Colegio Infantil trilingue con guardería de Varsovia

Does a child has to get sick often in a nursery or pre-school?

10 February 2010
Doctors agree with the opinion that a child starting to attend any group with children will be exposed to viruses and bacteria. This is the only way to develop his/her own immunity and reduce the number of infections at school age and adulthood. As all children are individuals their immunity will differ. There are children who will get sick twice a year, others will be sick very often. It is hard to foresee what the reaction of your child in a group of children will be. The only way to learn how your child will react is by sending him/her to group activities. At our pre-school we still haven’t found the golden rules to prevent children from getting sick. However we apply various measures that let us reduce the number of sick children on our premises.
  • at the signing of the contract  parents are obliged not to bring children who are sick
  • sick children are sent home(if  they appear ill during the day at school)
  • parents are obliged to bring a doctor’s certificate that the child is ready to attend the school at the signing of the contract  and  every time the child is sick and out of school for more than 5 days
  • children go out every day (unless the temperature is lower than -10 °C)
  • classrooms are aired every day
  • temperature in the classrooms is the same in summer and in winter i.e 20° C
  • children groups are small max. 13 children
Our children and their parents come from different countries, their approach to diseases and getting sick in a pre-schools vary. That’s why I have decided to compare different educational systems and their approach to sicknesses in preschool and day-cares. Here is what I have found: Holland Prevention measures are not very popular: children don’t get syrups, vitamins, calcium etc to raise their immune system. The approach quite common around Polish moms who ask about syrups, vitamins, calcium etc is treated as a total hypochondria. A mom who is wiping a child’s running nose is seen as something strange. In the autumn/winter period all the children have running noses and no one really seems to care. If the child doesn’t have a fever and behaves normally there is no reason not to send him to school or pre-school. The same goes for all infections including chickenpox. If the child doesn’t have  a fever, he will not get leave from school and thus is obliged to attend all the classes. School is obligatory and parents are fined for any unjustified absence. If older kids skip classes on purpose  they have to make up for it by working in a supermarket. France  Here everything depends upon the manager of the day-care or pre-school. They decide whether symptoms of a certain disease are dangerous or not for the rest of the children. Those who are more flexible accept children with light fever, those who are not send them home with running nose. On the website of a French Ministry of Health one can find the list of diseases and medical recommendations http://www.sante.gouv.fr/htm/dossiers/maladie_enfant/sommaire.htm,which will qualify the child to stay home or to attend a pre-school/nursery. Generally parents and nursery/pre-school staff consider diseases that the children go through during the first year of attendance as a way to make his/her immune system work and they don’t really care if he/she has a running nose. In general the French are pretty relaxed about such situations. As far as prevention is concerned lots of the parents go to see a homeopath. Prescribing antibiotics depends upon the doctor. Some prescribe it at any occasion, others administrate it rarely. The same goes for optional vaccinations. In general the French are for vaccinations. In the case of children’s respiratory infections treatment called " kinesietheriapie respiratiore" (respiratory physiotherapy) aiming effective phlegm excretion is recommended. It prevents prescribing too many medicines. Extra vitamins are rarely prescribed, sometimes a syrup with microelements boosting immune system is recommended. Germany Pre-school teachers try to make parents sensitive to the fact that children who have fever should be left at home because they infect other children, but no one really respects it. In general children attending pre-schools and nurseries cough and have running noses. A light fever is not a problem. Parents have to go to work or shopping. Generally speaking children can run around unless they catch something serious, and then parents bring them to hospital. Sometimes pre-school teachers call parents and ask to take the child home but parents rarely do. Only infectious diseases like measles stop parents from bringing children in. Doctors don’t prescribe vitamins.  They recommend eating fruits and drinking juices. Antibiotics are administered rarely. Sick children are advised to stay at home and if they don’t have fever go for a walk, which apparently makes miracles. Sweden At pre-school the Swedes say that there is no bad weather, but clothes may be unsuitable. Children spend a couple of hours per day outside: in the sunshine, rain, wind or in the snow. There are also pre-schools where children spend the whole day outside. Only then apparently are they rarely sick. Germs spread out with more difficulty outside. Many times in a Swedish pre-school one can see kids with running noses running on the grass or playing in mud. Parents just have to leave extra change and rubber shoes for them. Regularly children get sick with rota virus. The sick child stays at home, if he has high fever he will get only Alvedon (Swedish paracetamol). No one goes to see a doctor unless it is a really small baby who is really dehydrated. The nurse will always ask while taking an appointment on the phone if the skin stays up while taken between the two fingers (it is a mark of dehydratation) or if it goes back, which means that it is still ok. Doctors prefer to take care of really sick cases. Rota virus spreads very easily– a sick child can infect others in the waiting room before attended by the doctor. And there is no medicine for that virus – you have to drink and rest, until the disease is over. Generally it finishes after a couple of days. The child and the mother have the right to a qualified nurse services. Parents can call such a nurse with any questions regarding health and development of the child.  Anyway Swedish parents are not very preoccupied with their children’s health. They go to see the doctor only when the child has fever for more than two consecutive days, otherwise the doctor will not even receive them. The fact that parents don’t go to see the doctor with every cough or sneeze comes from the Swedish attitude towards sickness in general. For most of the parents a running nose or cough is not a reason to go and see the doctor. There are many home-made ways of fighting with colds. Such an attitude was created by quite a lot of money that the State spent on prevention and health information. The Swedes are convinced that an antibiotic is administered only when it is a bacterial infection and it really is the last option. Italy  Health prevention exams are done by pediatrician: once a month until the child is one year old and then every six months after. As Italian cuisine is one of the healthiest(and Italian s know about it), vitamins are administered rarely. Besides they are given only on doctor’s prescription.. No Italian mother will give them to the child on her own. Prescribing antibiotics depend on the doctor and his convictions. Italian mums care a lot for their children’s health but they are very reasonable and they don’t use tons of drops for running noses. In some regions children are getting immune through sea baths and cold showers on the beach. All the kids are very  clean and elegant and give the impression that they have just left the hairdresser’s. It is not very clear how the Italians manage to keep them in that stateJ Spain Here parents consider it the most natural thing that children start getting sick as soon as they start attending a nursery or a pre-school because they are exposed to more viruses and bacteria. Being sick is somehow a part of the curriculum. Sometimes grandmas help in case the kid has to stay at home.The Spanish are convinced that it is necessary to send a child to a pre-school to educate and socialize him. Antibiotics are administered only if there is no other solution. Parents oblige themselves not to bring sick children to school, but real life shows that the obligation is not always fulfilled. The pre-school informs the parents immediately as soon as child has any symptoms of sickness. They expect but don’t force the parents to take the child home. Poland A nursery is always seen as the worst solution of child care and this opinion is strongly influenced by a great number of diseases children go through while attending. According to the type of the nursery and size of the groups diseases can be a problem. In the public nurseries the groups count to 30 children and it is difficult to speak even about the prevention of diseases. In preschools the situation is a little better, but the number of children by group is always very high (25 children). In preschools and nurseries the groups are smaller and certain schools require parents not to bring sick children. The majority of parents with small children (until the three years age) prefer to leave them with the nanny or the grandmother and the questions of education or socialization of the children are completely secondary. Each small cold or cough of a small child is seen like a problem and the climate is favorable to the infections