Organizing. Cleaning. Tidying. Laundry.
Whether you are a parent, a teacher, or even a child—some part of each day will be spent doing at least a bit of classroom neatening or homekeeping. Do you think of your straightening, sweeping, dusting as chores; or do you and your children approach work with joy spent in the process, and in the neatness you make afterwards, by doing them?
Peek within a calm schoolroom, and watch playful work for a moment—
Waldorf* nursery children experience part of their day playing, while their nursery teacher quietly works at a chosen task nearby—sweeping, baking, or perhaps sewing. Often, this work, and clean up time, is accompanied by a pleasant traditional work song. This lulling hum drum of the teacher's work brings a gentle rhythm to the classroom. A quiet calm pervades, even in the murmur of the children's gentle play. Small brooms, play kitchens and diminutive ironing boards are integral to the child's play—play imitating the work of home.
In many Montessori* classrooms, washing and cleaning are practical life skills taught to young children. A child will be found in quiet contentment working at these skills as happily as if pretending to feed a doll or playing with blocks. When a Montessori child removes an activity or a tool from its place; the child has learned to return it to its particular place, when he is finished with his activity.
The way work is interwoven into the day, like the peaceful Montessori and Waldorf schoolrooms—and by many other loving teachers in other school settings—can also work at home. Having a special place for each toy to be returned makes clean-up simple and keeps the play area less cluttered. Especially if toys are pared down. If clean-up time is pursued in a relaxed, content manner, you and your children will enjoy—and even cherish—your work more. Hum a little, smile a little, and you may just feel like you like work a little more. photos above taken by our 6-year-old
tips for an easier clean
• Have a place for everything to go back to—and put it back. See a pot is a perfect spot (above) for our practical, inexpensive—and the sweetest way ever—to get your child's play area organized for good.
• Little ones enjoy helping with many tasks. I felt utter joy at mastering my first folded washcloth my own mother taught me to fold. Dusting, mopping, and sweeping are also enjoyable work for children—tasks our own eagerly volunteer to do.
• Choose to buy less. Fewer toys means less mess and more creative play. See how we buy less + give well= more creative play. And, pare down what you do have. If you feel like you are moving clutter from one place to another, it's time to edit how much stuff is in your home. Here are 5 steps to begin decluttering from Loving Simple Living.
• Clean with vinegar—especially if you have little helpers. This inexpensive and non-toxic, natural cleaner can be used in spray bottles to clean counter tops, inside refrigerators, and anywhere conventional spray cleaners are used. Add vinegar to your mop bucket of water and use it to clean floors. My mother has a few other simple cleaning favorites too.
• Think white. All white towels are a wonderful way to go. They simplify washing and sorting. And when one towel wears out, another white one is easier to find to match the rest than harder-to-find colors with a range of so many hues and shades. White looks so clean too.
• We have a hand whisk broom we keep beside my own heavy-duty Amish-made broom. The smaller hand broom is just the right side for little helpers to assist after mealtimes.
• Like Waldorf nursery classrooms, our play area is set up with a wooden ironing board and a play kitchenette to initiate work-play—like ironing, cooking and baking. Sometimes it's fun to eat cookies for breakfast (even if they are pretend).
what are montessori and waldorf?
*The Montessori method of teaching was developed for children to learn from hands-on discovery by working with materials, with some independence. Emphasis includes order, cleanliness, and harmony. Young children part of a Waldorf education, experience an environment of learning through imagination and imitation—such as storytelling, puppetry, play, baking, cooking, singing and nature play. There are many dedicated teachers in other kinds of schools that use similar methods in their own classrooms as well. ©heather cahoon • wordplayhouse®
children's homekeeping and cleaning tools
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