Thursday, September 17, 2009

Successful Clean Up Times in Early Childhood Education

"If your house is really a mess and a stranger comes to the door, greet him with, “Who could have done this? We have no enemies.” – Phyllis Diller
I really enjoy working in a neat organized space when I comes to the learning environment. All the family day cares I had an opportunity to work at in Vallejo, California were neat, clean and inviting. I have a tremendous amount of respect for family care providers in general. Not only are the entrepreneurs, but are part of the backbone of this nations economy. Licenced family childcare providers assist families to earn more than $100 billion dollars annually (National Woman's Law Center).
It's quite a job keeping things orderly with little ones, let alone multi aged groups. Family day cares usually have infants, toddlers and preschoolers together in the mornings. It is also possible school aged children come in the afternoons. For me, the key was the know...that awkward time where everyone is in-between activities.
"Just before" outside time, or "just before" lunch.....that is when we would have a clean up.
This is what I like to do....

The Warning: 5 minutes before clean up I would tell them we will be cleaning up in 5 minutes...(This eventually begins to give them some sense of what 5 minutes feels like).
If I see the room is really...a-hem...overwheming..I will tidy up a little for a head start.

Clean up time: I'll sing a song or we can ring a bell to get their attention, I begin handing toys to children and asking for help, "Please help, where does this block go...ask Amy, I think she knows...I am working just as hard as they are and keeping their attention and focus on task.
I also use a broom to sweep Lego's, puzzles, etc. in small piles for the children to gather. It saves your back in the long run, have the children hold the dustpan for you to scoop up the toys.
We always clap and cheer for a job well done...I like to give Hi-fives.
We usually put the infants and very small toddlers in the playpens during clean up with some favorite toys. Then they can come out and play again. We know they will take the toys out, but the most important thing is keeping our room tidy.

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