Public and private schools are undoubtedly the ideal places for children to receive an education, but, going to school also increases their risk of exposure to diseases due to the many children and common areas in schools.

Seasonal changes make children open to many diseases. Additionally, the weakening of the immune system can make school-age children more vulnerable to disease. As mentioned in previous articles, diseases spread rapidly in closed environments and personal hygiene is the root cause of many diseases. School is one of the closed environments, so there is a disease danger in schools. Parents need to be vigilant regarding their children’s hygiene, especially when it comes to school attendance. Indeed, crowded common areas play an active role in the spread of the diseases. Therefore, a child’s personal hygiene is important for both personal health and the health of school peers. Although parents cannot prevent their children from coming into contact with infections and microbes at school, changing children’s habits when it comes to hygiene can reduce the risk of disease.

Why is hygiene important?

When a child is exposed to an illness, microbes can spread quickly to the entire family in the home. Common colds and intestinal infections in children can infect the entire family if proper hygiene is not practiced. For this reason, it is important that parents help their children understand the importance of hygiene to ensure the entire family remains healthy.

1. Wash hands regularly

Frequent use of hand sanitizer is considered a must when it comes to proper hygiene. In schools, microbes are present on commonly touched areas such as door handles, tables, chalk boards and toilets, putting your child at risk of infection. Therefore, hand washing is the most effective way to prevent being exposed to bacteria at school. Parents are tasked with teaching their children how to wash their hands properly as well as how often to wash their hands. To do this, start by explaining to your child about common things that are hosts for germs. Then, tell them to wash their hands for an average of 20 seconds by rubbing their hands together and washing well between their fingers. Inform your child that he or she must wash their hands in the following situations:

– Before eating

– After playing outside

– After touching something dirty

– After coughing, sneezing or touching their nose

– After petting animals

– If the hands appear dirty

2. Eat breakfast

Since breakfast is the most important meal of the day, do not forget to be sure that school-age children do not skip breakfast – even if they struggle to get out of bed in the morning. The nutrients consumed by school children need to be diversified. Remember that children grow rapidly in this period, and they should frequently consume starchy carbohydrates and fiber-rich foods, restrict fat and sugar intake and take vitamins and minerals at adequate levels. School-age children are constantly growing and they must consume the nutrients they need to grow properly. Do not be alarmed. You do not need to create a special diet plan for these needs. It is enough to ensure that your child eats six meals a day, including three refreshments, and that the meals are home-cooked. Children grow at the fastest rate between ages 7 and 14, so children in this age group require much more calcium than others. Foods such as milk, yogurt, cheese and “ayran” (a drink made of yogurt and water) should definitely be included in the daily diets of children within this age range.

3. Avoid canteens and dining halls

I am sure that your primary criteria for choosing a school is different, but food alternatives offered at schools for your child’s success must be listed in the top three. In the majority of private schools, table d’ hote style meals are served. In such situations, be sure to examine where the food comes from and how it is prepared. The situation is more dangerous for schools that do not serve meals. If your child goes to school canteens, which usually offer fast but unhealthy food options, prepare a lunchbox for your child and do not be lazy about it. Remember, children do what they see rather than what they hear.

4. Encourage To drink water often

Encourage your children to consume water when they are thirsty. It is not an exaggeration to say that water is the most vital element for the continuation of both human body and ecological balance. I am sure many of you have heard of people who say that three quarters of the human body is made up of water. The human body suffers from dehydration throughout the day to fulfill its vital functions. The human body requires between 2-6 liters of water per day to perform all of its functions properly. In addition, water has the power to protect the body’s immune system against diseases.

5. Pediatric vaccination schedules

School children are often exposed to infection and the influenza virus that can cause diarrhea. These infections can spread quickly if an infected child touches a dirty surface. Also, your child’s contact with other children can cause the infection to spread to other children. However, it is important to remember that the infection is not only transmitted by direct contact. Sneezing and coughing can also spread the germs that lead to infection.

From the month your baby is born, a vaccination schedule is given by pediatricians to protect your child from possible infections. Following the Hepatitis A vaccine administered at birth and one month, vaccines for measles, varicella, diphtheria and tetanus are given in the following months. Other vaccinations are administered in the first and eighth grades of primary school. Many of the aforementioned childhood vaccinations do not provide lifelong protection. Therefore, additional vaccines are needed at certain time intervals. If your child has any missing vaccinations, these vaccines must be given before your child can enter school. Especially if your baby has never been vaccinated, his/her vaccines should be completed at least a week before. The risk of infection from your child at school to your baby should not be forgotten. Children with active infection should not go to school until they recover, unless they are too compulsory, for both themselves and other students.

6. Allergies

Allergic diseases, as well as active infection, can also cause disruption in the educational period. Allergic diseases can cause discomfort in children as well as adults. For this reason, take your child to the doctor’s office before school and get information about their allergic condition. Also take a look at the nearest hospitals where the school is located against possible allergic reactions if school is away from home.

If your child has food allergies, it is helpful to prepare a meal list before leaving home. There should be non-allergenic snacks, fruit and foods in the child’s lunch box. Also, make sure that he/she has medicine in case of a possible allergic reaction.

7. Proper hand, foot hygiene

Fingernails and toenails are also a breeding ground for bacteria. Microbes that live under the nails can easily enter the eyes, nose and mouth. For this reason, fingernails should be cut once a week and then hands should be thoroughly disinfected. On the other hand, proper foot hygiene is also important for school-age children. As sweaty feet can cause fungal infections, ensure that your child wears cotton-lined socks and leather or canvas shoes instead of synthetic materials, to ensure that the feet can breathe properly.