"Cleaning Room:" Creating a Fresh Child Care Environment in the New Year

When I taught preschool (I’m home with my five month old at the moment), I used January as my clean room month. Just as one would make resolutions in their everyday lives at the start of a new year, I would try to make them for my classroom as well. What did I want to do differently this year? What children really needed my focus and extra attention? How could I work better with my co-teachers?What changes to the classroom environment could I make? Did the environment affect the way the children played? communicated? behaved? How could I make the classroom more inviting? Do I have spaces in the room for quiet time? busy time? gross motor time? Are there places where children can get away from the stimulation like a cozy corner?  Are materials easy to get at? labeled appropriately? developmentally appropriate? 

I would make these lists for myself in those beginning weeks of the month and I would get out all of my environmental rating systems, as well as any inspirational books to help me “clean room”. This gave me a chance to really reorganize things, bring out new toys and materials, and make sure my classroom was representative of the children in it. Some teachers use the summer months or in my case the one week we were closed to clean house, but I really felt it was good practice to start fresh in January and then in those summer months as well. Everyone makes New Year’s resolutions in their lives, why not bring it to your work environment as well, creating a fresh child care environment for the New Year, for you, and for the children in your care. 

I have several inspirational books and rating tools I always brought out when cleaning room. I have listed them below. Happy Cleaning! 

  • ECERS/ ITERS, Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale Revised (ECERS-R)
    This was my favorite go-to tool for re-organizing and assessing my classroom. It comes with a worksheet that I would try to complete twice a year. It has health and safety standards as well as materials that should be out as well as how your room should be set up for optimum learning. (ECERS is for 2.5 year olds through kindergarten. ITERS is for Infant and Toddler care).


Summer Langille, M.A, Early Childhood Education Specializing 0-8 Years

Summer has been working with children for almost 15 years. The oldest of four she’s always seen herself as a caregiver. She started off caring for children as a nanny for many years. She received her undergraduate degree in Liberal Studies from San Francisco State University and has a Masters Degree in Early Childhood Education specializing in birth to age eight from Long Beach State. She’s worked with infants all the way up to elementary aged children in center-based care, private school care, home-based care, back-up care and afterschool care. She was a lead teacher for an infant program and more recently a two year old/preschool program. She even had a brief stint as a brownie girl scout troop leader. She’s passionate about quality care for children and thinks the environment plays a large role in how a child learns effectively. She loves art, blocks, music, fairy gardens and picture books and wants all caregivers of children to know how important their job is to the children they care for. Summer is currently home with her baby, navigating this new role as Mama. She blogs about her family at www.summerplayshouse.com.