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Sneezes, Runny Noses and Changes in Classroom BehaviorOften, at this time of year I see dramatic changes in classroom behavior and a child’s ability to stay focused and on task. I suspect that this is sometimes caused by seasonal allergies and the medications used to treat them.

I recently met with a parent to share some concerns about a student’s change in work habits and behavior. These changes came on quickly, and seemed out of character for this child. The parent informed me that a week earlier her child started a new allergy medicine. This was just about the time I started to see changes in her child’s performance. The mom told me that some of the side effects of the new medicine could include drowsiness and irritability.

The end of the school year is a very important time for your child to successfully wrap-up projects. If there is any chance that your child’s performance may be adversely affected by allergy medicine, or any other kind of medicine, it is important that their teacher be informed as soon as possible. This information can allow a teacher to modify tasks, and successfully help your child through a difficult time.

Exams, papers, reports card, oh my. Not to mention the excitement of the holidays, time off from school, and the ever-present runny nose. December can be a very stressful and busy time for children of all ages. Anxiety can be a motivator for some kids, but it can also paralyze others from living up to their potential.

If your child is having trouble keeping it together through all the stress of December, try taking some time to help her learn simple relaxation techniques.

For a start, even a few minutes of sitting quietly or throwing a ball around outside with you can relieve tension that builds around studying for tests and writing papers.

You might also try simple breathing techniques, like these outlined below.

Sit in a quiet place away from phones, school work, music, computers.

Notice your breath; hear your breath.

Put your hand on your belly and notice how breathing makes your belly move.

Now breath in to the count of three and breath out to the count of three.

Do this for just a minute or two and see if it helps remove the clutter of the day from your child's mind.

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When you're sitting in class, There's a tickle in your nose

Then you let out a sneeze and it finally explodes

You look down at your hand, It's all covered with that goo,

Don't wipe it anywhere, You know what to do!

You gotta wash your hands (lávate las manos)

Wash your hands (lávate las manos)

Wash your hands (lávate las manos)

Wash your hands (lávate las manos).

I wrote this song several years ago for the Paul Cuffee School, and have just recorded it for the upcoming flu season. NPR's All Things Considered played it on Monday with an accompanying story on the swine flu.

You can have it for free!Go here  to the Bill Harley website and you’ll find both a long version (3:47) or a short (1:49) version.

We decided to not worry about money ( What, me worry?) and do what we could do to get the song out there before the H1N1 virus comes back with a vengeance. The Massachusetts Department of Health is distributing it to schools, and we're happy to give permission to other schools, organizations and agencies if they wish to do so. Contact our office (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) or call 508-336-9703.

And please spread the word to friends and families that we're making this offer. If you need a physical CD for your local radio station let us know - our WONDERFUL CD duplicators, Oasis, have generously donated the manufacture of a number of CD's for us to distribute.

It seems ridiculous to repeat this, but the greatest deterrent to the spread of communicable diseases is hand washing. Forget the high tech stuff and use soap and water! In order of importance (I know this now, since I seem to be involved with various Departments of Health!)

  1. Get vaccinated
  2. Cover your cough
  3. Wash your hands
  4. Stay home when you’re sick 

Lots more info about Seasonal Flu and Swine Flu, including how prevent the spread of flu at school and home.


Do you allow your children to watch TV or play on the computer before doing their homework?