Children love to explore and do things on their own when given the opportunity to do so. The satisfaction and independent success they amass along the way plays a critical role in empowering them to feel self-confident and much more capable of achieving their dreams. But the big question is, how can you encourage your child to explore and do things independently? The simple answer is to set up a toddler play area in your home.
So, do you want to know how to make a toddler play area? All you need to do is choose an ideal space, find a shelf, purchase a few toys, organize the toys accordingly and start encouraging your child to spend more time in the area playing with the toys. Consider displaying six to eight toys at a time and rotate them regularly to keep your child active.
In this blog post, we discuss everything you need to know about setting up a toddler play area in your home. You will learn how to do it and some of the best practices to observe to achieve maximum success.
Why Do You Need a Designated Toddler Play Area in Your Home?
Before you start setting up the toddler play area, you must understand why it is essential. As mentioned earlier, kids are natural explorers and will always want to know what is around them. Technically, a kid can easily turn your entire home into a discovery zone.
While this is a good thing because it helps them learn and understand their environment, it can also be dangerous. If kids are left to do things independently, curiosity can lead them to do dangerous situations that could easily harm them.
For instance, your little one can find their way to the kitchen or living room and start dismantling electric devices, not knowing that he/she can easily be electrocuted. They might also scout what is under the sofas and reach for items that might topple over quite easily. Typically, they can bounce and play around the house, unaware of the potential dangers.
Direct supervision is good, but you need to keep in mind that your child can still get hurt even when you are there. Therefore, to keep your toddler safe and ensure that nothing harmful comes into their way during playtime, you need to set up a toddler play area where they can explore different things without risking their lives.
Setting Up a Toddler Play Area In Your House
Now that you understand why it is essential to set up a toddler play area, let us find out what you need to do to make the area fun, safe, and secure.
Step 1: Choose a Space
The first thing you need to do is choose an appropriate space to set up the play area. You can set up the play area wherever you feel like. It could be in your kid’s room or the living room.
Find a space that is convenient for you and your family. Perhaps, you should consider a place where you and your family spend a lot of time together to give you a chance to do other things nearby, such as preparing lunch or washing dishes while your little one plays independently.
With sufficient space and good toys, you will be surprised by how long your child can concentrate and play independently while you focus on other things. The most important thing is to ensure that the play area is safe and secure.
Step 2: Find a Shelf
Proper arrangement of the toys is critical because it will empower your little one to explore, play, and learn independently. You only need something simple where you can arrange and display the toys neatly. A standard store-bought shelf, cabinet, built-in bookshelf, or even a heavy coffee table can serve the purpose.
Whatever you choose to use as the shelf, make sure it is stable or bolted to the wall to minimize the risk of accidents. Also, you need to ensure that all toys are neatly arranged on the shelf to create an organized space and teach your child the habit of putting everything in their right places at all times.
By having a unique spot for each toy, your child will always know where to find it and where to put it once he/she is done with it.
At first, you may be forced to bring in the toys and do the cleaning and organization every time your kid is done with playing. However, he/she will learn the process with time and start putting things in the right places. They will slowly absorb the routine and turn it into a habit.
They will internalize the play area’s tidiness and be more inclined to keep it that way all the time. This teaches your loved ones how to take responsibility for their play space.
Step 3: Make It Simple
Child development experts recommend using neutral colors than the bright colors that are often associated with kids. The primary goal here is to make the play area soothing so that it fosters concentration.
You should also have fewer wall hangings or any other distractions. Only have a few items on the shelf with plenty of space between the toys.
If you want to create a good play space in your home, you don’t need to get rid of a bunch of your toys, but you may be forced to put many of them in storage. You should only have a few toys available to the kid on the shelf and rotate them regularly, allowing your kid to focus on what is available.
Rotating the toys also has a bonus of keeping your kid’s interest alive as you always put out “new” things without spending money.
There is also another advantage to it. When you offer limited options, it becomes quite easy to discover which ones spark your kid’s curiosity most.
If you notice that your kid is avoiding one of the toys on the shelf for too long, it is time to put away and replace it with something different.
Step 4: Choose Toys Carefully
Unless you are homeschooling, there is no need to fill the play area with “academic” toys. Instead, choose a wide range of toys that can help your little one develop in different ways. Before you purchase a toy, ask yourself how it will help your child develop.
Think about acquiring toys that help your little one develop fine motor, gross motor, and creativity skills. You can also go for art and music-related toys and other open-ended items for creative play.
Make sure that the toys you purchase offer a varying degree of difficulty. Typically, you want a perfect mix of challenging toys with simple toys that your child can work with comfortably. The easy and familiar toys will provide your little one with a good option whenever he/she needs a mental break.
You should also look for a few open-ended toys that engage rather than entertain. Try to minimize toys that light up or make a lot of noises because they won’t benefit your kid much.
Lastly, go for toys made from natural materials such as wood to provide your child with real experiences.
Step 5: Include Nature in the Play Area If Possible
If possible, set up the play area in a room with plenty of natural light. Nothing is more beautiful than watching your little one discover shadows by playing in the changing light from the window.
Windows also provide both of you with endless entertainment and good opportunities to talk about what the child sees through the window.
Whether looking out at a relatively quiet backyard or a busy street, the presence of a window in the play area provides both of you with endless opportunities to talk and teach your kid about the different things that he/she sees.
It is also good to include plants and animals in the play area if possible. Find a few plants with edible leaves and put them in the play area. It is good to go for plants with edible leaves because toddlers tend to eat everything in sight.
Setting up a toddler play area in your house can help keep the sanity between all family members while encouraging your toddler to explore, discover, and learn new things. Since kids don’t play 24/7, the place you choose to set up the play area doesn’t matter.
If your house is squeezed, it is still realistic to use the same place where other household activities happen. In this case, you will need to set up something really simple that you can easily dismantle if required.
If your house features an open floor plan instead of individualized rooms, you can consider setting up the play area close to the kitchen area because that is probably where you spend a lot of time while at home. This will help you keep a close eye on your toddler even as you accomplish other tasks such as cooking.
The bottom line is to make sure you have something simple and exciting. Let us know what you think in the comments section below.