6 Ways to Create a ‘Yes’ space and make independent play a cinch!

Play is an integral part of the early years. But children cannot play freely and independently if they are constantly being hovered over!

If you’ve ever found yourself repeatedly shouting, ‘no, don’t do that!’ millions of times a day, this post is for you.

So what exactly is a ‘yes’ space anyway? Well, as you’ve probably already guessed, it’s a space where your children are free to play without being reprimanded or cautioned constantly.

Here’s what you need to consider:

1. Age appropriate toys

Consider the needs and developmental stage of your youngest child. If you have any children under the age of 3, ensure that any choking hazards are removed from the room. You might have the best intentions in the world to keep small items out of reach, on a top shelf but it is safer all-round if anything dangerous if kept firmly away from the youngest members in the house.

Instead, try a special ‘quiet time’ box for older children, so that they can play uninhibited with small items whilst their younger sibling naps.

2. Limited items

Contrary to what toy adverts would have us believe, kids don’t deal well with too much. It is overwhelming and quite honestly, the reason why children will ‘dump and run.’ It has been proven time and time again that children play better when they have fewer items out.

The key is to include plenty of open-ended items so your children can play in a variety of ways without getting bored.

Check out the 5 steps to play space organisation article here.

3. Secure furniture

Furniture needs to be secured to the walls to avoid the risk of it falling on your child. Just like you would in a baby’s room, avoid placing furniture near windows. Check cords on blinds and replace/ put out of reach in order to avoid strangulation.

4. Items at eye-level

To truly avoid the temptation of climbing, make sure all items are at eye-level. Your little learners will become much more independent if they are not having to constantly ask you for help reaching items, too.

Not only is it safer, but more appealing for your children too. Think for a second about the way supermarket shelves are stocked. Big brands pay a premium for their stock to be placed at eye-level, whilst low-budget brands are out of sight. Your child is much more likely to play with an item that is directly in their eyeline.

You can read more about our favourite play space furniture here.

5. Avoid items that need close supervision

Sure, an art space is really nice to have but if you can’t trust your child to create without smearing paint on the carpet and drawing on the walls, you need to remove them from temptation.

Our current solution is the IKEA Raskog trolley. My 4 year-old daughter is perfectly capable of wheeling the trolley from the utility to the table all by herself, but I also avoid the problem of my 2 year old son redecorating without my knowledge!

6. Pay attention to play schemas and interests

Following play schemas is a huge part of my own parenting and education methods. Put simply, it’s about looking at repeated patterns of behaviour, then providing toys and materials that will help extend that curiosity.

As one example, if your toddler suddenly starts throwing everything in sight, they are likely exploring the trajectory schema. They aren’t being ‘naughty’ – simply seeing what happens.

Instead of constantly shouting, ‘no, stop throwing!’ remove any items that could get damaged or cause injury (wooden blocks, for example) and replace with balls and soft toys.





Sian Thomas
an image of This Playful Home founder, Sian Thomas. The photo includes a photo of her daughter when she was around 18 months old

I’m Siân (rhymes with yarn), a play advocate, proud parent to three, and former teacher. My mission is to infuse more joy and less overwhelm into the lives of parents. Discover play-based activities with me that not only make learning FUN but also forge deep connections with your young learners, creating memories to cherish forever.