‹‹ Return to all Child Growth & Development resources

Strategies to help children clean up toys

Fostering organizational and responsibility skills among children is critical when teaching them clean up habits, whether with their toys or food. Children learn these skills best when you mirror good habits. Remember to tailor your approach to the unique attributes and needs of different children. While some students are happy to clean up without any reminders, others may need a bit of encouragement but this should always be in a helpful, friendly spirit, and never forceful. 

There are many strategies you can adopt to encourage children to tidy up. For example, you can have outdoor playtime come after clean up time. If students clean up, emphasize that they will get to play outside as a reward. Of course, playing outside will always be part of your daily routine, but by tying it explicitly to this reward, you offer students an incentive.

The set up of your classroom can also help guide children in cleaning. Shelves and bins are particularly useful. You can also try leading children in a clean up song and giving an auditory cue, such as ringing a bell, a few minutes before cleanup time. 

Child psychologists believe that the communication strategies educators and parents use can strongly influence results. Research has suggested that children have an innate desire to be helpers, and this instinct exists even among toddlers. By approaching clean up time as something important, but also routine and simple, you can help children learn important habits relating to organization and responsibility.

ProSolutions Training offers many resources for early childhood educators, including the course, "The Art of Transitions." We also provide CDA training and CDA renewal