Start by going into your child’s room and sitting on the floor and looking around so that you get an idea of how it looks from their perspective and height. Then set it up together from that perspective, so that everything, furniture, decoration and activities are accessible to and visible from your child’s size. It is very important to understand that this is your child’s room, not yours. We need to arrange things for their developmental and size needs. It is doubly important to do this with your children present. If you were to rearrange his room without him it would be very disorienting, kind of like how you’d feel if when you exited the grocers, the parking lot had disappeared and you found yourself in another town.

Get rid of the crib and either go with a mattress on the floor or a toddler bed. Gate the door at night if you don’t want your child to have access to the rest of the house.
Either get rid of the toy box or use it to store soft toys and stuffed animals. Put a couple of shelves up for your child’s toys, the top self no higher than your child’s mid chest and arrange a reasonable number of toys on them in containers, trays or baskets appropriate to hold the pieces and to allow for easy transport. Limit the number of small items in a basket or tray. A sure sign that your child is over stimulated by numbers and amounts is that they throw or damage their things. And what is a reasonable number of activities to have out at a time? As many as your child can clean up without becoming overwhelmed by him/herself, say 9-12 items on a 4 foot wide shelf unit with 3 shelves. Store the remainder.

Decide together what activities will go where on the shelf. Rotate your child’s choices every couple of weeks, leaving favorites out and exchanging things that are not used. If your child requests a specific item, have them choose what is going to be put away in exchange.

Develop the “one activity at a time rule”, so that something is put away before another is taken out. Use carpet sample rectangles or small throw rugs as work rugs. Show your child how to take the rug out and use it to contain their activity. This teaches many things, the completion of a cycle of an activity, signified by the rug coming out first and getting put away last, (most of us didn’t get this important skill and so have half finished projects all over the house), containing all the pieces on the rug helps develop order, and walking around the work rug, rather than over or on it teaches respect for our things and the effort that your child has put into the activity. You will need either a large rug for large lego/block structures or you might simply decide on building larger structures in a specific area, foregoing the rug all together.

When your rotate activities try to place similar activities in the same place, so a puzzle replaces a puzzle, a lego set replaces a lego set, a truck a truck, etc. This will satisfy your child’s sensitive period for order. From 2 to 4 years your child is in a sensitive period for order and needs to fill that need so that literally she will be able to think clearly and orderly in life. Children under 6 years learn from the concrete to the abstract and will be most successful when concepts are presented in the concrete, hence order in their environment is essential. Don’t worry, your child will put things where she feels they belong anyway, so follow her lead.

Your child needs a child sized table and chair. Put an activity out on the table or on a work rug after he’s gone to sleep. That way when he wakes up he’ll have something special waiting for him to do and the more he learns to do an activity without you the sooner he will gain independence.

Create a cozy reading corner with a soft chair or pillows and just a few books out at a time.