The Case for Cleaning

Happy Friday!! Yay! Besides the fact that Friday is the end of the school week & beginning of the weekend, I love Fridays because it's time for our classroom clean-up!
In Japan, schools practice o-soji: cleaning. Students are expected to clean their classroom and schools. From the Japan Times: "It’s a little hard for non-Japanese to grasp why kids should be cleaning at school. With all the concern about falling academic achievement, shouldn’t they be using that time for learning? But students are learning during o-soji, Japanese parents and educators will tell you. They are learning to respect their surroundings. They are learning that it’s better not to make a mess if you are the one who has to clean it up."

I whole-heartedly agree! My students take pride in our classroom. They know where all our materials and supplies belong, and there are pictures posted in areas that clearly show expectations (see picture below of how the sink area SHOULD look!) They know that it is not the custodial staff's job to pick up after them.
When my parents see pictures of their child HAPPILY cleaning, wiping, sweeping, and organizing, their mouths usually drop open.  I usually hear (in a tone of disbelief), "My child never cleans at home. . ." I believe it. . .I have to spend the first couple times we clean TEACHING my kids HOW to use our cleaning supplies. Many students push the broom as if they're pushing a lawn mower. I explain it works much better when you PULL the broom and dirt towards you! And then comes the problem of how to sweep it all into a dustpan! Makes me laugh at the beginning of every year!
Student clean out their desks and reorganize folders, notebooks, books and pencil pouches. Next, they wipe down their desktops. We use the phrase, "Scrub, don't rub!" We talk about using elbow grease! (You wouldn't believe how many kids just fling their wipe back & forth across their desks, expecting it to become clean!)
All of this cleaning takes the length of time for 2 songs to play on my iPod. We play some catchy music that my class loves to sing or dance to (and yes, kids with brooms usually start to dance or "play guitar" with it)!  But at the end of the 2 songs, the room should be in order, spic and span and ready for Monday!

Why else are my kids in such a rush to finish cleaning? Flashlight Friday!! We get to turn off the lights and sit all around our clean classroom and just read for pleasure! We have mini flashlights and finger lights to read with. You would not believe how silent it is!
It's such a calm, positive way to end our week and it's a good feeling to leave on Fridays, knowing the room is ready for us after the weekend! How do you encourage student responsibility for your classroom?


  1. A good habit of cleaning or o-soji is a good skill to teach the kids. With that, they will be able to understand the mechanics of cleaning, enough to appreciate it more. They will also get a stronger sense of what kind of equipment they will need to make all of the work done. In any case, thanks for sharing that! All the best!

    Frank George @ Dutch Hollow Supplies

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Frank! I love that you represent good cleaning supplies!! Yes, they do make a difference! :)