When fitting out a child’s room we usually pay a lot of attention to safety and the cuteness of materials that we like. What about the ability of children to reach their things? Can they go to bed on their own; can they reach for their toys? Will the child be able to return the toys to their place? Do they even have their own place?
I myself as a mother am also exposed to chaos in our home. The chaos I lovingly call “creative disorder” and which I try to bring into order at the end of each day. But this is something we all take part in. The most important thing is to define where each toy will have its own specific place in the house or room (yes, you have read it correctly, each toy!). There are two upsides to each object having a specific place in the house: we can tidy up much faster and we can also find the things faster (the purpose of this is that children eventually stop asking: “Mummy, do you know where my blocks are? Where is the baby doll’s cot? Where is my car?” and find their toys. By themselves!).
I also stick by an important rule – if the child cannot find a place for a certain toy, we have a conversation about whether s/he really needs that toy, when was the last time s/he played with that toy … Perhaps the child might want to give it someone?
Imagine entering your bedroom or office and all the things in there would be twice the size of you. You would not be able to reach the chair or bed, the wardrobes would be too tall and you would not be able to reach your clothes. This is how children feel when they cannot access their beds, wardrobes, desks, chairs, toys etc. This is what prevents them from developing and putting some effort in doing things. They feel helpless and frustrated because they are completely dependent on you. Independence in their own environment is a key to children being calm little explorers that wish to get to know their environment and materials through play.
But what is an ideal environment for a child? It is an environment that affects the child in a positive way and is adapted to their needs; it is at their height and encourages their independence. A child should be able to lie on their bed in their room on their own (this should be a low bed), and the bed can be used throughout the day for reading and playing as well. Wardrobes (or at least that part of the furniture that should enable the selection of clothes) should be at a child’s height to facilitate their involvement in the selection of clothes. The desk and the chair should also be at the child’s height, while the shelves should be low. Each material should have its own place on the shelf, and the same goes for toys that should be put away in baskets or toy chests on wheels. If a child at first sees that their room is tidy and appealing and that it is not crammed with hoarded things, they will eventually internalize this order and be able to tidy up their room by themselves. Having a room with natural light, gentle colour tones and as many natural materials as possible is also stimulating for a child. The same can be said of plants in a child’s room – by choosing non-toxic plants, we make the space more appealing, add some oxygen to it and encourage the child to take responsibility for the plant.
Investing some time in the arrangement of a child’s room and various play areas in the house will undoubtedly bring good results. This will certainly make the children calmer and busy all the time. There is no better feeling for a mother than to quietly sip her coffee as she watches her child exploring their own room independently and not needing her for a moment or two.
»Children are now working as if I don’t exist« (Maria Montessori)