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5 ways to Simplify your Play Space

20.5.15
One of the great Waldorf traditions is an emphasis on creating a beautiful and nurturing  environment for the children.  Although I would never refer to our space as a Waldorf space, I still like the idea of maintaining simplicity in all areas of the house. 

 Creating  a calm, peaceful environment reflective of the natural world takes a lot of  work. It doesn't just happen- it has to be meaningful. When planned properly, and with the understanding that the space belongs to everyone, it does get easier.
I make the use of my evenings preparing for the next morning/day! Sometimes, it means purging, sanitizing, dusting and sweeping; but making lists and rearranging furniture happens almost weekly as well.
 As an adult, I get easily overwhelmed when I enter any space with flashy, noisy, piles of toysChildren are especially sensitive to disorder. Keeping things neat, tidy and uncluttered is always my goal.
Giving the kids the proper tools to inspire creativity is the best gift you could give any child!  This means teaching them to respect the materials and also the space. It means, to a greater extent, maintaining order. It means allowing the kids to explore and use the spaces without uprooting certain materials or just throwing them wherever they'd like.

5 ways to Simplify Your Play Space
1. Ensure independence and encourage child-led learning. Instead of putting toys into large toy boxes, place materials in smaller baskets, on trays or on shelves. 
2. In lieu of written labels, label toy baskets with hand drawn illustrations. This will help to gently guide the child in a way that is simple, and comprehensible.
3. Mix it up. For example, don't put books only in one area...have little play stations or baskets that are easy to carry from room to room.
4. Rotate- Don't overwhelm your child with toys. Find a balance between enough toys to offer choices but not too many that your child feels overstimulated.
5. Having mixed ages can be tricky. Make sure toys with small parts are out away, and only brought out when you can supervise play.

Lastly, I want to add that it is not a bad idea to help children clean up after each play session. Yes, your child might be coming back to his toys/game after snack time, but simply putting away toys when he's finished will teach him about keeping a space and his toys in order- until next time.

 Ways to help kids get the job done:
  • Be specific with instructions - Instead of saying clean up your toys, ask your child to pick up that truck over there...or put that book back on the shelf.
  • Ease into chores for children - First, show them how to do the chore step by step. After a few demonstrations, let your child help you do it. Then have your child do the chore as you supervise. Once your child has it mastered a chore - back off!


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“A hundred years from now, it will not matter what kind of car I drove, what kind of house I lived in, how much money I had in the bank…but the world may be a better place because I made a difference in the life of a child.”
~ Forest Witcraft

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