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  1. #1
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    Default Preschool teacher needs strategies for clean-up time!

    This has been an ongoing challenge in my room and I could really use some suggestions from other teachers...
    Every day we do a one minute warning before clean up time. I also do a count down from ten to one and then ring a bell indicating its time to clean up. a few children will pick up their area but most of the kids just keep playing. I do use other strategies such as asking specific students to clean up specific toys, helping them with some of the clean up, seeing who can clean up faster,and i always praise each child that is doing a good job. I have also tried giving out stickers to the good cleaner-upers, in hopes that the others would want to clean up for the same reward. (didnt work!)
    The kids have been missing out on getting to go to recess at least once a week because it takes way to long to get the room cleaned up. I thought it would be a big incentive to 'clean up quickly so that we can have time for recess' but the kids dont seem to get it. They ask why we cant go outside and I tell them we took to long cleaning and ran out of time. We discuss that we will have to clean up faster tomorrow in order to go outside. They say they will do a better job tomorrow but the next day its the same exact thing all over again.
    Last Friday was the kicker for me--- while some kids continued to play and ignore my voice, other kids were literally dumping out bins of toys all over the floor! I couldnt believe my eyes!
    I would love to hear from other pre-k teachers out there because i am running out of ideas and am just plain frustrated at this point!

  2. #2
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    I too would like to know the answer to this perplexing question! I've experienced pretty much the same reactions as Jennycocoa has with her children. I've even experienced a child cussing me out because he didn't wish to pick up. I teach preschoolers (age 3). Old school methods, new school methods--nothing seems to work. I'm pulling my hair out. And what little hair I have left is turning gray! Is there a seasoned vet out there who could give us some advice?

  3. #3
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    I am by no means an seasoned vet, but I have the same problems at home with my 3 year old and at work. Now I don't know the policies for your work place, but mine is not so keen on this strategy I use at home. However, at home when my daughter doesn't clean up her playroom or room, I will not let her play in her play room for the rest of the day (depending on the time of day) or the next day. We also take toys that aren't picked up and put them away, until she starts cleaning up after herself without a fight.
    Now at my workplace, they don't like for us to take toys away from children. They say that its our job to teach them to clean up. Which I do show them how to clean up, but I do tell them to help me at the same time. They also advise us to only allow selected toys and items to be played with at a time, in the form of centers. This only works if the children are at the age that they understand centers and how they work.

    Hopefully some of this will help

  4. #4
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    Cleaning up is always no fun. However, in my classroom, I try to make it a game. I do try to give the kids a five minute warning before cleaning up. Then I have a CD that we use for games and for cleaning up. I play a fast dance song and our goal is to clean up the room and beat the song. When they beat the song, we celebrate by putting marbles in a jar. (When the kids fill the jar, then e get speacial days.) My class loves to beat the song. However we have our days when no one wants to do anything. That is when I start telling "Johnny great job on cleaning up." All of a sudden I hear "what about me? I'm I doing good" Or "Look at me, I am cleaning up." The kids love to hear praises!

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jennycocoa View Post
    This has been an ongoing challenge in my room and I could really use some suggestions from other teachers...
    Every day we do a one minute warning before clean up time. I also do a count down from ten to one and then ring a bell indicating its time to clean up. a few children will pick up their area but most of the kids just keep playing. I do use other strategies such as asking specific students to clean up specific toys, helping them with some of the clean up, seeing who can clean up faster,and i always praise each child that is doing a good job. I have also tried giving out stickers to the good cleaner-upers, in hopes that the others would want to clean up for the same reward. (didnt work!)
    The kids have been missing out on getting to go to recess at least once a week because it takes way to long to get the room cleaned up. I thought it would be a big incentive to 'clean up quickly so that we can have time for recess' but the kids dont seem to get it. They ask why we cant go outside and I tell them we took to long cleaning and ran out of time. We discuss that we will have to clean up faster tomorrow in order to go outside. They say they will do a better job tomorrow but the next day its the same exact thing all over again.
    Last Friday was the kicker for me--- while some kids continued to play and ignore my voice, other kids were literally dumping out bins of toys all over the floor! I couldnt believe my eyes!
    I would love to hear from other pre-k teachers out there because i am running out of ideas and am just plain frustrated at this point!
    That's a difficult situation for you to handle but I there is a solution to that, so don't lose hope. I think one way that you can do is to tell the learners that those who will be able to clean up immediately will be able to go outside earlier than the other kids. those who will not be able to clean up on time will not be allowed to go out, they must finish cleaning first. as a teacher too, you must model/demonstrate to them that you are also a clean and neat teacher so that they will also follow you.
    if you need more info about how to do that strategy, try reading on albert badura's social learning theory. lastly, i can advice you to not allow any students to go out unless all of them will clean up. just make sure that all of them will help in cleaning the room. I hope I was able to help you in your situation. God bless.

  6. #6
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    [I have been teaching for 20 years. I find that if you limit the areas in which the children play in the more control your will have. I first would start with the children just playing at tables once they master this slowly add in extra playing areas for those how have learn to clean up. I would start by telling the student the new rule that because they are unwilling to clean up they will no longer be able to play freely that they will start playing at tables until they earn the right to play freely. This can sometimes take a month before everyone is back play in freely in center.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by elenasantiago View Post
    That's a difficult situation for you to handle but I there is a solution to that, so don't lose hope. I think one way that you can do is to tell the learners that those who will be able to clean up immediately will be able to go outside earlier than the other kids. those who will not be able to clean up on time will not be allowed to go out, they must finish cleaning first. as a teacher too, you must model/demonstrate to them that you are also a clean and neat teacher so that they will also follow you.
    if you need more info about how to do that strategy, try reading on albert badura's social learning theory. lastly, i can advice you to not allow any students to go out unless all of them will clean up. just make sure that all of them will help in cleaning the room. I hope I was able to help you in your situation. God bless.

    I'm with Elena here. Natural consequences to those who deserve it and natural rewards to those who do. But I do something more. I start giving my warnings. "10 minutes to clean up!" Dramatic play cleans up 5 minutes early since it's so challenging and gets shut down 5 minutes before the end of freechoice. We strongly encourage children to clean up an area before moving on to another. Then, we sing a song to bring them to cirlcle. NO CLEANING during this part. We come to circle and sit on the floor. Then we all sit and hold hands. We sway our bodies slowly while singing slowly to the frere jaques tune: Time for clean up, time for clean up, toys away! toys away! Everybody helping, Everybody helping, Toys away, Toys away! Then we stop rocking and speak about what areas still are a mess and need to be cleaned. We mention children we saw playing there by name: "Joe, You were making awesome cake in playdo! That area is really messy, can you help? What kids were in the blocks? WE really need your help! This works overall pretty well. I've never come up with a foolproof method that works every time, but this method, breaks the lock of freeplay, creates a mental paradigm shift, and gives children a moment to assess their surroundings and actions and create some plans to take care of that. I'd say 90% of the time I have really good results. Lurkers sometimes don't get to move on to outside right away, or if they have to go, they have to sit on a bench and not be part of outside for a few minutes, making it clear why the consequence is happening. Next day, remind kids that at clean up, not everyone did their job at clean up and they ended up not getting to go outside and have as much fun. If they want to go out today and have fun, they need to be part of cleaning up at clean up time. Make sense?

  8. #8
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    Yea, you are correct. A proper strategy is required to inculcate in the kids the behaviour of clean up. Children in preschools are always given small clean-up responsibilities to improve their physical skills. I think rewarding the kid for best clean up is good to go as it can motivate the other kids to do the same. We can also make up the cleaning activities a fun by using songs and rhymes.

  9. #9
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    Another point to remember is that children often don't really know HOW to clean up. They look at a mess and it's too overwhelming. They don't know where to start. So, it's very helpful to give kids cues. If a child is in dramatic play and just staring or wandering or trying to leave, I might suggest: "Mariah, can you find all the shoes on the floor and put them on the shoe shelf?" Having a specific task makes it easier for the child to succeed.

    Some kids resist because they are not used to being helpful and are still learning. So if I have a child who has dumped out all the duplos and doesn't want to help, I have to think of a way to engage them. I might try a positive engagement: "Wow, Tim you really did find a lot of duplos didn't you? (if he build something I could say, "Wow, you sure build a great duplo structure!" But then I need to state what needs to happen. "It's clean up time now. We need to get these duplos back in their basket so we can have snack. I'll pick up these red ones. Can you show me where the yellow ones go?"

    It might seem like a lot of work to try these approaches, but we are building habits. Not all children will help the first 20 times, but if you keep using specific and positive approaches, you are teaching them how to be responsible. Lots of kudos, high fives and thank you's are in order.

  10. #10
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    I've had good results with my 18-30 month class by gradual cleanup. We work our way in a 15 count down of 5min - clean up library and tables, go play on carpet area, and then 5min - clean up kitchen and home area, go play on carpet area and finally 5min - clean-up, clean-up song with transition into circle time or line up at door. If they've helped clean up an area, they're allowed to grab hold of the walking rope otherwise I send them back to pick up a toy or put away the toy they're carrying so they'll be "ready" to go out.

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