A North Tyneside nursery is leading the way in instilling healthy habits for life among children.
Sir James Knott Nursery School in Tynemouth has installed a number of handwashing stations throughout the school to help prevent the spread of Coronavirus by teaching children the importance of regular hand cleaning, after reopening following the first national lockdown earlier this year.
Headteacher John Croft said he wanted to embed healthy hand hygiene habits for life in children to help keep them, and staff, safe.
He explained: “When we reopened one of our biggest concerns was ensuring the hands of our little learners were kept clean.
“We wanted to go further than following the guidelines by instilling habits for life so children would be ready for any potential pandemics in future.
“We found we couldn’t always monitor how well the children were using hand sanitisers, there was a lot of waste, and some of the children were experiencing skin problems due to the chemicals.
“Soap and water required a member of staff to accompany children to the bathroom to make sure they washed their hands properly.”
The school decided to team up with social enterprise HappyTap to install portable handwashing stations in every classroom.
The free-standing sinks are specifically designed to encourage independent and fun handwashing among younger children and are sturdy and robust.
Mr Croft added: “It’s been great to see the enthusiasm and delight the children have shown and the handwashing stations are no longer a novelty but very much part of everyday life here.
“Children wash their hands routinely throughout the day with minimal supervision and it gives them a chance to practice their social skills as they happily discuss whose turn it is to use it, comment on whether they’ve used enough soap or not and they encourage others to wash their hands properly too!
“We believe healthy hand hygiene habits should not just be for COVID but ingrained in the daily life of our young people so it is second nature.”
Cllr Peter Earley, cabinet member for Children, Young People and Learning, North Tyneside Council, said: “We know how important good hand hygiene is – never more so than now – so I’m delighted that the nursery is taking such a proactive approach in terms of embedding these important habits in children.
“Despite the challenges we’ve faced over the last year it’s always really pleasing to hear positive stories like this and I’m sure these children will keep these handwashing habits for life and encourage their friends and family to do the same.”