Straight after I cut out TV as a way of entertaining Miss K in her everyday life, I knew it would take a while for her to learn how to play while she was 'de-toxing' from the effects of daily TV. As a starting point for encouraging independent play for Miss K, I felt it was really important to make sure alternative activities were easily available to fill in the large gaps that TV had naturally left so I could ease the transition. When she would have normally been watching TV, I made sure simple activities were within easy reach.
I found it important to have a look at where things were placed in my home to make play easy and natural for her. I don't think keeping the children's toys upstairs in their bedroom or a playroom helps with independent play. I personally feel it is a case of out of sight, out of mind. Children want to be close by to where the parent is most of the time, so it makes sense for me to keep all of the children's toys in the main living room area, where I spend most of my time. I keep a few, open ended natural toys on open shelving, at the child's height so it is at their eye level, very similar to the Waldorf classroom tradition. The toys are separated into simple, shallow, wicker baskets. We don't use toy bins or toy boxes. In my opinion, the traditionally styled toy boxes are just too difficult for young children to manage. The toys end up in chaos, with the child having to dump everything out in order to reach something at the very bottom.There is a little home corner, with the wooden play kitchen, play food, play frame, dolls crib, stroller, vintage till and three dolls. It sounds much more than it actually is. Simplicity is so important to me when it comes to children's play things. I am conscious of making sure I don't overwhelm a child with too many toys so they don't become so confused with what to play with that they end up not playing at all, or that there is so much 'stuff' that they pick something up only to put it down a few seconds later when something else catches their eye. Less toys offer the opportunity of a deeper level of play to a child. Less really is more.