I'm a mother of a busy 4-year-old boy and have been working in the childcare field for 15+ years. Throughout the years, I've learned that a few items are absolutely necessary (in my opinion) for running a daycare.
Furniture is the first essential for any daycare, so items such as lockers are great as they keep items organized and accessible. Organization is key in encouraging children to put things away for themselves independently. A great way to help organize a daycare is to put toys inside of a clear or open container so that the children can see what’s inside and where it goes; labelling the bins also helps with this. Items like the Preschool Enviro child Upholstered Furniture Set are wonderful as the pieces are comfortable, simple, durable and easy to wipe clean. Easily cleanable surfaces and furniture is definitely a must for daycares, as items need to be cleaned very often to ensure the health and safety of the children.
My overall must-have is engaging areas and toys for the children to interact with. For this, my top pick is a sand and water table and a sensory light table for all of the children's sensory exploration needs. Items that would be good to accompany these would be modelling sand, play foam, tree blocks and numbers and math signs. These tend to be items that most children don’t use often if they were to not attend a daycare centre, so thus they are already captivated by a new area and new materials to play with and expanding that play and learning. Adding simple materials and loose parts can do wonders for a child’s development and imagination to create.
My overall personal favourite area in daycare is an open, organized art area filled with all the materials available for the children to create with at their fingertips. Arts and crafts supplies, like loose paper, pencil crayons, markers, scissors, glue sticks, tissue paper, popsicle sticks, googly eyes, pom-poms, pipe cleaners and any other materials that a child can use to make anything they desire. This is a great area to add reusable materials to as well such as paper towel rolls, newspaper, Kleenex boxes, and old greeting cards and so on.
Daycares don't need to be busy and complicated; they just need those key areas for children to be fully immersed in to keep them constantly learning about themselves and their environment.
Written by Michelle Ducharme, an Early Learning and Childcare Supervisor in Alberta