My 4-year-old son has cerebral palsy, and I want to encourage his development as much as possible, starting in our home. My husband and I recently purchased our first home, and I've been loving decorating it in ways that will be educational for our son. Here I share with you my ideas for decorating your home in a way that will encourage your child's development.
1.) Create an accent wall depicting a scene—something that is interesting to your child but is also educational
This doesn't have to be complicated, and you don't have to be artistically inclined to do this. For the accent wall in my son's bedroom, I painted the top half of the wall an aqua color ("Spa" from Sherwin Williams) and the bottom half a dark green color ("Shamrock" from Sherwin Williams), depicting sky and grass, respectively. I then placed a wall decal of a "number train":
My son loves trains, and he needs to learn to recognize numbers 1-10, so this decal seemed perfect. To complete the scene, I put up some cloud wall decals. (I'm not paid for any of the links in this post, by the way.)
2.) Hang a sign or wall decal of your child's name
Place it at a level where your child can easily see it, such as right above his bed. Having daily exposure to seeing his name on the wall could encourage your child to recognize his written name, learn the letters of his name, and/or learn to write his name.
I purchased a customized wall decal of my son's name. I was happy overall with the quality, but some of the letters ran together like cursive writing, which I felt wasn't conducive to my son learning to recognize his written name. Therefore, I trimmed the letters with scissors before placing the decal on the wall. Here's the finished product:
3.) Set up a night stand containing a shelf for books
Having books at such an easy-to-reach level could encourage your child to read or ask to be read to.
4.) Put down an area rug depicting a scene or other graphics of educational value
This could inspire your child to play pretend or to ask you the names of the pictures on the rug.
I purchased this area rug/playmat for my son:
My son likes to play with his toy cars and trucks on this playmat as well as point to the various vehicles and buildings on it, as a way of asking me their names or sharing with me his excitement about seeing, say, the school bus or fire truck.
5.) Put up a shower curtain of an underwater scene or world map
For example, I put up this shower curtain in the bathroom where my son takes his baths:
6.) Place an educational placemat at your child's spot at the table
The "Numbers" placemat above comes in a set of 4 educational placemats, which I rotate out periodically for my son:
7.) Install various kinds of knobs on the furniture
You could start with larger, easier-to-pull knobs—all matching if you prefer—and progress to smaller, more-difficult-to-pull knobs to encourage development of your child's motor skills. Hide preferred toys in drawers or cabinets accessed using these knobs, as motivation for your child to try to pull them.
8.) Store toys in various kinds of compartments or containers
For example, store some toys in drawers, some in cabinets, some in curtained-off bookshelf compartments, and some in bins or baskets, with or without lids. By doing so, you encourage your child's cognitive development: Your child has to figure out how to open the compartment or container in order to access her toys.
IKEA's KALLAX bookcases are especially good for storing toys in a variety of ways since they can be easily (and relatively inexpensively) customized to contain drawers, cabinets, bins, and any combination thereof.
9.) Install coat hooks down low where your child can reach them
This may encourage your child to independently hang and remove his coat and backpack.
10.) Put up a full-length mirror
My son has used full-length mirrors for various activities in his therapies, like drawing on the mirror with window markers, reaching for suction-cup balls that have been attached up high on the mirror, and practicing vocalizing while looking in the mirror. All of these activities—and more—could be done with a full-length mirror at home, too.
11.) Mount a chalkboard (or magnetic chalkboard) to a wall
Leave the chalk out to encourage your child to draw whenever he feels the urge, or periodically draw on the chalkboard yourself if that would motivate your child to draw.
My son has a magnetic chalkboard in his room, and in addition to leaving out chalk and an eraser, I like to leave up a magnetic letter activity for him to do if he chooses:
I hope you found these ideas inspiring and useful. If you have any ideas of your own on how to decorate your home to encourage your child's development, I'd love to read them in the comments section below!
Thanks so much for reading!