Outdoor Play Spaces.
So many people ask me what is required for setting up their home for Family Day Care. The sub question is 'How much will it cost?' There are so many simple ideas for outdoor play that do not need to cost the earth. Children need to be able to participate in the rhythm of your garden
Packing crates come in all shapes and sizes and can be collected very cheaply from industrial warehouses. Keep you eye out for a crate that could be a planter box to suit your garden. Planting is so important in Early Childhood Education. Children learn so much about season, the timing and origins of things and how the natural environment works. Learning what can grow during seasonal and climate change gives children direct contact and experience with the natural world. The joy and simple pleasures of growing herbs and simple vegetables is only surpassed by the realisation that you can eat it. Most children do not like 'green' vegetables but all will eat it if they grew it themselves!
On the right is another type of packing crate with a simple vegie garden.
If you have the money or are handy with tools you may like to make a formal planter box with materials you can purchase from any hardware store.
It is important to consider your environment and the most practical way to liven it up. If you are wanting to charge good money for your services you will need to demonstrate good service. Too often we come to home visits and find bare concrete yards with a few stray weeds. This does not inspire me or make me feel confident to leave my children or part with my money. Think about the value of what you are offering. For a small investment of your time and a little money you will be able to create something magical!
Trampolines, Swings, Slides and sandpits.
Children are active. Think about how your backyard is setup to burn off steam. Yes, we encourage you to take children to the park at every opportunity (providing parents consent of course) but having a safe space that is contained in your home will make things run that little bit smoother. School aged children sometimes just need to 'swing' or 'jump' to gather their own thoughts after a long day at school. Put yourself in their shoes, they have come from a place that is structured, has rules required mental alertness and is often socially demanding. Providing a safe space for the children to unwind is paramount.
Sandpits offer a quieter and more reflective play space and are essential for growing up. Feeling sand, digging, building castles, smashing castles, making sand volcanoes with the hose are essential experiences when growing up. Your sand pit could be made from recycled creates as above, from children's plastic shell, bricks or logs. Get some shade cloth as a cover to keep the cats out and your sand!
Slides and cubbies will require a bit more thought and investment. A cubby can be as simple as a broom stick Tee Pee or can be more elaborate. It is better to involve the children in building the cubby if possible. Playing house, fetching cups of tea and practicing hospitality provides almost endless pleasure for young children.
Here is a simple cubby house made from recycled materials. If you are seeking a bigger investment there are plenty of pre built concepts like below.
Keep your eyes open. There are plenty of 'freecycle' and local 'buy swap and sell' groups on Facebook and in your local communities. You never know what you might find!