What should the purpose of a playroom be? Probably a space where creativity and imagination can unfold and flourish. A place where development and learning should take place in a spontaneous way.
Thus, always think about the reason, the “why” you are giving this space to your children.
When the setup and layout are done in a intentional manner, playroom time can become a wonderful asset to both parents and children. Children will want to spend more time there and parents will be able to have some free time without feeling guilty or having to fight for it.
Lets think about 5 crucial elements to help make your playroom a great place.
1) Make it all about them.
This should be THEIR space, their own little world of purpose and wonder.
After designing with subconscious elements in mind (lighting, layout, colours, natural elements, flooring and atmosphere) now is the time to consider what they like. Talk to your children about what they like to do. Look for clues during play and determine their interests. This is a process that will repeat itself and the idea is to really grow and develop alongside your child. This will naturally mean that you will have to recreate this space from time to time, replacing materials, furniture and toys to meet their growing and evolving needs.
Constantly create opportunities for discovery, fun, excitement, downtime and role-play.
2) Facilitate open-ended play.
Let your children become bored. This is a very natural state of mind that should spontaneously result in creative, inventive and exploring behaviour.
Be careful not to have screen-time as their go-to option when feeling bored. This may be tricky at first. But be persistent and enthusiastic about new discoveries. Facilitate their curiosity away from screens, but preferably not as opposed to your well intended effort in creating a special place for them. Be realistic and be prepared to have flexible expectations. Be patient.
Provide them with materials.
Fill the space with musical instruments, building materials like Lego, art and craft, dress up costumes, reading books, sticker books, educational and durable toys, chalk and white writing boards or walls, physical developmental furniture like a trampoline or jumping ropes. Household materials like real pots and pans are great for simulating ‘play house’.
Do not tell them what to do. Turn their questions around to be open-ended questions that they have to answer themselves. Give it time. Remember…they have to become bored. Let them take the lead and sometimes do what they want to do, at their pace. When the time is right leave them alone or start doing your own thing alongside them. If the opportunity occurs, set a challenge, without a reward as motivation.
Let them be.
3) Keep the space organised.
It is a very good idea to let children do at least some cleaning up. It does not have to be perfect and do not re-do whatever cleaning-up effort they have done. Grow in them a sense for responsibility and see them practice basic math skills by sorting materials or toys as they clean up.
Make it easy for them by keeping the room layout simple and provide proper storage. Storage should be accessible to them, easy to open and close, easy to recognise and if possible fun to use or look at.
4) Limit screen-time in this space.
Without entirely forbidding your child to use a tablet in his area, encourage screen-time in a different area of the house. The playroom could loose its magic when screen-time is allowed here and they could loose interest in all the wonderful materials you provided to tempt them into the wonder world of play.
Children of this time and era will not fall behind on technology. One of the best ways to create a balanced child is to let them be with there own thoughts.
There is no need met better than when you are there. It does not mean that you have to hover over them, but to be real in your presence. Take time to be with them without allowing distractions like your cellphone. Look them in the eye. Listen to what they say and be kind. Be firm when necessary and be consistent. Be silly with them and laugh together. Have fun together. And very importantly, model to them what you want and expect of them.
Keep in mind these 5 powerful elements and be sure to see change and contentment grow.
I am curious to hear about your journey and ideas. Contact me directly and share your thoughts.