Dealing With Spreading Bugs at Learning Tree Montessori
“Lara, did you wash your hands after you were done with the toilet?” asks Ms. U.
“Yes! I did!” says 3-year-old Lara, walking out of the Casa Class washroom and ready to run back to her Number activity.
“Are you suuuuure?” asks Ms. U, kneeling down and looking Lara directly in the eyes.
“I did! I did!” says Lara, avoiding Ms. U’s gaze and looking directly at the Number activity she was working on while beginning to walk away.
“Lara, we keep the washroom clean, but everybody uses it. There could be lots of germs, and you could get sick or get one of your friends sick! You could get ME sick! I don’t want to be sick. Remember how we talked about it in ‘Circle Time’ last week? I really don’t want anyone getting sick. Do you think you want to go back and make sure you wash your hands properly?” suggests Ms. U.
Lara stops, thinks about it for a few seconds, does her ballet pirouette, and runs right back into the washroom, “You’re right! I forgot to do it. Ha ha! Oh, I’m so silly!”, she says while turning on the tap, and peeking over at Ms U.
Ms. U knew Lara didn’t wash her hands. Though Montessori encourages children to be independent, our teachers at Learning Tree Montessori do keep a vigilant eye out. Do they wash their hands; Do they use soap; Do they do it properly. Even teachers watch out for each other and remind each other to wash hands, and use sanitizer throughout the day too after handling children.
“My! My! My! Myyyyy!” insists 2-year-old Landon, in the Toddler Room while reaching out for the whisk. Ms. A has just put it in the ‘Mouthed Toys’ basket way on the top shelf that the children can’t reach. She noticed Ron put the end of it in his mouth while he was doing the activity of whisking soapy water and making bubbles! A Toddler Room favourite! Landon was waiting his turn and wanted to whisk and make bubbles too.
“Sorry, Landon. You’ll get to use it as soon as we’ve cleaned it up for you. Why don’t you finish your activity, and after snack time you can have your turn,” says Ms. A while kneeling down and pointing at Landon’s activity. “You’ll be first, and you can make lots of bubbles!”
The ‘Mouthed Toys’ basket holds all the toys that have gone into a child’s mouth. While encouraging children not to put them in their mouth, many children are still learning this. So anything that goes in the mouth, goes into that basket. These toys are not returned to the Room activities until they’ve been cleaned with water, soap, and bleach as per Ministry of Health direction.
Disinfecting toys, shelves, furniture, floors and anything children come into contact with happens regularly, and throughout the day at Learning Tree Montessori. The aim is to limit any spread of germs between children. Parents are concerned about the spread of germs. How is their child safe while sharing a space with other children? The key for teachers is to be aware, and have procedures in place. Ms. A knows that the whisk that went in Ron’s mouth must go into that basket. She also knows when she will clean it and when it will be back for Landon to use.
Landon, of course, was thrilled to get his turn at whisking soapy water, and making bubbles right after snack time. Ms. A cleaned it, and disinfected it, and made sure he got his turn. And Lana remembered to wash her hands well, with soap and water, right after her next visit to the washroom. “Thank you, Lana!” encouraged Ms. U as she walked out.