Why You Need to Make Organizing your Play Space a Priority
You’ve probably heard the words, “I’m bored” or “Please play with me!” more times than you can count from your child. It’s not that I don’t love to play with my three little wildings, but sometimes mama has to get her stuff done too! How we organize a playroom (or play space) should be a priority. It will save you time in the long run!
When you see how much “stuff” your kids have to play with, you may wonder how they can possibly be bored or need you to facilitate their play.
Chances are their play space isn’t organized to facilitate purposeful play. We know that the environment is a teacher and that we must organize a playroom in order to maximize learning through play.
What is purposeful play?
First, what do I mean by purposeful play. Purposeful play is how children develop the cognitive, social and emotional skills that allow them to succeed in life! Although play is open-ended, your kids can still participate in purposeful play when you have an organized playroom or play space with the right toys and tools.
What areas should I have in my play space to promote purposeful play?
Encouraging your children to play independently and in a way that promotes their learning, you’ll want to have areas in your play space that focus on both cognitive and social and emotional learning. Here are some spaces I recommend. Note that you do not have to have a giant room to make this work.
You can organize these play spaces in different rooms, such as your child’s bedroom, the living room, or the dining room table. For example, when we’re not using it for eating, my kids often find the dining room table to be their designated art space.
Calm down space:
First, the calm down space promotes social and emotional skills. Your kids should have a cozy space to relax, meditate, and think. This space may have pillows, bean bags, or even a fun tent!
Make sure your child has access to books to help their cognitive development. Reading encourages imagination and is a form of play! The reading area should be comfortable. I know my kids would rather sit on a comfy pillow than read at a desk and hard chair.
Physical play space:
Your kids need room to run, tumble, and get moving! Have an open area with a play mat and/or things to climb on. Let go. Your kids may fall and get a few scrapes, but this purposeful, risky play also improves gross motor skills. Let your kids get moving!
This is of course important if your child has sensory issues, but a place to explore the senses is essential for all kids! Check out toys like kinetic sand, rice, pebbles, and the ever popular slime. Teach your little ones how to clean up the mess, and you’ll be thankful for the purposeful, independent sensory spot.
Bring on the blocks! There are so many toys you’ll find online or in stores that are deemed as “educational”. Often, those toys are anything but. However, blocks and Legos that are often considered “toys” are more beneficial than most of the so-called educational toys. Blocks not only help with fine motor skills, they also encourage imagination. Get your little engineer imagining and building! The building space is ideal for a flat surface.
Here are some of our favorite building toys and other open ended toys that encourage play.
Pretend play area:
Why not get a trunk or a plastic container and fill it up with costumes and props? Your kids will love to pretend that they are princesses, police officers, animals, doctors, different characters from books and movies, and more! Even if you are working or doing something else, make sure you listen to your kids as they pretend play. Some of my best memories are from the stories and scenarios I hear my imaginative kids come up with!
Let the art space get messy! It’s simple enough to have newspaper or a plastic covering accessible for your creative kid. Cover a dining room table or usable space, and give them access to paint, crayons, markers, paper, and more. Unrestricted creativity leads to imaginative kids.
Invitations to Play
Organizing your play space in a way that invites play will help your children find materials and engage in purposeful play. Inviting your kids to play doesn’t mean that you are participating in the play. Invitations to play simply means that you are organizing a play space and giving them access to materials where they can see and use them. Your kids are more likely to play independently if they don’t have to interrupt to ask where things are. Let them explore, play, and learn!
I know you are excited to organize your play space! This is a quick overview, but to really create a purposeful play space, I invite you to join us with our purposeful play space course.
Want more information about how play impacts your child’s development?
Check out my e-book: Simply Play: Everything You Need To Know About The Most Important Part of Childhood
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