Friday, November 14, 2008

Clean Up Time

If your house is like mine, every single room in your house is a playroom. I see the positives of having things for my daughter in different parts of the house, but lately it has been out of control. We do struggle with room as Zhana’s playroom is shared with the home office. One side of the room is for the office and the other side is ours. I think this is probably why it is all over the house. So, I thought I would share my own research and discoveries into organizing your playroom/child’s bedroom today.

Currently, Zhana’s toys are in large plastic bins around her room. I’m sort of obsessed with keeping them seperated, but she doesn’t seem to share the same philosophy. I don’t know if it is my interest in Montessori or my experience in child play therapy but even before she was born I had areas seperated by labels such as “Manipulative Play”, “Dramatic Play” and ect. I’m not ready to throw this idea out quite yet because she is sorta starting to at least realize where the toys should go and I think it will pay off as she gets older. I already have the bins, but if I were to do it over I would have gotten clear bins rather than solid colors so that she could see what toys are in them. On the other hand, maybe it is a positive that she can’t see what are in the bins as I rotate her toys and this way she’s content with the toys I have out for her.

I’ve read that hooks are a good idea for children to hang up their costumes and other types of toys. We haven’t done this as her only dress up are the past 2 years halloween costumes. I can tell she’s going to really like it though, so this is something I’m going to think about. Recently, I found princess wall hooks at Target for $1 so this is a cheap investment.

Like the bins are labeled, I do have play centers where I group all alike toys together. For example, in the garage we have her art table with all art supplies.

Of course, there is always getting rid of unused toys and this would be the perfect time of year to give away unused toys to charity. I plan on having more children, so I have had a hard time getting rid of toys as it is like getting rid of an investment for me. Also, since I do play therapy, some of these toys are useful for my profession. What I’ve done is to loan her infant toys to family members with children to get them out of the way with the understanding that I’ll be wanting them back when baby #2 arrives someday.

So, here is my dividing system:
Plastic toys, $1 store toys, McDonald toys=I’m not a big fan of plastic toys, usually. However, like most kids she has acquired many of these. Nice plastic toys are kept in her playroom but toys like those from McDonalds aren’t something I want her playing with everday. In the garage, I have a bin for these toys. She doesn’t get to play with them often but when we go into the garage these are available to her. Now, just because they are cheap I don’t discount their value. Did you know that most play therapists get their toys from the $1 store afterall?
Dolls and Puppets: These are all kept in one bin that is in the “Dramatic Play” part of the room. These could be put in one dramatic play bin but right now they are separate.
Dramatic Play & Music Bin: Here I have toys such as dress up costumes, Musical Instruments, and play food. She doesn’t have a play kitchen, or I’d have the play food in a separate area.
Art Center: When we go in the garage, all her art supplies are available to her. For me personally, having them to where they aren’t constantly accessible works best so that we don’t have purple handprints in the hall, lol.
Blocks: I keep all blocks in one bin. I have the different types of blocks in their own individual container within the bin.
Manipulative Play Bin: These are items that require to child to move, turn, screw, stack, and ect. Items I keep in this bin are threading beads, open/close/screw items, sorting items, stacking toys…
Reading Center: Board books are kept on a bookshelf for her. Books with tearable pages are kept up on a shelf so that she can still see them but has to ask for them.
Balls: Zhana has all of her balls in one large bin. We don’t have a ball pit but have ball pit balls that go in here. Other small balls are in the bin as well.
Toys with Sound/Lights: I don’t discount all toys with lights and sounds, I just don’t prefer them. We do have a bin with these items. To discourage her solely playing with these items, the lid is kept on and a one a week is taken out of the bin and rotated.
Learning material-We have a separate learning center where we keep Montessori items when we have school. This is in the garage and follows traditional Montessori dividings. I tend to use more Waldorf principles for everday play and Montessori for our actual “school time”.

By no means has my little girl mastered cleaning up after herself. Often when I go to other blogs I’m amazed in fact by how well other little ones seem to be doing with pick up. BUT we have recently made some gains that I thought I maight share in case other moms are struggling in this area. When doing play therapy, one thing I learned is when working with kids that had trouble cleaning up is to play the timer game. You set a timer and make it a game to see how much they can pick up before the timer goes off. If they get it all picked up by the time the timer goes off they get a sticker (please do not set too low a time or this will lead the child to become frustrated and will give up trying). I know a lot of parents are successful with teaching children they must put back an item before playing with another toy, in fact this is how my own mother raised me. So far, this hasn’t worked well with us and it is a little frustrating especially since this is a big part of the Montessori method. If anyone has any ideas for making this work better, please share!