Keeping your kids healthy at school

Do you know why school kids get sick so often? In the early school years, your child’s immune system is put to the test. Young children in large groups tend to easily spread organisms that cause illness.
“Many childhood illnesses are caused by viruses,” says Elizabeth Leschensky, family nurse practitioner at Mayo Clinic Health System - Franciscan Healthcare in Waukon. “All it takes is a single child to bring a virus to school for the spread to begin.”
What’s the best way to keep your child healthy in school? Frequent hand washing is the simplest and most effective way to stay healthy. Remind your child to wash his or her hands before eating and after going to the bathroom, blowing his or her nose, or playing outside. Kids should soap up for as long as it takes to sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice.
Leschensky suggests these other tips for keeping kids healthy in school:
• Give your child alcohol-based hand sanitizer to keep in his or her desk or backpack. Kids should use hand-sanitizer before snacks or lunch and after using shared objects such as a computer, pencil sharpener or water fountain.
• Give your child a package of tissues to keep in his or her desk or backpack. Encourage your child to sneeze into a tissue. If a tissue is not available, he or she should cough or sneeze into the crook of his or her elbow.
• Remind children to keep their hands away from their eyes and out of their mouths because hands are often covered in germs.
• Remind children to not share water bottles, food or other personal items. Use this simple rule - if you put the item in your mouth, keep it to yourself.

Last, but not least, it’s also important for your child to eat a healthy diet, get plenty of sleep and stay current on his or her vaccinations in order to help fend off illness causing organisms, says Leschensky.