Should Teachers in Primary Help Children Wipe Nose?

Updated on January 18, 2013
E.M. asks from Washington, ME
25 answers

Hi Mamas,
So, My son is 5. This is his first year at school, and he has been sooo sick all the time. I mean, nothing too serious, just picking up everything that goes around. He has basically had a perpetual runny nose for a few months, Not super bad, but moderate to mild.
In general he is pretty energetic and doesnt act sick, so I cant justify keeping him home, i think we would be home all season :) He isnt great at blowing his nose so he is constantly wiping it. Sometimes he forgets. The kids are usually pretty busy, so i doubt its on the top of his priority list.

He comes home from school with snot plastered to his face. Its been pretty bad sometimes. Usually everyday its there, and it drives me crazy. I would never send a kid home like that. I realize that the teachers are busy, but I feel like he could be getting some extra attention here. I pay a premium price for him to attend this private school, and I think he should be getting some extra attention if he needs it.

My partner went to pick him up from school ( his dad) and he was not impressed with the mucous buildup on his poor kids nose. In the morning we sent him to school with a box of baby wipes and told the teachers to make sure he had access to them, and if his face gets covered with snot to call us and we will come him. The teachers said that they try to get him to wipe his nose more frequently but he doesnt seem to recognize it. The next day we pick him up from school and his nose is dried discusting snot again.

I dont know what to do. Do you think this is reasonable?

Thanks for your thoughts!

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answers from Grand Forks on

No, teachers should not be wiping noses. Teachers may remind children to wipe their own noses, but by kindergarten children need to be wiping ther own noses.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

He's 5. If he doesn't know how to wipe his snot off his face I have to wonder why? Did you teach him? Does he do it at home? Or do you do it for him? If you're doing it for him I suggest you put him in front of a mirror and show him what it looks like. Then tell him he'll have to go straight home after school to wash his face. That he can't play outside or anything until his face is clean.

It's his body and he's in school. He should know how to do it for himself.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Think of it this way: the typical pre classroom is about 12 kids and 2 adults. The typical K classroom is twenty some odd kids and one adult. That's about twice the kids and half the adults! There is only so much the teacher can do.

2 moms found this helpful

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answers from Boca Raton on

I'm a teacher and I teach 1st grade. I will tell you that I do NOT wipe anyone's nose other than my own. I will remind them to do so but I can't force them. I STRONGLY disagree with the person who said the teacher is being lazy. This is not the job of a primary grade teacher. Preschool and daycare teachers may have to wipe noses and bottoms, but after that your child is expected to do so on their own. I understand that you don't want your son to have snot on his face, but he must learn to do this on his own. I would say that it is more than past time to teach him this skill.

12 moms found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

Unfortunately, this is not nursery school anymore, and your son is going to have to learn how to be a "big boy", I think. If any teachers respond, please correct me, if I'm wrong. Kindergarten is a child's first step towards being independent and learning how to think for themselves.

Teachers are there to teach, kids are there to learn, and if they took all day worrying about how all the kids looked, there would no time for learning. I mean, are you paying for your child to be taught, or are you paying for the teachers to have to wipe 20 kids' noses, tie 20 kids' shoes, fix 20 kids' hair? I'm sure you get my point.

I am one for picking my battles, and this is not one I would choose to fight, personally. Save it for something worthwhile. And, please, get your son seen by a doctor because the level of snot you're describing is abnormal.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Perhaps you should do a test at home; don't say anything for a few hours and see what he does when his nose is running. If he's not wiping it and it's dried on his face, take him to the bathroom and show him how he looks. Then have him get it off himself.

No I would not expect a Teacher to wipe or help wipe your kids nose. I hate wiping my own kids nose when they were toddlers let alone big kids.

She recognized that your son has snot all over his face and said she tries to get him to take care of it. Maybe you can ask her to send him to the bathroom to look at it and clean it up, HIMSELF.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

In my experience, teachers don't wipe noses, bottoms or tie shoes. Think of the # of kids in the class, multiply it by noses, shoes, etc., and the teacher wouldn't have any time to teach.

I do understand your frustration - but they're trying to help him learn responsibility. Maybe you could send a note asking that he be reminded to wipe his nose.

Then tell your son, before snack, lunch, at potty break and before lining up you need to remember to wipe your nose. I tie a string (friendship bracelet style) around my daughter's wrist when I want her to remember something, like bringing home her coat or lunchbox.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Miami on

Is he a young 5? Are the other kids older than him? I'd ask that question so you have an idea of where he fits on that scale.

He may just be very immature in this regard. You need to work with him at home to get him to learn to blow his nose. Having all that snot up in his sinuses is a bad thing - he needs to blow it out so that he doesn't end up with sinus problems. All that stuff ends up as a breeding ground for bacteria.

If I were you I would talk to the ped about this too. Perhaps some medicine that would help his nose not run in the first place would be good for all concerned, especially him.

Sorry - just because he goes to a private school doesn't mean that they are supposed to wipe his nose like a preschooler. It just doesn't work that way...


7 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Time for a daily dose of claritin.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on
They might offer a Kleenex, but they're not going to wipe his nose.
Time to ratchet up that skill set at home, Mom!

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I work at a preschool in the 2 year old class. We are already teaching them to wipe their own nose. There are times when we do have to step in and help them (they are only 2 years old) but most of the time, they are able to look in the mirror and wipe their own nose and face. I teach at a montessori school which teaches them to be more independant, that way, by the time they are in primary, they can do mostly everything by themselves. Your son is old enough to be able to do it on his own. It's not our job to be wiping anything for them (help them sometimes, yes, but do it for them, no).
At your son's age, his teachers should not be wiping his nose. He is old enough to do it himself

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Salinas on

It's your responsibility to teach him to care for himself in this way. Being reminded should be more than enough and it seems that by expecting the teacher to do it you are shifting the focus from your son.

At five it's his nose, his job to wipe it.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Tampa on

My son has come home looking like he rolled in the mud, with dirt all over his face, snot everywhere and even some blood from a cut. It's not his teachers job to make sure he cleans himself up, he's a big boy now and if he wants to look like a hot mess oh well. As for the poster who said the teacher is lazy, I also worked with toddlers for years and there's a HUGE differnce between a toddler and a 5 year old. Work with your son about wiping his nose, I do doubt he's "forgetting" to do it, kinda hard to forget slime running down your face.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Usually by K and beyond children are expected to be able to wipe their own butts and noses.
I would work on this with him at home, a LOT.
As a first grade aide I witnessed a few kids who seemed clueless when it came to wiping their noses, and often went home with the crusty edges you are talking about.
I encouraged them to wipe, but I must say, as a mother of three who was trying to keep herself healthy and germ free, I was not about to get in there and scrape the mucus out myself.
Also, aren't the baby wipes incredibly drying? He could end up even more irritated if he uses those all day.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Las Vegas on

In our private school they are not aloud to touch any body fluid. They have to call the custodian for any accidents and they have procedures to clean up the mess.

It is time for him to learn to use a mirror and clean his nose.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Topeka on

His parents need to teach & practice this at home not do it for him.No I don't expect anyone to help my kids wipe their snotty nose they know it's there & when to get a Kleenex I have them in their back packs in the pencil box & their in the classroom for community use.They have yet to come home w/ snot stuck like glue to their faces.Your paying the price for his eduction not that he should get "extra attention"for not wiping his nose clean everytime he needs it done for him everyone there is paying the price for a private school & are expected to wipe their noses to aren't they.It is disgusting to see snot on a childs nose if he's had this persistant drainage maybe it's time to see his Dr. to make sure nothing else is going on with him.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Sorry but he is 5!!!! He should be wiping his nose and keeping his own face clean. If he was 2, yes I would expect the teachers to help. But your expectations are completely unreasonable. This is school--not pre-school or daycare~

I suggest you teach him how to wipe his nose and practice with him until he is snot-free. GL

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

i think it's time to focus on really teaching him to take care of it himself. anytime you see his nose needs blowing or wiping, remind him. don't do it for him. he will get it. 5 is old enough to look after it himself. no, i would not expect his teacher to do it. it would be nice, but a bit much to ask really. ("premium priced private school" or not.)

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

I'm sorry, but are you serious? This is SCHOOL not daycare. And I understand the whole "premium price" private school thing because mine have attended private school since pre-school and are currently in 5th and 7th in a private K-8--a good one, where I would in no way expect teachers or any other staff to wipe my kids' noses either at this age or when they were younger. That is a life skill for parents to teach and consistently reinforce.

Does your son seem bothered by the crusty face? If so, make the correlation for him so he understands that a clean, snot-free face comes with regular nose-blowing and cleaning. If he is not phased by it, then you need to decide if this is a battle you want to pick. If so, then just constantly remind him before he goes to school and put notes in his lunchbox. Does he otherwise enjoy school, do well socially, and have fun while learning? Then I wouldn't focus on it too much.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

Unless a child has some special needs they should know how to wipe their nose at 5 years old. The teacher should maybe remind them to use a tissue... but wiping is not their responsibility.
Give your son a box of tissues and teach him to wipe his nose.
Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

It is unreasonable for you to expect them to help a 5 year old wipe his nose, unless he is classified as a special needs child. I can see the teacher verbally approaching him about wiping his nose, but how is it that he doesn't notice/feel the snot on his face? At this point it sounds like he's use to it, but I would also imagine that the other kids are also telling him about it and is perhaps grossed out by it. And it does not matter if he is in private school or public. So, are you saying that if his faced gets covered with snot they should call you and you will come to the school to wipe his nose? Are you serious? Maybe you should address this ongoing runny nose with a pediatrician. He could have allergies requiring medicine to help control this, but please don't expect the teachers to wipe your kid's nose all day. That is expecting too much.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Antonio on

I agree with the majority here, your son should be taking care of it himself.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Lafayette on

I work with toddlers and deal with this all day.. and yes i agree with you. The teachers should try their best to stay on it and especially before sending him home a clean face! I work extra hard at it with the toddlers and i am a parent. I would not want to see that everyday. That is laziness on the teacher.



answers from Las Vegas on

I think if a kid needs help at that age (which to me is still VERY young) then help them.. Afterall, they are still learning to hold a pen/pencil correctly.... hence the reason they do writing exercises.. So I well imagine that blowing their nose may still be somewhat difficult. My son entered Kinder at a little over 4 1/2 years of age and YES, he still needed help. My son's Kinder teacher always helped the kids, that is just part of the job... It's very reasonable. Also, if you see a little kid with a runny nose and you are teacher, why allow the little one to walk around like that too? one.. it could more easily be passed along to the other kids, two.. how comfortable is the kid having to wear that all day..
I just don't think it's right to have a little kid wear mucous all day long.. Most Kinder teachers are well aware of the fact that their job unlike higher graders, does require more cleanup.. but it's been my experience that most Kinder teachers LOVE the little ones so much that they have no problem with helping them clean up. My son's Kinder teacher even had each child bring a change of clothes to school .. because she knew accidents happen, which she also helped clean up..
It's just par for the course.. Gotta love those Kinder teachers.



answers from Springfield on

It is totally developmentally appropriate for some five year olds to need assistance with wiping their nose. It is a learning process and self-care skills come earlier for some kids than for other kids. If schools are to truly care for the education of the whole child, there would be some honest recognition that this is the case, and space would be made to help children along with these things as needed. Unfortunately primary school is so academically oriented that teachers - even caring, competent, great teachers - may seriously feel like they cannot take the time nor energy to help a kid wipe their nose. It strikes me as sad and against human nature... and just more evidence that our system is set up in a faulty way. Shouldn't the first lesson a kid really learns be that we as people tend each other? That we care for each other?

That said, to help your son along, maybe you could try to build in a routine with him at home, in homes of creating a helpful habit at school. For example, after he uses the bathroom, he can do a face/nose check and wash up if needed (presumably he'll be at a sink washing his hands anyway). He could also be taught to do a face/nose check after eating, etc.

You may also consider consulting your pediatrician. It sounds an awful lot like allergies...

Good luck!

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