Children go through many different stages of learning during their early years and toy play is a big part in their exploration and development. However, children are not always gentle with their toys and can even leave them when distracted by other tasks. In preparation for them starting school, it is important for them to learn how to take care of their belongings and tidy up after themselves.
This may already be a battle that you have faced at home. The constant back and forth of asking your little one to tidy up after themselves. However, teachers at school will not be tidying up after all the children in their class. So, how can you persuade children to tidy up? The trick is to find gentle ways to encourage children to do it until it becomes a force of habit.
This may vary based on what your child is playing with but set expectations before play begins. Are they only allowed one toy out at a time? Are they allowed to partially build with their blocks or Lego and continue at a later date as a project? The rules set can fit with personal preference and toy type. However, the key is consistency. Ensure that each play time meets these expectations.
In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. You find the fun and – SNAP – the job’s a game. – Mary Poppins
Tasks will always be met with groans and resistance if presented as a chore. But if you can turn them into a game, children are more likely to be willing to join in. Make it a challenge, set a timer and see if they can put everything away before it goes off. Or ask them to put their toys away in different colour groups, red first, then blue and so on.
Try to think of different ways that your child can tidy up to provide variety. Also, frame the task in the same way that you would introduce a new activity.
At Kiddi Caru Day Nurseries Group we use the ‘Tidy Up Song’ from Boogie Mites. By consistently playing the song every time, the children need to put away the toys they were playing with, they know what to do when they hear the music. Also, the song itself acts as a timer as they need to be done by the time the music stops.
Why not play the tidy up song to help your child put away their toys? If they already attend a Kiddi Caru nursery, then they will already know what to do when the music plays.
Instead of making threats if your child does not comply with the rules, put a positive spin on the task. Negative framing is more likely to lead to a negative reaction, before long tantrums occur.
Instead of saying “no snacks until you have tidied up” you could try “after you tidy up we can have a snack”, this way you are avoiding negative language and giving your little one something to look forward to.
As children grow, they should be given the responsibility to look after their toys and understand the consequences if they are look rough or careless with them.
At Kiddi Caru we use authentic resources within our preschool rooms, such as:
Plus, so much more, to give them genuine experiences, where they can feel that the objects have different weights, textures and smells. As well as, allowing them to understand that their actions have consequences. The team will explain the resource, such as introducing the china tea set within their role play area, and how it should be handled carefully and must not be thrown as it will break and can be dangerous to others.
The children respond very well to this responsibility and trust, handling the tea set with care and respect to preserve it. Whereas, when plastic is used constantly there is no consequence to it being dropped as both you and your child know it will not break. Therefore, if they only have plastic toys then you little one may not understand why they need to handle objects with care.
We know that starting school comes with a long shopping list of items that your little one will need. Why not take a look at the list and see what your child would enjoy shopping for with you? For example, a new pencil case, pens, note books, back packs est. Then take them with you to buy these things so they can help select the designs and styles they like best.
By involving them in the selection process, especially if they were able to choose items with their favorite character or TV show on, will encourage them to take better care of them. As you choose them, you can discuss what your child will be using them for in school and how long they will need to take care of them for. If you child attends nursery or has other siblings, then they may be very excited at the idea of having their very own pens and pencils to use.
These experiences also help to build positive associations to starting school – because that is when they can use their new pens! Therefore, it is a good idea not to buy them too far in advance as your little one may not want to wait too long before they can use them.