The Right Space For Infants
Creating the floor plan of a daycare classroom for infants requires a bit of planning. All infant classrooms need a place for cribs or sleeping places. Ideally, the napping area is separated from the play area, providing a quiet atmosphere for snoozing children. Understandably, it is not always possible in a daycare environment. Containing the sleeping area in a quiet corner of the room is sufficient. The sleeping area should be as far away from the kitchen, ringing telephone, and classroom door as possible. Keep this area of the room softly lit.
Infants need a safe room, free from debris and choking hazards, to explore the environment. Infants spend most of their day on the floor, creeping, crawling and rolling.
It is possible to separate an infant classroom into separate learning centers. A soft climbing area, an area for pulling to a stand, and ample room for crawling without many obstacles are examples of some areas that can be included. Visit other child care centers and make note of the floor plans when considering the setup of your own location.
Toddler classrooms look very different from infant classrooms. They often have a preschool feel to them, with shelving and tables used to create learning centers. The biggest difference between infant and toddler classrooms is the lack of cribs in the toddler room. Most toddlers will nap in the afternoon on cots, freeing up more space for play and learning.
A large group gathering area will be necessary, even though circle times should be kept to a maximum of ten minutes at a time. A large rug is usually ample space for a classroom of toddlers. If it isn't possible to have a large rug in your classroom, carpet squares from a rug store that can be picked up and put away after circle time are sufficient.
A toddler classroom should also contain a sensory table that is available at all times, a quiet reading area, and an area for creating art. The sensory and art areas can be combined if space is an issue. All sensory and art spaces should be in an area that can be cleaned easily, and near a sink if possible. Quiet reading areas should contain soft pillows or chairs for sitting comfortably and exploring books. Provide spaces on the floor for larger toys such as wooden train sets, large Lego sets, and building blocks. A home living area with dress up clothes, dolls, and kitchen items can be included in the floor plan of a daycare center. An area for manipulative toys should also contain a low table with several chairs.
Preschool classrooms are often larger than toddler classrooms, providing space for more children. The materials contained in a preschool setting should be more challenging than the toddler classroom, but the basic floor plan of a daycare classroom can be the same.
Developmentally, preschoolers have longer attention spans than toddlers, and therefore are able to participate in longer circle times. Again, a large carpet or carpet squares can be used for this area. Art and sensory areas can be larger than in a toddler classroom, and will contain more materials to explore. Glue and scissors can be included at all times in these areas, as well as small items such as buttons or beads for collages. A preschool classroom can have a dedicated science area with different kinds of rocks, plants, seeds, magnifying lenses, and magnets. Use the science area to display some nonfiction books.
Home living and manipulative areas should also be included in preschool classrooms. Quiet reading areas should contain pillows and soft seating for reading. A listening center with CD players with headphones can be located nearby for listening to music or recorded stories. Most preschool classrooms also contain an area for computers. Since this is a relatively quiet activity, it can be located near the reading center.
Sometimes, the best ideas come from observing other floor plans of a daycare classroom. Make an appointment and visit another center. Visit with the teachers and ask questions. Find out what works best for them. Use all resources available to you to create a warm and developmentally appropriate floor plan for your location.