also closely followed by constant runny noses, coughs and persistent illnesses that seem to just get passed back and forth in the classroom. While I’d like to think this process is boosting my daughter’s immunity and is just part of life, I also don’t want to be single-handedly keeping Kleenex in business. Here are 7 ways you can help keep your kids healthy this school year!
1. Teach Proper Hand Washing
In a survey conducted by KidsHealth.org, about 28% of the school nurses surveyed stated that the single most important factor in preventing illnesses is frequent hand washing. According to the CDC, “Keeping hands clean through improved hand hygiene is one of the most important steps we can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. Many diseases and conditions are spread by not washing hands with soap and clean, running water.” Teach your kids how to wash their hands, lather with soap for 20 seconds, and how to rinse and dry. You’ll be surprised how this simple action keeps germs out of your home!
2. Consider Vitamins and Probiotics
The jury is still out on the exact benefits of vitamins and probiotics in children, but that’s because everyone metabolizes them differently. If your child doesn’t have any major underlying health issues, taking a daily vitamin and starting probiotics may be one more way to help stave off illness. Besides, I’ve never met a kid who doesn’t like a Flinstone vitamin!
3. Show Kids How To Cover Coughs & Sneezes
There are fewer things more disgusting then feeling someone else’s spittle land on you, because of improper (or NO) covering of their mouth and nose while sneezing or coughing. Kids typically aren’t the best at this, that’s why it’s important to show them how to use their forearm and elbow area to keep their germs to themselves. The CDC has a great printable poster you can show them so they understand.
4. Lots Of Rest
As a tired mom, you understand first hand how devastating a lack of sleep has on your body. Not only is your mind easily distracted (not ideal for learning in school!) but your body is prone to illnesses because it can’t fight them off. Make sure your kids have a great bedtime routine that allows them plenty of rest so their body can be recharged and stay healthy. If you aren’t sure how much sleep your kiddo needs, check out this helpful chart.
5. Keep Your Kids Home If They’re Sick
Like the Bible verse that says “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” think twice about sending your sick kids to school. Yes, it is a huge convenience, especially if you are a working mom. But your actions could help break the constant cycle of germs and illnesses being spread all over school. Nothing is more frustrating as a parent to see a kid with green snot coming out of his nose and touching all the communal toys at preschool- that YOUR child is playing with too. Even though your child may miss out on a test, field trip or other organized event, it’s not fair to other kids to send your sick child to school. Besides, if your child is truly sick- they probably need to stay home and rest to recover.
6. Sharing Isn’t Always Caring
If you’ve got a kid who loves to share, they probably know no bounds, and are quick to even share water bottles and food. As sweet as that is, it’s not a good practice to share personal items at school. Aside from the potential risk of setting off another child’s allergies, your kids are quite easily exchanging germs they may otherwise not pick up. Teach your child the difference between sharing a toy, and sharing germs.
7. Have A Healthy Diet & Get Lots Of Exercise
A diet of healthy food and exercise will further your kids bodies ability to fight germs and infection. Make sure they are getting ample serving of fruit and vegetables, low amounts of sugar and get regular time to run outside and play. A strong body, inside and out, is one of the best defenses to staying healthy this year!