It is all about setting kids up for success.
BY JESSICA TUCKER
PUBLISHED MAR 01, 2022 IN MOMS.COM
Montessori teachers seem to be able to get kids to clean up after themselves with little to no effort. Parents, on the other hand, can find the process of cleaning up with their youngsters to be like pulling teeth. More often than not, this is because the same Montessori method that kids are following in school is not at home. As such, it can be more difficult for kids to do what is being asked of them. But, if the method is brought into the home, there is a familiarity for kids. And when this happens, parents will be able to witness first-hand how Montessori teachers get kids to clean up.
The Montessori method teaches kids how to be independent at an early age. While parents may see kids as too young to participate in some activities, Montessori believes that when kids are "willing to learn, they are ready to learn," according to Children's House Montessori. And much of this teaching comes from a place of patience. Therefore, if parents are able to translate some of what allows kids to be independent in the Montessori classroom into the home, they will find that cleaning up is less of a chore than they anticipated it to be.
Here is how Montessori teachers get kids to clean up.
Encourage Kids To Help Clean Up When They Are Young
Montessori encourages kids to participate in cleaning up their playtime or workstations from an early age. And even though parents may not think that their little ones are capable of cleaning when they are toddlers, from 18-months-old, according to How We Montessori, kids are able to put their things away on their own.
By introducing the act of cleaning up at an early age, it becomes an expectation of what is done when there is no longer a desire to play with toys. Kids understand that they are welcome to take out whatever they want to play with, as long as they put it away when done. When this is instilled, there is little to no fighting when it comes to cleaning up because kids know the process. And this makes clean-up time easier on all.
Only Take Out What Can Easily Be Put Away
When kids play at home, they take out their toys with abandon. This means that when it is time to clean up, the mess can feel overwhelming. As such, it is not surprising that there may be pushback when it comes to cleaning up from kids because the task is more than they can handle on their own.
According to Montessori In Real Life, kids should be encouraged to only take out what they can easily put away when they are done playing with it. When this is taught from an early age, kids learn to put their things away as they want to play with something new. This translates when kids are older as well because they have already learned that when they put their things away as they go, it is not quite as much of an undertaking as it would be if toys were left out until the end of the day.
Have A Specific Spot For Everything To Help Kids Clean Up
If there is not a place for each toy or activity to go, it is difficult for kids to clean up after themselves. As such, when everything has a place, easy clean-up can be done.
According to Montessori Nature, kids crave order in their lives. This includes having specific places for their toys and activities to be put away.
This means that there needs to be space for everything to be put away. "A place for everything and everything in its place," per the publication. But with kids having so many toys, this can be an undertaking to make happen. Therefore, if there are toys or activities that are rarely being played with, they should not be part of what is easily accessible for kids. Instead, those items can be put away for a later time to see if they should be put into rotation for play. If kids do not miss or ask for the toys, clutter can be reduced by finding a new home for them via donation or giving to family or friends who may use them instead.
Wait For An Opportune Time To Start Cleaning Up
When parents see a mess to be cleaned up, many times, they jump in to begin the cleaning process. However, according to Montessori Hawaii, this may be an approach that discourages kids from cleaning because their playtime was interrupted. Instead, waiting until there is a window where it is clear kids are about to transition to another activity may make them more willing to help clean up instead.
Asking kids to begin cleaning up without warning when they are in the middle of an activity can make them resistant to cleaning up. As such, if there is a specific time that toys and the like need to be put away, letting kids know ahead of time when playtime needs to end will help them naturally end their playing. But for those who do not need to clean up except for when they are done with what they are doing, waiting for that break in play will encourage kids to want to help clean up versus being resistant to it.
Parents Can Be Role Models When It Comes To Cleaning Up
Parents play a big part in encouraging kids to clean. As such, if parents are seen cleaning up after themselves consistently, kids are much more willing to participate in the clean-up process as well.
According to Sunshine Teachers' Training, kids want to "mimic" their parents. When kids see their parents cleaning in a manner that looks fun and are doing so without complaint, they may be more willing to clean up as well. Cleaning no longer looks like a punishment but as part of daily routine. And when kids reach this point, they are far less likely to balk when cleaning and participate in the process much like they would when in the Montessori setting.