As young children grow, they spend more and more time in group situations – and, while there are plenty of benefits to this growing socialization, your child will be exposed to increasing numbers of germs, especially during the cold and flu season. So, before your child heads off to preschool, make sure that he or she is hygiene savvy. You obviously don’t have to wait until he or she is that age to work on these skills, but reinforcement is recommended before preschool starts.
Here are more specifics:
Parents.com recommends that you share the reasons why hand washing is important with your child. It could be as simple as: “When we wash our hands, we clean off the germs that could make us catch colds and get sick.” Make sure your child knows the crucial times to wash his or her hands: after using the toilet, before eating, after blowing his or her nose, after playing in the dirt and so forth.
Don’t assume that your child knows how to wash hands. Demonstrate. Then show your child how to wet his or her hands using cold water and how to use the soap and lather. Choose a fun way for your child to know how long handwashing should take. Parents.com suggests that you sing Happy Birthday to mark time – which needs to be at least 20 seconds. Then show your child how to rinse and dry. What ways can you make the process fun? What kind of fun soap? Towels in a favorite color? With praise?
Coughing and sneezing etiquette
Again, demonstrate! Show your child how to use a tissue when coughing or sneezing, how to blow his or her nose and how to cough or sneeze into your elbow or sleeve if you don’t have a tissue. One suggestion from Parent.com: pretend that the two of you have colds and practice proper hygiene. Or let your child care for a stuffed animal who has a “cold.”
BrightHubEducation.com shares a fun way to teach and reinforce dental hygiene with your young child. Intended for a classroom, you can adapt it for home. Give your child a hardboiled egg, a toothbrush and paste, a cup and dark-colored soda. Let your child see the bright whiteness of the egg. Then help you child put the egg into a cup full of dark soda and let it sit overnight. The next morning, your child can look at how the egg darkened – and then experiment with how brush with paste removes the stain. Explain that tooth brushing performs the same function and walk your child through the steps of wetting the brush, putting on a small amount of paste and then brushing.
Global Post explains that you’ll need to demonstrate the back and forth movement for cleaning each tooth, turning the brush on a 45-degree angle to reach molars. Also show how to spit out leftover paste and rinse the brush. For fun, set a timer for two minutes and challenge your child to brush that long (the amount of time recommended by the American Dental Association). Be the cheerleader!
If you’re looking for a quality affordable preschool/child care program that provides educational programs and enrichment experiences that help prepare your child for K-12, contact the Horizon Education Center in your neighborhood.