Fun Ways to Help Prevent the Spread of Colds and Other Illnesses

Ah, Fall…the weather gets cooler, leaves start to turn on the trees, and adults and children start to cough, sneeze and sniffle. It’s that time of year many childcare centers dread – the time when colds, flus, and other illnesses start making their way through our staff and student population. Why not turn this into an opportunity to teach children healthy hygiene habits? Quick lessons on handwashing and containing coughs or sneezes can be fun and educational – and children will take this information back to their homes. Following the tips below might help reduce the spread of sickness at home, at daycare, and at school.

Teach Proper Handwashing with Songs, Videos, Games and Posters

Teach children to sing the “A-B-C” song or the “Happy Birthday” song while washing their hands with soap. Proper handwashing significantly reduces the risk of catching and spreading everything from colds and flu to eye infections, but often children don’t wash their hands long enough or in the right way. Proper handwashing should last about 30 seconds and include the fronts and backs of the hands, as well as the nails. Remind children to use a clean towel or paper towel to dry their hands – dirty towels can spread germs and bacteria.Girl washing Hands

Check out this short video and song created by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to help kids remember to wash their hands, or this video instructing kids on how to wash and dry their hands properly. The CDC also offers hand-washing fact sheets, posters and stickers that centers can download and display in bathrooms or eating areas, and hand out to children and parents. Visit the Handwashing section of the CDC website for more information and materials.

The website scrub club also has several games, songs, and cartoons that encourage proper handwashing.

Cover that Cough

Many of us were taught to cover our cough or sneeze with our hands, but that can actually spread germs. If a child sneezes or coughs in her hand, she can transfer germs to everything she touches. Encourage children to turn away from people and to cover their cough or sneeze with their elbow or sleeve at the shoulder. Encourage children to use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer whenever they use a tissue to wipe or blow their noses – another opportunity for germs to spread. This poster from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and this poster from the Minnesota Department of Health are great reminders to display in centers.

Additional Resources

When children or their friends and family get sick they may have questions about doctors, germs, and sickness. The following are several age-appropriate cartoons and books that can help with discussions about these topics:

Arthur’s Knee– (Season 2, Episode 14) The second half of episode 14 revolves around Arthur cutting his knee and needing to see a doctor. Topics include: infections and how the body works to protect against “germs.”

The Magic School Bus: Inside Ralphie, A Book about Germs by Joanna Cole and B. Degan – Available as both a book and an episode of the television show- Season 1, Episode 03.

The Berenstain Bears Go to the Doctor by Stan Berenstain

Germs Are Not for Sharing by Elizabeth Verdick and Marieka Heinlen – Intended for toddlers

One Response to Fun Ways to Help Prevent the Spread of Colds and Other Illnesses

  1. mental health says:

    Hi there mates, its impressive article on the topic of cultureand fully explained, keep it up all the time.

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