A positive play area stirs the imagination.
With trucks placed strategically along windowsills, books wedged between the couch cushions or crayons acting as the kitchen island centerpiece it can feel like your whole house is one big playroom. Corralling your child’s toys and games in one specified area cuts down on clutter and gives your little explorer a place to play. Create a positive, safe play area by considering the space from a child’s perspective.
An organized play room helps your child learn where he can find his favorite toys. According to an article on the Early Childhood News website, young children try to organize the visual images and concrete objects in their environment into meaningful systems. Try to store like items together for you child. Label shelves clearly with words and pictures so every toy has a place — and your child knows where that place is. Keep small items, like figurines, blocks and other building toys with small parts in clearly labeled bins. Designate specific areas of the room for different activities, such as a dress-up corner, a craft area and a kitchen play area. All this organization not only makes it easy for your kiddo to find things, but it also makes cleanup easier for you.
You wouldn’t dream of keeping your favorites things out of reach — like the coffee container on the bottom shelf of the fridge and that novel by your bedside. Set up your child’s playroom in the same way, placing his go-to toys on the lowest shelves for easy access. However, don’t put any toy out of reach so that your child is tempted to climb the shelves or climb on something else to reach them. If you have rambunctious toddlers or preschoolers who might try to climb the shelves, consider only using low shelving.
Safety is best addressed proactively, rather than after your kiddo cuts her sister’s hair with the scissors he found on the floor. Cover all electrical outlets, use blinds without cords and stabilize all shelving by attaching it to the wall. Keep anything you don’t want your child to access in a locked cabinet or drawer. Keep in mind that toddlers always require adult supervision.
Early childhood experts at the “A Place of Our Own” website remind parents to base the play environment on the whole child, considering social, emotional, cognitive and physical development. Creating an aesthetically pleasing environment helps children feel safe and nurtured, allowing them to use play time to its full advantage by exploring, learning and growing. Add color to the walls and texture with pillows and stuffed animals. Use child-sized chairs, tables and shelving. Promote early literacy with a supply of books and alphabet blocks. Use magnetic or chalkboard paint on one wall to inspire your child’s creativity. Create a welcoming environment by viewing the space through your child’s eyes.