Are your children drowning in toys? So much so that they actually can’t decide what they want to play with because it’s so overwhelming?
Maybe you’ve heard Maria Montessori’s quote before: “Help me do it alone.” Well, this will only work if the right environment is given to the child. Montessori talks about the prepared environment.
So, what can you do to foster this philosophy and create a calm, beautiful and inspiring play area?
Start with a big declutter session. Gather every single toy around the house and sort it into categories. These may include cars, dolls, blocks, puzzles etc. You might then want to use the KonMari method developed by Marie Kondo. This means your child holds everything and asks him/herself: ‘Does this spark joy?’ or ‘Do I love this?’ If your children are not old enough, you can decide. Otherwise, I encourage you to include them and let them make decisions as well. Most children know instinctively what makes their hearts sing.
Assess what you have
Look at what is left in each category. This will help you decide how to store and display it. Chances are that you still have too much, and you might have to consider toy rotation.
Think about storage
You can’t foster independent dressing in the morning if the clothes are hung up high and they can’t reach them. The same philosophy goes for toys: if you want your kids to put toys away, the home where the toy lives must be easily accessible. It’s great to put the majority of toys on shelves, in baskets or in trays rather than in trunks or drawers. Maybe you already have these things at home, but otherwise you might have to invest in some furniture.
Rotate the toys and activities
Once you have the shelves and containers ready, start using and displaying the toys and activities. The rest should go into clear plastic containers with labels that will then be stored until you rotate the toys. The best to keep organised is to schedule the rotation date.
It is important to have house rules. Personally, I think being organised and orderly can be learned and is a life skill. This means that it’s up to us as parents to teach our children. One way to do this is by establishing rules in your home. This can range from putting things away before pulling out the next toy or a daily, quick tidy-up at the end of the day, to everything having a designated home.
Fewer, but better quality, toys
Invest in some good quality toys rather than cheap plastic stuff.
Try to get child-sized “tools” for activities. An example of this might be a small jar and a small glass from the op shop to practice pouring water, or a small broom to help clean the floor. Pre-school aged children especially don’t differentiate between play and work, so including them in daily housework chores has nothing to do with child labour, but with transferring life skills, and most children really enjoy this.
Do you have any other tips that work for your family? Please share in the comments below.
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