Tips for Teaching Kids to Cleanup their Mess

Preschool classrooms are a combination of unbridled enthusiasm, fun, and learning. During this process, however, quite a mess gets made. Cleanup time is an essential aspect of a well-run classroom.

The preschool classroom teacher needs to instill in his students the work ethic required to make sure that everything is returned to its proper place once its use has been completed. Everyone must be on the same page in this aspect so that there is a sense of pride in the classroom.

When trying to teach preschoolers how to help with cleanup, it is of critical importance to make sure that there are no exceptions made, and that each child performs his or her task for the betterment of the classroom. Each day, a new task could be assigned to a different student, or group of students.

A list could be made, and each child’s name and picture could be placed beside their cleanup task for the day. Otherwise, a group of students could be responsible for the area in which they are playing when time has ended. For example, during rotary play, with sand tables, water tables, painting stations, and play regions, the group that is at a certain centre is part of a team that must clean that area before a positive activity is enjoyed.

If cleanup is not done properly, the enjoyable task that was to be next needs to be withheld, until the cleanup job is completed to satisfaction. The preschool teacher must ensure that a desired activity is due when cleanup is finished, so that there will be motivation for the job to get done, and on time.

This form of reward helps to instill the value of cleaning up after yourself. Children need to know the importance of tidying up for themselves, so that things are put back in their respective places for the next day.

Singing songs while cleaning up can work to get the children motivated. Perhaps a song could be played, and sung, while cleaning up. The ideal time frame would be to finish cleaning up before the song ends. The children might truly enjoy this part of the day, which would make cleanup time less of a frustration for the preschool teacher and the students.

The preschool teacher can use many methods to teach the children to help with cleanup, and each new class may require something different. Teachers must always adapt and overcome the changing face of education, learning how to roll with the punches.

Students should know that there are consequences if tasks are not completed on time, or without co-operation. As a class, the students should help the teacher decide what is fair in terms of a disciplinary action.

Taking ownership for their own actions is a very valuable lesson to learn, and the preschool teacher can help to accomplish this through cleaning up after an activity.