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Teaching Preschool Kids About Infection Control

by Jaimie Zinski

Germs and children seem to go hand-in-hand despite a parent's best efforts. An estimated 40 percent of kids between the ages of 5 to 17 missed at least three days of school in 2007 due to injury or sickness, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Help cut down the number of school days your preschooler misses once he enters kindergarten by teaching him about hygiene and infection control.

Washing Hands

Turn hand washing into an enjoyable activity by singing songs, reciting the ABCs or playing a game while teaching your preschooler the importance of proper hygiene. For example, sing a song featuring every member of the family, or tell your preschooler a funny story about how germs live on his dirty, unwashed hands. The CDC urges parents to encourage their preschoolers to wash their hands with warm water and soap after playing outdoors, sneezing, using the toilet and before eating.

Spreading Germs

Play a game to teach you preschooler how easily germs are spread. Fill two plastic baggies with colorful stickers. One baggie is for your preschooler, the other is for you. Start the game by giving your preschooler a hug. While hugging him, place a sticker on his back. Explain that you're sick with the flu or a cold, and now he is, as well, and everything you touch becomes infected by germs. Instruct your preschooler to keep the baggie with him all day and place a sticker on everything he touches, including the television remote or his favorite stuffed toy. Use this game to emphasize how easily germs are spread, and why it's so important for your preschooler to wash his hands, especially before eating.

Hand Sanitizer or Hand Washing Chart

Create a chart that tracks each time your preschooler washes his hands with soap or water, or eliminates germs with hand sanitizer. Using a poster board and markers, create a chart featuring all the instances when your preschooler should wash his hands, including after using the toilet, before eating, after sneezing or coughing and after playing outside. Each time your preschooler washes his hands or uses hand sanitizer without being told, place a gold star on the chart. After your preschooler gathers a set number of stars, such as 20 or 30, provide him a reward.

Will You Get Sick?

Teach your preschooler about the various ways people can catch the cold or flu by playing a game called “Will You Get Sick?” Walk through your home or neighborhood and provide your preschooler with a variety of scenarios. For example, tell your preschooler he was just outside playing with a friend who has the sniffles and a cough. Your preschooler then grabs a snack and begins eating, but he forgets to wash his hands. Ask your preschooler if he could get sick. For each correct answer, give your child a point. After achieving a set amount of points, provide your preschooler a reward.

Photo Credits

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