Kids should be taught about the importance of good health and hygiene, and this is where the need to talk about germs emerges. There is no doubt that teaching about germs may get tricky for parents. The topic is a tad bit abstract for young minds to comprehend because germs are something that a child cannot see, touch or feel. Let us find out how you can teach about germs to young kids in some simple and interesting ways!
What Are Germs?
In very simple language, germs are very tiny living beings that can sometimes make some parts or the entire body sick. The germ is a nonmedical term that is commonly used for organisms that cause diseases and infections. However, the latter explanation is more viable for older kids. These germs are tiny organisms that are not visible to the naked eye, but they are found all around us and even inside human bodies.
What Are Different Types of Germs?
This kind of germs thrive and live on nutrition derived from their surroundings, which can be the human body. These kinds of germs can multiply within or outside the human body. Some kinds of bacteria are actually good for the human body.
Viruses are germs that need living cells to survive and multiply, and those living cells are called the host. Viruses can be inside a plant, animal, or human cell, but they cannot survive long enough if they are not inside the host.
Fungus is a multi-celled organism that can obtain nutrients from other living beings. These are plant-like organisms but, unlike plants, these are not capable of making their own food. They may not pose serious health-related complications, but these often cause infections that may cause discomfort to people.
These kinds of germs are single-celled organisms that spread through water. These germs thrive in wet places and, sometimes, cause infections in very moist places in the body, such as the intestines.
Is There Anything Such as ‘Good’ Germs?
When explaining germs to kids, it is important to tell them that not all kinds of germs are bad for us! Some kinds of bacteria are also called good bacteria, which help our bodies stay healthy. These good bacteria stay inside our intestines and help absorb nutrients from the food and turn the rest into waste that is expelled in the form of poop and pee from bodies. Some bacteria are also used in medicines and vaccines, which help people recover from various sicknesses.
Infections and Diseases Caused By Germs
Here are some infections and diseases caused by germs:
- Pneumonia, tonsillitis, ear infections, etc., are caused by bacteria.
- Flu, cold, chickenpox, measles, etc., are caused by viruses.
- Rashes, athletics foot, etc., are caused by fungi.
- Bellyaches, diarrhoea, nausea, etc., are caused by protozoa.
How Can Kids Fight With Germs?
As discussed, germs are all around us, and it is actually difficult or impossible to get rid of all of them. So, you should take the necessary measures to help your kids fight them:
1. Wash Hands Often
The best and easiest way to keep germs on our hands at bay is by washing our hands, as they come in contact with various body parts, from where it comes easy for the germs to enter our bodies and make us sick. You can ask kids to wash their hands as often as possible with soap and water. You can stick posters or cards around the house to remind kids to wash their hands at regular intervals. Again, you should also teach your kids to rub soap for at least twenty or more seconds, and the correct way to do so.
2. Healthy Immune System
One of the best fighting germ mechanisms is to have a healthy immune system. In order to have a strong immune response, one should eat a healthy and well-balanced diet that contains all the vital nutrients. This way, when the germs enter our system, the army of white blood cells kill these germ invaders and keep us safe and healthy.
3. Refrain From Touching Various Body Openings
Germs enter our body through various openings in our body such as nose, eyes, mouth, etc. Therefore, children should be told to refrain from touching these openings to avoid any kinds of germs from entering our body. Also, if there are any open wounds or cuts on the skin, one should refrain from touching them as these act as perfect places for germs to enter the body.
4. Encourage the Use of Hand Sanitisers
Sometimes, there is no access to soap and water to wash hands. Under such circumstances, you should encourage your kids to use hand sanitisers to clean their hands. Make sure that the hand sanitiser contains at least 60 percent alcohol. Also, it is important to teach the correct way of using hand sanitisers. Make sure kids use a substantial amount of sanitiser in one hand and then rub it generously all over their hands and keep doing so until their hands become dry.
5. Keep Toys and Other Objects Clean
Apart from cleaning the house and teaching kids about keeping themselves clean, it is also important to keep other things also clean, such as toys and other such objects that kids come in contact with. You can sanitise kids’ toys, clean doorknobs, handles, remotes, and other such objects that are used regularly.
6. Avoid Spreading Germs
If people fall sick in the house, make sure measures are taken to prevent germs from spreading. The sick person should use tissues for sneezing, cough on the inside folded edge of the elbow, refrain from coming in close contact with healthy people in the house, etc. and follow such safety measures.
7. Take Medicines
If the need may arise, you can consult your doctor to prescribe you medicines that can keep certain germs at bay or even get rid of them.
Activities That Teach Kids About Germs
Learning about germs can be fun, especially if you incorporate knowledge into interesting activities. Here are some activities that can be used for teaching kids about germs:
1. Sing a handwashing song
Sing exciting, fun songs while washing hands with kids. The ideal duration for the songs that you choose for a handwashing session should be anywhere from twenty seconds or more. Some of the songs that you can try include Baby Shark, If You’re Happy and You Know It, etc.
2. Read books on germs
Well, there are books available on almost any topic that you can possibly think of and, of course, germs too! Get hold of a book or two that shares information on germs and read it for or along with kids to educate them about germs.
3. Try a fun soap and glitter activity
Give some glitter to your kid and tell him to rub it on his hands. Ask him to wash the glitter off with plain water. The glitter would not wash off easily, and then you can ask your child to use soap and water to get rid of glitter. You can denote glitter as germs and tell your kids how important it is to use soap and water to wash off germs.
4. The germ tag game
This is an interesting game to teach about germs to young minds! Get hold of some tiny stickers in different colours and give one colour set to each child. Ask everyone to stick one sticker from their set on their own shirt and then start sticking on other children’s shirts too. In the end, assemble all the kids and ask them to check how many stickers they have. Here, the stickers denote germs that we can easily transfer to others.
5. Writing a journal
This is a great activity for older kids to keep track of things that the kid touches on a day-to-day basis. The child can carry this journal with him to school and keep noting down the objects or things he touches during the day. He can look at the journal at the end of the day to check the number of things he touched with his hands.
Other Fun Facts and Information About Germs
Here are some fun facts about germs for preschoolers and older kids:
- Wet hands are 1000 times more likely to spread germs than dry hands.
- Just one germ can multiply into 8 million germs in a single day.
- Germs can easily live for three or more hours outside your body.
- The tiny droplets that come out your mouth or nose when you sneeze come out at a speed of 100 miles an hour and can remain in the air for 10 or more minutes.
- If hand sanitisers are used regularly in the classrooms, it could reduce absentees’ rate by approximately 20 percent.
Germs can make us sick, but that does not mean that kids need to be scared of them! Use a positive approach by teaching kids about germs and make them strong individuals who know how to protect themselves from these tiny trouble makers!