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Tidy up time and rewards


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Hi,

We are finding this cohort very hard work during tidy up time.

At the moment we stop, gather together and 5 helpers go and tidy-up with a special helper badge on. The idea is that they become familiar with where to tidy everything with guidance from 2 adults, before all the children helping. Last year, we gave children a particular area to tidy-up, so the children would stop and go to their areas. It doesn't seem to quite 'work' for me that children don't tidy away where they are currently playing (we do get the children to tidy away after they've finished playing with something, bringing them back to the area if they've forgotten but it doesn't always work perfectly!) However, everyone is helping to make our room tidy, so maybe that doesn't matter! Anyway, I can't see this cohort ever being ready to ALL help!

We also had a Tidy-up star of the day trophy which did seem to encourage better helping at tidy up time! However, I am becoming increasingly aware of the over-praising/rewarding society we have become and have been moving away from rewarding stickers and prizes. However, I do want to RIGHTLY praise the children who are helping well.

So I have 2 things that I need help with:

1. Any ideas for tidy-up time? Is it better to just have a few helpers each day? Is that 'wrong' because not everyone is helping?

2. Is it 'wrong' to give out a trophy for the best helper - is this praising what is expected and therefore, making praise less worthy and encouraging extrinsic behaviour or is ok because it would always be given to the best (as opposed to the child who has just helped that day because you've said s/he can get the trophy if s/he helps.)

 

Thanks

Green Hippo x

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Hi Green Hippo

So difficult as all settings are so different.

I definitely am of the feeling that everyone should help (assuming everyone have been involved if not whichever group). I do get though that this maybe a bit of a nightmare depending on the cohort (sorry not helpful)

Personally - I'm not into awards for something I think everyone should help with and think it is a valuable learning experience for all to at least try to help.

It's a bit like when I hear about older children(my children's peers) getting paid to help out with household chores at home.

IMHO I don't agree with that either and feel children should learn to be ok about having to accept that they can contribute / help at home be it only by emptying the dishwasher or helping with the laundry.

Maybe it's just me ! ..

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We expect everyone to tidy up, but we do use small hand stickers that we call our 'helping hand' stickers, and these are earned by helping pack something away that the child who tipped it out is refusing to do it or a member of staff asks them to help with something, seems to work well...the problem is the shop I buy them from keeps running out as the parents have caught on and are buying them for home as well.

We also have 'walking feet' ....but we don't get through many of them lol

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We use the "helping hands" too, (with a cut out version rather than bought!) and stick them onto a tree as leaves. When the tree is full, the children get to take their own leaves home. Our pre-school room has recently given a supply to parents to give out at home and the children can bring those in and add to the display.

We also give them out if children are really kind or try a new food, etc.

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I seem to be spending time giving toys to children and telling them it's their job to put it away....they are getting the idea slowly!!!!

One of my full dayers kept asking me when it was tidy up time the other day ...then when I said now he said he was going to have his snack! I DONT THINNK SO!!!!! :P

I blame the current trend for play rooms i'm afraid ...children are just not used to putting toys away.

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I'm a great one for changing tidy up time every few weeks because I think children get bored - so to reward I have the "star of wonderfulness", this is a very lovely glittery star on a stick which I way above the heads of the children who have helped the best, but does not stop me have a wave over all if I want to, just some get a mention if an adult has been helped particularly well.

 

I have used a box/bag with large glittery foam numbers in and the children get to dip in the bag and have to go and tidy away that many items - they may keep coming back and invariably do for another dip.

 

We still on occasions have some music to get it done by.

 

We have "teams" going off to do an area.

 

I don't expect all to tidy, but I don't allow any to play while the others are tidying up, and we continually cajole and encourage as we go, I am quite often heard to say "I don't know where this goes, do you?" and some kind soul comes to my "rescue".

 

"I need big muscles to help me" is another of my cries.

 

"who can find all the yellow/red/blue/green ones to go in here?

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We have had issues in the past, one child always 'needed' a wee, so we always saved some things for him to tidy up afterwards and he soon realised that he was missing out on whatever happened next. One child used to get really upset at the slightest mention of tidy up time, absolutely heart-broken, we found that changing the way we phrased it helped him, we would say things like, please can you show me where this goes, can you help me, will you put this over there etc. He is now one of our best tidy uppers! At the moment we are singing a song, 'tidy up together' and this is working really well but we do have to change our tactics depending on the cohort.

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I recently went to a cluster meeting around behaviour. The speaker talked about consistency and how we all understand and have different meanings to words. In her classroom, she has a 'before' photograph for each area and the words 'This is what tidy looks like' to share with the children. It really made me think - some of us say 'tidy up time' or 'you need to put that away' - probably very confusing for some of our younger children and no wonder they are not taking part. We put on music that they are not allowed to dance to signal the start of this 'special' time. Some staff will want everything in exact boxes etc whilst some just ask the children to put it in the area. I'm still working on her/my ideas!! :blink:

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Thank you so much for all your replies. As usual your replies have got me thinking:

1. If we want to encourage intrinsic behaviours and helpfulness do young children need something tangible or at least visual to help them with what is quite a grown up thought process (i.e. are we expecting too much of our young children just to want to help?)

2. I understand that too much/unworthy praise is unhelpful but all my behaviour management training has been focused on 'catching them being good' and therefore, reinforcing expectations - where is the line? Are we creating less positive environments if we don't praise children enough?

3. We have at least 4 children this year who will just continue playing and not even acknowledge that they have heard their name. At the moment, if all the children tidied up then I think we'd never get it done! We have 3 adults in the room but once a few children have finished tidying their area, 1 adult will need to be with them on the carpet or do we just ask everyone to keep helping until the whole classroom is tidy?

 

Remember these are just my thoughts (I'm hiding behind my fingers!)

Green Hippo x

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So, me being me, I've been reading a few research articles regarding the use of praise and rewards.

This is what I can gather from what I have read (worryingly there are still a great number of articles suggesting that we praise our children every time they move - including one produced by the NHS!)

1. Advice on praising achievement with activities and behaviour is often presented separately.

2. "Praising children for an activity that is already interesting to them actually reduces motivation and makes them less likely to repeat the activity later" they think that the reason for doing the activity is to get rewards not because it's fun,.

3. Careful use of praise is particularly important with children between 3 & 5 years old.

4. Praise should be used carefully and spontaneously (as feedback) with focus on the process or effort not the person or the product.

5. Use 'I' phrases - talk about what you like or how the behaviour has affected somebody else.

 

Food for thought

Green Hippo x

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I'm a great one for changing tidy up time every few weeks because I think children get bored - so to reward I have the "star of wonderfulness", this is a very lovely glittery star on a stick which I way above the heads of the children who have helped the best, but does not stop me have a wave over all if I want to, just some get a mention if an adult has been helped particularly well.

 

 

 

Oh - I need a 'star of wonderfulness'! :D

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We have a stamp, the stamp rewards everything. Being kind, good sharing, trying hard, toileting and so on.

I used to get the children to tidy, everyone stop now tidy. We are pack away so everyday the children see us tidy, it was such chaos and I realised my expectations were not achievable. I changed it so now staff start to tidy, then five mins later children are asked to tidy directly by staff and staff give clear instructions for instance I have this egg can you find its home, sometimes it doesn't go away in right place but it's all part of the learning. We give stamps for great tidying by individuals and praise them as we start group so others can see/hear that they have received praise.

I took away the big emphasis on tidying up nearly 2 years ago and I've not had a problem since really, our children do help not all but most, we notice the ones that consistently don't and give them tasks to help but it's not end of world if they don't do it.

My staff carnt put things away correctly even with me sticking up pictures of what the shelves and cupboards look like ha ha (however it is true)

Ones idea of what tidy looks like is not someone else's which helped me reduce my expectations down - not with staff ?!

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I firmly believe that children should (with support) take responsibility for 'tidy up time'

 

I have various methods - many of which Panders has already described....

 

I always give a 'warning' - "we will have 5 more minutes now, and then it will be be......." - children fill in the gap with a chorus of "big tidy up time"! :D

 

Sometimes we 'race' to get it done before a sand timer runs out - they seem to like the challenge! :1b

 

I don't use any rewards apart from verbal - "oh great tidying Arthur" type thing :1b

Edited by sunnyday
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It's not always so much "praise" though, for me, it's about saying thank you for all your help - we need to help each other at this time because it's a big job to do. I always thank the children when we have finished and returned to the carpet area before storytime which follows straight on from tidy up.

 

I too give a 5 minute warning - I think that it's helpful for everyone. Our other signal is to turn out the lights briefly, which stops the children in their tracks and the know positively then, that they must come to the carpet area, that's when we get out our tidy up glasses/binoculars and have a good look around the hall to see what areas are in need of attention!

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I have reception and Y1 so maybe a little older than yours? Mine are in groups (purely adminstrative so they have a place to put book bags and water bottles!) and I usually assign a group to a different area of the classroom. I rotate these each day as some (role play and making area) generally look like there has been some kind of explosion whereas the playdough while messy is fairly easy to tidy away. We have a timer on and in theory every team which finishes in 5 minutes gets a smiley face on a chart and the one which finishes first gets and extra smiley and (much excitement!!) gets to also tidy the little bit (our free flow outside space)!! At the end of the week we count up the smilies and the winning team get a star sticker. However, the reality is that the sticker business is a bit of an extra, often doesn't happen for various reasons and everyone is still expected to tidy up.

 

My class are the best at tidying up in the whole school - the head videoed them as a demonstration for older children (and their teachers). It's mainly about expectations - I expect them to tidy and they live up to it. I also expect properly tidy. I don't inspect the inside of cupboards but I do look under tables!

 

I too mainly give 'praise' in the form of thanks for the help they are giving. I'm also specific about what I like in how they're tidying.

 

Some other things I do at random moments:

 

- announce a 10 second tidy - we talked through what this meant at some point - essentially picking things up off the floors, pushing chairs in, putting pencils back in a pot rather than strewn all over the table etc. - children rush around doing these things while I slowly count down from 10. I use it for those days when the place looks like a disaster zone half way through the morning and just needs a bit of straightening up.

 

- announce 'floor inspectors'. At the end of official tidy up time if there's lots of bits (usually paper cuttings or dried up playdough) on the floor we have floor inspectors and everyone focuses on that for a moment. I also have pen inspectors (check the lids are properly on), dressing up clothes inspectors etc. as needed - something about inspecting appeals to my lot!

 

- I don't worry too much about those who aren't tidying although I do remind them it's for everyone and extravagantly thank those who are tidying in their vicinity! If I have children who are disrupting the tidying of others I give them a very specific job such as sweeping the floor or pushing chairs in.

 

- My name is also on the tidying smiley chart so they see that I am tidying too - I have to tidy my desk and the step under the whiteboard too - I never win! :(

 

- Sometimes I have a competition to see if they can beat me - I'm washing paint pots/clearing the paint table and they are tidying everyone else. They love that one! Again I never win but it gives me a chance to get a head start on the paint pot cleaning otherwise I don't get to do it until after school by which time things are drying on!

 

PS I really think I could do with a star of wonderfulness too!

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Froglet, I love the inspectors I have a few that would really enjoy doing that.

 

The ten second tidy would be a great mid morning exercise for us too - that's set a little wheel in motion in my head now! Enjoy that spiced apple - think I'll make some goulash for dinner tonight.

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A simple thumbs up to a child who catches your eye can be a very effective way of rewarding good tidying. It shows them that you are noticing and appreciating their efforts immediately. It can result in other children making more effort and checking to see if you're noticing.

Also, using "I like how you....." or "You made a big effort to...." are good ways of appreciating what they have done because it labels exactly what you would like to see more of and, also, shows the child that you've noticed their particular efforts.

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I do the 'mystery object' game when tidying...basically I choose an object that needs to be tidied and don't tell the class what it is. They then get tidying and at the end, I reveal the mystery object and the child who tidied it gets a clap and a sticker. They all want to tidy the mystery object so tidy as much as they can!

I have Year R and it works a treat!

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There are so many great ideas here that I would like my team to try - so glad I stumbled across this thread!

 

The only thing I feel in my own setting is that very often at the end of the day when I ask children what they have got stickers for they tell me it was good tidying and I'm feeling that this is the only thing that is getting a reward at the moment! Obviously, that's a staff training issue not a 'tidy time' one.

 

Thanks all!

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Thanks for all the ideas.

This week we have had 'mission impossible' playing while all the children tidy up without talking! I know that might sound mean but it keeps them really focused and it's done in 3 minutes. The children who have previously continued playing have been some of the best helpers. I have asked them all to give themselves a pat on the back/microwave/firework (different celebratory ideas!) for good helping. And the class teddy is going home with the best helper! When other children have asked for a sticker/teddy, I've explained that they should tidy up to be good helpers and look after our classroom not just for a sticker. Children have been coming up to me saying "I've been a good helper today!" and they have!

Green Hippo xxx

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Everyone tidies up at my setting , we split them into groups and each group gets an area and an adult to help . We give loads of praise etc - we do give stickers for 'extra special tidying' - eg , they've put something away without being asked , or they helped another group when they have finished. We sometimes give a whole group stickers as an incentive to the others to tidy up.

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