In the previous blog I touched on play spaces. In this article I am going to talk about the importance of the play space set up for all age groups. Plays spaces within the home should be inviting and not overwhelming. To achieve this, less is more! Your child does not need to have every toy imaginable with every colour
imaginable in their play space. This can lead to confusion and chaos both in the play space and in the child’s thinking process.
If you have just read the first paragraph and thought to yourself ‘oh dear my child has too many toys, I’ve blown it’. This is not the case at all, it's ok! This will give you the chance to make changes so that your child can get the best out every toy and their play space. A creative and easy way to do this is to rotate toys. This can be done in several ways. You might like to have a specific theme which encourages your child to have a smaller focus, therefore they will begin to develop a longer concentration span. When you limit options you can also determine which toys spark curiosity, and so during the toy rotation you will have the opportunity to add toys that fit the theme and your child’s interest at that time.
From a young age children like order and routines in their daily lives and they need our help to establish that. To support this, it is essential to set up a play space that has a special place for everything. A small bookshelf is ideal with baskets or tubs to store toys, especially toys that include multiple pieces. This may sound like hard work when it comes to pack up time, but children get the feeling of satisfaction when they see everything is in order. It also lets them see what is available for them to play with.
Another important element to remember when you are setting up a play space is to make sure the furniture is child size and that the toys are kept at a level where your child can choose and access the toys easily and independently. Try and include a table in the play space so your child has more than one option
when it comes to deciding where they will set up their activity.
When it comes to choosing toys for the play space, it’s a good idea to focus on toys that develop their fine motor skills (small muscles, like in their fingers) and gross motor skills (big muscles like calves). Adding select pieces of art, music, books and open ended items such as blocks will stimulate your child’s imagination and creativity. Adding more challenging toys such as puzzles with varying degrees of difficulty will foster perseverance and resilience, both important skills to learn to develop their ability to problem solve and collaborate. Teaching your child that’s its ok to accept help, and that it’s ok to make mistakes (so long as they are learning from them!) is an important part of their development.
A play space should also be warm and inviting, somewhere that you child loves to be! When it comes to colour and light, try and choose a room, or an area in a room that has lots of natural light. Try not to have too much on the walls, and keep the colours neutral so your child isn’t distracted. Adding plants, especially for toddlers is a good idea too, as they can begin to learn how to take care of something. A window is also a good idea as it provides opportunity to talk about what’s going on beyond the window, developing their oral language.
Last but not least it’s also a good idea to include a space where your child can rest like some big comfy cushions or a comfy chair. This gives them the opportunity to have a place to think if they become upset or just to simply rest and read a book by themselves or with an adult. As adults it's also important to remember to be at the child’s level for interactions so that they feel safe. Feeling safe is how our children grow and develop into kind and caring humans!
Use these tips to go about setting up or rearranging your own child’s play space!