Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Washing tables in the pk/k classroom: care for the environment in the primary classroom

The direct aim of washing tables in the classroom to grow in consciousness to the needs of the environment and the care of the environment. The indirect aim is the coordination of movement: the equilibrium, the gross motor, fine motor, and the visual motor coordination of the squeeze grasp. The age of the child should be around 3 1/2 to 4, whenever they have a sense of orientation to the environment. The child must have the capacity to sustain the longer sequence of work. Does the child have the orientation to follow the longer order and sequence?

The sequence derives from the sequence of hand washing, which they have already learned: obtaining water, washing, soaping, scrubbing, drying. The chair will be set on the seat nearby the table. The wash bucket will rest under the desk. The tray will not include the large pitcher of water; that will come from the shelf with the pail, color coordinated with a strip of tape on that bucket to match that pitcher. Look for a scrubbing brush that is wooden, if possible, or else a small handheld brush with stiff bristles. If the tables are really wooden, it might be a good idea to include the step of adding wood polish to the table when the activity is complete.

The criteria of perfection guides the child to performing it well. There is no water or soap on the floor. The materials are clean, and the tables are clean. Every step has its specific tool. A brush cannot be used for scrubbing. Every step has its specific way of moving, familiar from dusting and hand washing.

Follow-up activities in the environment would include washing chairs, and the floor. This is the introduction, and the child has the freedom to choose the extensions. There will be a separate setup for floor washing. Not all of it will require detailed preparation, but certain washing activities will require more necessary and sufficient help before they can be independent with it.

As a practical consideration, there may be an area of underlayment, a tarp, which goes under tables which will be washed, so that water does not get into the carpet and cause mildew. The classroom should have at least six sets of towels just for this activity, because it is typically very popular.

Furthermore, with 25 children, there will not be an opportunity to wash all of the tables after snack, so it would be more feasible to have small table cloths, mats, or napkins, than to allow the children to engage the lengthy task of washing all the tables after eating.

Jeannot Jonte Boucher is a Montessori educator and parent in Dallas, Texas. 

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