Or for a less dramatic title, how to organize toys (and get more use out of them) to foster independent play among toddlers and preschoolers.
The toy monsters been visiting our house a bit too much for my liking lately so I started reorganizing the Playroom, and realized this would make a useful post for anyone else going through the never ending clutter of toys in the house.
Straight way, let me just say, yes, the answer IS OWNING LESS!
Preschoolers and toddlers have a ridiculously short attention span, so when they have a room full of toys, they get overwhelmed. Personally for us, this usually means, either Sophia doesn’t play alone with anything or she takes everything out at once and is bored when she runs out of things pull.
I would really like her to learn to play by herself. Independent play is said to do wonderful things to our little ones’ brains’;
It encourages creativity and imaginative play
Heightens problem solving skills, one of the most important tools (transferable skill) for success in the class room
It allows children to just ‘Play’! instead of every single activity turning into a teachable moment.
See, when I am in there with her all the time, showing her how to do something, trying to get her to play with what I think is the most beneficial toy for her advancement or as is my case most of the time, trying to make things perfect for an Instagram photo, I am stripping my child of the joy and wonder that is pure, unadulterated play.
Obviously, this is not to say I don’t ever sit down and play with her, personally sitting with my daughter in the playroom or in the park the whole day is my dream come true. Just tying to aim for a good balance here folks!
We make Independant play work for us with a daily hour long session, while I make dinner. I go in there with water and cuddles every so often, but for the most part she is left to her own devices. and she is so proud of it.
So, exactly how does one organize the ever growing mountain of toys?
Well after a great deal of research, I’ve decided the best way to go about it is to burn the whole thing down. (I am only half kidding!)
It’s as simple as TOY ROTATION.
And this is how I did it, I took everything out of its current home and separated them into the following three Categories:
Next, I separated each category of toys into four piles. The number of piles obviously depends on the number of toys. Since we are trying hard to be more mindful of the things we own, I tried to limit the number of ‘piles’ to 4 and I store them in clear labelled containers.
These are the labels I made for the containers, and you can download them for free by clicking on the link below.
I take a set of tubs out every other Sunday, let Sophia open it and find her ‘New’ toys herself. Most of the time they are toys she hasn’t seen in about 2 months, which in the world of a pre-schooler is brand new!