It’s easy to worry about your child’s health when they are at school, especially when you have very little control over their surroundings. A large group of children in the same place is always going to provide a breeding ground for germs, and illness is inevitable. However, there are steps you can take to decrease the chance of your child becoming ill, and are as follows:
Ensure their immunizations are up to date
Despite some parent’s understandable reluctance to have their children immunized, the simple fact is that they are much less likely to become ill if they are up to date with their jabs. These days, vaccines are highly tested, and expert opinion is that there is very little chance of harm for the majority of children, stating that benefits far outweigh any possible negatives. Currently, there are vaccines for highly infectious diseases that could, in worse case scenarios, prove fatal, including typhoid, cholera and measles. Most children should be fully up to date with immunizations before they enter school; however, there will be times when it is recommended that older children and teenagers (as well as adults) are immunized.
Encourage hygiene and hand washing
The importance of appropriate hand washing for school-aged children can’t be emphasized enough, and it is the number one cause attributed to the spread of illness within a school environment. Education regarding the necessity of hand washing should begin at a very young age, so that children are aware of the importance before they begin school, explaining when and why they should wash their hands. Talk to your child about not touching their face (especially eyes, nose and mouth) with their fingers, and how to cough or sneeze into their elbow or sleeve, rather than into their hand.
Keep your children home when they are sick
School nurses stress the importance of keeping your child off school when they are sick, with many claiming that children are being sent to school when really they should be resting at home. Many of us have busy lives where an unexpected illness can throw you for a loop, or perhaps you don’t want your child to miss an important test at school, and as a result, this often impacts on your judgement regarding whether your child should stay home. However, the impact this can have on the school environment can be serious indeed, with the majority of illnesses in school as result of children coming to school when they really shouldn’t. If in doubt, keep them at home. The majority of schools recommend that children with a fever should remain at home until their temperature has returned to normal for at least a 24-hour period.
Good health starts at home
There are many ways to encourage good health at home, which obviously have a knock-on effect towards your child’s health at as school. Always make sure your child gets plenty of sleep, and understands the importance of establishing a healthy bedtime routine. Children who receive an adequate amount of sleep are able to concentrate much better, and are less likely to become ill. A healthy, balanced diet is also extremely important; serve up nutritious snacks and ensure you sit down to regular family meals. Lastly, ensure your child exercises: those that are active are much more adept in dealing with the emotional and physical demands of school, and also sleep better.