Teaching Proper Hand Washing

Posted on Categories Career Development & Postsecondary Prep, Employability Skills, Engagement, Student Engagement

At a Glance

Students in the nursing assistant program at Central Westmoreland Career and Technology Center (CWCTC) conduct a lesson on proper handwashing for local elementary school students.


The Health Occupations Program instructors at CWCTC wanted a creative and engaging way to integrate more “real-world learning” into the curriculum and to reinforce the techniques and importance of proper handwashing to their nursing assistant students. They reached out to faculty at the local elementary school and arranged for the nursing assistant students to teach elementary students how to wash their hands. The elementary school is within walking distance of CWCTC.

The instructors decided to implement the handwashing lesson in October of each year because that is when CWCTC students complete a unit on infection control, and the time coincides with the beginning of cold and flu season. Given that the very young and old are the populations most at risk for these infections, the instructors found it logical to take advantage of the proximity of the elementary school by having CWCTC students demonstrate their knowledge of infection control to younger students. 

Prior to presenting the lesson to the elementary students, the CWCTC students spend two weeks rehearsing and revising their lesson presentation. They use a prepared script. During this time, the instructors and students identify the roles each student will assume for the lesson presentation. For example, those students for whom public speaking is a challenge may be best suited to do the handwashing practice with the elementary students rather than the theory part of the presentation. 

The instructors divide the CWCTC students into groups, and each group presents an hour-long lesson to one kindergarten or first grade class per day over the course of two days. At the end of the two days, the CWCTC students have presented the lesson to approximately 10 classrooms. For the 2018-2019 visit, forty-five CWCTC students participated in the teaching experience.   

The instructors found that the opportunity for their students to assume the role of teachers created many learning benefits. The process of preparing and presenting the lesson reinforced handwashing techniques to the nursing assistant students. It also taught them citizenship skills.


The elementary school has asked the nursing assistant students to continue presenting the handwashing lesson for five years.  The experience helps reinforce the topic to the nursing assistant students and provides them with a real-world opportunity to apply what they learn in class.



Central Westmoreland Career and Technology Center

Meri Beth Elder, Health Occupations Program Instructor

Victoria McLaughlin, Health Occupations Program Instructor