As teachers of young children, we’ve all been there. Dodging sneezy spit particles, heading straight for us at 100 miles per hour. Or stealthily intercepting a cracker before it goes from being coughed on to being shared with a best friend. We will stay healthier, and the children we teach will stay healthier if we start out the year teaching the children to properly wash their hands with soap, and to “catch” their sneezes and coughs in their elbows. (This is better than covering with hands, as that simply puts germs on their paws. That’s not very helpful in a “HANDS-ON” classroom!)
I like reading the book, Wash Your Hands, by Tony Ross with them and then doing this great science activity I posted back when we were first hearing about Swine Flu. I also model “catching” sneezes and coughs in my elbow, and have the children practice the same. (You may even notice some children with fake sneezes later on, just so they can practice their cool new trick!) You may want to also model using a tissue and throwing it away so that they know where they are and how to use them. Taking a bit of planned time to teach these concepts early on teaches health, social, and self-help skills, and will pay off as colds weasel their way into your classroom, as they always do. We spend all year teaching the children to share with their friends, but we also need to spend at least one day teaching them how NOT to share!
Photo courtesy of evah.