Do you feel like your home is overflowing with toys? Do you struggle to keep them organized and tidy? Do you wish your toddler would play more independently and creatively?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you might want to try toy rotation.Then, once a week, or every few weeks, you swap the current toys with some of the stored ones. The only rule is to leave the toys out long enough for your child to explore their play possibilities fully, but not so long that boredom sets in.
Toy rotation has many benefits for both you and your child. Here are some of them:
Toy rotation reduces clutter and mess. Having fewer toys available means less stuff to clean up and store. Your home will look more spacious and organized, and you’ll feel less stressed and overwhelmed.
Toy rotation increases creativity and focus. When your child has too many toys to choose from, they can get overstimulated and distracted. They might jump from one toy to another without really engaging with any of them. But when your child has fewer toys, they can focus better and explore them more deeply. They can also use their imagination to come up with new ways of playing with the same toys.
Toy rotation renews interest and excitement. When your child sees the same toys every day, they can get bored and lose interest. But when you rotate the toys, you introduce some novelty and variety into their play. Your child will be excited to see their “new” toys and rediscover their old favorites.
Toy rotation helps you weed out unwanted toys. As you rotate the toys, you’ll notice which ones your child loves and which ones they ignore. You can use this opportunity to donate or recycle the toys that your child has outgrown or doesn’t enjoy. This way, you’ll have more space for the toys that matter.
How to Start a Toy Rotation System
If you’re ready to give toy rotation a try, here are some steps to get you started:
- Gather all the toys in one place. You might want to do this when your child is not around, so they don’t get upset or attached to any toy.
- Sort through the toys and decide which ones to keep and which ones to get rid of. You can donate or recycle the ones that are broken, outdated, or not age-appropriate. TIP: Don’t include your child’s lovey or any favourite item they use for comfort.
- Divide the remaining toys into categories, such as ‘thinking’ games and puzzles, free movement, building, and pretending/role-playing,
- Choose a few toys from each category to make a set for your child to play with. You can also include some books, art supplies, or musical instruments. The number of toys depends on your child’s age and preference, but a good rule of thumb is to have around 10-15 toys at a time.
- Store the rest of the toys in boxes or bins and label them by category. You can keep them in a closet, a garage, or under the bed.
- Swap the toys every few weeks, depending on how often your child gets bored or asks for new toys. You can also involve your child in the process and let them choose which toys they want to play with next.
Tips for Successful Toy Rotation
Here are some tips to make toy rotation work for you and your child:
- Be flexible and experiment. There is no one right way to do toy rotation. You can adjust the frequency, the number, and the type of toys according to your child’s needs and interests. You can also rotate some toys more often than others, depending on how popular they are.
- Keep it simple and fun. Don’t stress too much about following a strict schedule or system. The goal is to make play more enjoyable and meaningful for your child, not more complicated or stressful for you.
- Display the toys attractively and accessibly. When you rotate the toys, make sure they are easy to see and reach for your child. You can use baskets, shelves, or trays to organize them neatly and invitingly.
- Observe and learn from your child’s play. Toy rotation is a great way to discover what your child likes and dislikes, what they are curious about, and what they are learning. You can use this information to choose the best toys for them and support their development.
Interesting Facts About Toy Rotation
Research has shown that toddlers who were offered fewer toys engaged more meaningfully with each toy, playing in a deeper way and spending more time exploring than toddlers who had more available toys. Toy rotation also promotes a developed sense of patience and perseverance, heightened creativity, and an opportunity to repurpose toys in different ways.
Toy rotation is a practical and effective solution to the problem of too many toys, providing your toddler with a manageable selection of toys that promotes imaginative play, creativity, and a sense of calm. It’s a simple approach that can make a big difference in your child’s play experience, and one that you can easily implement in your home today.