Monday, January 9, 2012

A place to call their own

I have received some emails with questions regarding playrooms or play areas for toddlers and preschoolers. I think playrooms are a terrific idea! If children have a space to call their own they will be encouraged and even excited to take responsibility for their environment. I thought I would do one big post in hopes of answering all of your amazing questions.

So here we go!

Let me start by saying that we are blessed to have the space in our home to devote an entire room to Biscuit's play. If you do not have a large space to call a "playroom" that's okay!! A small section of another room will do, in our old home Biscuit's "playroom" was one half of my office.

Where should a "playroom" be in the home? Well that depends on your space. However I will say this ~ Children LOVE to have their independence, but yet they need to know that you are close by.  But you are a Mommy, you knew that already.

If your playroom is far from where you spend the majority of your time you may have trouble getting your child to play there. Ideally the best place is a room off of the kitchen or living room.

A playroom would just be a bunch of clutter, right?! That depends on you! Remember that toddlers quickly get bored. However you can keep things exciting and rotate toys every week.

I rotate Biscuit's toys every Friday. I place different books in her reading nook, I switch the activities in her busy bins, I move some manipulatives around and put some away. There are several "systems" for rotating toys, truthfully I just grab the toys that have lost her interest and place them in a closet. Yet I always leave Biscuit's faves in her playroom.

In addition, I try to keep the toys in that week's rotation coherent with our theme.

Should I specify play "areas" within my child's playroom? Of course! Organization allows children to play effectively and independently. Children find security in knowing where to go to find something and where to put it away. Another thing to remember with smaller children is that if they can’t see a toy or if they don’t have access to a toy ~ they won’t play with it! So play areas are certainly an effective way to keep things organized.

A "play area" can be a large section of a room or just a corner. Whatever works for your child and your space will be just fine. Our playroom is a great size and yet I still feel like we need more space!! We moved in about six months ago, so I am still moving things around in her playroom every now and again until I feel like it is the perfect fit.

Here is a look at Biscuit's play areas...

Reading Nook

Quiet Activities and Busy Bins

Dress Up & Dramatic Play

Look on the wall above her kitchen, we have framed several of her paintings and hung them as our wall decor. She loves it! Your child's art is the perfect decoration. Move over PB Kids!

Sorting and Stacking

Instruments and other faves that are never rotated!

A table top easel is in her playroom on a small art table. 
(Our big easel is in our kitchen for easy paint clean up!)
There is a magnetic board on the wall for additional play time activities.

Biscuit's Happy Place

Should my child's playroom be their only play area? Well goodness no!!! First and foremost this whole house is open for Biscuit to explore. We do not lock cabinets. All cleaning supplies and sharp objects are kept up high and out of reach. We do not have gates or play pens.
However that is what works best for our family. I only have one little munchkin and I am a stay-at-home mom, so I never stop redirecting have time to redirect and supervise closely. When Biscuit was an infant learning to crawl we did gate the top of our stairs for obvious reasons.

With all of that said, Biscuit has toy baskets set up throughout the house. In the living room we have a basket of toys and her Rody bouncy horse. I also set up her learning tower at the counter with a new activity every day. That way if I am cooking in the kitchen or washing dishes she can be "working" at the counter with me. Here is an example....

Chocolate Play-Doh and candy boxes!
Sometimes it is super simple like crayons and paper, either way she is always happy and excited to play up here with the grown-ups.
There are many other wonderful resources online regarding playrooms for toddlers and preschoolers. You would be surprised how simple it is to arrange a wonderful and inviting space for your little one. All it takes is a bit of time and tons of love. I hope that I have answered your questions thoroughly!! Happy playing and exploring!

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