I’ve been having a bit of a think lately, and a bit of a read, well actually quite a bit of a read. I’ve been reading a lot about how the materials we select for our children and the way we offer them reflect our view of children. What do we believe to be true about children? What do we expect from them? And how is this reflected in the materials and types of activities we offer them? We have such a profound influence on our children; how we view them really can limit or enhance them.
Sometimes (or more often than not) our view of children is cultural, societal, unconscious. But it is reflected in the way we act towards our children, how we speak to them, what experiences we offer them.
I believe my children to be capable, to be able to create their own play, to have enough innate inquisitiveness to not require overstimulating toys, preferring instead open-ended toys which appeal to their developing senses and need for sensory exploration.
However as I was having a look around the playroom, I realised that, while I like the room, what I thought was my view of my children wasn’t being shown as clearly as I would have liked. The room needs to evolve, to change with them, to continue to challenge and inspire them. They are worthy of this.
So, I had a bit of a think and moved things around a little bit. I was particularly thinking about the blocks. Everyone has blocks. But what are our expectations of blocks? How do we expect children to use them? Ours were just in a basket and no real attention given to them.
When I was thinking about the playroom as a space for Jack (3.5yrs) and Sarah (16mths) to play and learn and build on their skills, extend their knowledge, their imagination, I thought about presenting things differently to encourage them to play with familiar materials in different ways. This was more in tune with my view of them, inquisitive with a deep desire to know, to understand, to learn.
It’s a small change, but I think this new block corner encourages them to engage, to build, to create. The mirror offers a different perspective to challenge their thinking, and the platform gives them a nice sturdy surface to build.
I also put out the Duplo blocks and board next to the natural blocks. I moved the tinker-table outside (this is where I intended it to go anyway) so we can use it for nice messy endeavours. I moved the books into the shelves and put the floor cushions near the block area to encourage Jack and Sarah to sit and stay a while.
This is what we have on the shelves at the moment. I usually rotate them every few weeks depending on the kids’ interests, but today I added the vase. I really love fresh flowers and these native Proteas are just gorgeous. I thought Jack and Sarah would enjoy them too.
So a few little changes to the playroom, making it, I think, a more inspiring environment for Jack and Sarah. I’m looking forward to tackling our outdoor play area, that is one space which definitely needs a dose of inspiration.