Toys, minimalism and development(25 Posts)
Do any of you take a minimalist approach towards toys? I've recently pared down the toys in the house. I have a 3 year old and I'm really interested to know how many and what types of toys your children have/play with. I'm trying to go with the approach of preventing overstimulation.
I can understand that you want a tidy home, but over simulation in a three year old is ridiculous. Small children need play and simulation to grow their brain.
You might consider visiting a toy library. It's often a good way to see if a toy is worth buying.
I hope you put your child in a full time nursery where your child can play with loads of different toys.
I'm actually trained in child development, but thanks for the advice. No, it's not to do with a messy home. I don't think my childcare choices are relevant, however.
I think minimalism and pre-schoolers/young children is going to go badly as a continuous concept. Sometimes a lot of choice can be overwhelming and then they don't really play with anything. In our house (almost 4 year old and a 15 month old) toys are on rotation. keeps it fresh, keeps the clutter out, means they don't have too much out at one time but if they ask for something that isn't out I just get it out for them.
To answer another part of your post, my 3 year old over the last year has regularly played with:
Play food and kitchen
Disney Princess dolls
a drill kit
A doctors kit
happyland stuff / other small world bits#
toy baby and all it's stuff
For her 4th birthday we have added sylvianian families & playmobil sets, a tinkerbell doll, a bike.
Children need lots of toys toys and activities for imaginative play and subsequent development.
actually most British kids have way more than they need. Japanese kindergartens dont have as many toys but the kids still have rich experiences. If you take the child to different places and have varied experiences then I think you could have minimal toys. I would have some core toys too, and allow them to use household items to develop imagination.
thinking about it at three popular items were dress-up, small world type, jigsaws, interlocking toys like duplo. trains!
What is overstimulation? Can it be caused by toys?
Less quantity and more quality in toys is, in my opinion very sensible, as this approach will encourage focus and creativity. Search online about Montessori at home.
I hated the amount of 'clutter' so many of my friends seem to have when they had young children - I made sure everything could be put away in a suitable cupboard after it had been played with. My DS actually played with very few 'toys' - must be one of the few children who didn't like Lego.
I do think some children have far too many toys; my DS is a teenager now, hasn't seemed to have done him any damage not having many toys.
DD will be 3 in March, she's into pretend play so the toys she plays with at the moment are her dolls (high chair, crib, pram, clothes etc), happyland toys, her teddies which all end up on the floor with a blanket and she reads to them, dressing up, tea set, doctor's set.
For Christmas we're getting her a kitchen, a few melissa & doug toys, fireman sam with engine, postman pat with van, till and pretend money, magnetic board with letters and numbers, more happyland toys and then just little bits like craft stuff.
It depends what you have instead of toys? Plenty of access to outdoor space? Lots of opportunities to get outside? Etc etc?
My dd didn't play with much at 3 although her older brother did. She preferred reading whereas he liked imaginative play.
So what does yours like?
My children never played with that many toys as they had each other...also prefer cutting up paper and generally making a craft mess to actual toys. I know what I'd prefer....
Won't your dc go round friends houses when older and feel a bit hard done by?
Yes, I am a BIG advocate for minimalism. I read a book when my twins were little, but I can't remember the name of it. It spoke about the benefits of babies and young children being brought up in a gentle and quiet environment.
It instinctively appealed to me, because I knew from a very young age that my son had sensory sensitivities - he used to cry if someone came to visit wearing strong perfume, or if we went over to someone's house where they had left the TV on, for example. And indeed, as he has grown up, I have found him to have a lot of more definite sensory sensitivities.
The book also spoke about the effects on children's mental health of being constantly bombarded with inputs from TV and radio. It even spoke about reducing the number of books they have access to in the house so that they focus more on the ones they do have.
After reading the book, I cut back on their toys quite substantially and instantly found they were much calmer, and more focused in their play.
I now rotate their toys periodically.
It's really paid off - they have tremendous attention spans for their age (3) and they play really nicely together most of the time.
After Christmas, when the house is full of stuff, they seem to be completely overwhelmed and they come back from the playroom feeling all antsy and grumpy and don't really play with anything properly. It's only when I have a big clear out and leave a few toys out that they properly relax and get into some good role playing or whatever.
Interesting- we have loads of toys - BUT- building work followed by nursery meant a long stint with most of them packed away, so it was a small selection occasionally rotated and never had issues. At 3 faves were brio train set, IKEA kitchen, anything pens paper etc and dress up. As he got older more dress up/imaginary play. He loves being outside with some kind of ball most.
Nursery is Italian style play learn (not mobtisorri but similar) and upto 3 they have few traditional toys but plenty of household things made into toys like bottle shakers etc. Loads of chunky wooden build blocks and coloured shapes/ light boxes stuff, then at 3 the older room is stuffed with dress up stuff, home corner, motor corner and a changing theme corner- my son loved the baking and growing stuff must tho
I agree with keeping it minimal, and having one toy / device that helps develop a different area. Building blocks are a must for me.
You could have some themes arranged as Montessori drawers as well with textures.
I would stay away from plastic junk and instead use wood, wool and other materials that are more natural and help make connections of textures and real things.
Lots of outdoors play.
I am a children leaning and development professional too. Some comments here (I refer to the one where they hoped you took them to nursery so they had plenty of toys) were laughable.
Some people nay want plenty of toys but OP asked for opinions.
I suffered anxiety from an early age and overstimulation can happen for babies too.
I suggest a sensory room or corner with low lighting and some glow in the dark items. I usually set them up for autistic children but I believe anyone can benefit.
Feesh, most of that sounds lovely but I'm shocked anyone would recommend reducing the amount of books a child has access to. That is awful!! How much can a person focus on the one book again and again? Dear me!
I don't think too many toys are necessary. We've gone for a "follow the child" Montessori sort of thing and indulge his passions to the full. This seems to have resulted in an obsession with trains. The train set stays on the living room floor permanently and I couldn't count the hours it's been used. It encourages imaginative play of course, the trains having conversations and getting into different situations, plus motor skills etc.
We have duplo, puzzles, chalk board, paper pens etc, but nothing compares to the train set. For at least a year. I do try to expand his interests, and he loves space, knows every dinosaur but just nothing compares to the trains, so really, it's like we have one toy in a way.
Oh and about a billion books I would say he has a long attention span and can read better than any other kid his age I've met. Related? I cannot say.
Iwas books can have lots arranged in library for child to pick. Again, themed Montessori activity. Children rarely pick two books at a time. I wouldnt reduce books as they bring the focus in.
We have minimal due to space, I also think many in the uk have way to much and it's not really all played with
Everything we have is played with every week.
You basically just need at minimum things that meet each different aspect of what playing does.
For example many have play kitchens and fake food, we chose to just let ours help us as much as possible in our real kitchen. As tiny that might be dried pasta in Normal saucepans and wooden spoon, now at 5 and 6 years it's letting them choose a recipe and bake it themselves with us just nearby to do the hot oven part.
Otherwise you need some kind of toys that are construction, art, imagination, coordination etc .
Again they don't actually have to be toys at home. Mine love a box of haba building blocks, they are various shapes and that's what they build their castles/ ships/ palaces/ houses/ schools with, then add figures from Lego/ sylvanians/ schleich to make small world imagination games. But they also build lots outside in parks and woods using logs and stones, so if you have those opportunities enough then you need less of that type of thing at home
At home we have no garden toys as no garden, but they go to a various parks to climb most days.
Pens and paper, scissors and glue are the most used items in our home now.
Definitely agree there can easily be too much. We've prioritised quality over quantity and try to avoid overlapping function with toys. At 3.5 DS plays endlessly with: brio, duplo, selected soft toys, a large wooden fire engine and figures, play kitchen and food (especially the tea set- we're big tea drinkers!) He has some other toys which really get played with very little.
He has stacks of books and I do try to rotate which ones are prominent because he wants the same ones all the time otherwise. He's weirdly resistant to new books actually. I bought him Zog and the Flying Doctors when we went on holiday and I practically had to tie him to a chair to read it ("I don't want that horrid book"). This is despite really liking the original Zog! It promptly became a favourite and he demanded it twice a night
To be honest, I never reduced the number of books that are on their shelves, except I have become slightly stricter about getting rid of old ones when they grow out of them. But I do rotate them by putting them in different places in the house - that way they tend to notice ones they had previously forgotten about and they get back into them again.
I've found the name of the book I read - it's Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier and More Secure Kids, by Kim John Payne M.Ed with Lisa M. Ross (Ballantine Books, New York).
I do try and reduce the number of books at home, but by taking them to the library. So for general stories they are likely to read once we borrow and can swap for different ones. We still do have a few hundred books even by limiting what we buy
I've also read the book feesh recommends, its v good.
We rotate toys a lot between the area he plays in in the kitchen and a sitting room cupboard. He can't get into the cupboard and hasn't yet clicked his other toys are there. I think you can find a good balance between tons and none and it can be overwhelming for little children to be surrouNded by too much choice/toys mess. At the moment he has a train track out on the kitchen floor. A shape sorter bus thing. Two jigsaws. Abut 8 books (I rotate those with others he cannot reach every few days). A noisy fire engine. And a basket of duplo/couple of toot toot vehicles/few musical things like bells. He seems happy enough with that.
DS1 (3) has played much more since we started rotating toys. Big hits: fire engine, cooker, jigsaws, train track, paints, scissors/sellotape/glue.
We do have a lot of books too - they're always out.
I'd be shit at minimalism - I go more for a "can it be put away somewhere sensible" approach to things (I have a LOT of kallax).
The two real staples here are jigsaws (mine are jigsaw obsessed) and their play kitchen which they play with pretty much daily. Duplo/trains/lego/garage get put out and played with on a rotation.
Yes! I chucked out most of the toy storage in favour of billy bookcases when my kids were about 4 and 2. I think it worked well for us. When they had a whole expedit cube of games they didn't touch them, but when they only had 5 to pick from, suddenly they were using them all the time. I think too much choice is paralysing - just too much to process - and I do think that applies to books as well as toys. The idea of gazillions of books sounds lovely, but you wouldn't bury their favourite soft toy in a massive stack of other toys like a needle in a haystack, so why do it to their favourite books? One shelf or a not-over-full sling bookcase is enough choice for a toddler IMO. Favourite books stay, ones they ignore get rotated out.
I also limit volume of any one thing. For example we have some great train track but also lots of random trees etc with it that neither child was interested in. I got rid of those and just kept the good bits. Ditto eg small world animals. A green trofast tray is a good volume for that (and great storage because DC can manage it and see all the contents at a glance). If you have more than fit on that, edit the collection, just keep the best bits. I'd agree with PP that there's grounds to break this rule with very favourite toys - with DS it's Yoohoos. They are all special to him, they're all staying, and he'll get another for christmas.
One thing I was conflicted about was Happyland. DC had a house, a farm and a mini shop. I felt that was enough for one home. Having more sets would be a lot of money and storage volume, but it would have opened up a lot more play options.
Finally there's a lot to be said for generic stuff that can be mixed in other things, and for encouraging the mixing IMO (although this does create mess). So wooden blocks, jenga, a selection of cardboard boxes, stacking cups, toy crockery, scarves are a good stockpile. DC might extend the traintrack to include a hill or making Peppa Pig's house for the Happyland people to visit from a cardboard box. My eldest had a brilliant imagination and loved a big pile of cotton reels, threading beads, mosaic tiles, dominoes etc. These things could be anything in her head and she spent hours transferring them between bags and boxes, spreading them on the floor etc, casting the "stuff" as whatever she needed for the game. Messy but tonnes of play value from something really simple.
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