Thursday, 27 February 2014

Keeping a Clean Classroom

It is obvious that a classroom must be kept clean. Not only is it necessary to create a comfortable learning environment for the children, it is essential from the health point of view. Young children have yet to develop the level of immunity that their elders have in regard to contracting disease and infection. The cleaner the classroom, the lower the chances of kids falling sick.

It is a good idea to involve the children in the cleanliness issue. Not only will this allow the teacher to explain, with practical demonstrations, the need for cleanliness and its importance; it will also help the children in keeping things like their rooms and toys clean. Once they have the ability to perform actions like cleaning up, children often like to show adults how much they can do.  Praise and positive reinforcement of these efforts must be given so that the activity does not wane as the novelty of doing it wears off.

Involving the Children

The best way to involve young kids in keeping the classroom clean is to divide them into teams. Each team will have one aspect of cleaning to do. For example, one team could be put on the job of cleaning the windows and other one cleaning the furniture. Since the amount of cleaning to be done by the furniture team will be more, it will need to be larger than the window team; or the furniture should be divided into small sections so multiple small teams can do the cleaning. The teams should be switched around / re-configured regularly so that the kids are involved with all aspects of the clean and also do not get bored with the daily repetition.

The Equipment Needed

No complex or possibly dangerous equipment is required to keep the class clean. What will be required are:
  • Trash cans. These should be small enough for the children to be able to open them and empty the trash inside, but not so small as to overflow. The cans should be segregated according to what they should contain. Typically, green cans are used for biodegradable waste and black ones for dry and non-degradable materials.  Teaching children about waste segregation at a young age will allow them to develop the self-discipline that will become an important component of their developing personalities.
  • Broomsticks and dustpans. Kids have small hands so the equipment should be small and easy to hold and use. Also, long broomsticks can be difficult for children to control and could lead to other kids getting poked or even more seriously injured. Avoid equipment made of wood – there is always a change of a child having a splinter pierce the skin. Plastic brooms and dustpans are the best option.
  • Feather dusters. These too must be small enough for the children to use comfortably and safely. If required, masks should be given to the children to prevent dust from being inhaled. Start the dusting exercise on larger unbreakable objects and teach the kids the right and wrong ways to go about the process. As they become more confident and adept in the work, they can be asked to dust smaller and more delicate things.
Avoid getting the kids involved in cleaning any classroom rugs. These are often very dirty and sticky with spilled food and drink. Vacuum cleaners are not safe for children to use. And anyway, usually washing is the only way to get them really clean, and this is not a classroom activity.

Cleaning materials can be expensive but if they are bought in bulk (say a semester’s supplies at a time) or combined with the purchases of other classes, significant discounts may be available.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Teaching Good Manners to Preschoolers

Teaching good manners to children is the responsibility of the parents. That being said, it is important to continue the concept of using good manners in preschool so that the children understand that manners are not only for the home. Parents can and should expect and demand good manners from their children, but preschool teachers should also encourage this. Not only is it good for children, it will make the classroom a happier and more effective environment for the children to learn in.

Learning to share, greeting others warmly and showing respect and consideration for others is a lesson that continues to develop and evolve throughout a person’s life. It is never too early to begin and even children who are yet to begin speaking and communicate by expressions and gestures can be taught what gestures are okay to use and what are not.

Encouraging Good Manners in the Classroom

The use of good manners in class is not something that can be achieved overnight. It takes time and patience, just like most other aspects of dealing with young children. There is a five step process that can help to make learning and using good manners simpler and more fun for the kids. Here’s how it can be done:
  • Begin with a few basic words and phrases such as “please” “excuse me” and “thank you.” Make it a rule that these words should be used not only in student to teacher communication but also in the case of student to student. It may be the cause of a lot of giggling initially, but over time the kids will accept this as a normal part of speech. As time passes, increase the number of words to be used.
  • Be both persistent and consistent in asking for and demonstrating good manners. This means keeping watch for when children slip up and correcting them. There will often be some resistance to the use of words and phrases that do not seem to come naturally and which may appear, to the young mind, to be unnecessary complications to communication. If the use of good manners is persisted with, it will become a part of their natural means of communications and expression.
  • Be an example. Seeing the practical use of good manners is a more powerful teaching process than simply telling children about it. As teachers know, children like to follow examples and to pretend to be older than they are. If good manners are considered to be a more “grown up” thing to do, it will be more readily accepted.
  • Use positive feedback to reinforce the importance of good manners. When a child is waiting quietly in line or is helping others to put toys away or other such “polite” acts, they should be told about how nicely they are behaving. Explain to them how they are making others feel good by their attitude and actions.
  • Make the use of good manners in the class fun. A “good manners week” with rewards for those who display the best manners is something the kids will enjoy. Stars and special mentions each day for those who have behaved the best will reinforce the idea of good manners and politeness. A “no manners” period every day for a week or so will allow the kids to have some fun while showing them how much nicer it is to use good manners.
Inculcating manners and behavior into young children is part of a teacher’s responsibility, but more than this, once the concept is absorbed, the way the kids behave in class will make life much easier for the teacher and everyone else.