"The more we get together..."
Preschool children are firmly in what Dr. Montessori called the "sensitive period for order". They crave and thrive in an environment of orderliness. At school, everything has it's place. If we move things, the children are involved. Changes in scheduling is limited and those changes are discussed with the child. Works are self contained and aren't mixed together. As children get older-elementary aged-this isn't as important to them. But at this age, separating works is vital. Work is done in a specific area, a rug or a table, and is respected as the child's responsibility. And perhaps the most important is the full cycle of work. The children select a work, do the activity, and clean it before replacing it on the shelf. Only then can they choose another work. There aren't scattered works all over, and the child prefer it this way. They will actively look for people who have left works out, or assist in putting them away to maintain the order they enjoy.
So how does this translate to home? The first thing most families need to do is to streamline their toy situation. Children are more engaged with fewer toys. It seems counter intuitive, but it's true. A selection of 4-5 separated toys(a box or legos, a basket or trains and tracks, a puzzle, a small bin of cars) will engage a child that is overwhelmed by a toy box jumble.
Once the toys are thinned and separated, break out the beach towels or floor blankets. This is your child's play space. It corrals the toys and gives them a secure space the play without fear that their things will be touched. And that lesson is taught when you have more than one child. If children want to play together, they ask each other. And most importantly, each toy group gets put away before the next one comes out. Keep the extra toys in the garage or closet away from the kids, and rotate every few weeks. You'll be stunned at how quickly your child jumps into caring for their own things.
Next blog will tackle reasonable responsibilities for preschool children!