Innovative method teaches tots about personal hygiene

June 4th, 2009 - 4:02 pm ICT by IANS  

London, June 4 (IANS) Swine flu reminded us how essential washing our hands can be, a simple act that cuts down gastrointestinal and communicable respiratory diseases by 50 percent and 20 percent, respectively.
Now, with schools at special risk for swine flu, Tel Aviv University (TAU) researcher Laura Rosen is bringing that message to educators and researchers. And she’s had astounding success.

Using a combination of teacher education and teaching tools such as puppet shows and songs, she has increased the practice of hand washing before lunch in participating schools from 25 percent to about 60 percent.

Rosen, from TAU School of Public Health, studied 40 pre-schools and kindergartens in the Jerusalem area and discovered that teachers were often unaware of the direct connection between handwashing and health.

“There was no connection being made between hygiene and illness,” she said, “so basic hygiene wasn’t being taught.”

Some of the practices in the pre-schools and kindergartens, such as the use of communal cups and common towels, indicated the need for education on disease transmission.

Many of the educators lacked knowledge of how illness can be transferred. “We mostly wanted to get the message through to the educators,” said Rosen.

To change the teachers’ attitude, Rosen and her fellow researchers used a multi-pronged approach that focussed on the children as well, said a TAU release.

Her findings were published in the March issue of Health Education Research.

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