When it comes to designing a daycare space, I am getting pretty good at it! Now I’ve done it more than a few times, I thought it’d be a good idea to share my expertise with you. Because I know that if you dream it, you can design it!
Setting up your daycare space is one of the most exciting parts of being a childcare business owner. In my opinion, it’s often the fun bit because after that you gotta get serious! Who doesn’t enjoy shopping?! I’m talking getting awesome toys, buying furniture that looks interesting but is also functional…not to mention setting up all the different play areas!
However, before you go running off to Target, I want to share a few things I’ve learned!
Why your daycare space matters
Did you know that the environment is sometimes referred to as the “third teacher” (after parents and educators)? This is due to its importance in early learning, and this is why setting up your daycare space is more than just making it look nice. It’s been shown in research that kids thrive in environments that are tailored to their interests and developmental stages.
It’s important to make the daycare space warm and welcoming. You want children to feel “at home” but there must also be areas that create intrigue and get the kiddos exploring and trying new things! The different elements of an environment can have varying stimulation levels, which impacts how children play. For example, large open areas encourage movement, whereas more enclosed areas with softer furnishings encourage exploring or looking at books.
With this in mind, it’s clear that a rich and varied environment creates an excellent experience with loads of opportunities for the young learners!
Create a great learning environment
In these early stages of development, varied and interesting environments are so important. Not only are the kids learning new things in new environments, their brains are constantly applying all their knowledge of past experiences to newer ones!
You need to arrange your space wisely, because it can have an impact on how children behave. If a space is too open, you may find children running wildly, not noticing things you’ve put around the edge. Instead, you could divide the room into separate learning and play areas, using shelves or other furniture like couches. Usually this helps cut down on silliness and crazy running, and at the same time helps the children discover new activities. Another thing you can do is organize your daycare in a way that makes things easier for kids (and your team!). So stay organized with low, accessible (and secure!!) shelves.
Like I said before, it’s super important to make a plan before you go and run up your credit card bill in Walmart!
It’s a great idea to check out what other people are doing and get ideas. Don’t get caught up in comparison, just take a peek and see what’s working well for them. Get an idea of what you like or don’t like. Take a minute to consider what your style or ideal aesthetic is. Perhaps you want to use solely sustainable materials in your daycare space, or you studied Reggio Emilia and want a minimalist look?
Maybe you’d like to create a vibrant space that’s informed by your children’s cultural backgrounds? Or will you have a focus on a particular area, like STEM or the Arts?
I suggest setting up a Pinterest board of daycare spaces that inspire you and start collecting a variety of ideas to get your creative juices flowing. Delve a little deeper into what it is you like about each one of the pins. Then try and think about what might work in your daycare space, taking into consideration your size and specific layout.
Create boards for each area of your daycare – kitchen, play, outside space, change area, sleep area and so on.
Budgeting for your daycare space
It’d be incredibly easy to get carried away with designing a daycare space and before you know it you’ve gone way over budget. So, before you hit the shops or start to fill your online basket with items, really get clear on what’s in your budget.
If your finances aren’t quite where you wish they were (yet!) then make a list for the future and turn your focus to what you need right now. Take another look at that Pinterest board. Are there any ways you can recreate the ideas you’ve seen for less?
Create a dream board
Once I figure out my budget and the ideas start flowing, I create a dream board. It’s kinda like a vision board but solely focused on what you’d like your daycare to look and feel like. Start compiling cut-outs from magazines and brochures of your favourite things. Choose what aligns with your vision for your daycare.
Then as you start selecting and designing, you want to consider if the space will work for the run of your day. Will your layout flow well for your routines?
For example, will the older children need to walk through the baby’s sleeping area? Can you arrange and design the space to avoid things like that? And from a safety perspective, when you have designed it all, try thinking about it from a child’s view.
Do you have your layout designed yet? What stage are you at?
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