Clean Up Time aka Mine Sweeping

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The older I get, the more toys I find with my feet. Blocks, train tracks, legos… I always seem to step on the sharpest edge or corner. Quite painful. I blame my depleted spatial awareness, or maybe vision. Either way, I’m barely in my 30’s so it’s all down hill from here.

Clean-up time is important for my son. Yes, he’s not even 2 yet. However, since he understands that language has meaning and can remember a couple of routines, clean-up can become a habit before he realizes he learned it. Score!

My son will clean-up sometimes. He’ll put toys in the toy bin. Or, he’ll throw his toys like shooting a basketball. Most make it in the bin. No worries. My feet are like mine sweepers. I’ll find the missed shots later that night with the soles of my feet and my soft little toes.

My son’s nightly clean-up routine was started by my wife, but we both enforce it to the best of our ability. We’re parents, so yeh, we’re tired. My wife and I both have been preschool teachers, so we both know the importance of instilling routines.

Clean-up time was muy importante in my classroom. After free choice, activities, and outdoor time, I pointed to the clock and would give my students a five minute warning before clean-up (for me, this was best done with a clock with hands, that way the children could see the big hand move and touch one of numbers). Next, I say it’s time to clean-up and sing our clean-up song. Children in all of the play areas – most of the time – sang along and cleaned their areas.

I walked around supervising, encouraging other children to clean up if they weren’t doing so already. I also pointed out areas of the classroom that were being neglected or unfinished. I didn’t say who should clean it up, but stated aloud that it needed to be cleaned up.

Sometimes, children would “tattle” and say this child or group of children should clean the area, since they were the last to play in that area. Other children “stepped-up” and cleaned an area, even if they didn’t play there and had just finished completing their part. During those times, I smiled and let those children know they made me happy that they were a Super Cleaner. At the end of clean-up time, everything was clean. Nothing on the tables. Nothing on the ground. Spotless.

I miss that about the classroom: nothing on the ground. If I did step on a toy, it hurt less. Perhaps because I was always wearing shoes. Hmmm. Maybe I should wear slippers in the house? I like slippers now. They’re so soft. Nice and soft on my feet. My poor, poor feet.


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