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Playing House in High Style

Theresa Schneider, a purchasing agent for a Hartford-based group of psychiatrists, spent years renovating her playhouse. The Schneiders' 6-year old twin daughters, Laura and Kayleigh, now have the run of the outdoor retreat, with its parquet floor, rose-covered Victorian wallpaper and furnishings culled from tag sales, flea markets and attics.

Options for playhouses are many and examples are as varied as the children who use them. They range from the plastic huts available at big box toy and discount department stores to elaborate miniature estates costing more than many cars. Parents can choose what best fits their pocketbook and their child's personality.

When children are very young they have an extraordinary capacity to invent and create, according to Sharon Kagan, an adjunct professor in early childhood development at Yale and associate dean for policy at Columbia's Teachers College. The allure of playhouses and dollhouses is tied to that impulse and helps develop innovation and problem-solving skills needed in adulthood, she said. "Little children love what they are familiar with," Kagan says. "They love routine and pattern. These are learning opportunities for kids."

This article, written by Loretta Waldman, appeared in the October 20th, 2005 publication of the Hartford Courant.

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