Rotating Toys and Activities in the Home
Have your child’s toys taken over your home? Are you noticing that your child isn’t even playing with most of the toys he/she has? If you answered yes to either of these questions, you are in need of a Montessori home-modification!
Often times as parents, we think that we have to give our child as many choices as possible, “Do you want to play with your trains, your cars, your blocks, or do you want to chose a puzzle?” While I am a huge advocate for giving children choices, there are times when less is more. Having too many choices available to the child can often be overwhelming and over-stimulating. If you find your child is having a hard time deciding which activity to chose, that is a good indicator that it is time to make some organizational changes.
Step 1: Sort through your child’s toys/activities and determine if any of them are no longer age appropriate. These items can be put away for a younger sibling, or donated to a friend or charity.
Step2: Pack up at least half of the toys and activities that are age appropriate and put them in the garage/closet/storage area. Make sure your child knows that you have not thrown his/her things away and that he/she is not in trouble.
Step 3: Create a schedule for trading out toys from the stored items. You may want to trade everything out yourself once a month, or you may want to allow your child to trade out items more often, or one at a time. Remember- if an item comes out of storage, another item must be put away to replace it!
Step 4: Organize the toys and activities that you have opted to keep available. Keep each item in an individual box or container so that the child can easily find an activity and put it away after using it. See-through storage boxes work well because the child can locate what he-she is looking for quickly and easily.
Step 5: Initiate some playtime rules- “You may take out one toy or activity at a time. When you are finished playing with that item, it must be put back in its container before you take out something else.”
If you follow these steps, I would expect you to notice some fairly immediate changes. Due to the limited selection, your child will actually show more interest in the available toys and activities than he/she did before, even when the same items were available! The limited selection and organized space allows your child to focus on one activity, rather than being distracted by so many options. Your child will also be able to find what he/she is looking for quickly and easily, curbing the frustration that children can feel if things seem overwhelming. Clean up should also be very straightforward for your child as every activity will have its own container!
As with any new routine, practice makes perfect, so keep reinforcing your new rules until they become second nature. Make sure to compliment your child on the great job they are doing keeping their space neat and tidy.
Meaghan McClung, Oct. 2018