Plenty of students are taught how to wash their hands, but few are taught how to do so correctly. This can carry into adulthood, where people believe that running your soapless hands underwater for just a few seconds is sufficient to combat germs. And, unfortunately, there are plenty of children and adults alike who simply neglect to wash their hands at all.
Teaching kids not only the proper technique of effective hand washing, but why it is important to adhere to that technique in the first place, is key to instilling an understanding of this vital aspect of hygiene. With that understanding, kids will grow up to ensure that their homes, schools, and workplaces are healthier places.
Out with the Old, In with the Flu
Though many of us heard about the importance of handwashing during COVID-19, flu season is still coming upon us, just in time for the new school year.
With the ongoing COVID cases and looming flu season—you can get flu from touching contaminated surfaces, then touching your eyes or mouth or face etc., and with children being the largest risk group for influenza—it is imperative that kids learn proper hand washing technique so that they can stay healthy at home and at school.
Learning Proper Handwashing Technique with the Time Timer WASH
Teachers certainly know that you often need to tell kids something more than once to get them to understand the lesson. So, telling kids at the beginning of the school year the proper handwashing technique may not create long-term change.
Repetition is the key to learning here and in this instance, this involves washing your hands the right way, over and over, until it becomes a habit. This is something that can be easily done with one of our products at Time Timer.
5 seconds for soaping, 20 seconds for washing, then rinsing for 5 seconds is the formula (as recommended by the CDC) here.
With the Time Timer WASH, kids will learn this formula through an easy process: Just wave their hand in front of the wash, and the timer will begin. A blue elapsing digital disk will elapse on the screen for each segment of the washing. The Time Timer Wash is waterproof, so there is no worry of children splashing too much water on it.
The lessons learned through the Time Timer Wash can have a lifelong impact on students, as it teaches them hand washing rules that many adults do not follow, such as using soap or scrubbing your hands for a full 20 seconds.
Teachers can also emphasize useful rules such as wetting your hands first, turning off the tap, turning on the timer, and then applying soap for the twenty-second scrubbing. Then, turning the tap back on for rinsing. This is not only a water-saving way to wash your hands but can actually be more effective since it is the combination of soap and water, called lather, that is essential for the cleaning, due to the molecular reaction that results from soap’s interaction with water.
It makes sense the more you think about it, because immediately putting your soaped-up hands underwater more or less rinses the soap off before any significant damage can be done to the germs.
Also, other useful information, such as the fact that it does not matter whether water is hot or cold to clean hands, is helpful as well. Though there is a myth that hot water is more effective, the truth is that it is actually less environmentally friendly than cold water, which works just as well.
Handwashing and Social Stories for Students with Cognitive Differences
For students with cognitive differences that could make the task of hand washing difficult or anxiety-provoking, the Time Timer WASH will certainly be a help, as will some other tools that can be used in both the classroom and at home.
Parents and teachers of children with autism, ADD, or ADHD are likely familiar with Social Stories, which are illustrations with short text that explain the importance of rules, routines, social expectations, social cues, etc. For example, check out our social story about handwashing that includes the use of the Time Timer WASH featuring our mascot Timmy Timer!
Experts recommend that, for any task, breaking down a task into simpler steps can make learning much easier for someone with a cognitive difference.
A handwashing social story can do just that, and with the addition of the Time Timer WASH, your student or child will have a lot of help.
Time Timer WASH Outside of the Classroom
Though this article was primarily about the classroom, parents could certainly benefit from having a Time Timer WASH in their home, especially for children with cognitive differences who may struggle to practice good hygiene.
Parents and educators alike can download our free handwashing activity guide to make hand washing easier for children to understand, as well as instill in them the basic principles of hand washing.
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