I’m sure most of you have told your kiddos to brush their teeth and wash their hands and simply left it at that. They should listen to you. They're your kids, right? Surely they listen to everything you say. I'll be the first to admit, I took my student's word for granted. I ran into this countless times in my classroom and that is precisely why I implemented two policies: The soap check and breath test! Sounds gross, but these two things accomplished a lot in our tiny classroom.
First, the soap check. One great thing about soap is that it has a relatively strong smell. Upon returning from the restroom, kids claim they have washed their hands. But did they? *Enter in daunting music here* To double check - and to help prevent the spread of germs to others - I'd have my students present their hands to me for a smell test. Did I smell soap? Back to the washroom they went if I didn't smell anything remotely smelling of hand soap.
Next, the breath test. Morning or night how can you tell if your child really brushed their teeth? Simple, the smell test. Again, I'm sure it sounds gross, but if your little ones brushed their teeth with toothpaste just like you asked, you should be able to smell it on their breath. If not, “Who are you trying to fool? Go brush your teeth, silly!" became a mantra in my classroom. And, yes, we had toothbrushes and toothpaste in our classroom for each student in their own baggy in their cubbies.
The added bonus of both of these checks is that it also teaches children it doesn’t pay to lie and it is easy for you to know when they aren’t telling the truth. One more plus, this instills some simple, healthy habits for the kiddos and pretty soon these things are second nature to them. However, that doesn't mean a random soap check and breath test won't come in handy every once in a while.
So, here's to healthy habits!