Kids are germ factories, and there’s no way around it. They learn and grow by using their hands to explore the world around them and often come in close contact with others. It is essential to teach children to wash their hands and do it correctly. This knowledge will keep them from getting sick and help to keep others safe. Here are some tips and tricks to help make handwashing fun.
Kids thrive with a routine. Make handwashing part of your child’s routine and be consistent. When you come in the door from being outside, the first thing that should happen is kids wash their hands. No exceptions. Kids should thoroughly wash their hand with soap and water for 20 seconds every time they:
- Use the toilet
- Before they eat
- After coming in from outside
- After being in any public place
- After petting or being around animals
- After coughing or sneezing.
At East Gwillimbury daycare, children wash their hands (even the toddlers) before sitting down for lunch or a snack. The handwashing station is set up so that each child can easily reach the sink, soap and paper towels. Most kids are very proud when they master these new skills that they can do on their own.
Make It Easy For Them to Do
Kids are more likely to be happy to wash their hands if it is easy for them to do. Ensure you have hand soap on hand and that the faucet and sink are within easy reach for your kids. A step stool can make handwashing more accessible, and fun flavours of hand soap make it more enjoyable.
Wash Your Hands Together
Children learn by example, so set a good example and show them how to wash their hands by washing your own. You can show them how to soap up each finger, between your fingers, your nails, and don’t forget your thumbs! If they see you washing your hands frequently, it will become part of their routine.
Sing a Song
It’s a classic for a reason, sing through the song Happy Birthday two times, and you’ve covered the 20 seconds of handwashing that is recommended by Ontario Public Health to kill off the virus causing Covid-19. If you are sick of hearing Happy Birthday, Staff at Summer Camp Markham get their kids to sing “Twinkle, Twinkle little star,” “Row, row, row, Your Boat” through twice or the chorus of “We will Rock you.”
The Glitter Experiment
Help kids understand how germs get on their hands and how they spread with these practical experiments. Most kids will know that germs can make us sick, but may not connect the idea of how easily germs spread and how important it is to wash with soap thoroughly.
Here is how it works:
- Ask everyone who is participating to wash and dry their hands.
- Put some hand lotion onto everyone’s hands and get them to rub it in.
- Pour a small amount of edible cake glitter into the palm of one hand (This type of glitter is non-toxic and dissolves in water, unlike other glitters that don’t break down and can end up in the water supply.)
- Get your child to clap their hands together and notice how the glitter spreads.
- Get everyone to high-five others and watch the glitter spreads to other people
- Ask them what do they think would happen if they touched their face?
- Ask them to consider if the glitter was germs?
- Ask everyone to wipe their hand with a paper towel – how does this work?
- Wash everyone’s hands in cold water – does this get rid of the glitter?
- Wash with warm water and soap – which method was the most effective at washing off the glitter?