Toy Rotation: An Effective Way to Keep Children Engaged and Learning
As parents, we want the best for our children, and providing them with toys and playthings is a big part of that. Toys are not just a source of entertainment but also instrumental in promoting cognitive, physical, and social development. But you don’t need to build a small toy shop in your house by buying every new toy in the market. This is where toy rotation comes in.
In this blog, we will discuss what it is, why it benefits children, and how to implement it in your household.
What is Toy Rotation?
Simply put, it is a process of periodically changing the toys available to your child. Instead of having all the toys out at once, you keep a few out and put the rest away. After a week or two, you swap the toys that were out with the ones that were kept away. This way, your child has access to different toys every time, and the opportunity to play with an old toy differently at a later stage keeps them engaged and interested, and you get more out of the value you paid for the toy.
Why is Toy Rotation Beneficial?
Children are naturally curious and imaginative. However, when they have access to the same toys all the time, they may lose interest and become bored or hit a plateau. By rotating toys, you are providing them with a new and exciting set of playthings ever so often that can encourage their creativity and imagination.
Provides a range of learning opportunities
When all the toys are out at once, children may become overwhelmed soon and not play with any toy. However, with toy rotation, they can learn a myriad of skills, revisit old skills, and layer upon the skills they have learned. This is essential as different toys provide different learning opportunities. For example, building blocks can improve spatial awareness, while puzzles enhance problem-solving skills. By rotating toys, you provide your child with various learning opportunities to help them develop their cognitive abilities.
Reduces Clutter and Expense
Given the busy lifestyle of parents these days, we can tend to overcompensate for the lack of presence with toys, and over time children tend to accumulate a lot of toys, and having all of them out at once can create a cluttered and overwhelming environment. By rotating toys, you can reduce clutter and make it easier for your child to focus on the toys available. Buying new toys every time your child gets bored can be expensive. By rotating toys, you can make the most out of the toys you already have and save money in the long run.
How to Implement Toy Rotation?
Start Small before creating a System
Start by rotating a few toys at a time. You do not have to rotate all the toys in one go. Begin with a few and gradually increase the number as your child gets used to the concept. Have a system in place for rotating toys. For example, you can rotate toys every week, every other week, or every month. Set a reminder on your phone or calendar so you do not forget to rotate the toys. It’s ok to leave out a toy that is your child’s go-to toy. It is essential to observe your child for signs of boredom (too easy to play) or frustration (too hard to play) with a toy and the longevity of their playtime with a toy.
Involve Your Child to Store the Toys Properly
Involve your child in the process of toy rotation. Let them help you pick which toys to put away and which ones to keep. This way, they will feel more invested in the process and be more likely to enjoy playing with the toys that are kept. When rotating toys, make sure to store them correctly. Keep them clean, dry, and organized so they are easy to find when it is time to rotate them back in.
Consistency is key when it comes to toy rotation. Stick to a schedule, and make sure to rotate toys regularly. This way, your child will become accustomed to the process and look forward to playing with new toys every time.
How do we choose toys for our children’s activity areas and toy rotation?
Natural and safe
They must be made of natural materials, safer for babies and small children who like to explore materials by putting everything in their mouths. Painting materials must also be non-toxic for this exact reason.Size and age-appropriate
The materials your baby uses need to be of a size that your child can physically maneuver and manipulate. It must also be secured with objects that do not come loose and cause choking hazards.
Quality rather than quantity
The materials that your baby or toddler uses should be limited minimally as he or she needs to develop a sense of concentration. Permanent, long-term, multi-use materials/ toys should be prioritized rather than frequently changeable toys or one-time activities. Such activities are better suited for DIY alternatives, should time permit.
At what age do we begin to implement toy rotation, and how?
Babies from birth to six months old only require a small collection of up to five or six toys, which can be changed to another activity as he or she progressively develops. The toys can all be kept in your baby’s nursery in one place, and only the visual and tactile toys may need to be rotated for development.
However, from about seven months old, toys can begin to be placed in various areas of the home. The variety of activities will extend from just visual, movement, and tactile activities to activities in a more diverse range. These areas include music, art, refinement of the senses through wrist and hand movements, and toys that allow for motor skills and executive functions to develop.
While this is true, we do not need to bombard the child from seven months old but gradually add a couple of materials or activities as a beginning of the toy rotation process. We must cater each learning area to his or her developing concentration span. The idea is to get our babies used to the idea of learning and exploring activities in categorized learning areas. We can, for example, have a small basket of toys in the living room, a couple of toys in the kitchen, and then a couple of activities on parts of a shelf that we have sectioned off for the various learning areas. Unused toys can be stored and gradually introduced as your baby develops.
What to do if your baby loses interest in a toy or an activity during toy rotation?
Babies will lose interest in toys from time to time, and therefore it is essential, when this happens, to not force the material onto your child but instead to quietly pack it away. We can then replace it with a different activity that caters to either the same or a different part of our child’s development until we observe our child is tired of their new activity. Then, when we rotate and bring out the previous activity again. We will observe a renewed sense of interest as though the activity has been brought out for the first time. In this way, the toys/ activities can be successfully practiced well through a method of back-and-forth rotation.
The fundamental principle here is to remember that no fixed type of progressive development is given to the child. It is, therefore, in this way that we can ensure successful development in our babies and that he or she has had enough opportunity to tackle necessary tasks found in the activities that only interest them occasionally.
In conclusion, toy rotation is a simple but effective way to keep children engaged and interested in their playthings. By providing children with a small variety of toys at any given time, you promote their creativity, enhance their learning, reduce clutter, encourage sharing, and save money. Implementing this strategy of rotating toys is easy, soothing, and consistent. As with any parenting strategy, it may not work for everyone, but it is worth trying.
Remember, the goal is not to have the most toys but to provide your child with a stimulating and engaging environment that fosters growth and development. So, if you find that your child is becoming bored with their toys or overwhelmed with too many, consider implementing toy rotation to keep things fresh and exciting.