Your child’s perfect play space should nurture their innate creativity and allow them to learn independently, fueling their ever-growing mind. However, your child’s perfect play space also has to exist within your home and the desire for order can sometimes stifle authentic and imaginative play. In this blog, we’ll share all of our secrets on how to design a playroom that will both bolster your little one’s inherent need to learn and express himself or herself through creative play, all while maintaining a space that is easy to keep organized and fosters independence for your child.
How To Design a Playroom That Grows With Your Child
While there are, of course, many things about a playroom to consider with your child’s developmental stages in mind, there are a few things that will help you in designing a play space at home that will grow with your child. You want to be able to swap out a few things as they age, not redo the entire space every few years.
Taking a note from Maria Montessori herself, having low, open shelving in your playroom will help to teach your child a sense of independence. When items are at their level and in plain sight, your child can easily see what options are available to play with. The open shelving also eliminates the option to throw everything into a jumbled bin during clean-up time — and your child cleaning or helping you clean up creates independence and a sense of pride for their own space.
While we’re on the subject of toy storage, let’s talk about not storing all of your kid’s toys in the playroom at once. Studies show that children with fewer toys “engage in longer periods of play with a single toy, allowing better focus to explore and play more creatively.” This means that keeping your child’s toys on a rotation and limiting the number of toys they have access to can help your child to play in a more meaningful way.
Children with fewer toys immerse themselves more fully and find more creative ways to play with the toys that they do have. Try swapping out your child’s toys based on a theme — options could include holidays, seasons, colors or your child’s current interests.
Designing a play space at home is about far more than just organization for housekeeping’s sake — the setup of the room itself is an important factor for how your child will interact with the space and be drawn to learning, playing and creating there. One successful way to keep your child’s creative focus is to set up the play space into different zones. A great place to start is with the big three: a comfy reading nook, a table space for projects and arts and crafts and a dress-up wardrobe area. These areas will allow your child to decide how they would like to play and engage in focused and creative activities within these spaces until they’re ready to move on. Other nooks to explore could include a play kitchen, a dance floor, an art gallery display or a stuffed animal zoo. Keep in mind your child’s unique passions to create a room that is uniquely theirs.
How To Design a Play Space for Toddlers vs. Kids
Once you’ve gotten your playroom set up to grow with your child, it’s time to consider the different needs of your child based on their developmental stages; a toddler’s playroom is going to look and feel different than a ten-year-old’s. Consider elements like the sizes of toys and blocks — a classic Legos box is suitable for older children, but toddlers do much better with something more their size, like Lego Duplo blocks. Other things to consider based on your child’s age are the type and number of books in their reading nook and the art supplies available to them while unsupervised. For more on play, check out this article.
Why Creativity Is Crucial for Your Child’s Learning
Creative play is not just about having fun, though that part is important, too; your child’s creativity actually helps to fuel their learning, emotional health and connections with others.
When your child plays in creative and imaginative ways they are taking an activity and making it their own. This process of self-expression affords your child the opportunity to get to know themselves better and learn and express how they feel. Imaginative play involving others also teaches children about social cues, feelings and expressions and is one of the biggest bolsters of social development.
The creativity your child engages in is actively expanding their mind as they try new ideas, learn new ways of thinking and tackle problem-solving from different angles. As your child grows, pay attention to where their interests are and how you can challenge their creativity and learning.
If they’re drawn to art, offer up a myriad of media and see where their creativity takes them. If they’re into music, provide them with wide-ranging genres and notice where they find their groove. If they want to learn to draw dragons, play the ukulele or get creative with video game design, consider a class or camp that dives deeper into their interests and inspires learning and creativity.
Figuring out how to design a playroom that inspires creativity in your child can seem daunting, but it doesn’t need to be. Your child is eager to learn and explore their curiosities by design; all you have to do is create the simple conditions for them to do this in a fun and focused manner. Encouraging learning and creativity doesn’t stop when the playroom is complete, though — you should find ways to encourage that curiosity to broaden constantly.
For more ideas on how to design a play space for kids at home, check out this Outschool blog on Seven Ways to Create a Montessori Home Environment.