A playroom is a playroom is a playroom.
It’s main purpose is to be used. To be played in. To be imagined in. To be learned in, without it being all learny.
So why bother organizing the room?
I will tell you why we did.
Kingsley’s favourite activity is throwing things around the room, dumping every bin and bucket and then moving on. He plays most with things that aren’t technically toys. He is a typical 19 month old.
But, we are looking forward. We are thinking about how we can gently lead him and build skills that will help him in his life as a kid, a teenager, and an adult.
So, we organized the playroom. And we did it carefully.
We kept in mind that we have a Creative Kid, and his playroom should reflect that. We know he is a Creative Kid because all kids are creative. They stumble, bump and overcome challenges nearly every minute of every single day. So we decided to set up his playroom in a way that would challenge, encourage and open his mind up to imagination. We didn’t fill it with toys, and we even left out paints – the art corner will come in time, when he isn’t prone to eating every art supply. In the meantime, we will administer the art sessions under our watchful, but not overbearing eyes. No crafts here.
So here is what we did:
- We didn’t bring in every single toy, because:
1) He doesn’t need every single toy. People buy him so many and he really is interested in sticks, tubes and tupperware.
2) If he had everything in there, there would be no option to switch toys out when these got old.
3) It is easier to fit, store and sort what’s in the playroom if the toys are selected carefully; and …
4) We selected the most appropriate toys for his current interest, skill and challenge level.
2. We kept some of his favourite toys that he is comfortable using.
3. We brought in some of the more advanced toys that would challenge him, frustrate him, and make him work with us to figure them out.
4. We included sets of toys – cars, blocks, instruments, balls, and bits & pieces – this way, we could easily tidy up after each play session (yes, we do, and we include him in the process … we also do this every evening before bed in the main level of the house).
5. We put those sets of toys in some sort of organizer – a bin, bucket or basket. WE DID NOT LABEL THEM! This might limit future use of said bins, buckets and baskets.
Tidying after each session means that Kingsley sees that we all participate in taking care of the toys and the environment. We teach him to take pride in his home. We show him that it is easy to do when there’s a system in place. Just enough options for collections of toys means that there aren’t 42 bins of different types of toys. It is just right for his 19 month old mind to consider and form into a routine.
6. BOOKS: In terms of the books we wanted to include in the playroom, we kept in mind his extreme love for them. He loves them so hard that he sometimes eats, rips and loves them to pieces. To this end, we picked mostly board books, cheaper books, and books that we weren’t personally tied to. We also picked books we wouldn’t mind reading 10,000 times. We put these in 2 different baskets and left them accessible for him. We also put some favourites up on the mantle.
We left the bottom four cubbies for his Mega Blocks trucks. He loves driving these around, and he parks them when he is done. Why throw off something that is already working?
So what should you try to include?
- Things that roll.
- Things that bounce.
- Things that are soft.
- Things to read.
- Various textures.
- Things to make them think (at a developmentally appropriate level).
- Things they already enjoy.
- A place to relax (especially important for tired parents!)
- Some original artwork.
- Somewhere to make art – right now, it is just a chalk board for our guy.
- SPACE to grow. (Leave room on the walls to hang art, leave room on the floor to sprawl and spread the toys out, leave room in the bins to add toys).
The moral of the story is that we know our kid, we know where he is every day because we watch and play with him, and we know what challenges to offer him next. Knowing our son has allowed us to create a space that will allow him to play, explore and learn – not just throw stuff around and leave it in a pile. Granted, that happens sometimes after a very long week. Nobody’s perfect. (Although this little boy is pretty darn close.)