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Happy, healthy and Hygienic: Hand-washing

To be happy, healthy and hygienic, there’s one art all children have to master: washing their hands. In our current context, staying healthy through effective hand-washing is more important than ever.

While hand-washing may be crucial, it doesn’t have to be a chore.

Across SDN, our educators are transforming children’s perspectives on hand-washing; what was once a dull duty is now one of the most fun features of the day. We’ve utilised games, songs, activities, stickers, stamps and more to help our children manage their hygiene. Through our engaging and memorable hand-washing tricks, they’ve developed healthy routines to use at the centre, in their homes and for the rest of their lives.

But whyyyyy… handwashing?

‘Why?’ It’s a child’s favourite question, and one we are asked many times a day at SDN. It’s also one we encourage. In our centres, our goal is to help children process the world around them in their own way, in their own time.

Top tips for talking hygiene

Talk together, following your children’s lead. Help them discover these simple ideas:

  • Germs make us sick
  • Germs love to be shared (in this case, sharing is NOT caring)
  • Germs often spread through our hands – they live in our body, in our snot and our spit
  • When we touch our face, the germs may spread to our hands and whatever we touch next
  • Washing hands with soap and water kill germs, so we can keep safe.

In our centres, we’ve been doing science games to demonstrate good hygiene. Try this one at home.

The black pepper experiment

  1. Sprinkle some ground black pepper in a bowl of tap water.
  2. Fill a second bowl with water and soap.
  3. Dip a finger into the pepper water bowl. Notice the pepper stuck to it.
  4. Now, dip your finger in the soap water bowl. Make sure it’s fully submerged.
  5. Dip your soapy finger back into the pepper water. See the pepper immediately move away from your finger? That’s just like germs ‘running away’ from the soap.

 Handwashing how-tos

Good hygiene isn’t just a good idea - it’s how we stay healthy. Once children understand that washing hands is essential, it’s time to talk about how to hand-wash effectively.

Our preschoolers have learned a lot about hand-washing and are ready to help others learn too. Watch their video-guide Hand-Washing for Preschoolers for some germ-free fun.

When you’re talking about hand-washing at home, the most important hygiene messages to get across are:

  1. Regular washing gets results – wash your hands often. Wash after you use the toilet, after touching animals or dirt, before preparing food, after eating food, after you sneeze or cough… as often as you think, too.
    “When your hands are dirty, slimy or yucky, you have to wash them!”
    -Hayden, 4.
  2. Soap up for success – a little soap goes a long way in this mission. Water isn’t enough. Soap up your hands and wrists, making sure to get between your fingers and in/around your nails.
    “You can wash everything except for the TV!” -Hayden
  3. Good things take time – A long wash is a good wash. Children don’t always have a great grasp on time. Feel free to set timers, say the alphabet twice or sing songs until you get to 20 seconds of scrubbing. At SDN, we sing Happy Birthday while we wash – sung twice at its regular birthday-party tempo, it’s a perfect suds-up song.

At our centres, we’ve been using ink stamps to help guide the children in their scrubbing. Once they’ve washed, they get a brand new stamp on their hand. When they next wash their hands, they use the stamp to measure how clean they are. If you can still see the stamp, you still need to scrub.

 

Get in touch

To find out more about our centres, please call 1300 831 445 or email us at sdn@sdn.org.au.

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