The daily cleanup involved with working in an early education program can get old fast. The task is time consuming, repetitive and can suck the fun out of an otherwise rewarding career. If you are spending too much time keeping the classroom tidy, here are five tips to make this chore a breeze.
1. Turn Cleanup Time into a Game: Cleaning up is not at the top of any child’s list of favorite things to do. What if you could change all that? If you really want to get those playthings put away fast, turn cleanup time into game time. You’re creative and fun, right? Well put your imagination to work and think up some neat games to get kids to clean up without a fight.
2. Labels Shelves and Bins: How much time you spend reminding the kids where toys and materials go? How much time do you spend reorganizing things that have been put in the wrong place? Cleanup is a lot easier for kids when they know where to put things. When you label shelves and storage bins with both words and pictures kids have an easier time putting toys and materials back in the proper place.
3. Use the Dishwasher to Wash Toys: Washing commonly mouthed infant and toddler toys is an important part of the daily cleaning grind. Here’s an easy breezy way to tackle this task: At the end of the day, toss teething rings, rattles and other plastic toys in the dishwasher and turn it on. When you come to work the next day the toys will be clean and ready to use.
4. Use Disposable Cups and Plates: Use disposable plates and cups during lunchtime. When the kids are done eating, all you have to do is toss the paper products in the trash. Even if you only do this a couple of times a week, it will reduce your time in the kitchen and give you a break from dishpan hands.
5. Do Messy Activities Near a Sink: Wet activities such as painting and paper mache can have you putting in some serious cleaning time. Not only will the kids’ hands be a mess, the brushes, containers and tables you use will be disgusting too. You’ll need a lot of water to tackle cleanup jobs of this magnitude. The closer you are to a sink the better.
If your daily cleaning routine is taking too much time away from other activities, simplify it by labeling toy storage containers, keeping messy activities close to the sink, washing toys in the dishwasher, making cleanup time fun for kids, and using paper plates and cups during lunch.