Since re-opening after lockdown, Westgate Nursery has seen several successful changes to routine – temporary shorter opening hours; spending all day outside; and picnic-style lunches to name but a few – but ‘tidy Friday’ is one that we are most proud of.
Tidy Friday is simple: on Fridays, each bubble is given a job that will enhance the children’s experience. One group may clean the patio; another may sand down the wood on one of our roleplay units! Perhaps one group will weed an area of the forest. The tasks seem simple and mundane, but that belies a deeper experience.
To an adult, cleaning a patio is a chore. To a child, it is an adventure. Some children used brooms to sweep the patio, whilst others pulled out weeds (congratulating each other on their prowess!). Others still used a wheelbarrow to remove the weeds and add them to the compost pile. The children were invited to reflect on their work, at which point it was decided that the patio ‘wasn’t tidy enough’ because we hadn’t washed it. After a quick strategy discussion (where we decided that hand soap might be too slippy to spread on the stones), the children helped to pour washing up liquid, direct the hose, and use brooms to scrub the patio. This led to conversations about how we would remove the bubbles, and questions about where the puddles might go. The children checked in on their patio later in the day to discover the ground was now dry and warm, meaning that ‘the sun [did] dry it all up!’ At home time, when we checked in with each child’s favourite part of the day, the entire group stated that the patio had been the most significant part.
In this example, a simple chore became so much more – a chance to strategise, plan, trial, collaborate, communicate, review, hypothesise, and discuss how the world works. The children’s sense of pride in a task well done, to the benefit of the nursery community, was clear to see. The children controlled the task, enabling them to taste responsibility which is essential for the development of self-confidence and self-esteem, as well as respect for both themselves and the environment.
Respect, responsibility, community. Three core values of Tidy Friday.