Children don’t always listen when they are told to wash their hands, but it is worth continuously repeating to them. The most efficient way to stop the spread of germs is by teaching children how to properly wash their hands. If it is done too quickly, it is in vain and the germs will still be spread. Germs are the cause of a wide variety of illnesses, including the common cold, flu, meningitis, hepatitis A, and most types of infectious diarrhea. It can also be important to help prevent allergic reactions in our centers. We are peanut and tree nut free facilities, because an increasing number of children in the United States have severe, sometimes life threatening allergies to these products. If a child happens to touch them before coming into their classroom and they forget to properly wash their hands, an allergic reaction could occur that was easily preventable.
Hand washing is not something that children intuitively know how to do properly. In fact, many adults do not even know how to properly wash their hands or choose not to do it consistently like they should. Rainbow Child Care Center has a six step process of hand washing that we use to teach children, so that their hand washing serves a health purpose. If you do not follow all of the steps, you may re-contaminate your hands before you are even done washing them! First you wet your hands and get soap on them. Then, you scrub your hands for 20 seconds (or about the length of time it takes to sing a song like “Happy Birthday”) while making sure that you are also scrubbing between your fingers, under your nails, the backs of your hands and your wrists. You then should rinse your hands off and dry them with a paper towel, before using the paper towel to shut the water off. The last step is where re-contamination may occur, if you touch the dirty faucet again.
It might seem like it is recommended to be constantly washing your hands, but it is important because these are the times when the spread of germs is the highest. We teach children to wash hands at the following times:
Children need a lot of practice to get all of the steps down in the correct order and to make sure that they are consistently washing their hands as recommended. It would be a great role modeling experience if part of your drop-off routine was washing your hands together, to set an example of healthy habits.