I’ve had a few requests recently to share what Frida’s play spaces look like aged 3.5. I haven’t really shared much of what Frida is currently using, because not all that much has changed since I last shared some of our space in the summer.
The biggest change I have made since last sharing is that I brought down a set of shelves from Frida’s bedroom to put into the dining room / homeschool room / playroom – it makes sense as this is where Frida spends a lot of time playing at the moment, and it’s nice to keep her bedroom as calm as possible (although that said, we haven’t found toys to be a distraction at bedtime so far).
I also removed our beloved IKEA LATT table as Frida wasn’t using it much and preferred the space to play and build; as she can access the dining table and an easel this felt like an OK trade-off, but I still haven’t gotten rid of it as I’m wondering if we should try it one last time to make sure!
Here’s a look at Frida’s play spaces…
Her bedroom. She has a few wooden animals, dolls, and blocks out, alongside a nature table (very much intended and used for play!) She also has a basket full of beloved soft toys which have also spread out onto the bed – we are definitely at the age of soft toys now! – along with a basket of play silks. Not pictured is also a wicker hamper at the foot of her bed with her other wooden animals which she can easily access, and a Luggy basket which gets played with daily.
The dining room / playroom / homeschool / general life room. When you live in an expensive city in a modest-size home, you have to be creative with your space! This space now has a few more toys in. This is where a lot of our day takes place, reading at the table, sharing meals, playing on the rug, or just pottering about. On these shelves are some dolls furniture which she will mostly use with her toy Octonauts figures (plastic, commercial, cartoon-based, yes, but she loves them and plays with them all the time so as far as I am concerned, I love them too!), the “people” from her perpetual calendar, or other figures, dolls, or animals. She also has access to an easel, crayons, coloured pencils, and paints.
Each morning Frida changes the day and date on our perpetual calendars, and updates the weather wheel. It’s small rituals like this that I have really grown to love. In these shelves there are magnetic tiles, beads, a puzzle, a couple of glockenspiels, a tray of “treasures”, a game, and a tray with paper and sticker books.
At some point we will build proper shelves here for all of Frida’s books – at the moment most of them are in a cupboard in her bedroom, although there is a small bookstand and a basket of books to the left of this unit too – but until then this works as a way of having more of her books accessible for easier browsing and reading. The pink speaker gets used daily as it connects via bluetooth to my phone.
The sitting room. Lastly, there is a simple doll-house frame and some furniture out for Frida to play with in the sitting room. These are currently being used with some Sylvanian Families dolls that I found being given away free locally! There is also a Wobbel board tucked away under the bench.
I should probably point out that although these are the natural “play spaces”, Frida plays all over the house. She loves climbing on the sofas, bouncing on our bed, hiding in the wardrobe in her room, pottering about in the hallway – you get the idea. As long as toys get tidied up afterwards, it’s all good.
A few words on play
One of my favourite things about home educating a young child is that her play has no agenda. I don’t have to sneak “learning themes” into her play, or watch to see if she is hitting certain developmental milestones. When we’re not reading, chatting, sharing a meal, or on an outing somewhere, Frida will likely ‘just’ be playing.
The more I’ve learnt about education and the crucial importance of play, the more it’s allowed me to relax and just let her be. To trust that she will get what she needs – gross motor, fine motor, problem solving, story telling, maths, language, science – from her play. My job is to curate her environment, to observe her, to share in her joy and discoveries, to ensure she has everything she needs, to make suggestions. That’s it.
Home education can sound daunting at first. How do you know what to teach? Do you need a curriculum? What if you get it wrong? But just trusting in your child and giving them the space to play and discover ideas, inviting them to involved in the life and work of the home, getting fresh air, and sharing stacks good books is all you really need. It is enough. You are enough.
If you want to find out more about setting up a home environment for your child to thrive in, A Beautiful Childhood is opening for booking again next week. The course is designed to give you a good understanding of a wide range of educational and parenting approaches for young children, as well as practical and achievable ideas based on these philosophies for you to try out at home. You can read what other parents thought of it here.