This post originally appeared on Bambini Travel
Do you rotate your child’s toys?
Many teachers and parents do not, but after 10+ years working with toddlers and preschoolers and 3 years with my twins at home, I feel confident in saying it is one of the most important parts of encouraging play. Today let me share with you my WHY.
When you look at your playroom or classroom, what do you see? Do toys cover the floor? Are there broken or missing pieces? Are the children sitting and playing with toys or are they running around in circles? Worse yet, do they claim to be bored amongst a pile of toys?
If they are happily playing and engaged, congrats! Go sip a cup of tea. If not, the problem is likely too many toys.
I know it doesn’t make much sense at first. Having more toys seems like a good thing. More options right? But there is such a thing as too many. In a playroom or classroom with too many toys children are overwhelmed.
*There is too much sensory input. Too much for their eyes to see and process.
*There are too many choices. Where to start?
*There is often not enough space to sit and play.
*There are toys with missing or broken pieces that you can’t actually use.
Children in this situation either run from thing to thing leaving toys in their wake or they do not engage with anything. Climbing on tables is often a fun alternative choice. Neither is ideal.
The secret? Rotate your toys!
The first step is to purge your toys. You should absolutely start by clearing out all the toys that are broken, missing pieces, or not age appropriate. Once you are done, you will likely still have too many toys.
The next steps are setting up a system for rotating toys.
As a bonus, not only will reducing the number of toys lengthen engaged play, improve social interactions, and increase imaginative play, but now you also have extra toys.
These can be used for:
*Changing the environment with new materials to prevent boredom.
*Sparking new interests. Put out new materials or a different combination of materials and see what your child comes up with on their own.
*Supporting ideas throughout the year. When your child suddenly becomes interested in fish or the circus, you can support that interest by bringing out different materials.
Do I have you convinced? If not, please let me know what lingering doubts remain for you. If I do, clear a couple of closet shelves, find some bins, and put some toys away.
Erin Buhr is a freelance writer, mama to twin four year olds, and educator. Currently, she is adjusting to life as a midwesterner in the deep south. She shares play ideas, family travel tips, and favorite books on her blog Bambini Travel.