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The Importance of Proper Hand Washing for Young Children

It is crucial while we journey through these difficult times that good hygiene practices are maintained in your setting and of course hand-washing is the key to stopping germs or viruses. This week’s Thursday Tip includes 2 FREE activities on the theme of good hygiene with the children in your service.

One of the most important hygiene habits that young children need to learn is how to wash their hands properly. Children are constantly touching things with their hands and therefore pick up many different germs and bacteria from their own environment. Teaching young children the correct way to wash their hands from a very young age encourages it to come naturally to them in later years. In order to get the children’s hands properly clean, have the children follow the following step:

  1. Wet hands with clean warm water
  2. Apply soap to hands
  3. Rub hands together to create a lather from the soap, rubbing for a minimum of 25 seconds (or you can follow the “sing ‘Happy Birthday’ twice” rule).
  4. Wash in between the fingers, under the nails and all the way up to the wrist
  5. Ensure to rinse off the soap completely with clean warm water
  6. Dry hands thoroughly with a clean dry towel or paper towels (discard of paper towels immediately)

Keep practising this method with the children at every opportunity. Once they have learned this way of washing their hands the next step is to teach them when exactly they need to wash their hands. You need to encourage this so that it becomes part of their routine as young children will have many distractions and may forget to wash their hands. Hand washing is a very simple but highly effective way to improve the children’s hygiene. These are times when they need to be encouraged to wash their hands:

  • After being outside playing
  • After blowing their nose, sneezing or coughing
  • After touching any animals
  • After an outing or visiting somewhere in the local community
  • Before eating their breakfast, lunch and dinner

Here are two great activities that will help to explain how germs and viruses can spread if not washed away properly and also how to help to encourage the children to wash their hands with the introduction of ‘The Soaper Hero’.

The Soaper-Hero (download)

Potato in a Jar (download)