By Leona Tristen
Recently, a study identified science-based playtime tips on how to transform everyday spaces into places that encourage playful learning and promote meaningful conversations for children. The researchers identified six core “pillars” that make the learning experience active, engaging, meaningful, socially interactive, iterative (rather than repetitive), and joyful. These pillars echo Montessori principles, which is one of the most well-known and enduring educational philosophies.
The Montessori philosophy aims to foster self-directed activity, hands-on learning, and collaborative play. Central to this method is a prepared environment that fosters a child’s independence and growth. As we discussed before, children should have a dedicated space that’s tidy, simple, attractive, and built for them. A Montessori-style playroom can aid a child’s development and respond to their “sensitive periods.”
If you’re not sure how to begin, here are four basic steps to building a wonderful playroom for kids:
1. Find playroom space
Having a separate play area is crucial. You may think a small corner of the living room or nursery will be enough, but most parents discover that young children can easily turn any space into a paint-splattered toy zone. It’s a no-brainer if you have a spare room, but otherwise, it can be really challenging to find an area where kids can move freely.
Some parents opt to combine the playroom with their work-from-home offices, which helps them keep a close eye on the kids, but it doesn’t work for everybody. You may find yourself distracted or constantly picking up after toys. If you’re going for a combined room, be sure to set distinct zones with defined boundaries so you can stay productive and your children have enough room to play independently.
2. Calculate your budget
Playrooms can be expensive for families to set up. Children grow up quickly, so their interests change rapidly as well. They may love one thing today, then get bored of it and start a new phase tomorrow. While you shouldn’t discourage them when they’re in discovery-mode, you should also keep this factor in mind when setting a budget.
Some families even opt to take out home improvement loans, because they realize they need to completely renovate their homes to accommodate for the needs of their growing kids. Instead of putting those costs on a credit card, loans allow families to update their homes with a much lower interest rate and complete the project with additional savings. From there, you can cut expenses by looking into second-hand items, recycling old furniture, and keeping toys in rotation.
3. Draft a child-friendly design
It’s easy to imagine a stylish, Pinterest-perfect playroom for your children suited to your perspective, but we often forget that children see the world differently. For instance, child-friendly policies in urban design are often aligned with increased accessibility and greener spaces.
The best way to design from a child’s perspective is to crouch to their level and ensure everything they need is within their reach. This also helps you spot potential dangers and implement safety precautions.
From a Montessori perspective, a child-friendly design shouldn’t be overwhelming either, so stick to relaxing and natural color palettes or decorations.
4. Choose appropriate toys and activities
According to the Montessori approach, having too many toys can over-stimulate your child, so it’s good to be more selective about what you bring into the playroom. Incorporate toys made from natural materials whenever possible, like those made of metal or wood. Compared to plastic, natural materials can have different textures and temperatures, which your child can explore.
It’s also helpful to secure a toddler’s relationship to reality and the world around them by engaging them with realistic toys and books. Toys that demonstrate cause-and-effect work really well for kids below the age of six, while books that depict animals and objects realistically are preferred too.
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