For years in my Kindergarten classroom, we sang about tidying up before transitioning to a different subject, activity, special, or lunch. It became a routine and a daily practice for my students. Not only did it teach them the importance of organization and responsibility, but it also helped them to focus and transition smoothly to the next task at hand.
The words, tidy up, still bring me so much joy. "Tidy up, tidy up. Everybody everywhere, Tidy up. Tidy up; everybody, do your share." Those who are American might sing, "Clean up, clean up, Everybody Everywhere, clean up, clean up, everybody do your share."
There is a difference in the meaning of tidy and clean up that shouldn’t be ignored. I’ve always been a tidier and not much of a cleaner, so it was an easy language transition for me when I moved to Shanghai and British English dominated.
What does cleaning mean to you? Of course, I think of cleaning sprays, mopping, and toilets.
What does tidying up mean to you? For me, it’s putting things back where they go and decluttering. It is freeing.
Tidying up allows the brain to practice critical organization skills and, at the same time, free up mental and physical space—headspace for more important things, including awareness and presence.
The benefits of tidying up the brain are countless. Research has shown that a cluttered environment can lead to stress and anxiety, while a clean and organized space can promote calm and well-being. By tidying up, we can clear physical space and create a sense of order that can positively impact our mental health.
Furthermore, tidying up is a great way to warm up the brain, helping to improve focus and concentration. It's a physical activity that activates the brain and prepares it for more demanding tasks. It also promotes mindfulness and presence, helping us be more present in the moment and focus on the job.
Tidying up also helps to boost creativity and productivity by reducing distractions and allowing us to focus on essential things. It also helps to improve memory and recall as it will enable us to create a system of organization and quickly locate items when needed.
In my Kindergarten classroom, I saw firsthand how tidying up before transitioning to a different subject, activity, special, or lunch helped my students focus and transition smoothly to the next task. It became a routine and a daily practice for them, and not only did it teach them the importance of organization and responsibility, but it also helped them to boost their brain power and improve their overall well-being.
You will find the exercises for this story in the next blog post.
PS - This short story and exercises are an excerpt for my upcoming book, Less Stress, More Success: A Teacher's Guide to Work-Life Balance. I would love to hear what you think in the comments below.