Skip to content

Research-based ideas
to help kids thrive.

112: How to Set up a Play Room

One of the things people email me wanting to know about most often is “what does the research say about how to set up a play room? What toys should I buy that will have the greatest benefit for my child’s learning and development?” I’d actually been putting off doing this episode for a while, in part because the research base on this topic is thin on the ground – but also because the idea just made me kind of uncomfortable. I mean, we’ve survived for tens of thousands of years without play rooms – or even dedicated toys, never mind the incredibly beautiful and expensive ones that are available now! – what could I really say about this? Well, now’s the time. Perhaps it shouldn’t surprise you that this episode is coming in the middle of our series on the intersection of money and parenting. I hope it offers you some reassurance about how to set up your own play room – if you choose to and are able to. And even more reassurance if you choose not to or can’t.

References

Arnold, J. E., Graesch, A. P., Ragazinni, E., & Ochs, E. (2012). Life at home in the twenty-first century. Los Angeles: UCLA.

Boe, J.L., & Woods, R.J. (2018). Parents’ influence on infants’ gender-typed toy preferences. Sex Roles 79, 358-373.

Choi, K.W.Y. (2016). On the fast track to a head start: A visual ethnographic study of parental consumption of children’s play and learning activities in Hong Kong. Childhood 23(1), 123-139.

Coyne, S.M., Rasmussen, E.E., Linder, J.R., Nelson, D.A., & Birkbeck, V. (2016). Pretty as a princess: Longitudinal effects of engagement with Disney princesses on gender stereotypes, body esteem, and prosocial behavior in children.

Dauch, C., Imwalle, M., Ocasio, B., & Metz, A.E. (2019). The influence of the number of toys in the environment on toddlers’ play. Infant Behavior and Development 50, 78-87.

Fine, C., & Rush, E. (2018). “Why does all the girls have to buy pink stuff?” The ethics and science of the gendered toy marketing debate. Journal of Business Ethics 149, 769-784.

Ginsburg, K.R.,; AAP COMMITTEE ON COMMUNICATIONS, AAP COMMITTEE ON PSYCHOSOCIAL ASPECTS OF CHILD AND FAMILY HEALTH. The importance of play in promoting healthy child development and maintaining strong parent-child bonds. Pediatrics 2006. doi:10.1542/peds.2006-2697

Ionas, A.C., Dirtu, A.C., Anthonissen, T., Neels, H., & Covaci, A. (2014). Downsides of the recycling process: Harmful organic chemicals in children’s toys. Environment International 65, 54-62.

Lewin, T. (2009, October 23). No Einstein in Your Crib? Get a Refund. The New York Times. Retrieved from: https://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/24/education/24baby.html

McReynolds, E., Hubbard, S., Lau, T., Saraf, A., Cakmak, M., & Roesner, F. (2017). Toys that listen: A study of parents, children, and internet-connected toys. Proceedings of the 2017 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. ACM.

Pellegrini, A.D., & Smith, P.K. (1998). The development of play during childhood: Forms and possible functions. Child Psychology & Psychiatry Review 3(2), 51-57.

Pierce, D. (2000). Maternal management of the home as a developmental play space for infants and toddlers. The American Journal of Occupational Therapy 54(3), 290-299.

Sherman, R. (2016). Conflicted cultivation: Parenting privilege, and moral worth in wealthy New York families. American Journal of Cultural Sociology 5(1-2), 1-33.

Strand, D.A., Utne-Palm, A.C., Jakobsen, P.J., Braithwaite, V.A., Jensen, K.H., & Salvanes, A.G.V. (2010). Enrichment promotes learning in fish. Marine Ecology Progress Series 412, 273-282.

Trawick-Smith, J., Wolff, J., Koschel, M., & Vallarelli, J. (2015). Effects of toys on the play quality of preschool children: Influence of gender, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status. Journal of Early Childhood Education 43, 249-256.

Wohlwend, K. (2015). Playing to belong: Princesses and peer cultures in preschool. In R. Hains & M. Forman-Brunell (Eds.), Princess cultures: Mediating girls’ imaginations and identities (p.91-114). New York: Peter Lang.

Yogman M, Garner A, Hutchinson J, et al; AAP COMMITTEE ON PSYCHOSOCIAL ASPECTS OF CHILD AND FAMILY HEALTH, AAP COUNCIL ON COMMUNICATIONS AND MEDIA. The Power of Play: A Pediatric Role in Enhancing Development in Young Children. Pediatrics. 2018;142(3):e20182058

Share:

About the author, Jen

Jen Lumanlan (M.S., M.Ed.) hosts the Your Parenting Mojo podcast (www.YourParentingMojo.com), which examines scientific research related to child development through the lens of respectful parenting.

Her Finding Your Parenting Mojo membership group supports parents in putting the research into action in their real lives, with their real families. Find more info at www.YourParentingMojo.com/Membership

She also launched the most comprehensive course available to help parents decide whether homeschooling could be right for their family. Find out more about it – and take a free seven-question quiz to get a personalized assessment of your own homeschooling readiness at www.YourHomeschoolingMojo.com

And for parents who are committed to public school but recognize the limitations in that system, she has a course to help support children's learning in school at https://jenlumanlan.teachable.com/p/school

Leave a Comment