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?
Interested in becoming more involved in the community and to grow your business? Join us for more tips on how to make your childcare business the success it deserves to be! Or if you prefer Instagram, we share ideas and tips there too! We’re an army of childcare professionals who are sharing ninja-sharp skills to transform our businesses into childcare empires! This is Childcare Ownership all Grownup!
Recently I’ve been getting a lot of questions from Childcare Ninjas about how to find the perfect location for your childcare business. And it’s made me realize that actually it’s much more complicated than you might initially think.
When it comes to seeking out the ideal space and a location that suits my business needs, I’ve got a lot of experience. And it’s not merely about the place on the map! So, I’m going to share some tips with you here about how to find a place for your day care center.
Location, Location, Location!
I bet you’ve heard the phrase “location, location, location” at some point as it seems to float about a lot when someone’s opening a business. And sometimes these cliches are said often because they’re true! Yes, location really is key!
So you need to be thinking about where you’ll open your daycare. When you’re choosing a location, you’ve got to consider whether there’s a need in that specific area. Do you want it near a school or positioned in a community that serves a lot of young families? Make sure you do your research. Have a look at the shops and facilities offered in the area. Who do they cater for? Are your perceptions correct? After all, it’d be a poor business decision to locate your daycare center in a location where the older generations reside.
And while you’re contemplating a map and thinking about the socio-economics of the area, you need to simultaneously factor in your budget. Can you afford the outlay of a building in that area? Will it put strain on other elements of your business? Would it be better to rule out some of the higher end possibilities and give yourself breathing room for repairs and alterations? I’ve written more about opening your childcare on a budget here.
However, as important as the placing of your childcare setting is it’s not the only thing you’ve got to think about…
It’s not just the location that matters
The environment isn’t the only thing you ought to be thinking about when choosing a place for your business. Because when you’re running a daycare there are so many additional things you need to take into account. You can’t just choose an area you like and put down the deposit, collect the keys and expect it to be perfect. You’ve got to think about the building itself. Trust me! Because what works for one business doesn’t always work for a childcare based one.
And to find the right kind of space, I’ve found that it’s often best to start with the end in mind. So take some time to consider what you want your daycare to be like. To feel like. To look like. Create a vision. Actually sit down and map out – draw or cut and paste – a picture of what you want.
Without overthinking, trusting your intuition and gut feeling, answer some of these questions to get you started:
1. What age group do you want to serve?
2. What kind of ‘feeling’ or mood do you want to set?
3. Will you be hosting ‘courses’ or activities?
4. What ethos or values will you have and model?
Take some time out to reflect on these prompts and journal around them.
So what I’m suggesting is that the location for your childcare business isn’t the only thing to consider. Getting clear on your vision will help you to understand what kind of property you’re looking for.
A space to reflect your business
Once you’ve got clarity around what your values are and your vision for the space, you can start to look in a more logical way. For example, if you know you’re looking for an open plan space, then you can rule out properties that only have smaller rooms. If your vision includes access to an outdoor space or garden where the children can help you grow their own lunches, or explore outside, then you can eliminate the buildings that don’t have that kind of facility.
Don’t forget that the way a building is laid out has implications for ratios and the number of adults you’ll need. And the size of the rooms and total area of the floor space will impact how many children you can facilitate at one time.
There’s no right or wrong answer for what the space should look like. I know you don’t want to be a cookie-cutter daycare center. You want to stand out and let your Ninja personality shine through.
The choosing of space is as unique as you are! And no one but you will know when you’ve discovered the ideal spot for your daycare. I know that when I’ve gone hunting for the perfect daycare location and building, it’s been a whole lot quicker and less painful all-round when I’ve had a clear vision! You won’t waste time umming and aaahing about properties, and the realtor will thank you for that (and so will your family!).
Remember: Location is important, but so is the inside space!
I’m going to be talking a lot more about this in the Childcare Ninja Facebook group, so please come on in and join in the conversation! I wanna know if you’re finding it hard to seek out the perfect spot to open up your daycare.
If you enjoyed reading this and would like to get more involved, we’re an army of childcare professionals who are sharing ninja-sharp skills to transform our businesses into childcare empires! This is Childcare Ownership all Grownup! Interested in becoming a part of the community? Join us for more tips on how to make your childcare business the success it deserves to be! And don’t forget to follow us on Instagram!