Germs are all around us. As adults, it is easy to understand that if you are sick, you need to cough into your arm and not share food or drinks with friends. But for a child, that is sometimes much harder. It is also important to wash your hands frequently and limit the touching of shared surfaces. Again, this is easy for an adult to understand, but what about a child? How do you get them to understand, especially during a pandemic? Here are 5 things that parents can do now with their children to help prepare them to go back to school and limit the spread of germs.

1. Create a Hand-washing Routine.

According to the CDC, you should wash your hands for a minimum of 20 seconds with warm water and soap. So, for children it is important to create a song or something to help them wash for the full 20 seconds. Two easy songs are Happy Birthday twice or singing through the alphabet. However, if you want to spice up the classroom or your home, you can work on rewriting the words to some other popular tunes. NPR received suggestions from their readers and one was from Erika Perzan to the tune of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. It goes, “Twinkle, twinkle little star. Look how clean my two hands are. Around my wrists and between my thumbs, lace my fingers, I’m almost done. Twinkle, twinkle little star. Look how clean my two hands are!” Creating a routine will make this very important task fun and easy for kids while helping to stop the spread of germs.

2. Cover Your Coughs and Sneezes.

This is easier said than done for most adults, so consider it to be even harder for children. But it’s important to remember that the earlier we work with our children on this, the easier it gets. One option is to go to the fabric store and let your child pick out their favorite patterned fabric and create a handkerchief that children can use to cover their mouth. Not only will they know which one is theirs, but it can easily be washed each day to further reduce the spread of germs.

3. Limit Hugs, Handshakes, and High-fives.

For children this is difficult, but it is important to help reduce the spread of germs. One way to help children deal with not being able to high-five their teacher or best friend is to help them come up with a secret air handshake or high five. Think about having the kids spin around and hit elbows or jump in place for an air high-five. Encourage them to do anything that will make it fun, help them feel connected, and bring a smile to their face.

4. Use a Face Covering.

Getting a child to wear something over his/her mouth and nose is not an easy task, but make it something fun for them. Get a bunch of white masks and some fabric markers and let children decorate their own. They will be more likely to wear something they help create. This is also a perfect activity for children to do together when they get back at the start if the school year.

5. Spread Out – 6’ Apart or More is Best.

It is easy for germs to spread in less than 6’ of space according to the CDC. In order to help slow the spread, spacing out is wise. Arrange a classroom so children have their own space or work on games or activities that allow for social distancing. Moving the classroom or learning outside also helps with greater spacing.

Overall, helping children reduce the spread of germs will not be easy, but the more we can help them learn now will make it easier when they go back to school. Practice also makes perfect, so keep encouraging children to work on these healthy habits, and they will soon be making a habit out of them. What is something that you are going to be teaching your children to help stop the spread of germs?

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