Too many toys!

 

Are you screaming when you enter your child’s bedroom/playroom? Are you fed of tidying up your child’s toys? Is your child complaining that he cannot tidy up when you ask him to do so? (well he might not be that clear but he might say like mine: “I’m tired”)

20170126_11361320170321_090628How to get from the picture on the left to the picture on the right?

Is your child not able to play independently? Is your child saying that he is bored despite owning 100 toys? If your child is younger, does he require your presence and input to play?

One of the reasons (if not the main reason) might be that he has too many toys!

When families visit my playgroup for the first time, they are generally impressed by the layout of the playgroup. As I would do in a home environment, there are different areas and every activity is set up on a mat or in a basket/tray. Children can clearly see every activity and are able, with support, to put them away. Although there are many more activities that you would need in a home (as I cater for around 12 children), children are not overwhelmed, distracted, disruptive or bored, they choose and are happily playing for one or two hours.

 

So what’s the secret?

In the Montessori education, less is best. And what kind of toys/activities you offer is also important as well as the way you present them to your child. Many parents coming to the playgroup will quickly decide to change the kind of toys they offer to their children as they notice how much their children are engaged in the playgroup.

So what is too many toys exactly? Can we give a number? I was kind of stunned to share pictures of my child’s car’s collection in a local FB group, asking for advice as I thought he has too many. Other parents quickly replied to me that the collection was nearly “minimalist”. You see I was kind of worried regarding my own children’s amount of toys as my youngest was still not able to put them away. The amount started to add up: cars, train set, plastic animals from all around the world, soft toys, dressing up, building blocks, Duplo’s, a growing collection of Legos, little peoples, kitchen and all the accessories… Not to mention the art and craft material and all the various board games or educational material available. Every category of toys was fine I suppose but the sheer number in each was overwhelming. And that amount might be very different for each child.

I have noticed that over the last 3 years, I have let the toys collection growing without paying too much attention to it. As we moved from a two bedroom flat to a house I was able to hide the mess in a cubby storage and I agreed to tidy up after him as he was still “little”. However, my Montessori training was coming back to me and my desire for my children to become more independent was more and more acute. Therefore I decided to purge drastically. It’s not that our toys were not great but we had too many in each category. Mainly I divided by two the train set, blocks set, duplos and stored away the remaining. I sorted the animals by continents/habitats and left only dinosaurs and one other category out at a time. I sorted the cars by kind too (wooden cars, metallic cars, cars from the movie “cars), set of diggers with people…) and left out just one set with his garage. And so on for each category. Since, oh miracle, my son has mostly put away his toys by himself after playing. He also spend more time by himself in his bedroom.

However, my son is 5 and your situation might be quite different. When I had only my daughter and when my son was a baby and a toddler, I was more aware of the importance of the environment and took a long time to set up trays and baskets of activities for them. I had around 8 trays/activities at any one time and it worked wonders. Along the way, I lost my Montessori principles but thankfully I’m back, for their own good, and my own sanity as it really helps our family life when both kids are able to tidy up and are happy and contented with their play.

My playgroup is a good sample of what you could do in your own home for a child under 4 and the principles are still the same for older children.

Do you want to find more about my classes and support? Do you want to find more about my classes and support? Just click here!

 

 

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Montessori challenge – the bathroom

bathroom-storage

Welcome to the first month of the Montessori house challenge (use the hashtag #montessorihousechallenge when sharing about this challenge). I have started this challenge with our bathroom because I have done many improvements recently.

I hope you have enjoyed the video. If you want to watch it, here the replay on fb.

How to improve your bathroom quickly to support your child, first ask yourself those questions:

  • Observe the room and how your child is using it. Every time your child asks for your help (or when you go and help him without him asking), try to see what prevents him to do it by himself.
  • Depending of your child’s age, encourage your child to be independent regarding self-care. As rule of thumb, if your child walks, he can attempt most of his self-care needs with little support.
  • Does your child have access to the sink? Can he see himself in the mirror?
  • Does your child have access to his toilets accessories?
  • Can you child reach the light switch?
  • What kind of bath toys does your child have? Does he play with all of them? Can he access his toys by himself?

Now, here my quick fix for the questions above:

  • access to the sink and mirror: try a stool but check carefully if your child can then see herself in the mirror. My son was not complaining about not seeing himself, my daughter was able and it took me months to realize that my son was not looking at himself in the mirror, it might explain why he was not keen to brush his teeth by himself? In our bathroom, we have two stools as we have two children of two different sizes.
  • access to their accessories: it’s best at this age to keep their own accessories separate from the parents’ ones, mainly because they will see them better and they will take ownership and responsibility for their own stuff.
  • light switch: one reaches it by climbing on the stool, my son is still too small so I added an extra cord (as it’s a pull down cord switch).
  • bath toys: very quickly the number of toys can climb up but really, children don’t need that much! Even just some empty containers can be enough (we used to have an empty plastic juice bottle in the bath, it was by far my daughter favourite toy). Sort and reduce until you have a manageable quantity for your child to handle.

Now for the great accessories to have in the bathroom, check the picture above and here what there are:

1. Zelta PS Resin Toothpaste Tube Squeezers Flatteners Crocodile Shaped Multi-colored 3 Pcs I’m buying this one as we have tried an automatic toothpaste squeezer and it was a disaster!

2. Kids Toothbrush Timer ~ 2 Minute Smiley Sand Timer for Brushing Children’s Teeth (Blue), there is one with the Ikea storage board but as I said in the video, that time is very long!

3. Ikea stool we have that one, and a smaller one that they don’t do anymore at Ikea but it’s on sale elsewhere so here is the link IKEA CHILDS FOOT STOOL / STEP WITH ANTI-SLIP FÖRSIKTIG

4. Ikea Storage board set with suction. This one is very sturdy so far, attaches properly to tiles and glass (we use it on the shower screen) and it’s at our children’s level. My son loves it!

5. Munchkin Quack Bath Caddy: I didn’t buy this one as we have a nest that I have just attached to two suctions hooks. But if my children were younger, I would have invest in that storage as it makes them access their toys easily. My children are 4 and 9 and can manage the nest storage by themselves.

6. Suctions hooks from Ikea: so far, I cannot fault those suctions hooks. In the past, I had bad experience with suctions systems so it seems that in 15 years, those systems have made lot of progress. Which is good as it’s so practical when you don’t want to drill holes! We have one for my son bathrobe (pajamas are in their bed generally and my daughter has hooks in her bedroom for her bathrobe), one for the towel next to the sink. Another idea for towels and bathrobes/pajamas was to add over the radiator hooks or to drill in the door to add hooks to the children’s level (but I was not keen to damage the door).

7. Another suction mirror from Ikea: if you don’t want to go for the big panel, this one is perfect too!

Not pictured is the accessories to wash their hands, as seen in the video, I found the little nailbrush at Tiger (UK shop).

Also here a few things that could be reallly useful

A tap extender (I haven’t try this myself) New Faucet Extender For Toddle Kids Children Hand Washing Leaves Shade

An over the bath, sink for toddler. We had the same one when my daughter was a toddler. We didn’t took it with us when we moved from Ireland to UK (I don’t remember why! I would say because she was getting older and we were not planning a second child at that time). But it was very useful and practical.

Not pictured either are the bath toys my children enjoy the most (the ones I kept after a much needed sorting)

Green Toys STCA-8586 My First Stacking Cups what I like with this one, it’s that it’s great for pouring but also for counting and volume comparison.  Each cup is numbered on the bottom from 1 to 6 and is volumetrically accurate. Fill cups 1 and 2, for example, and it will equal the volume of cup 3.

Green Toys Blue Handle Submarine Bath Toy ideal for Babies and Toddlers

By the way, Green toys are Made in USA and of recycled milk jugs, very safe and ecological toy.

Alex Rub a Dub Pals Stickers for the Tub bath toys: I bought this out of the blue as it was super cheap at my local TKMaxx, and they have played most of the time with it ever since. (I think it was for Christmas two years ago)

Marine Figure Set – 12 Piece Sea Life Toy Figurines: my children have lots of plastic animals, they are, IMO, one of the best toys to have (I will write an post about that resource!)

And a simple plastic doll is great to bath too. My children also like bath crayons but I cannot find a brand that doesn’t dissolve after one or two baths. If you have a good recommendation, I’m listening!

And involve your children in your cleaning routine for the bathroom. In our case, we wipe the shower screen after use. I figure that as my children love to use the squeegee already on the windows, they might enjoy this activity in the bathroom too. Other tasks they can do in the bathroom: empty toilet paper in the bin, put their own dirty clothes in the laundry basket (our own laundry basket is in the corridor or bedroom), wipe sink and counters (they can use a mix of vinegar/water/essential oil to clean), spray the mirror (same mix to clean). They can hoover/sweep and mop the floor too with your help. I would leave the cleaning of the toilet seat to the grown up.

As my children are older, I didn’t chat about potty training but if you need advice/tips for this, comment below and I might do a post about our own experience and how to potty train the Montessori way.

I hope you have some ideas and are ready to tackle your bathroom if it needs improvements. What are your challenges for your bathroom? Please share in comments!

Thanks for reading!

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Montessori-family

I have created a linky for the Montessori house challenge so if you have a blog with a post about how you have set up a room/area following the Montessori principles (or helping your child to be self-sufficient), feel free to link it.

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