My Daycare Decor -Waldorf Simplicity Mixed with Preschool Learning

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A reader asked me recently how I balance decor and functionality in my home daycare.  This is an interesting question and one that often pulls me in opposite directions.  If my daycare was set up separately from my home, I would organize the space in a specific way.  On the other hand, if my home did not involve a daycare, it would be decorated differently.  I have tried my best to set up my home so that it works well for my business and my home life.

My home daycare is Waldorf inspired but is more of an eclectic mix of all of the best early childhood practices I have discovered over the years.  I turned the living room and dining room space into the daycare playroom because I feel the presence of natural light is very important for children.  I wanted the daycare to be filled with natural light, soft colours and healthy green plants.

Waldorf Kindergarten rooms are quite simplistic.  They felt bare to me at first because I was used to teaching in the over stimulated/cluttered wall displays that is the norm of preschool classrooms.  However, once I spent a day in a Waldorf classroom, I could feel the magic it held.  The classroom felt open and full of possibilities but also nurturing.  These were the feelings that I tried to replicate when I set up my home daycare.  I loved the wooden toys, the draping silk cloths and the little nature tables with knitted animals or gnomes.  Google ‘Waldorf Kindergarten Images’ and you will see what I am talking about.

Here is my home daycare playroom.

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I hung a big patterned cloth on the wall behind one toy shelf.  The wall hanging is mounted on a long stick I found at my cottage.  This adds warmth and a closeness to the biggest open area in the playroom.  The opposite toy shelf has a few pictures on the wall. I painted the walls yellow because I wanted the room to feel inviting and sunny.

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The children’s pretend kitchen area is set up by the front window. This area has a few pictures for the children at their level.

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I placed this wooden shelf across the kitchen area to create a divider.  Creating different areas in a room helps direct the children into different types of sustained play.

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I have my Waldorf nature table set up on the top of one toy shelf.  It is high enough to be away from toddlers’ busy hands but low enough that the preschool kids can see it easily.  Everything in the playroom is designed for the children to touch and explore except for the Nature Table.  The nature table is a ‘looking only’ area.  To learn more about the significance of a nature table read this post and watch the video.

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The far end of the playroom has two sofas and had a train table in it.  Sometimes the trains were set up and sometimes I put out table top toys. There is a low coffee table there now with storage bins underneath it.

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I have a wooden interactive wall puzzle at the children’s level.  The kids can move cars, houses and trains around the grooves of the wall puzzle.

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The two sofas create a corner area that has a soft throw rug and pillows. The leaf is mounted to the wall above this area.  It’s helpful to lower the ceiling space in a quiet area like this because it has a calming effect on children.  This is the perfect spot to read a book.

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The plants in the playroom are up high or out of reach and the three lights are all mounted from the ceiling to avoid tipping hazards. My goal was to create a simple feeling in the playroom. I wanted it to be uncluttered but not bare. I tried my best not to squish as much as I could into each corner while still using the available space I had.  Once the children have the toys pulled off the shelves and are playing with them, it can easily get very chaotic.  

Limiting the number of toys that are out on the shelves and using a toy rotation system works wonders to avoid chaos.  Reducing the overall number of toys also works well to manage the toddler “dump everything on the floor but don’t play with any of it” phase. You can read more about this helpful toy rotation system here.  I have developed a method that works wonderfully so that the children are able and motivated to tidy up the playroom independently.  This allows the playroom to never get completely disorganized.  You can read about it here.

Since I deliver a preschool program in my home daycare, I do have ‘teachy’ things that I display for the children in the kitchen. Here is an alphabet I had on my kitchen cabinets for a few years. 

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I also had a black board and a painting easel in the kitchen for years.  Here is a letter poster clipped on it. This made it easy and quick to take down the posters when the children used the black board.  I slipped the posters behind the wooden shelves on the left hand side of the photo when not in use.

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One year I conducted calendar time every morning while we ate morning snack. The calendar is simply attached to the painting easel using these large clips.

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The easels worked well because I was able to put up and take down reference posters (numbers, shapes, letters) as we talked about them.  This one also had a great storage shelf under the easel.  I would put my materials in a large bin with a snap lid that just slid under the shelf.  This kept the contents safe from tiny hands.

I  hang artwork up to dry on the horizontal cord that my patio door blinds run on. It’s the perfect makeshift clothesline.

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I am lucky to have an ample amount of pantry cupboards in the kitchen.  I cram all my food into one section and the other section is filled with craft supplies, teaching materials, books and homeschool supplies. It is essential that I have an area that is off limits for the young children but still handy for me.

I have designed the daycare space so that I don’t have to constantly say ‘no’ to the toddlers.  Shelves are bolted to the wall and everything is at their level so they can access the toys they want to explore.  The items that I don’t want them to touch are all up high or behind cupboards or closet doors.  This creates a ‘yes’ environment for them and it makes them much more agreeable. 🙂 Here is a link to my childproofing blog post.

Every year when I plan my new teaching units and daycare activities I adjust the decor to make delivering the program easier for me.  This year I’m using my felt board quite a bit and I’m storing it in the playroom under one couch.  It slides under perfectly and I push it far enough back that short arms can’t reach it. I’ve moved the easels out of the kitchen and now I have a piano beside one wall!

I have also had a theme table in past years set up in the playroom that displayed books and items that the children were encouraged to explore.  The objects on the table changed every two weeks as the theme changed.  This was a Fall Leaves theme display.

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I hope these pictures gave you some ideas for your own home daycare decor. Good luck and happy decorating!

 

 

 

 

Comments

  1. Karen McCain says

    As a stay at home mom of 3 toddler boys (2.5yr twins and 13m old), This post feels very relevant to me. I am trying to figure out a way to organize day to day life, increase educational activities, minimize tv, encourage gentleness in play, etc. We are in a small apartment most of the week without transportation. We have a playground nearby, but weather and behavior dictate when we can use it. I’m struggling with some things that I expect you have mastered – leaving kids out of sight while preparing meals, using the restroom, taking kids to the restroom (every 20 minutes it seems). They can be quite destructive and even violent when unsupervised so I always end up with three kids in my bathroom a dozen times a day which turns into wasted water, wet clothes and slippery floors. We eat frozen precooked finger foods. Do you have a post that outlines your day? I’m stumped. I rarely make it out of my pjs and I start the day feeling behind. The tv comes on early, the kids get hyper, I’m exhausted, And the cycle continues. Advice?

    • HowToDaycare says

      Good question Karen. A routine will turn your chaotic day into a beautiful relaxed day that simply flows from one activity to the next. Your twins are at the perfect age to jump on board a daily routine and give you a huge hand with your 13 month old. We can fix this so that your children are so comfortable with the routine they tidy up toys independently and spend an hour resting quietly every day so you get a break.

      That is the good news. The bad news is that it takes everything working together to create this beautiful system. You need your routine set up, your toy system set up, your outdoor time set up, your meal routine set up, your screen time limited and your positive behaviour management techniques working to make sure everyone is happy and safe. A short answer won’t bring you the result you are seeking.

      You could read ALL my posts on my blog to get a good start of what this involves. I’d like to suggest you sign up for one of my Skype sessions. I do one-on-one support for new caregivers and parents who are seeking a personalized action plan to get them on track. You can message me personally if this interests you and I can tell you the cost. Or, I would suggest starting with this post about the importance of a daily routine, https://www.howtorunahomedaycare.com/articles/your-daily-daycare-routine/

  2. Kimberly Smith says

    Hello there,
    I would really like to thank you for your, Starting an At Home Daycare article. I am a parent to a 14yr old and a college age young adult and I am seriously considering this option as a new career. I loved the earnestness of the article and enjoyed the suggestions as to how she operates her daycare and how the particular methods help her business run so smoothly. I’d love more articles about the pros and cons, ups and downs and everything in between of getting a daycare up and running. Thank you for the advice!
    Kimberly S. in Memphis, Tn.

    • HowToDaycare says

      Kimberly, thanks for the comment. I have a great little e-book that will be up in my store soon. Section one involves a candid look at a home daycare provider’s job-The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. This will give you a good look into the pros and cons. I also do one-on-one Skyping sessions if you are interested in having a list of questions answered or a daycare plan created for your own personal situation. Message me personally if this interests you. I’m currently working on a online course that will cover the ‘everything in between’ of getting a daycare up and running. Stay tuned! Jana

  3. Pattie Haire says

    I am hoping for some ideas – I live in about 900 sq feet and operate a licensed home child care. I feel like my home is over run with my child care!! Can you give me some simple ideas to downsize but yet still keep my kids engaged?? But also want to be able to live in the space. I have considered turning my dining room into my child care but it is maybe a 10 x 10 space. Do you think that is too confining?

    • HowToDaycare says

      I have two posts about small space solutions. You can check them out here; https://www.howtorunahomedaycare.com/articles/small-space-playroom-solutions/ and https://www.howtorunahomedaycare.com/articles/working-with-a-small-washroom/
      Try using pull-out activities if you have limited space. Ex- organize your toys into different stackable bins and only pull out one bin at a time. Be creative where you store your bins (under furniture, kitchen cabinets, closets, under beds). I prefer to use almost every room in my house for my childcare because it makes my work life easier. Most of my time is spent working (9 hrs a day, 5 days a week) so it makes sense that most of my house is adapted for daycare. Try having one room in your house (mine is my bedroom) that is a daycare free zone that you can retreat to at the end of a long work day. I would use your dining room as one of your daycare play spaces for sure. It’s a bit small to be the only space the children play in. You could organize your toy/supply bins on one whole wall and have the other space open for play. Make sure to take the kids outside twice a day to your local park or for a walk. It will make their indoor play calmer and more focused. This is helpful when you have limited space. If you would like a more detailed response, message me privately and we can set up a time to Skype. Good luck Pattie! Jana

  4. That is an awesome idea of sharing home with daycares. You have created a very good place for kids. I loved the spot where kids can read books and the idea of lowering the ceiling with a leaf is a quite great idea.

  5. I think these are great ideas for keeping the kids engaged, particularly calender time!

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