Playtime: An Introduction to Playroom Organization, Toy Rotation, and Why Less Is More
Less = More
Let's talk about playroom organization and toy rotation!
A huge key in Montessori practice is carrying out the concept with your child that 'less is more'. This applies to the organization and placement of their toys, as much as it applies to their surroundings. Practicing Montessori allows a child to access only a very small handful of toys, and materials which create activities or mini challenges. The materials are often displayed on shelves or in bins that are at eye level or allow easy access for the child to grab and put back, independently. In this form of display, seeing the toys allows for them to be more inviting and of interest; versus a toy box where often there are many toys at the bottom of those boxes that are completely forgotten. In a Montessori setup, everything has its place, and as a child grabs a toy or activity off of a shelf, they will quickly be able to remember where it belongs once they return it back.
Appreciation of Simplicity
The benefits of allowing a child to access a smaller amount of toys include:
- A longer and more profound appreciation for toy(s), and less inadvertent promotion of the child's need for instant gratification.
- Peace of mind for parents like myself who loathe at the site of a child's room or a complete home, that has been taken over by an overwhelming amounts of toys. Usually many of these toys have gone completely neglected by the child in record time, or older ones have been long outgrown, but are still present. [Disclaimer: While there is nothing wrong with messy play, (in fact - we love it!) there is a such thing as a toy takeover and playroom hoarding.]
- The early promotion of simple organization, and a providing visual examples of 'restoring order' aka: teaching your child about clutter, and how to put things away.
- The ability to keep your playroom as a safe space (have you ever stepped on a Lego?!?!).
- Clean up is a breeze. After all, putting away 10-20 toys is so much easier than putting away 50!
Toy In, Toy Out
To keep things under control, I personally implement a toy rotation at home.
The art of it is simple. You remove one toy and replace it with another. This doesn't mean you have to buy a new toy every time you swap. No. In fact, you can easily begin implementing a toy rotation now. Simply gather all of you playroom toys, and begin sorting. You should find yourself classifying into four groups. The group of toys you are actually keeping to put out for play, should be kept to a small minimum of 20 or less.
When getting ready to do a toy rotation, I ask myself the following:
Donate, Toss, Store or Keep?
- Has my child outgrown the developmental benefits of this toy? No = Keep. Yes = Donate.
- Is the toy in working condition? No = Toss (Recycle if possible). Yes = Store.
- Is my child interested in this age-appropriate toy right now? No = Store. Yes = Keep.
Upon rotating a toy, keep in mind that just because a child may not show interest in a particular toy now, does not mean that they won't be into it later. This is what makes a toy rotation great! You get to re-introduce your child's existing toys to them and they will develop a better welcoming of it, unless it has been outgrown.
How to Display
Typically Montessori calls for low shelves or shelves in equal height of the child. This I like to leave up exclusively to preference as not every low shelf may work for one's space. For example, I'm using this amazing Gateway Ladder Shelf by Delta Children ($135.00) and it is absolutely perfect! It's modern look matches perfectly with @littlemrgray's monochromatic room, and height-wise, Grayson easily reaches toys as high as the middle two shelves. I keep the very top shelf exclusively for the placing of Montessori puzzles containing multiple pieces and bring them down one at a time when we are sitting down to put them together. We get so many compliments on it and I love how beautiful our gorgeous wooden toys look on display. If this one doesn't suit your needs however, then I highly recommend checking out Delta Children's amazing bookcases, and toy storage. They are one of my favorite brands for quality children's products with amazing customer service and warranties! Lastly, if any item on DeltaChildren.com peak your interest, then take note because my readers will exclusively receive 15% off of their purchases on the Delta Children website by using promo code 'PETITEPLUSONE' at checkout! (yay!)