Sunday, August 3, 2014

Setting up shop: preparing for a license

Last week my home went through the pre-licensing inspection by the Department of Early Education and Care. It was great to get feedback on how things were set up and the quality of making a safe place for children to play.
In order to have your home inspected, you must: prepare all of your paperwork, have a plan for curriculum, have your space set up as if you were opening the next day, applied with DEEC (includes fee, background checks, PQ registry), have up to date physical and immunizations.
Most of the things were common sense: plastic plugs in the electrical outlets, gates on the stairs, furniture has to be secured to prevent tipping. One thing that had to change was moving my changing table away from an area that could be used as food prep space. I ended up completely rearranging my space (of course, right?). I have to say, I am pleased with the changes.
The new layout creates a classroom type space in my small room with storage for lunch boxes, coats, and a microwave. The large room is set up purely as play space, with supplies for napping as well. The new layout also makes it easier to supervise children, even if they are playing in different areas of the play space.
Now I have time for the bigger job, organizing the garage.  Oh dear.

These are some things that I did to create a child friendly play space that addresses all areas of development:
Emotional & Language: Add mirrors and song lyrics to the wall to encourage development of self awareness, allow exposure to print, and encourage singing and dancing. Mirrors are also great for identifying emotions - and making silly faces at each other - very important stuff.
Fine Motor: Use sturdy shelving to display age appropriate materials that is easily accessible. Provide activities that encourage multiple types of play: building, counting, matching colors & shapes, making music & noise, pretend play, cooperative games, puzzles, lacing, creating, exploring, self-expression. 
Social skills: Create multiple areas for play. Include space for large group activities, pretend play, desk play, reading, creating art, individual or partner play, and resting or relaxing.
Cognitive: Plan to use some space for school readiness activities. Songs, poems, finger plays, observing the weather,  learning how a calendar is used, introduction to identifying and forming letters, counting and identifying numbers, identifying and making patterns with shapes, and incorporating the children's names are all tools that aid the transition into kindergarten. It also allows for practice of social skills that are very different from casual relationships at home: turn taking in a group, sitting with friends, taking turns while talking, following a routine.
Self Help: Have a plan for meal times. A kitchen can be child proofed and used in a child care or you can have materials in the play space dedicated to the child care. I chose to do this because the child care is downstairs and my kitchen is upstairs. Items needed daily, like plastic ware, microwave, fridge, can be accessed easily. Keep in mind wires must be tucked away, the fridge temperature must be maintained, and to store medicines in locked containers if they must be refrigerated. 
Gross Motor: My fence! I love my fence. An outdoor space should be large enough for children to run and play, include areas with shade and sun, and provide various activities for gross motor development. Building a fence (with a gate for emergency exit) not only help make the area safe, but can be used to help build forts, hang sheets for painting, and secure larger toys - like our little basketball hoop that just loves to fall over. Keep in mind that any climbing equipment should have a proper fall zone and that may include putting in mulch.


What have you done to expose your child to the various areas of development?

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