Eighteen-month-old James begins the day with a smile. Even before breakfast, he is exploring his world. Never has he rolledover, reached for the snooze button, complaining that he just doesn’t want to play that day.
An environment that encourages learning is an environment of play. It also has a variety of materials. But variety doesn’t mean many choices, as few as three things can be assortment enough for a preschooler. How many times does the number of toys to choose from overwhelm a four-year-old? When that happens, play stops and so does learning.
Children can learn from a box of crayons with only the basic colors. When you add paints, markers, and pencils, you may add confusion.
Having just a few toys in a child’s play garden is also orderly. A child needs little help to find what is needed. When order exist, it is easier for to put away toys. This is the beginning of the discipline of caring for one’s possession.
Here are some ideas for your child’s play garden of learning.
- Simple toys. Expense learning equipment or fancy curriculums aren’t necessary. Simple toys are dolls, blocks, crayons, or puzzles.
- Books. Children will follow your reading example when there are books on a low shelf within easy reach.
- Outdoors. While not a toy, it’s important for children to play outdoors. They can watch grass grow, follow a ladybug, or just play in the dirt.