Friday, April 19, 2013

The Truth about Cleaning Up!

What is the truth about getting children to clean up after playing?  Really, there are at least two truths to consider: It takes a long time for children to learn to clean up on their own, and it is worth it!

Teaching children that “putting away is part of play” has many benefits.  Cleaning up can:
            -Help children to value the needs of others.
            -Teach respect for materials.
-Assure children they are seen as competent people, capable of joining you in real work.
-Encourage a sense of organization.
            -Teach matching and classifying.
            -Strengthen color, shape and size vocabulary.
            -Support understanding of part-to-whole relationships.
-Facilitate awareness that experiences that have a beginning, middle and end.

Although getting children to clean up may feel like a struggle, the following ideas may help:
-Help them anticipate. After we put this away, we can play another game.
-Work together. Children learn when you play with them and when you work with them.
-Make specific requests. Help me put the puzzle away. If there is no choice, try not to give them a reason to say No!
-Make a plan and break clean-up into smaller, manageable pieces. Start by putting the balls into the basket.
-Offer choices. I will put the blocks away. Would you like to put the smaller ones on the shelf or into the basket?

As you work on developing clean-up skills together, remember that younger children will be less developmentally able to pick up for an extended period.  Keep it up though—over time this skill can develop and will have benefits for years to come!

The Truth about Cleaning Up is a part of DuPage Children’s Museum’s Just for Grown Ups series and is also published in Positively Napervillea printed guide of community events, volunteer opportunities and local lore. The publication is distributed to 35,000 homeowners by the first of every month.

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