This past Friday was Clean-Up Day in the 8th grade, which meant cleaning not only cubbies which held personal stuff, but also scrubbing tables and counters, cleaning the white boards, and straightening and cleaning the bookshelves.
It’s amazing to see the differences in students’ cleaning abilities. Some of this is due to personality types: the compulsive kids will scrub at every little spot, aiming for perfection. The more laid-back will give a swipe and call it good.
Some of it is due to training. If they’ve had experience with cleaning at home, they know how to wipe in smaller and smaller circles until they’re down to the last spot. If they’ve had no experience, they won’t even notice the dust gathered in the corners.
The trickiest part is to keep them focused. It’s not unusual to find a rag left in the middle of a half-cleaned table. When I call out, “Who was working here?” someone will invariably say, “Oh, I was! I forgot!” This is usually because someone across the room was doing something hilarious – or at least worth witnessing.
But when it’s all done – and the Picky Mrs. Acuna has given her final approval, there’s a group sense of satisfaction as they look around the room and remark, “Wow! It’s never been this clean before!” The students take pride in what they’ve accomplished together, and in a job well done.
Sadly, for some students this is a new feeling, because they’ve not been given the opportunity to do housekeeping chores at home. Or else their efforts have been so criticized that they’ve only experienced a sense of failure. Not only do chores create a sense of accomplishment, but some studies show that students who do chores at home are more successful in school.
It can be a major hassle for parents to get teens to help out around the house, and it’s a hard battle to fight after a long day at work. But there are some tips and tricks that can help, and we’ll discuss those on Wednesday.
(By the way, those same students who felt such a sense of accomplishment in the morning dribbled orange soda on the table tops and left empty cups and plates on the counters later in the day. One small step at a time. . .)