Children learn through play, and toys can be valuable tools to aid in that learning.  But sometimes it can feel like your home is being overrun by toys.  You find them on the floor, on the furniture and in the yard.  There are boxes and piles and shelves full of them.   Yet somehow, your child can stand in the middle of this toy explosion and complain, “I’m bored! There’s nothing to do!”

Too many toys can be very overwhelming. Consider rotating your child’s toys every few weeks.  Pack up a selection of toys that don’t seem to be getting as much use as others, put them out of sight, then exchange them for a different batch after a couple of weeks. To your child, a toy he hasn’t seen in a while can be just as exciting as something new.

As you get into the habit of rotating toys, you will no doubt notice which toys are used and loved and which are not.  Start putting aside toys that are no longer appealing, and help your child think about letting them go.  You might give them to a younger friend or relative, donate them, or save them to put in a yard sale.

Be sure that all the toys in your home are in playable condition.  As you go through the sorting process, set aside dirty toys to be cleaned and broken toys to be fixed.  If a toy is beyond saving, get rid of it.

Help your child get in the habit of putting her toys away when she is not using them.  Make sure that there is a designated place for everything to go, keeping similar items grouped together.  If everything has a place, it is easier for her to know what to do with toys when she’s done playing, and easier to find the toys she wants.

Turn cleanup time into a game.  For example, you could sing a cleanup song, count items as they go into the box, put away everything red first, or pretend to “feed” the toys to the toy box.

When you do bring new toys into the home, make choices based on good play value.  Look for toys that can be used in more than one way and require your child’s imagination, like building blocks, dolls or vehicles.  These types of toys also adapt well as your child grows.  Toys that are simply handled and moved about by a small child can be part of an elaborate story scene acted out when the child is older.

Toys are wonderful tools for your child to use as he learns to understand the world around him.  However, what your child needs to play with the most is you.

Spend time every day playing with your child.  Let her choose the toy or activity and follow her lead.  When you play together, you are helping build her vocabulary and knowledge, and helping her learn and practice new skills.  Her self-confidence grows as she sees herself as a person with ideas and abilities that are important and recognized by you.  Your bond with your child deepens as you get to know her better by spending quality, uninterrupted, fun one-on-one time playing together.