Teaching your children about basics of germs and how they spread1

  • Germs are living things that are too small to be seen by the naked eye.
  • They need food, water and warmth to grow.
  • They live everywhere and are usually not harmful if they live in their proper places and numbers.
  • However, they can cause disease if they increase in number or exist at places where they are not supposed to.

Germs and the diseases caused by them can spread in many ways. The most common ways of germ spread are:

  • Through contact with human waste products such as stools and urine
  • Through contact with body fluids, e.g., drool, blood, nose or eye discharge
  • Through direct skin to skin contact
  • By touching things that have germs on it, such as toys, the telephone, someone else's hairbrush)
  • Through air droplets from sneezing and coughing
  • Germs enter the body in different ways, and the most common ways are eyes, nose, mouth and broken skin.
  • If a germ enters the body and finds a warm place to grow, they can cause diseases.

Tips to inculcate good personal hygiene at home, school and day-care

  • The best way to keep germs from spreading is to teach good handwashing.
  • Wash hands with plain soap and water before eating, after using the bathroom, after recess, and anytime they get dirty.
  • Teach them to cover nose and mouth when coughing/sneezing.
  • Wash hands after touching nose, throat and eyes.
  • When there is no access to a sink, use alcohol-based hand sanitiser or alcohol-based sanitizer wipes.
  • Don’t consider hand sanitizer as a substitute for handwashing, and they aren't effective when hands are dirty or greasy.
  • Ask your child not to share personal items such as brushes, combs, hats, blankets or clothing.


  1. Beck S. Arkansas Safe Kids Are No Accident! Healthy Children Handbook. Eric;1995.
  2. Classroom Cleaning Tips for Teachers[Internet]. Available at: doh.wa.gov/Portals/1/Documents/Pubs/333-218.pdf. Accessed on Feb 26, 2020.