Most parents do an exemplary job in keeping their children clean and
well-groomed. A healthy child is in a better frame of mind to learn than a sick
There are some basics that parents can teach at home:
* Wash hands before meals and after using the bathroom. The hands are a
major distributor of bacteria from one person to another.
* Cover the mouth when sneezing or coughing. We used to encourage
children to cover the mouth or nose with a hand to prevent the spread of germs.
Now we teach that if a tissue or handkerchief is not available that they should
sneeze or cough into the v-shaped area created when the elbow is bent.
* Brush teeth two times a day and floss at least once. Healthy teeth and
gums make eating a more pleasurable experience, which leads to good health.
* Children should be able to keep neat and clean during the school day,
so that they donít go home looking like a disheveled mess.
* Bathe regularly. Many friendships are lost in school because of the
smell of unkempt children. Nobody will want to play with or sit next to a child
who smells bad.
* Keep foreign objects out of the mouth. There is no end to the number of
germs that can be transmitted this way.
* Donít exchange brushes, combs, hats, or other objects used in hair.
In some schools, hair lice spread quickly, which causes great disruption in many
households as family are forced to wash clothing and bed linens.
* Donít eat things that have fallen to the floor. Some children are so
hungry that they will eat about anything, even if it has hit the floor or
* Keep your children home when they are ill! After all, they may not be
ill if other parents had done this. Sure, it causes a problem of who will care
for the sick child. But keeping him home under these conditions is not only
better for him, but respectful to other families. You would want them to do that
This column has been incorporated and expanded in Teach Your Children
Well: A Teacherís Advice for Parents.