Hand washing

05 February 2021, by Jitbug

Wash your hands! Integrating healthy practices into our ECE centres

As the first month of 2021 draws to a close, New Zealand is lucky to be in an excellent position for fighting COVID-19. We all followed lockdowns, socially distanced, and banded together to keep our communities safe. Even though we’re currently free from community transmission, it’s essential to keep up healthy habits. Whether to protect against COVID-19 or fend off pesky little everyday colds, good hygiene in ECE is key to reducing germs. At the simplest level, effective and frequent hand washing is a great skill to teach.

There are two simple factors when it comes to washing our hands: quantity and quality. Frequent washing is essential to keep hands germs free. We recommend making handwashing part of your routine before and after meal-times, after touching playground equipment or shared play items, and after sneezing and coughing. The basic handwashing technique is simple, but incorporating a poster above the sink can be a helpful reminder!

One way to make handwashing a blast is to teach children why it’s important. Understanding the spread of germs is key. While there are many videos and visual resources out there, you could also try an engaging hands-on approach. Place glitter or paint on the child’s hand, then have them touch various objects. This easily visualizes how germs spread through contact. To finish up, have the children wash their hands and point out how it takes around a minute and some scrubbing to remove the ‘germs’.

You can also encourage handwashing by making it a fun activity. The eager impatience to play can make handwashing seem like a chore, but it doesn’t need to be one! Try incorporating singing into your hand washing. You can use an existing song, or even make one up!

Regardless, choose something upbeat, easy to learn and sing, and at least 30 seconds long. Always give lots of encouragement, positive reinforcement goes a long way in making an activity exciting.

Finally, though handwashing is essential, be sure to pair it with other healthy habits. Simple things like covering mouths to cough and sneeze, throwing tissues directly in the bin, not sharing food containers, and regular cleaning are easy steps to take. More broadly, measures like increasing the amount of air flowing through windows and social distancing can help keep your centre germ-safe.

We hope this starter-guide helps with implementing effective handwashing. We’d love to hear any more tips that you have for keeping COVID-19 safe!