Do you know why school kids get sick so often? The best ways to keep your child healthy? Get the answers to these questions and more.

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Does it seem as if your child is sick all the time? In the early school years, your child's immune system is put to the test. After all, young children in large groups tend to easily spread organisms that cause illness.

Here's why infectious illness is so common — and what your child can do to stay healthy in school.

Many childhood illnesses are caused by viruses. All it takes is a single child to bring a virus to school for the spread to begin. Consider this common scenario — a child who has a cold coughs or sneezes in the classroom. The children sitting nearby inhale the infected respiratory droplets and the cold spreads.

Frequent hand-washing is one of the simplest — and most effective — ways to prevent the spread of germs. Suggest soaping up for as long as it takes to sing the "Happy Birthday" song twice. Remind your child to wash his or her hands:

  • Before eating food
  • After using the toilet
  • After blowing his or her nose, coughing, or sneezing

Common sense can go a long way toward staying healthy in school. In addition to frequent hand-washing, encourage your child to:

  • Use hand sanitizer. Give your child alcohol-based hand sanitizer to use when hand-washing isn't possible.
  • Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze. Teach your child to cough or sneeze into a tissue — then toss it. If it isn't possible to reach a tissue in time, remind your child to cough or sneeze into the crook of his or her arm.
  • Keep your hands away from your eyes, nose and mouth. Remind your child that germs spread this way.
  • Steer clear of colds. When possible, help or encourage your child to avoid close contact with anyone who has a cold.

Of course, it's also important for your child to stay current on his or her vaccinations — including a yearly flu vaccine. To prevent spreading illness at home, use the same tips for the entire family.

Nov. 10, 2017