6 Things You Need to Have When Outfitting Your Classrooms
So you have a facility, a start date, childcare management software, and have begun hiring and enrollment. Great! Assuming you have the necessary capital or have secured childcare financing, now is the time to start outfitting your new building. Whether you are starting from scratch or renovating an old space there are a few things you need to know to effectively outfit your classrooms.
The first thing to consider is what age group will be utilizing each classroom. Preparing a classroom for infants and toddlers is much different than preparing a school-age space. Once you’ve defined the age group and type of program then you are ready to get started building a list of items you need.
When outfitting a class with furniture and supplies, here are six things you need to have.
You will need chairs for the children and teachers, and a rug for circle time (depending on the age group). Older age groups need actual chairs while you may opt for less formal seating areas for younger groups, like a reading corner with bean bags and pillows. Purchasing high quality stackable chairs is the best of both worlds as it creates flexibility in your layout from day to day.
Depending on your class and your design you may need individual desks, small activity areas, larger work areas, and teacher preparation areas. I recommend purchasing sturdy tables for your classrooms. These are not items you’ll want to skimp on to save money as you’ll want your furniture to be safe and long-lasting.
An organized classroom is inviting for children. You will need to purchase or build cubbies for backpacks, shelves to organize supplies, and baskets, bins and bookshelves to store your materials. Having an organized classroom increases professionalism and efficiency while providing a calm and welcoming environment. Make sure you have a place for everything from day one. This will help you maintain your organized space over time. If organization is not your thing, use websites like pinterest to find inspiration for the design and organization of your classrooms.
4. Curriculum Materials
These needs will vary based on district, age group, and educational philosophy, but you will need to purchase books, a wall calendar (for toddlers), manipulatives, pencils, crayons, paper and anything else your particular curriculum requires. Some prepared curriculums have materials that you can purchase from them directly which saves you having to source your own supplies.
5. Art Supplies
This also depends on the age group, but I recommend focussing on art supplies for all ages. These are things like paints, colouring supplies, paper, glue, scissors, glitter, craft supplies, and so much more! Starting out with a good stock is great, but don’t feel you need to have absolutely everything on day one. You can always add to this supply as your teachers begin lesson planning and have more specific requirements.
6. Creative Play Items
Play-based learning is a big part of any child’s education. Supplies in this category exclude furniture and formal curriculum and include anything else children will play with. Of course these will vary significantly for each age group. This could be anything from puppets to sports equipment to baby dolls to dress up clothes. Ensure that the items you purchase are age and developmentally appropriate for each classroom. Creating a toy rotation in each classroom can maintain excitement and focus learning, while allowing for proper cleaning of toys - especially important these days. Of course fewer toys makes for easier organization and cleanup too!
As you begin the outfitting process remember that your goal is to create a space where the children in your care will be comfortable, able to learn, and free to create. A clean, well organized, and developmentally appropriate space with quality furniture and supplies will set you up for success not just today but for years to come!
My advice to centers just starting out is to do it right from the start. Spend the money on your start up budget and do it right. This will save you money in the long run. Purchasing furniture and supplies that last long-term will save you time and money over the years while providing a safer environment for the children in your care.
Starting a new classroom or centre is an exciting time - I wish you the best of success in your new venture!