Can you guess what hand washing and the happy birthday song have in common? Well, the happy birthday song sung twice takes 20 seconds – the same amount of time it should take to wash your hands!
Hygiene is very important for all of us and there are many ways that parents can help support the staff in the ELC to provide consistent messages and practices for the children. Colds are a normal part of life, and generally children have eight to ten common colds per year. Young children are more susceptible to picking up illnesses as they interact so closely with other children and are still developing their immunity and hygiene habits, so it is vital that we do what we can to prevent the spread of germs.
Handwashing is critical: reminding your child they should wash their hands before eating, after going to the toilet (boys and girls), after touching animals and after blowing their nose is very important. As vital as the handwashing is, drying hands properly afterward is also crucial, as the wet hands can pick up more germs. Using paper towels in the centre or towels in the family home and patting or rubbing dry is encouraged. Limiting the use of the hand sanitizers is also encouraged unless there is no other option.
Teaching children to blow their noses is an important skill. You can do this by holding the tissue to their nose, getting them to close their mouth and then blow through their nose. This take a while to learn but eventually they get hang of it. Make sure they then learn to throw the tissue away afterward and then wash their hands straight after. Often young children will just wipe their nose, however most of the time this just spreads the nasal discharge. The effort in learning to blow their nose is well worth it. Children as young as two years old can be taught to blow their nose with adult support.
Further to this, sneezing or coughing into the inside of their elbow is most hygienic method. This prevents the airborne germs getting on the child’s hands and then transferring to other people, equipment or surfaces. Parents are also encouraged to teach their children hygienic toilet habits.
As we know, children learn from watching the adults around them, so we all play a vital role in modelling and talking about good personal hygiene. Regular dental visits and watching you and other family members clean their teeth, as well as family members washing their own hands before preparing food and after blowing their noses are good examples of habit-forming behaviours.
Please feel free to talk with any of the ELC staff if you have any concerns or queries about hygiene practices. Also please use the guidelines in the ELC Handbook for exclusion requirements if your child is unwell and follow the school protocol of letting the absentee line know of any absence and reason.
Enjoy singing Happy Birthday x2!
Director of ELC Kew