Kids learn all kinds of things in kindergarten, including the basics of how diseases spread.
“There are things that get passed from one person to another one called germs and bacteria,” said a nurse to a class at Van Blanton Elementary School in Miami.
With the COVID-19 virus posing a threat, there’s more urgency to teach kids about avoiding germs, and it starts with washing hands.
“Two Mississippi, three Mississippi,” counts a child as he swishes the suds around his hands.
The nurse, from the Children’s Trust School-based Health Program, showed the kids how to scrub virus germs away and why that’s important, and the children totally get it.
“If you put your hand in your mouth, that’s germs,” said one little boy after raising his hand to be called upon.
Of course, this is great training for any age, learning how to wash your hands properly, but it also empowers kids to feel like they have a way of preventing the disease.
“It’s gonna be a reduction of anxiety if you actually focus on the prevention piece, and this is actually prevention so if you catch yourself coughing in your hands, oh, wait a minute, I’m not doing it right, let me take care of myself, it can actually be turned into a positive, not a negative,” explained Dally Pelaez, a crisis counselor with Miami-Dade County Public Schools.
She says teaching kids strategies such as coughing into their elbows, not touching their faces, and washing hands thoroughly are all important steps for parents, and so is avoiding panic.
“And it’s important to ask them how they feel about it and validate those feelings because they might be scared and tell them it’s ok to be scared and this is like any other virus, hardly anybody gets it and the way you prevent from getting any virus is washing your hands,” Pelaez said.
Kids are always getting their hands filthy, so should parents not allow them to play outside? Of course not. Pelaez says taking overly drastic measures like that will increase the stress level for parents and children alike.
“We cannot stop living because of something that’s happening because that will create anxiety,” Pelaez emphasized.
It's better to be proactive. Defeat germs by counting to 20 Mississippi before rinsing.