In Really Seeing Children, Educator Deb Curtis writes “We provide ample time for clean up at the end of playtime. Everyone cleans up the entire room, which eliminates the cry of, 'I don't have to clean up. I didn’t play there.' The children come to understand that we are all responsible for our room...we emphasize how to care for the materials, and the importance of order and organization in helping us accomplish our ideas during playtime.”
Curtis continues, “Clean-up time in our room is busy and noisy and takes a long time. We are very active in helping children stay involved. It has helped us to realize and let go of the idea that clean-up should be an orderly, quick and quiet process. We know that we need to allow time and have patience and fun as we work with children on the important job of maintaining our wonderful environment."
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Wow, this one resonated! Thank you Andrea, Luann and Polly for your additional insights. I have long been thinking of cleaning up as the ultimate opportunity to observe/teach/learn/practice executive function skills, social emotional skills, collaboration, self-regulation skills, visual spatial skills, fine and gross motor skills, and on and on and on. So much so that maybe we should make messes just to have the chance to clean up! ;-)
Clean up time might seem unimportant since it is such a small part of the day, but it is critical to setting the tone for the climate of the relationships within the community. It is a small, but mighty activity! Thank you for helping us think about this transition in a new way!
Putting this out there for childcare professionals to understand the importance of taking their time to work through every part of the day with children is so beneficial for both child and teacher. There are many aspects of the day where Deb's thoughts apply. Putting on coats to go outside. How wonderful to see children helping each other to zip up, put gloves on - giving everyone a sense of importance and accomplishment!
Well said! Just like all parts of a classroom daily routine, children are learning during clean up - how we intentionally plan for learning is important. The question is, what are our learning goals - do we want children to learn avoidance skills or do we want to help them develop cooperatIve skills? Building community, taking care of the work environment, weaving in math concepts and including appreciation for a job well done are all possible in this one piece of a busy day.