Kids need their space at our their homes.  They need a place where they feel comfortable and safe.  Before our kids are born, we do great things to keep their environment safe by covering outlets, making sure furniture and appliances are safe incase our children want to climb on them.  Typically one of the areas that we often forget to organize is the child’s play environment.  What do we do with their toys so that our house doesn’t look too kid cluttered?  How do we do that?

To get started, the rule is safety first.  From birth, when a child is free to move about the room, careful attention must be paid to assure safety:  covering plugs, taping wires, removing poisonour plants and cleaning products.  Parents can crawl around and look for things that might entice small children.  Gates can be used to keep children out of certain areas or from climbing stairs.  Children will develop more fully, mentally, socially, emotionally, and physically when they are free to move and explore in an ever-enlarging environment instead of being kept in a small, contained area.  During the first three years. children are busy absorbing like sponges.  They take in whatever is in their environment, have it be ugliness or beauty, aggressiveness or gentleness, good or bad language.  As parents, we are their first teachers and models of what it means to be a human being. The quality and beauty of their environment and the books and toys used are very important to attract, satisfy, and keep their attention.  If children are exposed to beautiful toys and are taught respect for their things, they will help create a world with the same high standards as an adult.  Toys, rattles, puzzles, tables and chairs make of wood instead of plastic help to develop an appreciation for nature.  Pictures hung on the wall at the eye level of the child, can be beautiful framed art prints or simple posters.  Rather than cartoons that adults assume are preferred by children, we see that children are drawn to great art.  Children also enjoy seeing their own artwork framed and displayed on the walls.  Their pictures can be changed as frequently as they create their masterpieces.  My good friend over at Look, Mom, Look has some great ideas on displaying her children’s masterpieces.Rather than keeping things in large toy boxes, it is more satisfying to the child to keep them neatly on shelves, hung on hooks, sorted on trays, and separated into baskets.  This also makes putting things away more logical and enjoyable.  It is possible to put shelves in the child’s room, family room, and wherever else that the child may play.  Parents can begin immediately to keep the child’s things on shelves and to continually set the example of putting toys away where they belong when not being used. 

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Here are some things to keep in mind when organizing a child’s environment: 

  1. Have a place in each room:  the bedroom, the kitchen, the dining room, the living room, bathroom, garage–for the child’s belongings.
  2. Think carefully about family activities and the materials used in all areas of the home, and arrange the environment to include the child.
  3. By the front door, have a stool to sit on and put shoes on and a place to hang coats.  In the living room, have shelves for organizing some of the child’s books, toys, puzzles, and games.  Small child-sized tables and chairs allow the child to sit up straight with feet flat on the floor for drawing, playing, fixing, and eating snacks are very important.  Not only will it develop good posture, the child will be better able to concentrate and focus more comfortably.
  4. It is a good idea to rotate books and toys, taking out those that have rarely been chosen and putting them into storage for a time.  A monthly rotation works well.  An older child can help with this.  After observing what the child is using, and removing those things which are being ignored or outgrown.  Be sure to leave the favorites!

All adults are influenced by the environment from which they grew up.  A neat, attractive, enjoyable, organized, and uncluttered environment can help create a more peaceful life for the entire family.  The same holds true for the sounds in the environment.  With time the adult brain learns to tune out and block the sounds of a TV or radio, but a child is ALWAYS aware of it.  Sometimes children can be upset by visual and auditory stimuli and adults are completely unaware.   Check out this research about TV and young children from Time Magazine.  So in short, turn off the TV and play! 

As the real Einstein (not Baby Einstein) once said: baby.jpg

I never teach my pupils; I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn.

For some interesting reading:  http://www.udel.edu/ILP/einstein/index.html

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