After a whirlwind week with lots of gifting, you might find your play space overflowing with new toys.
You're overwhelmed, your child is overwhelmed, and even with all these new toys, you're not seeing much independent play.
So what do you do?
Here's 4 quick ways you can declutter in a way that encourages focused, independent play:
1. Put Some of the New Toys Away
Many children get 10+ new toys around the holidays and it's just too overwhelming to have them all out at once, alongside all the old toys.
Choose just a couple new items that your child is showing the most interest in and then put the rest away for now.
Montessori found that young children become overwhelmed with too many options. That's why Montessori classrooms rotate the materials every few weeks. It keeps the environment fresh and interesting, without overwhelming the children.
If you do rotate and limit the number of toys available in your play space, don't remove all the old ones at once and replace them with all new toys.
To an adult, it might seem like so much fun to get a bunch of new toys. To a small child, it can be confusing and stressful to completely overhaul their playroom overnight.
If there were some toys that your child was still enjoying before the holidays, leave those out as long as there's still interest, alongside a few new items.
3. Note Your Child's Interests and Abilities
If your child is not showing any interest in some of their new toys right now, put them away for awhile. It might not meet their current developmental needs and interests.
One of the amazing things about young children is that they change so much, even in just a month.
A toy that holds little interest right now, might be just what they need in a few months.
Another way to pique a child's interest in a new toy is to simplify it. Sometimes toys have too many pieces, parts, or functions and it overwhelms the child.
Try simplifying some of the toys and see if they begin interacting with it.
4. Organize - Montessori Style
A Montessori classroom is designed for independence and aligns with a young child's need for order.
You can set up your playroom the same way without creating an exact replica of a Montessori classroom.
This is done by:
1. Placing all materials and toys on a Montessori Shelf (or other low shelf) at a height that is accessible to the child. This allows the child to freely take any items they're interested in, as well as put them back when they're done.
This set up is simple, clean, and organized, unlike a big toy bin that can make it hard for a child to choose items and find what they're looking for.
2. All the pieces of each material or toy is grouped together using baskets and trays. This makes it easy for the child to locate everything they need to work on an activity and appeals to their sense of order.