Since making the decision to start up a Family Day Care business in my home I have had quite a few readers ask me for tips on setting up my environment or how I plan to do it.
As I am nearly ready to begin I thought it might be nice to share with you how I have set up our home to be an inviting child and family friendly space (I hope!)
I don't have a garage or dedicated separate playroom space, we don't have the room for that but I also get a little stir crazy if I am confined to one room in a house for too long with kids!
I also feel strongly that the appeal of home child care is that children are welcomed into a home environment perhaps not so different to their own but which offers opportunities for social interaction, learning and play within a safe and not overwhelming atmosphere. Especially wonderful for babies and toddlers who may be experiencing their first separation from parents/caregivers.
As we have the toddler twosome, our house was already child friendly and we have had to accept that much of our previous room design needed to be modified as they grew from babies. So stretching to make the spaces also inviting and productive for a family day care business hasn't been a big imposition. You might feel differently if you don't have young children of your own though!
So instead of one area dedicated to child care I have tried to incorporate lots of little child friendly and yet also family friendly spaces within our home….Let me share some of them with you…and my reasoning behind them.
This is our little book and quiet area. The toddler twosome love to curl up here for a story and at night we all lie on the pillows with just the lamp on above us to read our bedtime stories!
Books on the shelf are rotated each week and there is also a little basket especially for board books. By rotating we can rediscover old favourites and find some new ones too! It also offers a nice space for simply having some quiet time when needed.
Regulations require that glass in a care area is now safety glass and therefore won't shatter if an incident is to occur. As we live in an older style house this has been difficult to ensure. Some panels on our french doors we have been able to add a safety film to but the older style bobbly glass can prove difficult to attach the film to. Since we are still in the process of refurbishing all the old doors and windows in this house I didn't want to spend too much money as yet so we have come up with the idea of a few wooden boards to cover the difficult bits!
This one at the front door we turned into a chalkboard which the toddler twosome are loving!
This is our little ‘Home Corner‘ area and it changes around often. It's located near the kitchen so the girls currently love to cook in their kitchen while I am getting dinner ready in mine! I can also see them easily.
It has a mix of new wooden props such as cakes and fruit for cutting as well as some lovely ‘real life' homely touches collected from op shops and around our own house. The drawers currently hold lots of different props that can be accessed or I often change things around every few weeks. I'd love a nice plain wooden kitchen set but this is what we have currently so I try and make it work.
This area has also become a doctors office, an ice cream shop,, a fruit shop, grocery store (they love those white shopping baskets!) and much more…just by introducing a few new props each time.
It's quite small but the girls love the enclosed feeling and play in there a lot more since I moved a lounge in front of it to form a wall. It also allows us to maintain a little dining room space for ourselves!
In front of our main lounge area I converted our TV entertainment unit into a space for building and construction toys and prompts. There are blocks of various sizes and materials as well as baskets of loose play items such as packing peanuts, wool and felt bits and pieces and anything else I might have recently collected. They get changed around regularly too.
Blocks are stored in big plastic tubs in a cupboard and then emptied into baskets and onto shelves ready for selection…by changing things around regularly it keeps the children engaged and looking forward to new challenges.They are easily accessible and don't need to be put ‘out' for them to be able to choose and begin building.
There were glass doors on this cabinet which were lovely…but not safe and I actually think the baskets make the room feel nice and cozy anyway!
This cabinet is a piece of furniture that I have turned into a puzzle shelf for now….it's all about using what you already have! Again I put a selection of age appropriate (as well as a few more challenging puzzles) out each few weeks and then change them around.
By turning shelves like this sideways it creates smaller, more friendly spaces for children to play in as they wish. Just because the puzzles are there doesn't mean they have to stay there but it does give a base for packing up time!
I change this area around often….it has a mat so it tends to be for construction/building or quieter activities. At the moment you can see my dress up trolley, our dollhouse (that Daddy built!) and some favourite Little People set up for play. The dress up trolley has baskets underneath which hold bags, shoes, hats, scarves etc to add to their dress ups! There is also a mirror at the end for checking out your finery!
This area leads into the block area to which I have added a little round table which is mainly used for fine motor type activities and smaller block building.
On the other side of the table is a set of shelves against a wall…on the top shelves I have resources only accessed by me and the rest of the shelves hold different baskets of toys which are again rotated every few weeks.
The shelves along the bottom are the most popular toys at the moment and easily accessible at any time. I'm in the process of adding picture label cards to the front of each basket to help with self selection and packing up.
The back verandah is the area we will be using for our home daycare entrance. There is a side gate into the backyard and then a few steps up onto the verandah. This will help keep our family entrance separate from care .
I haven't completed this area yet but you get the idea…there is a noticeboard, a few more boards covering the glass which will actually become little art centres, a table for parent sign in/paperwork and today's craft requirements as well as a fridge for food and drinks.
There are hooks for bags and hats and this area then leads onto another play area…
This space is invaluable in wet or cold weather…we have a lot of fun out here and again I often change it around and add different toys.
At the moment there is a table for snacks or play or craft, a whiteboard for storytime, music or just exploring, a kitchen area, lounges for snuggling on to read a story or share a game, a ball pit in the box and obviously much more!
The only drawback is that because of all those windows I can't have furniture or climbing hazards underneath of course. Would love to have some shelves but it just won't work and safety comes first!
These are my main areas of play and where care will take place within the home…but to be honest regular readers will know that we will mostly be found outdoors playing! This is where most of our craft and messy activities will take place too.
This environment is currently set up for 2-4 yr olds as I only have my girls but obviously there would be the addition of more age appropriate materials and some things being put up higher if younger children and babies were in care. It is easy to modify if you start with an organised and child friendly space.
And although I like to have defined areas such as puzzles, blocks, books etc….it doesn't mean I will make children stay and play in those areas with only those materials….it just offers an environment where children know where to find things and how to help pack away. It also encourages them to seek out a space on their own if they feel they need to.
When we have done a little more work on our outdoor environment I shall share some of the changes we had to make to adhere to regulations and my philosophy on outdoor play!