Design elements, layout, and color, affect humans, both emotionally and physically. A well-designed daycare facility is all about crafting the perfect environment in which children placed in your care can learn and develop.
By giving careful thought to the design of your space, the number of children you will serve, and the core areas to be established, you ensure the end result is a secure and comfortable space for both staff and children.
Do Your Groundwork
Before deciding on the design elements, you want to incorporate into your daycare center, pay a visit to other daycare facilities with a good reputation in your area. Pay attention to their layout and design features and, if possible, ask the staff what works well for them and what does not. This way, you will get a feel of what items you need to invest in.
A successful daycare center has defined areas that are mostly dependent on the ages of the children your facility will service.
1. Entrance Area
This should be welcoming with storage facilities available where children can stow their backpacks and coats. The lockers should have an open front and be size appropriate. Look to adding a front porch. This not only offers protection from the weather but adds a warm community feeling to your daycare center.
2. Classroom Storage Systems
By equipping your facility with school furniture specifically designed and scaled for use by children, you are increasing their independence and competence. Storage should be open with no doors so that children can access the materials required.
3. Classroom Layout
Ideally, your aim should be to strike a balance between all your core areas. Invest in daycare furniture that is freestanding and easy to move if the need arises. Built-in fixtures limit the use of your space in the future. Use rugs to designate areas for quiet time and nap time. Make the areas cozy by making use of soft beanbags and pillows for little ones to get comfortable.
Designating an area for ‘messy’ art work and projects is a good call. The site should have a water-resistant floor and adult, and child height sinks for cleaning up activities.
Typically, the largest area in the classroom, a free activity area needs to be versatile to suit a range of activities from play through to reading. This area can also be a designated meal area.
4. Age-Specific Areas
If your daycare facility is going to accommodate infants, you will need to address their needs by installing a diapering station with adequate storage for supplies within easy reach. Infant care programs like the one Thrive offers have a diapering schedule every two hours, unless needed more often.
Toddlers and infants need nap times, and for this, you will require an area that is noise-free and separate from the rest of the classroom. Furnish with cots, mats, and other daycare furniture designed to create a restful environment.
5. Teachers Prep Station
A workstation for the teacher provides a dedicated area for preparing the day’s activities. It does not have to be large but should incorporate a counter and lockable filing cabinets. Position it so the teacher can still observe the classroom.
6. Color and Light
Ideally, the color of classroom walls should be muted and warm to introduce visual variety onto the walls through children’s artwork, toys, and equipment.
The importance of light plays a significant role in the design of childcare space. Aim for a balance between artificial and natural light and, if possible, maximize your window space.
As you can see, it is not only careful planning and a passion for working with children that goes into making a great daycare center. The layout and design of your facility, whether non-residential or home-based, is perhaps the most pivotal of all to its success.