Daily rituals – hand washing

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When working with young children, I have learned how beneficial rituals can be.

Take hand washing for example.  It is something that happens so many times a day, and can become frustrating – children not washing properly, or wanting to play with the water.

I learned of a song, which I put to my own simple little tune, and it has made the world of difference.  Now, when we wash hands we use only a little water, and the children really work hard to “make the bubbles grow” all over their hands before rinsing off.  It has been so successful that we use the little song at home as well.  A lovely reminder that simple is also often always the best when working with little people.

“A little bit of soap,

a little bit of water.

Rub, rub, rub, to make the bubbles grow.”

Recently I started realising that i was really appreciating the
one-on-one time that using the bathroom offered us.  It seemed to calm the children.  I also realised that there were two times in the morning session that the children would be finding it really hard to get into a clam space. When coming in from outdoor play (we then join for ring games), and when closing the morning with storytime.

Could a similar handwashing routine help?

I decided to try.

I had a “special”pot (another thrift store find) which I filled with warm, lavender scented water.  I asked the children to quietly come to the rug as they were ready.  Each child would dip their hands in the water, dry them on a fluffy white towel, and then quietly sit in a circle on the rug.  We would sit there quietly until everyone has washed their hands.  I would then put the lid on the pot and begin the ring games or story.

I was amazed.  The children who, only moments before where whooping, chatting, skipping, etc were now quietly, calmly sitting and happily waiting for me to begin.

It created a sense of magic in the classroom and is something that we have continued.  It is truly amazing what such a simple ritual can bring to the group.

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