This is a blog from June 30 2019 moved from old website.
Hands up if you love chores..haha not me. As an early childhood educator do feel you have never ending repeated routine task to do that become a ‘chore’. Depending on service context perhaps you have between 40 and 120 nappies a day between staff. You have tables, chairs and high chairs to clean and beds to make for 20+ children, and don’t get me started on all the paper work.
Que the excited infomercial voice…But WAIT what if I could tell you all these routine chores you had to do throughout the day made you chortle with joy, yes its true you can enjoy it.
Here are some examples of what I have seen over time. Imagine…[enter the preschool room] one staff member is cleaning the table, so focused on getting that table squeaky clean, another educator in the room is trying very hard to get the sticky rice off the floor. The other educator is running between the children at the bathroom, the one jumping on their bed to the one crying at the table so overtired not wanting their carrots. Two educators are so tired of the same routine every day that they can only see the task they are doing like they have horse blinkers on. They are so busy cleaning they miss the child using everyone’s spoon and giving them back.
There are many reasons this can happen and it can affect many other areas. Routines are a part of quality area 1 yet this example effects all areas. For example management and governance doesn’t support change or reflective practices and staff get fed up and leave. Illnesses break out in the service because due to hygiene and children aren’t learning as much and relationships aren’t built because staff are to busy to focus and guide behaviour.
In order to improve our routines we need to look at our behaviours and the environment such as;
- be open to change
- have a positive attitude – a chortle, whistle whilst you work
- change perspective and how we communicate assertively and not aggressively or passively.
- listen to others
- be persistent
- be observant of our individual and team current practices
- document the strengths and improvements
- observe what learning is occurring for children
- research new practices to continue to learn and trial new ways
- reflect and brainstorm how we can strengthen and improve practices
- think about why you do what you do and the purpose
- lead others and don’t top down manage
- work as a supportive team
- understand that all challenges have a reward of achieving something great
- most importantly involve children as routines support learning and development
- learn from families as to what their child does at home in regards to routine tasks
- talk with and educate others as to the benefits of children being involved in routine tasks
- guide children through strategies supporting intrinsic rather than extrinsic motivation
There are many reasons routines fail such as someone trying to control others rigidly or people identifying it is working and deciding it just needs to go int the hard basket, and so practice stays the same. I often hear my students say on prac “They make us do all the cleaning”. Since this is such a big part of our day how can we make it more enjoyable when it is inevitable?
Perhaps you don’t have the chaos at routine times but still need to have just a little chortle in your life.
As a part of self assessment in your service have your room pick one routine that is challenging or chaotic or could just be improved a little. Ask them to;
- take a deep breath
- reflect on the dot points above, for example does your routine involve children? How could it improve this? What is my attitude and can I change it to be more positive? How can we do this as a team?
- identify the challenges and stresses
- identify possible solutions and trial the
Depending on your self assessment processes you could have someone such as the nominated supervisor or educational leader assess your practices using sight, observe and discuss and give feedback assertively and brainstorm with you how to improve.
Example – Learning Independence
I often tell a story in class to my adult students…when my daughter was 3 we lived together she would go to the fridge and get out a jug that was purposely not filled with too much water so she could manage and be independent and pour it herself proudly. We then moved in with my parents for a while and her Nannie who loves her very much wanted to spoil her do things for her such as pouring her drinks. Then after a while my daughter and I moved to a new home just the two of us and my daughter had to learn again to be independent again because it was lovely having Nan do it all.
Example – Role Modelling Positive Attitude
When children would poor drinks and spill it in my home I would say “o O accidents happen”. Then they knew to go to the cupboard and get old towels and put it over the spill. People that observed this thought it was odd that I wasn’t shouting and this is because my belief has changed my attitude. “No child is naughty they are just learning” If we are impatient or controlling or short tempered or cry over spilt milk children sense it and will take flight or fight. We need to teach them positive ways now so they will have these positive habits of mind as they get older.
Choosing to act rather than react makes you feel happier overall. There will be less tears.
We need to pause and see the value instead of perhaps racing around to the finish line to complete the endless list of tasks because you will never get to the finish line. Instead celebrate the achievements of pouring their own drink with words of encouragement.
You can’t expect your routines to be perfect and change overnight. Remember like the old Pantene slogan stuck in my head “It won’t happen over night, but it will happen”.
IMAGINE how good it would be if you could change what feels like a chore into something that makes you chortle. Let me know if you are able to enjoy one of your routine tasks and how you managed to make it go from a chore to a chortle. Perhaps if you already whistle while you work you can share your ideas.