I partnered with Lysol to share these things that healthy classrooms have in common. All opinions are my own.
Back to school season may be just about over, but another busy season looms just over the horizon. I’m not talking about the holidays (although those are definitely closer than they seem). I’m talking about the most dreaded season of all: cold and flu season! Very little wreaks havoc on our children’s ability to learn like a nasty cold. Did you know that, according to the American Psychological Association, the common cold causes the same type of cognitive impair in children as drinking too much alcohol causes in adults? Crazy, right? Even if your kids aren’t showing symptoms, they can still suffer from cognitive decline.
It seems like colds and schools go hand-in-hand, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Your child’s teacher is likely doing everything possible to help keep your kids healthy. After all, sick kids aren’t just a disruption to your routine, but to the whole classroom’s. Here are some things every healthy classroom have in common, and how you can help reinforce these things at home. FYI, homeschoolers and cyber schoolers, don’t think you’re going to get off easy come cold and flu season! Unless your kids never leave the house, they’re still exposed to germs! These tips go for you, too!
Things Healthy Classrooms Have in Common & How You Can Help
Hand-washing skills beyond the basics
Healthy classrooms are full of kids who know that washing their hands is more than just slapping on some antibacterial soap, rinsing it off, then running back to play. They know that friction is the key to getting rid of germs! They rub their hands together while singing the ABCs twice in their heads. Then they dry their hands using a paper towel. NOT an air dryer. Sorry, I know that those dryers are supposed to be better for the environment, but they don’t do much to kill germs. When I was a nursing student, we were taught that those things actually give germs a healthier breeding environment because most people stop while their hands are still damp. Bacteria and viruses just LOVE when you leave your hands all moist and warm!
How you can help: teach your kids the proper way to wash their hands and reiterate it frequently at home. If the school doesn’t supply paper towels to your child’s classroom, send some in each month. You can buy a bulk pack pretty cheap at a club store. Even the dollar store paper towels will get the job done.
Good germ etiquette
Our kids are taught in preschool that they should cough and sneeze into their arm instead of their hands. While that’s great germ etiquette for little ones playing on the playground, here’s a better idea. Teach your kids to grab a tissue to sneeze into. Tell them to throw the tissue away, then wash their hands. While it’s also a good idea to teach your kids to avoid others who are hacking and sneezing, it’s not always feasible. Your child isn’t going to stay away from his best friend just because BFF has a cold. Your best bet is to teach your kid to avoid acquaintances who are sick, and to at least adapt a hands-off policy for BFFs with colds.
Other ways you can help: Send in tissues year round! Teachers ask parents to send a box of tissues at the start of the school year, but many either don’t have the money or just plain ignore this request. Even if every parent does send in a box on the first day, kids aren’t exactly known for being frugal and end up grabbing a handful for every little cough and sneeze.
Smart disinfecting routine
Smart teachers know that wiping down classroom surfaces with a plain old paper towel and water isn’t really enough to kill germs and prevent colds from spreading from student to student. They use Lysol Disinfectant Wipes regularly to quickly tackle germs throughout the classroom. Did you know that your home keyboard has more germs on it than a toilet? Imagine how many germs are lurking on shared electronics! Lysol Disinfectant Wipes are powerful enough to kill 99.9% of germs and bacteria (including 8 cold and flu viruses!), yet gentle enough to use on your electronics (obviously, when used as directed. Don’t squeeze out a sopping wet wipe into your keyboard!).
For all those soft surfaces, Lysol Disinfectant Spray comes to the rescue. It also kills 99.9% of germs when used correctly, and prevents mold and mildew. My friend used to teach 1st and 2nd grade, and she had this great little reading loft for the kids filled with stuffed animals. She used Lysol Disinfectant Spray regularly to keep them from getting gross. When I worked as the Santa photo set manager, we used it on the costumes at the end of the night. If they worked to disinfect and deodorizer sweat-soaked heavy wool Santa suits, they’ll work on just about anything!
How you can help: Keep your child’s classroom supplied with plenty of Lysol Disinfectant Wipes and Spray! They’re really inexpensive, so you can grab a couple of cans or canisters while you’re out shopping and send them in once a month.
Personal supply stash
Healthy classrooms avoid sharing supplies as much as possible. This means every child has their own pencils, crayons, erasers, etc. Kids do weird things with their school supplies. I can’t tell you how many pens and pencils I chewed as a child and teen. Honestly, I STILL chew all of my pen caps! No one ever wants to borrow my pen, which is fine with me! Mouths aren’t the only weird places kids stick things. I had a friend who had to have crayon bits surgically removed from her nose when she was little! Even if your kids aren’t putting their pencils in their mouths (or their noses!), their hands are still covered in germs, which means their supplies are, too. Passing a pencil means passing those germs!
How you can help: Teachers try to keep extra supplies for kids who forget, lose, or just plain can’t afford their own, and all of those supplies usually come out of their own money. Hit the clearance sales and grab some extra supplies to send in to your child’s teacher. Every time you’re out and about and see a great sale, grab some extras. Teachers can never have too many extra supplies. If they DO end up with more than they need, chances are they know another teacher who could use some.
Practices that support healthy immune systems
All healthy classrooms are led by teachers that understand the best practices to support healthy immune systems. While school policy dictates things like lunch time, recess, and gym, teachers do their part to supplement when necessary. For example, my son’s elementary school only gave the kids a 15-minute recess once a day, and that included the time it took to get out to the playground and get back to the classroom. My favorite of his teachers gave the kids a chance to get up and move throughout the day by working in physical activities to the curriculum. Stress plays a huge role in lowering our kids’ natural defenses against germs, and smart teachers know that a stressed-out kid isn’t going to perform well academically. They know how to watch for signs of burn out and when to give kids a short “brain break.”
How you can help: Make sure your kids are getting a good night’s sleep. This isn’t always easy, since schools start earlier kids get. My son’s middle school started at 7:20! To get a full 9 hours of sleep, he had to be in bed by 9 each night. Yet tweens and teens have a biological difficulty falling asleep before 11PM. One solution is to let them fall asleep to music, preferably something relaxing. Parents also need to be aware of their kids’ stress levels. If they’re involved in after-school activities, make sure they’re not over-scheduled and have at least one day a week full of down time.
Bottom line, our kids’ teachers are doing everything possible to keep our children healthy while they have them. It’s up to us to give them a hand and continue the work at home. Teachers need healthy classroom supplies year round, not just on the first day of school. Remember, many classrooms have upwards of 30 kids or more! Things like tissues, paper towels, extra supplies, and Lysol wipes and spray go super fast.
You know what else teachers can use year round? Box Tops for Education! My son’s school sent home envelopes a few times a year for us to fill up. Throughout the rest of the year, I kept them in an envelope so I wouldn’t lose them. While you’re shopping for healthy classroom supplies, looks for items that include Box Tops. Lysol is a Box Tops for Education partner! Check out three fun ways you can earn Box Tops with Lysol and a list of their participating products.
How do you do your part to help support your child’s healthy classroom? Share your thoughts below!