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Spring is the time of year for cleaning. Your young children can help with cleaning tasks, especially when they are members of a team that works together.

Such activities help children focus on a task, talk about what needs to be done and follow through until completion. These experiences can promote a sense of competence and show children that everyone benefits from teamwork.

Spring Cleaning Tip #1: Make it a family event and give them jobs to do.

Sorting anything…let them dust or wash windows (at least the bottom half!)…beat rugs outside (burns off winter energy)…make it a family event and give them some choices so they feel part of the project.

Small children have short attention spans, so try setting aside one morning a week to tackle a spring cleaning project.

Spring Cleaning Tip #2: Be patient, even if it takes longer to clean.

Children want to do whatever we're doing. Remind yourself it's a great opportunity to teach them how to clean and care for your home.

Spring Cleaning Tip #3: Give the kids their own cleaning tools and supplies.

Make dusting into a game. Give your children their own duster. They love to follow along behind you and dust whatever surface you just dusted – or really anything they can find. They also love helping wash windows or anything that lets him use a spray bottle!

Some tips from Moms…

"Give them a spray bottle with 50/50 water/vinegar to wash walls, windows etc. if they are little, follow with cloth to wipe down the surfaces, if older, they can spray and wipe." – Liz, Michigan

"Old socks on hands for dusting." – Theresa, Michigan

Jenny from North Carolina suggested getting child-sized cleaning supplies for spring cleaning with small children.

Spring Cleaning Tip #4: Crank up the music.

"Add music! Dance your way through it! We make it into a cleaning party with loud music. At any time, one of us calls out 'dance break' where everyone stops what they’re doing for a moment of silliness and dancing."
– Amy, Michigan

Spring Cleaning Tip #5: Lower your expectations.

Getting kids to participate is a breeze when you inject some fun and foolishness into household chores. Just make sure to assign age-appropriate tasks that can be achieved in short increments (ten to fifteen minute spurts for younger children), and things will be spic and span in no time! If you start kids at a young age and keep things fun, they'll enjoy pitching in — it gives them a great sense of accomplishment, collaboration, independence and responsibility. 

Here are some ideas for indoor and outdoor big jobs for the home and early childhood setting.

With the right tools (small buckets, sponges, rags, child-size shovels and rakes) and adult supervision, children can work together to complete big jobs.

At Home

  • Try on summer clothes and donate items that are too small.
  • Sort through toys and books and decide which ones can be donated.
  • Vacuum and sweep closets.
  • Sort items for recycling, such as newspapers, cardboard, plastic milk jugs and metal cans.
  • Sweep patios and porches.
  • Pick up sticks and leaves from the yard.
  • Spread new mulch on flowerbeds.
  • Turn over dirt in the garden area.
  • Spread grass seed and hay over bare areas in the yard, then water newly seeded areas.

 At School

  • Dust toy shelves.
  • Select new clothing items for the pretend play area.
  • Wash tricycles and other toys for outdoor play.
  • Clean outdoor play equipment.
  • Sweep outdoor play area.
  • Pick up sticks and leaves from the playground.
  • Prepare an area for planting a garden.
  • Spread grass seed and hay over bare areas in the yard, then water newly seeded areas.
  • Fill a birdbath with clean water.

Source:  eXtension and Kennary.com

Lisa Poppe

The UNL Learning Child Team

Lisa Poppe is an Extension Educator for "The Learning Child" team from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension. Poppe has a Bachelor's Degree from UNL in Early Childhood Education and a Master’s Degree from UNL in Family & Consumer Science. She focuses on child development and the family through her work for "The Learning Child" team at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension. Learn more about Lisa and the rest of The Learning Child Team at child.u ...

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