Children and cleanliness can sometimes seem like they are on the opposite edge of a great polar divide. Teaching little ones to clean up, and stay clean, can be a challenge, however we have a few tips that teachers, carers and parents can try, at home, or at preschool and childcare.
Asking children to put toys, books and other playthings away is that much easier if they have a dedicated spot. You don’t need to spend a fortune on solid wooden cupboards or designer wardrobes, simply think plastic boxes in a range of sizes. They’re generally pretty cheap, and they can look a treat in a row of white or bright colours (that kids will love). While toy boxes are a traditional and practical option, just be careful that you buy only a style that meets the Australian Government’s safety guidelines, as a heavy lid can pose a danger to a child, if they are caught inside. Make a point to visit the Australian Government’s Product Safety Australia website for up to date information.
Make it fun
Make clean up another game, and children will be that much more inclined to take part. The ‘clean-up game’ might involve seeing how many toys you can fit into a box, or how quickly you can fill it up. Encourage children to use their imagination. If a dinosaur will come if they don’t clean up, they’ll be more likely to scream with delight as they rush around to tidy up before it arrives. Or you might make clean-up a musical time. How about the washing hands song, or books to bed song?
Getting children to keep clean and clean up can become easier if it becomes part of a routine. Just as a bedtime routine can help get them to bed, so too cleaning at a particular time, or time of day, is a great way to encourage cleanliness. Pick a time that works for you and your own routines. Clean-up time is obviously best at the end of the day, but you might also make it just before a final story, for instance. If children are prone to clean up because they want to keep playing, make a point to remind them that they can play again tomorrow (or whenever) but that now it’s time for home time/story time/meal time et cetera.
It’s of course vital that school, pre-school and childcare cleaning is done professionally. Keeping kids clean is one thing. Ensuring you have a germ-free environment is not only about providing a neat and clean space, it’s also essential to help ward off ill heath and disease.
Teachers and carers are advised to look at the Federal Government’s Staying Healthy: Preventing infectious diseases in early childhood education and care servicesreport for specific guidelines on cleanliness.
Essentially however, it’s worth employing a regular cleaner and even looking for a specialist in childcare cleaning such as Kindy Cleana. There are plenty of cleaning services around, but finding one that knows kindergartens and childcare centres might make all the difference. They’ll be more likely to understand what sort of mess children make, and how best to maintain a clean, environmentally friendly, and always sanitary environment.
Most children will outgrow their messy stage (it just might take a wee while!). In the meantime, try and stay patient and do what you can to keep little ones as clean, germ-free and healthy as possible.