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Teaching Face Washing With a Tune

To learn Italian, a parent sent her 4-year-old child to a particular language school. Instead of the way many of us were taught a foreign language – by repeating words and sentences over and over – the teachers in this school took another approach. They taught their young students Italian by putting the phrases into rhymes.

This is not an uncommon approach, and what many schools and teachers have found is that it works. The reason for this, according to the U.K.’s British Council, which works with U.K. children and adults to help them learn English, “babies and young children are geniuses at acquiring a second language.”

The Council adds that children are “drawn to the magic of rhymes and songs. They hear and experiment with the beat of a song; they enjoy mimicking the pronunciation of new and strange words; and they play with rhyming words through repetition, even inventing their own examples. By doing these things, your child is listening to the sounds of the language,” which helps them learn the language more effectively and much faster.

So if children can learn a foreign language by singing rhymes, how about teaching kids – especially when they are very young – to wash their hands more frequently and to avoid touching their faces with a song or rhyme? It seems it would follow the same learning process.

An example of a rhyme that might just do the trick is the following:

Wash your hands today,

Wash your hands today,

Wash your hands, dear Bobby,

Wash your hands today.

Wash your face today,

Wash your face today,

Wash your face, dear Bobby,

Wash your face today.

Or how about this:

Mary had to wash her face, wash her face, wash her face,

Mary had to wash her face, wash it twice a day.

And every time Mary washed her face, washed her face,

Every time that Mary washed her face, she washed the germs away.

Mary had to wash her hands, wash her hands, wash her hands,

Mary had to wash her hands, before and after meals.

And every time that Mary washed her hands, washed her hands, washed her hands,

Every time that Mary washed her hands, the better she felt that day.

The bottom line is this. Our children are at risk because they do not wash their hands as often as they should, and these unwashed hands spread contaminants on faces and surfaces. Telling children to wash their hands more frequently has helped, but it has not gone far enough. This means another approach is needed and needed when children are young.

How effective teaching young children songs and rhymes to increase hand washing and avoid face touching is or will be is unknown as we have no studies. However, if they are teaching 4-year-old children Italian with a song, it seems logical that children can be taught proper hygiene with a song as well.

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