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One of the great benefits of an In-home Childcare program is that it has a warm and welcoming environment. When you open your home to a child they are still surrounded by similar objects (comfy furniture and similar living spaces), similar smells (home cooking), and sights that they have come to know at home. This can make the transition much easier for them.
You may find that after a while you feel overwhelmed by the number of toys, bright primary colors, and all of the "stuff" that comes along with the territory of being an In-home Childcare Provider.
Whether you are a Childcare Provider without a "dedicated" Childcare Space, or you would prefer to have the toys hidden in the evening while you are enjoying your home with your family, I hope you will find some new ways to add "Learning Spaces" into your home- while still maintaining a "home-like environment".
Keep reading to check out the tips ....
Tip 1: Storage
Although it's rarely talked about -one of the key areas in any Daycare is storage. You will need it. Even if you have a dedicated space you will still need storage to rotate your toys, hold your supplies etc.
Take some time to walk around your home to see where you can carve out some storage space. You might have extra room in your garage, laundry room or even an unused closet.
Any of these options can be dedicated to storage.
Under bed storage is also a great option for those who might be limited on space. If you have a small bedroom that isn't sufficient enough to use as a "Play Room", consider dedicating it to storage. The concept with utilizing your storage is to keep everything stored out of sight-and then rotate the items in and out of your living space.
This window seat tutorial featured on Mommy Vignettes provides a ton of storage and still maintains a sense of style.
Tip 2: Learning spaces don't need to be "Huge"
Go small. You can still create learning spaces in a small area without the need to designate a huge area to it.
Re-create things, but make them smaller such as just using a Cookie tray instead of a Magnet Wall.
Tip 3: Don't lose your sense of style!
It's not necessary to paint your home bright primary colors if it's not your "thing". You can still add personal touches such as designer curtains, stylish fabrics and pillows (just make sure they can be easily laundered).
For storage, consider adding natural baskets instead of plastic bins which will still allow you to maintain a sensor of "adult" decor.
Traci P. of Traci's Child Care & Early Education added an ABC wall to her space, but still maintained her own sense of style. She also didn't shy away from using a stylish rug and fabrics for her space.
Tip 4: Hide it!
When you are purchasing furniture, consider the nooks and crannies.
You can add baskets below coffee tables, and under end tables.
Choose furniture with drawers, or that has space for bins.
Add baskets or attractive bins to your Entertainment Center to contain your toys. Use shelves to display puzzles or individual toys. Store construction blocks, Vehicles, or Plastic Animals in attractive canvas bins.
Here is an example of Arts & Crafts supplies that are hidden inside kitchen cabinets. Consider paring down your supplies, and contain what's left in baskets, and school supply boxes for easy storage.
Invest in Ottomans with built in storage. They come in a variety of sizes and textures. They are great for holding larger toys, and dress up clothes. Look for ottomans with reversible tops that can be used as child height table tops for playing.
Tip 5: Use your whole house
Consider placing a pretend kitchen in your kitchen if space permits. Working alongside children is a great opportunity to model. Make your existing furniture do double duty. A Buffet or Hutch is a great option for storing art supplies. Consider using magazine holders for craft paper, and a caddy for portable art supplies.
Tip 6: Go Portable
If space doesn't permit, consider going portable. You can use portable carts to create portable Art, Science or Math Centers. In the evening, just roll them away.
Creating a "Kit" is another fun way to go portable. Your possibilities are endless. Using a bin, a lunchbox or a carrying container you can create "Kits" that hold Construction Toys, Arts & Crafts, Science, or Fine Motor activities. They have their own "home", and are easy to put away in the evening.
Portable Circle Time Space:
I created this Circle Time Binder for providers who were short on space. This portable option allows Childcare Providers to cover the basics of Circle Time without dedicating a whole wall to it.
Portable Dramatic Play Spaces:
This adorable DIY Play Stove from My Delicious Ambiguity is another fun portable option. I really like how you can store your pretend cooking items, and play food right inside.
I love the versatility of this roll up kitchen play mat from Very Mom. You can use this kitchen mat in any room of your home (even on the floor). It also encourages the children to use their imagination.
Portable Transportation Space
You can find the tutorial on how to make this adorable portable Car Play Kit over at
Mama Papa Bubba
Find out how to create this Mini Light Table from A Little Pinch of Perfect
Tip 7: Think "Activities" vs. "Spaces"
Don't have room to put a slide inside? or a climbing structure? Create opportunities for Gross Motor play through activities! Get those bodies moving with some Dancing, Marching or a fun game of Limbo.
Tip 8: Create Invitations
Using a box, basket, bin or tray create an invitation to play. Fill them with items that children can use to create, explore. build, or design with. These invitations can be created for any topic or area of interest and can be created to focus on a specific skill building activity. Here is a great article from Deb Curtis on creating invitations for play.
This Invitation to build was created by My Nearest and Dearest
Tip 9: Create learning spaces outside
Have a lot of space outside? Spend more time outside! Any learning space you create indoors, can also be created outdoors as well. Take a look at my post on how to create learning spaces in your outdoor area.
Tip 10: Give them freedom
Children are inventive. From using cardboard boxes to create playhouses, blocks as play food, to drawing their own scenes for their construction spaces, we can help foster their creativity by giving children the freedom to create their own items.
For additional ideas on "Hidden Toy Storage", follow my Hidden Toy Storage board:
I hope you've found tips that you can put to work!
Please be sure to share your Tips in the comments!
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