When it comes to toys in the Waldorf philosophy, Rudolf Steiner argued that playthings should be simple, open-ended and nourishing to the senses. Toys should be soft and warm and pleasant to touch so that they offer a soothing effect for the children that handle them.
Because of the simple nature of classic Waldorf toys (dolls with simple faces, wooden blocks, silks or cloths) it makes sense that by extension, simple playspaces would be favorable from a Waldorf standpoint. But besides being in line with Waldorf philosophy, why might some people opt to take a minimalist approach?
Why Less Is More
The "less is more" approach has practical benefits for every member of your family, especially your children. It's well-known that many children do better with fewer toys! According to Kim John Payne, author of Simplicity Parenting, mountains of toys overwhelm a child's senses and can stiffle their creative ability. Children will play more intentionally with fewer toys. Less dumping out toy boxes and more deep, imaginative play.
You may notice that children start to play with toys in new, creative ways. For example, they may use the same loose parts they used for decorating their structures as rubble for their dump truck or treats in a pastry shop role play. Offering less opens up oppotunities for their imaginations to stretch in new and exciting ways.
Play is a fun and messy endeavor and young children need a great deal of help when it comes time to tidy up. Offering a small collection of playthings allows them to be more independent when it's time to put things away. This can cut down on frustration for you and your child and lead to a more harmonious and nourishing space, where you child feels safe to learn and grow.
Minimal Mess and Stress
If you feel like you're already overwhelmed with play things a toy rotation can be a helpful solution. Simply putting some of the toys away for a while may be the boost you need to start paring down. It offers the opportunity to introduce old favorites when you or your children need some new play inspiration, and cuts down on the clutter at the same time.
Take some time to remove some toys from the playroom. Organize them by type or season in a space that's tucked away and out of sight. Some children may be interested in helping you in this organization project. Or, you could begin by storing some toys you notice they haven’t been engaging with in another room, a little bit at a time.
Take note of how they respond. They may not notice anything is missing and jump right into playing with the toys that are left! Maybe your child asks about one of those toys and you choose to return it to the mix. There aren’t any particular rules here. You can remove or add toys as it benefits your family. You can involve your child or create a whimsical story about where the toys went. It’s up to you!
If at any point your child complains about having fewer toys out or seems to be having a tough time adapting, you could make play suggestions through storytelling or by creating unique play scenes to get them started.
Still Too Much?
When you family has outgrown a toy it's always nice to pass it along to a new home. At Bella Luna our toys are timeless and heirloom quality so you can focus on buying a smaller collection of higher quality toys.This also means they can get a whole new life in the hands of another child.
Involve your child when figuring out where their unneeded toys can go. It could be your local preschool, a children's room at a house of worship or a community center. This ensures any unused toys don't end up in the landfill and can be enjoyed for years to come. You can use the opportunity to teach the importance of sustainability as well as giving with a joyful heart.
All of this being said, there's nothing wrong with having a large, thoughtful collection of toys! Some families have multiple players (parents or grandparents included) and find that more pieces multiply the fun! Other families may have children who are very dedicated builders or vehicle enthusiasts. There's nothing wrong with offering your child more of what inspires them and makes them happy. At the end of the day, you know your family best and your toy collection should bring YOUR family joy.