Designing a child care home can be very tricky especially if you do not have a designated large sized room. Making sure there are child appropriate furniture, equipment, and toys can also make combining all ages difficult. I am fortunate to have a large room where I can have the children’s play area set up into different centers. I would say the most challenge that home daycare’s have is the age combination and finding the right areas for each age group. For example, small blocks and coloring items are placed at a table outside of the designated toy area. This ensures that infants and young toddlers do not get their hands on a choking hazard. Furniture needs to be adaptable so that every child can feel comfortable. I supply different types of furniture so that children can feel safe and comfortable no matter what the age group is. I have changed my rooms so often in the past 20 years that I have used every space in different ways to test how I would like them. I am content with my set up the way it is currently. But to say I never will change again is probably incorrect. I change my environment to complement the ages of children I care for.
I have been through so many change in the amount of time I have been providing care for children. Not just changes of my own but changes from DCFS. Having age appropriate materials and play materials is important. These items are developed for the child’s age and readiness. Having a child appropriate items will ensure the child will succeed and feel good about what they can accomplish. This will help build the child’s self- esteem and confidence that will help children grow and learn. Keeping children within ears and sight length can also be difficult, therefore having one open space for play helps me keep an eye on all the children in my care. Not everyone has this option. I also make sure any eating times are spent together in the same area to keep children safe. Safety check lists are performed every morning to ensure all hazards are covered and put away. Walking the outdoor play area is done before each outdoor time.
Providing a learning and play environment for several children of all age groups can be challenging but I find through the years I learn to use my space as efficiently as I can. It may take several trials and errors and even Pinterest ideas to finally make my space workable.