How to Teach Students about Personal Hygiene

Instructor: Lori Sturdivant

Lori has a specialist's degree in Instructional Leadership/Mild Moderate and currently serves as the Lead Teacher for The University of Southern Mississippi's Autism Project.

Are you looking for fun and engaging ways to teach your students with learning disabilities about personal care skills? This lesson will provide you with strategies that you start using in the classroom today!

What are Personal Care Skills?

Personal care skills are the skills needed to maintain good health. They are also referred to as personal hygiene skills. This can be a sensitive subject to bring up to a classroom of students.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 'Hygiene refers to conditions and practices that help to maintain health and prevent the spread of diseases.' Personal hygiene is the practices we engage in to keep ourselves healthy and disease free.

Your students need feel safe and free from embarrassment discussing this topic with you and their classmates. Treating the skills like you would any other new concept will help you maintain professional boundaries with some sensitive subjects.

Personal Care Skills Examples:

  • Washing your hands
  • Brushing your teeth
  • Flossing your teeth
  • Washing your hair
  • Bathing
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Using pads/tampons
  • Putting on deodorant
  • Exercising
  • Leisure Activities

How to Teach Personal Care Skills

OTHER STRATEGIES

There are many different strategies for teaching personal hygiene. For the sake of this lesson,we are going to focus on handwashing to demonstrate the way you can instruct your students. You can use this guide, and modify it for almost any hygiene skill.

1. Teach the concepts and vocabulary.

Teach the concept of germs and bacteria, this is especially important for younger students who may not have any prior knowledge about the subject . Teach this just like you would a social studies lesson with important vocabulary terms, pre-test etc.

The chalk experiment is a fun way to show how easily we can transfer germs to each other. You will start by dipping your hand in chalk powder. Then you will shake hands with one student and ask that student to shake hands with the other students. Now all the students have chalk powder on their hands!

2. Demonstrate the skill.

In this instance teach you would teach your students the 6 steps of hand-washing (wet your hands, apply soap, lather the soap, rub your hands for at least 20 seconds, rinse them and dry them). Teach one step at a time. It is important to make sure each step is mastered before moving on to the next, this is especially true for skills that have steps that are in sequential order.

For young students, or students with disabilities, or even just for visual learners consider using pictures or videos to demonstrate each step. You should also model the skill.

3. Make real world connections.

Have your students list or discuss in small groups all the times it is necessary to wash your hands (after going to the bathroom, before eating etc.).

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