Your ideal daycare space: Dream it, design it

Your ideal daycare space: Dream it, design it

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.
daycare space

Plan ahead!

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?

Get pinning!

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!

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Mindset: How growing your childcare business builds character

Mindset: How growing your childcare business builds character

We all have moments in our lives when things get frustrating. When things just aren’t happening fast enough and the good times seem a mile off. Is struggle something that builds character?

Sometimes it’s difficult to see the wood for the trees, isn’t it? And given all that’s happened in this bizarre year, I thought now would be a good time to think about why it’s important that while we grow our businesses, we also build our strength. So what can we do to develop our resilience and change our mindset?

This blog post is going to help you see how growing your childcare business builds character and tricky times are a blessing in disguise.

Patience builds character

Right now I’m in the process of trying to open a new daycare center and boy oh boy! It is taking FOREVER! Everything that could’ve been a little awkward has turned out to be a nightmare; and even all the things that should’ve been a walk in the park have given me headaches on the regular.

However, I am constantly having to remind myself that it’s all a learning curve. That it doesn’t matter how long I’ve been doing this for, I need to seek opportunities to grow and build on what I know. Every time I hit a stone in the road, I have to remind myself that it’s building my patience. I remember that I’m growing my resilience. And each moment adds to the evidence I have for how I thrive to succeed – even when times get tough.

So I am constantly repeating to myself “try and enjoy the journey”. And I wanted to write this to encourage you, too!

Take stock of your resilience

2020 has been quite the year, hasn’t it? Many of us have lost family members, good friends and people in our communities. The situation has brought with it not only health worries but financial uncertainty. So whatever situation you find yourself, I am sending you love from PA. But I’m also sending you a sprinkle of encouragement and a fistful of hope.

Because, while we might not know what’s waiting for us in 2021, and we’re under a veil of un-sureness as to what’s ahead…I don’t want you to feel like there’s nothing to look forward to. I want you to take stock of all the things you’ve achieved this year, despite there being a global pandemic. How safe you’ve made the children in your care feel, and how well you and your team have coped in spite of everything else going on.


Celebrate the positives (yes, even the tiniest ones!)

We’ve just celebrated Thanksgiving here in the US (which totally signals the end of the year is close), so let’s come out and finish 2020 on a high. Let’s look over the last year and list all the positives. What are you thankful for? What has helped you learn and grow as a business owner and how has that helped you build character? Dig deep and really celebrate the positives – notice the silver linings in the mundane everyday things you’ve been doing.

As a childcare business owner, you get to work with amazing families every day, and you’re often one of their most valued experts. You’ve enabled parents to keep sane during this madness, by looking after their babies for a day or two so they can get things done. No matter how stressful it might have been, you and your team have provided a harbor from the storm for those kids you care for.

I know that my situation allowed me to help a family have the happiest day of their lives during the crisis! What positives can you write down? Scribble all the positives into a notebook, or onto post-its, and celebrate with your family and your team. Create a gratitude tree or a thankfulness tree in your home, office, or daycare center. Ask others to contribute!

celebrate the small stuff

Flip the switch

It’s all about mindset. If you continually look for the bad things that have happened and get bogged down in all the negativity, you’re not going to feel good about moving forward. Whereas if you look for the progress markers from this year, seek out the good things that happened and celebrate them, then you’re going into 2021 with a good attitude. You’re showing the universe that you’re ready for anything!

I am sure you’ve seen your business surviving, and possibly thriving (seeing as we are recognized as essential now!), and that’s great. But it’s not just your business that’s growing. Situations like a global pandemic really emphasize how it builds character too.

There are so many hidden blessings, you’ve just got to look for them.

I hope this blog post has brought a smile to your face. These times are tough for many of us, but don’t let that stop you from going out there and bringing your game-face! You’re a Childcare Ninja, after all.

Also, if you liked this, I wonder whether you’ve found the Childcare Ninja Facebook group yet? 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!

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