Amping Up the Power of Play by Organizing Toys

How many times have you been in a hurry and stepped on that dreaded LEGO or Hot Wheel that was laying around? Toys add up: birthdays, holidays, and of course the prizes that are snuck into the cart at the grocery store. We all come to a point when we notice toys overpowering the house and the increased amount of stress it causes both children and their parents. If it seems overwhelming, don’t worry…there are a few things that can help you get started with the task of organizing toys to increase the power of play.

Organizing Toys: Take Inventory

First, assess what you have and take inventory. It can be an overwhelming feeling, but start with one room at a time. Make yourself a list (mental or physical) of the toys that are present. Broken toys or those with missing pieces can be thrown away. Remind yourself that when there are too many toys, the quality of play is reduced.

The simple step of taking inventory can help improve your child’s cognitive development. It allows your kids to play in more varied ways. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)’s clinical report, The Power of Play: A Pediatric Role in Enhancing Development in Young Children, explains how play can improve a child’s abilities. It helps them to plan, organize, get along with others, and regulate emotions. In addition, play helps with language, math and social skills, and even helps children cope with stress.

Organizing Toys: Divide and Conquer

After you take inventory, you can then purge unused toys and incomplete sets. This simplifies the options to amp up the power of play. Try to divide the toys by using these three steps: grouping like items, putting them in clear plastic containers, and labeling them. Having toys grouped by like items in clear containers helps children see what is in each box. This leads to fewer toys being thrown around as they try to find what they are looking for.

This can also be a great time to separate toys that you want to donate or trash. When deciding what to keep, involve your child in this process. Doing so will help show them generosity, sharing, and compromise. A broken toy or a puzzle with missing pieces are great examples of toys that can be thrown away. A Barbie that hasn’t been played with in months, but has been a recent hit during a play group with other children, can be a great example of toy to donate for another child to love.

Organizing Toys: Designate an Area

Have a designated area for your toys whether it be a clear plastic container, shelving unit, or closet. We started out with a toy chest and realized that’s when the toys started to cause overload. There was a change in our son’s behavior including sensory overload and an increase in outbursts and destructive behavior. The Child Mind Institute’s article, How Sensory Processing Issues Affect Kids in School, explains how some children have trouble handling information their senses take in. Things like sound, touch, taste, and smell. Having too many toys is a prime example of why children negatively respond to sensory stimulation and overload.

Organizing toys can be overwhelming for both children and parents. Using these simple tips can help bring calm into your home. By remembering that less is more, you are playing an important role in your child’s development. Children learn through play and by doing these few things. We have noticed a positive impact on our son’s behavior and have seen an increase in quality play time. Maybe getting organized will help amp up the power of play in your household, too.

“Play is the shortest route between children and their creative calling.” –Vince Gowmon


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