According to the Center for Disease Control, millions of school days are lost each year due to the common cold. And this is just the tip of the iceberg! This means that students are missing countless hours of valuable instruction time. Many absences could be prevented by incorporating simple habits into the daily routine:

Get a good night's sleep. Experts agree that most kids between age 5 and 12 need 10 or 11 hours of sleep each night. The body needs sleep so that muscles, bones, and skin can grow, and so that the body can stay healthy and fight sickness. The brain needs sleep so that a child can remember what is learned, pay attention and concentrate, and solve problems. (www.kidshealth.org)

Handwashing is the number one defense against germs that cause illness. Wash hands throughout the day, including before meals, after bathroom breaks, after blowing the nose, and after playing outside.

Keep hands away from the eyes, nose, and mouth. Otherwise known as the "T" zone, these areas are prime entry spots for germs.

Cover coughs and use a tissue. Coughing into the sleeve or elbow can prevent airborne germs from traveling. Use a tissue instead of the hands to wipe a runny nose.

Stay home if symptoms include fever and/or vomiting. Vomiting or fever over 100 degrees indicate illnesses that can spread easily and quickly throughout a classroom.

Healthy diet and exercise contributes to a strong immune system. Include fruits and vegetables and plenty of water into the daily diet. Make exercise a part of the routine to keep the body strong.