This Sunday I organized my kids’ play area while dad took care of feeding and entertaining them. I went around the house gathering toys and other knick-knacks off the floor and sofas, dumped the contents of a couple of boxes and drawers and looked, really looked, at each piece of toy to check whether it still worked and looked fine or not. I tossed out all the broken ones with their sharp edges, scraps of paper that Medha used as money, old brochures that she hoarded, pens without ink and other unidentifiable objects.
Then I made a separate pile of toys that the kids don’t play with anymore, like the hand-held drum, phones that don’t make any sound and dolls that have suffered abuses like being disrobed and colored upon (in the name of “make up”) and tiny boxes and purses that still look fine but don’t get the attention they deserve, as there are too many of them around the house. I gave them to my maid who has 3 young kids and who I’m sure will treat them with more love and care than they received around here.
I was left with a few toys (it wasn’t a small pile as I hoped it would be) but I wasn’t done yet. It was time to organize them.
I have been reading this book called-
on my Kindle and learning so much about good homeschooling habits and Educational activities for my kids. I don’t want to send Madhav to a preschool just yet. Actually I haven’t found the one that is good enough in our neighborhood. Until I do, I want to teach him basic logic, reasoning, counting, English and about the World around him at home itself (’cause I LOVE such activities!)
According to the author, John Bowman, a clean, well-organized learning environment is very important for a child’s mental growth-
“Attractive, organized, aesthetically pleasing, clean environments help Children internalize a sense of beauty and order. What a child sees, handles, and interacts with every day becomes a part of her brain architecture.” he writes.
I decided to pay heed. Plus, I was beginning to lose it! My mind, that is… The toys scattered all around, especially those tiny bumpy blocks, poking anybody who stepped upon a piece without knowing, and the ugly huge boxes filled to the brim with toys which had become such an eyesore compelled me to take action!
I separated the magnetic letters from the blocks; cookery set from the pieces from a make-up kit; pieces of a train track from bits of crayons. I learnt that an ideal learning environment has educational toys and books neatly organized in open shelves that are accessible to the kids. So I went around the house looking for empty boxes and shelves to create a compartment for the toys. I am always in a hurry to see a project through, so I couldn’t wait to shop for a new shelf. I made do with a kitchen rack and a table to hold my boxes. I neatly labeled them.
Now the play area looks much better. The kids love the fancy boxes. I let them play there with the toys however long they wish to but make sure they put everything back where it belongs. Actually I make a game out of it, by joining them in cleaning up, counting each toy as we put it in its designated box.
I also make sure the kids don’t play all over the house but only in the play area, or even if they do, to make sure they carry the toys back to its home. Our house looks way less a battle zone than it used to. Kids aren’t complaining yet about having to clean up afterwards. And Mommy is extremely happy about a cleaner home!
I know it won’t be this clean and organized for long. We will soon be back to square one, a messy house that is. But for now I will stop thinking about how it’s going to be and bask in the how-it-is….
(By the way, I did this to prepare for the wave of new toys that hit this morning with the arrival of my in-laws from the US. Again Toys, toys, everywhere… )