A common complaint by most mommies is that despite having so many toys, the toddler ignores it all, comes to you and dramatically declares that they’re bored. Or maybe you’ve seen a child ignore their brand-new toy set and come over to the kitchen to play with you and your pots and pans instead. In both cases the reason is stimulation related. When a room is filled with so many toys, toddlers have a tough time focusing. They are constantly distracted, so they give up on the toys and eventually seek you out for entertainment.
However, if you can lower the number of toys and keep the room with less toys, children often learn to play creatively. It enables them to play with one toy at a time, build concentration skills, and play more imaginatively.
Certainly, I’m not asking you to just throw half the toys out, but there are few methods I often suggest. They have never failed me in my years as a mother and even while I managed the International Leapbridge playschools.
D for De-cluttering
Decluttering has multiple benefits for children. Less toys with more empty play spaces reduce overstimulation and bring about better behaviour. A good starting point is to jot down a list of all the toys in the house and categorise them into two piles: the Keep Pile and the Throw AwayPile.
The Keep Pile is for toys your child plays with and the throw away pile exists for that toy car that has no wheel, and that germ infested teddy bear that scares both the child and you.
Keep Pile – It’s time for Class…ification
Okay, you made a list of all the toys, now what? First Look at the toys in the keep pile and categorise them using the definitions below:
1. CreativeToys– Toys like musical toys, craft materials, etc. enable children to grow up to be innovative and original thinkers. Such toys help develop a fondness for creative play and allow them to express themselves creatively.
2. Role play and make-believeObjects– Objects like old clothes, some colourful caps, masks, and accessories can help your child role play. Similarly make-believe toys and objects like stuffed toys, dolls, and wheeled toys also help encourage children to grow as social beings and develop empathy. Roleplay and make-believe activities not only assist in enhancing a youngster’s imagination and creative thinking ability, but they also help develop social emotional skills.
3. Open-Ended Toys – These include toys like a cardboard box, that funny looking rubber tyre whose play function is always changing. It also includes building blocks of different shapes and colours. Pair these with generic objects like the plastic trays, bowls and buckets that get used during bath time or a day out on the beach. Such toys assist in developing dexterity.
4. Learning tools – The line between play time and learning time is almost non-existent at this young age. That’s why learning tools like picture books, puzzles, etc. get their own section.
5. Active toys – are toys that keep the child gainfully engaged physically. Take for example a pair of skates, a bicycle, a ball. Active toys like these go a long way in developing good motor skills.
6. Social Toys: These are toys that are only ever used when there is company, like family game night with relatives or like when a friend comes over to play. Some examples of such toys in this category include mostly multiplayer games like cards, board games, and sport objects like cricket bats, badminton rackets etc.
Planning a Rotation of the Keep Pile
The goal with a toy classification exercise is to ensure that the child has access to various toys suitable for different types of play and learning. The simplest way is after the classification is complete, keep only one to two toys of each category available to your child and put the rest away in storage. With fewer toys, the child will value them more. Then, every two months or so, rotate the available toys in each section. Rotating in this manner keeps the child from get bored and gives the child more playing area.
The Throw Away Pile: Common Problems and Solutions:
If you weren’t certain about what to throw, we were talking about broken toys, games with missing pieces. These need to just go in the trash or recycling when possible.
Still having trouble with reducing the number of toys?
You may want to try talking to your child about donating to charity. By making sure that these toys are not broken, or missing important pieces, you instil character and teach morals. Our suggestion for this pile includes toys your child thinks they outgrew, or don’t need any more because they have a toy identical or very similar. Such an exercise teaches your child to value their belongings, but it also teaches them compassion, caring about others and even empathy.
Guest Blog by: Prriety Gosalia
Chief Content Officer, Early Years, Navneet Education Limited
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