One weekend I had the opportunity to do an outreach in a very sweet family’s home. They ran an amazing program and they had a fantastic and non-distracting playroom. They also had many wonderful floor toys including a swing, 2 crash mats, many variety of therapy balls, a big foam filled crash mattress, tables, chairs,blankets, and a trampoline. When I first walked in I thought, oh fun, so much to do. As I began to play with their sweet boy and moved the objects around to best facilitate interaction, I began to have a different perspective – this is a lot of stuff! In my first session I spent a lot of time moving big toys around just to have space to play.
I have seen this happen many times and occasionally it happened when I worked in professional playrooms. We get so caught up in the opportunities of the toys we forget how distracting and invasive they can be. The playroom in an integral part of a play based therapy as it is a non-distracting environment. This is so that we (people) can be the most exciting thing in the room. When too many toys get in the way, their presence alone may be too stimulating. On my outreach after we cleared out the majority of the big toys, the boy (who initially rarely left his post next to the wall) began to move around the entire room and interact with me more. Also, it was much easier for me to quickly move things in the room depending upon what game we played.
As far as your playroom I would design what your floor toys are around your child’s motivations. In one professional playroom I worked in they typically had a table and stool that are the height of the child, 2 therapy balls (one for you, one for your child), a slide (for younger children) and a small trampoline. Then depending on the day or the child we adjusted that. If we needed more room, we put the balls on the shelf and the trampoline standing up or in the bathroom. If it is a child who needs big input we will bring in a crash mat and take out something else. There is nothing that can not be moved. Then if we want to play a particular game we bring in other big objects JUST FOR ONE SESSION and then we bring it out again.
I’ve got many more suggestions for playrooms, so watch out for future blogs, and leave a comment or question if you have one.
Have a great time playing!