For many parents, dropping children off at daycare or preschool produces both relief and dread -- relief that they can go to work, dread that they've left their child in other people's hands.
As many parents realize, bringing together small children builds character and social skills -- while also spreading germs.
But parents can protect their families against the colds and viruses that young children may bring home along with their arts and crafts. Clean hands help stop germs from spreading, so parents should insist that children wash their hands when they come home and before they eat.
Children should use soap and scrub carefully, making sure to clean the backs of their hands, their wrists and between their fingers for at least 30 seconds. To make sure children wash their hands long enough, parents can ask them to sing a song like "Happy Birthday" or "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star."
Parents should make sure their children's toys are clean. If a child insists that a toy go to preschool, where other children might handle it, that toy should be washed that night. If parents notice children mouthing toys, they should separate those toys into plastic bags until they can be cleaned.
Parents should always keep their children home if they start to look sick or have symptoms like stomach pain, headache or fever. Of course, taking a fussy preschooler's temperature can be difficult.