Make a little escape

PLAY TIME

Make a little escape

Bright, cheerful play spaces in your homes help hone your children better, contributing to their overall development. Anuradha Muralidharan gives us a low-down on the essentials for children’s play area

Ever wonder why play schools are brightly coloured, with a lot of natural light and air? This is because, children strive to make sense of the world they live in. They try to organise the visual and concrete images within their environment and add meaning to them. For example, a teddy bear is not just a teddy bear.

For a child, the teddy is real; it is a friend, with a name and a personality. And since their make-believe world often converges with the real world, it is important to create an environment, which is conducive to a child’s growth. 

Thus, if a child spends her day in an effectively-designed environment, the chances are stronger that she will grow up well nurtured physically, emotionally, aesthetically and intellectually.

Keeping this in mind, it is best that an exclusive area is created within the home for the child. This becomes her play area and it also becomes her space. Creating this space in a way in which it can be recreated, if necessary, will help to lessen the feeling of being uprooted when moving home.

For many of us who live in tier one cities, it may not be possible to have a designated children’s room because of the escalating cost of real estate. And so what normally happens is, mothers let their children play with their toys either in the drawing room or bedroom and when playtime is over, the toys are packed and put away. This is not really a play area at all.

The child is not in her space or zone when there are other activities going on in parallel. For example if it is the drawing room, then it is likely that someone is watching television, or listening to music and the child is part of the group, picking up moods and energies of the grown-ups in that room. Here are some ideas to create a play area for your child.

It is likely that there is area or space within the house, which is not being used. Like a corner of the living room. If this kind of space is available, then use it creatively and make it your child’s nook. If it is really just open space, try to add some privacy by turning it into a little cubicle or at least organising furniture in such a way that it feels exclusive.

After creating an enclosed area, if there are plain walls, use these walls to put up a large whiteboard, or a canvas so your child can unleash her creativity. Also put up some bright posters. If possible let the child choose her own posters. The play area can double up as a study.

It is likely that your home already has a study area for the child, like a little desk and chair. It is best that this is moved to the play area so the child will know that this is the place she needs to go to, to study, relax or play. There are several options in the market today to buy multipurpose desks or stools and the good thing about some of them is, they can be folded and tucked away when not in use.

Storage space for toys, books...

Once you have decided to make this the designated area, then try and get a wall cupboard or book shelf installed here. A book shelf or a wall cupboard is an excellent storage space to tuck away toys, boxes and books. Whatever you do in this area, remember the thumb rule that it has to bright and colourful.

You might personally like grey and brown, but subdued colours are not right when you want to help create a bright and cheery atmosphere.

However, if this same space is likely to be a place available for the child as she grows up, then it is better to go for neutral colour tones and use organisational décor to add colour and creative inspiration.  Colourful rugs, bins, wall décor are good to move out when the child starts growing up. So when do you move stuff out? Don’t worry! When the time comes up, your child will herself throw away ‘kid stuff’ as she is likely to call it at that time.

Space utilisation

Now that you have a designated play area for your child, the next step is to do up this room, as we will call it. Some simple innovations could be storage cupboards with magnetic boards.

Don’t waste any potential space for storage and creatively utilise the same. Children like to dabble in clay and colours, which are not the ideal mediums, if you want a squeaky clean home. Therefore, let there be a washable rug on which the child can sit and play with clay or colours. The final output can actually be displayed on the walls of the play area.

Your child’s paintings, displayed in her own zone, will make her feel proud and also make her understand how much you appreciate her talent and value the same. Thus, use the children’s play area as a display place for your child’s talent even as you nurture her creative instincts.

One of the challenges you may face as children grow up, is a place to store sports equipment like kits, balls, skates etc.  When designing the storage space, it might be good to make it roomy, so when the necessity comes up, you can safely put away stuff you don’t need.

Outdoor nook

While you go about creating a nook for your child indoors, if you do have outdoor space available, think of adding a few outdoor sports items like a basketball net or an inflatable pool. This last decade has given children so many options in indoor activities like video games and television that children barely go out to play. By creating a little nook outside, you are, in fact, encouraging your child to go out and play. 

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