Messy and unpredictable spaces are chaotic. Young children will not know where toys and supplies belong and even more importantly, they may not know if they belong.
By inviting children to contribute to keeping the space organized, clean and safe, your environment will support both the health and the wellness of the children. Research has validated that when children have experiences where they contribute to their community and have opportunities for shared responsibility, they have a much better chance for success, not just in school but throughout life (Henderson & Berla, 1994).
No worries if your kids (and maybe you) have been stuck in rut with some poor habits when it comes to cleaning up. Even if it is the middle of the week, you can still start fresh today. It is never too late to start with new expectations. Children love to help and we should let them.
Your energy will be contagious to the kids. Explain that you have an idea about making the room the most beautiful of all preschool rooms and need their help starting today. Invite children to join you in having a special job every day.
Create a job chart.
Create your own job chart or use the Little Helper set pictured. The Little Helper job chart is included in your Experience Preschool Curriculum Getting Started kit. Use the jobs that are useful for your class. Create any additional jobs that you might need. If desired, print the child’s name on a clothespin for children to clip onto their chosen job, or make job envelopes and children slide in their name tag.
- Demonstrate and teach each classroom job to the children during large group time. Take turns practicing and demonstrating the job.
- Then, assign one job per child for the whole week. Explain the child’s role in the classroom to both the child. You can do this verbally or visually by making pockets for each job and inserting the child’s name stick.
- Rotate the jobs weekly so everyone gets to try all classroom jobs.
- Be consistent. Announce who is doing which job every morning and make time to model and do the jobs.
As you build ownership within your classroom, you can also encourage children to take initiative in the ongoing cleaning and maintenance of the room.
Before leaving your room to go to the gym, playground, library, music room, or anywhere else, make sure to gather the children to help you pick it up and put everything back where it belongs.