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Riley Heruska
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Most kids spend the majority of their week in close quarters with hundreds of other children. That means germs and illnesses can spread quickly and easily. Nothing puts more of a damper on your holiday festivities than a plague that starts working its way through your entire family. To avoid exposing your home to disease, encourage your children to adopt some healthy habits in the classroom. The healthier your children stay, the healthier your whole family remains.

Here are a few simple tricks you can tell your children about so that they'll stay sniffle and cough-free as winter approaches. 

Teach Children to Wash Their Hands Properly 

Although every child knows that washing their hands can kill germs, most don't truly understand how often and thoroughly they should be washing. Take some time to show them how long to soap up their hands and how to clean the more difficult parts, like under their nails. If your child continuously rushes through their hand washing, tell them to sing the alphabet song once or twice while they're doing it so they know how long to keep soaping up. Encourage them to start washing their hands as soon as they come home from school, before eating, and after using the restroom. Clean hands are the first line of defense against nasty germs, so make sure your children understand the importance of keeping up with their sanitation. 

Pack a Mini Bottle of Hand Sanitizer in Their Lunch Bags or Backpack 

Hopefully your children will wash their hand frequently while they're at school, but chances are they won't. Give them a little extra push by providing them with a non-alcohol based hand sanitizer they can keep with them at snack time and lunch. If they can easily access the sanitizer, they'll be more likely to use it before grabbing their food and chowing down. 

Discourage Them From Sharing Food and Drink With Others

We might teach kids that sharing is caring, but when it comes to sharing diseases, it's better to keep them to yourself. Tell your children to avoid sharing their food and drink and to refuse offers from other friends, no matter how sweet they might be. If your child needs to bring a shareable treat to the classroom, try to send them off with individually wrapped snacks. That will hinder the rapid spread of germs throughout the school. 
 
Keep Them Home When They're Under the Weather 

If your child seems to be feeling run down, don't force them to get over it and head out the door. Going to school when you're getting sick is one of the most effective ways to spread the disease, and it might even make it worse. Instead, let your kid stay home and rest. Their body will recover quicker and they won't be exposed to other icky viruses while their immune system is vulnerable. 

Buy Them a Reusable Water Bottle to Take to School 

Guess where the number one germiest place in your kid's school is? Nope, it's not the toilet or their computer keyboard. It's the water fountain. According to recent studies, public water fountains can be covered in festering bacteria colonies. To keep your child hydrated, pack them a large reusable water bottle they can sip from throughout the day. This will discourage them from heading to the water fountain frequently and probably keep them healthier in the long run. 

Make Sure the Kids Are Getting Enough Sleep 

Sleep plays an enormous role in any person's ability to stay healthy, but children require even more rest than older people in order to fight off colds and the flu. Kids and teens need an average of nine to ten hours of solid sleep every night in order to have a strong immune system. If you think your child is coming down with something or you know that there's a nasty bug going around their school, tuck them into bed extra early. Chances are, you'll see them perform better in school and stay healthy for longer periods of time. 

Get Them Vaccinated ASAP 

Although the Centers for Disease Control issued a statement encouraging everyone to get vaccinated against the influenza virus before October, it's always better to act late than never. You can still get your kids immunized at local drug stores or doctor offices during November, and you should. Flu season is here and the shot is by far the best way to reduce your family's risk of coming down with the seasonal illness. It can take up to two weeks for the vaccine to start protecting your body, so get your entire family vaccinated as soon as you can. 

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