Seven Guiding Questions for Creating Playful Spaces
At times it can feel daunting to tackle the spaces in our homes that need our attention—especially when they are the places that our children inhabit most. We want to create playful spaces that encourage creativity and open-ended explorations, yet it seems like we have so much stuff to contend with.
I often find it helpful, before I get started, to step back and get a clear view of the big picture. Below are some guided questions that will help you to visualize and clarify your intentions and goals for the spaces you create for your children.
- Can your child access materials in the play space independently? Are they organized in baskets or bins that are clearly labeled so your child knows how and where to put things away when finished with them?
- Are the materials presented in an attractive manner that invites your child to use them?
- Do the materials, toys, and games represent a balance between your child’s and your own preferences? Do they represent what you value and thus encourage your child to engage in activities that you feel good about? While it is important to keep your child’s most loved toys available and accessible, it is essential that you strike a balance and expose them to new things.
- What is your child currently interested in? If your child no longer plays with dinosaurs, but has been talking a lot about birds, make sure that the play space reflects this current passion. Rotating toys is a great way to keep your child interested in play space activities and ultimately prolongs the life of her playthings. It never ceases to amaze me how excited my girls get about a toy that comes back into rotation. The nostalgia they feel toward a toy they have not seen in a while is almost more than their delight over a brand-new toy.
- Is the play space a calming environment that allows one to focus on the task at hand without distracting colors, decorations, or objects?
- Are you seeing things from your child’s perspective? Put yourself in your child’s shoes to determine the right height for displaying and storing materials and hanging art.
- Is this a space that makes you want to make art, explore science, write stories, and more? If so, would you have everything you need to do what you want to do? What else could you add to deepen or enrich your child’s experience in this space?