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Building a New Center- Building Advice

  • 1.  Building a New Center- Building Advice

    Posted 12 days ago
    Good morning! I'm preparing to have a new building built for my daycare, in my area it turned out to be cheaper than buying a building and making necessary updates. So I get to basically make it how I want which is exciting! But it's also almost too much choice lol. So I'm  wondering, what are your favorite things about the building you work in? What are problem areas of your building? Any suggestions on unique architectural things I should add? I know one thing I want to do is put little windows down low where kids can look through them and see ther kids in the next room. Thoughts? Thanks!


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    Tamisha Sewell
    Owner
    The Treehouse Early Learning Center
    Independence KS
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  • 2.  RE: Building a New Center- Building Advice

    Posted 12 days ago
    Many architects have no idea what daily life in a classroom is like for teachers and children.  Look at where the entrances are for bathrooms - are they easy to keep an eye while standing just outside and seeing what else is going on in the room?  Remember, any ratio is with all of the people in the room - when you remove 1 staff member and 1 child for using the bathroom, the entire ratio changes. I've made architects change the walls on which the doors are on and programs have been so grateful!  Another place I've had problems with architects is making sure there is secure space for staff coats, purses, and some personal belongings.  They don't think about that stuff but it's so important for daily living.
    Make sure there is plenty of storage for materials and supplies - enough in the classroom so the staff doesn't have to leave often to stock up on daily items like paint, paper, etc. and major space for main storage.  A sink in each classroom at a low enough height for children to easily wash toys, hands, and who knows what else.
    Have easily washable floors with area rugs for gathering places.
    A large multi-purpose room is wonderful for large muscle activities in horrible weather and for gathering for events.  A staff and family lending library can be in or near the reception area.  A comfy place for a few families to chat while dropping off or early pickup is a plus. Of course, a staff break room (doesn't have to be large, but a quiet place to plan and gather thoughts).
    Watch to see that there are corners large enough to use for something. Architects don't usually get it that corners are valuable and often make them too small for practical use.  Enough outlets so that use of the room is not tied to the one or two outlets. As few fixed items as possible because early childhood people are ALWAYS re-arranging the furniture!

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    Ellen Cogan, MS Ed
    HILLTOP Early Childhood SERVICES
    www.earlychildinfo.com
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  • 3.  RE: Building a New Center- Building Advice

    Posted 11 days ago
    all great ideas !  an adult counter that can be dedicated to snack and work accommodations if possible . I just changed from
    a room with adult height work areas to child height . Hard on the back and too easy for little fingers to touch .

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    Nancy Engstrom
    teacher assistant
    rbcpcpreschool
    San Diego CA
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  • 4.  RE: Building a New Center- Building Advice

    Posted 11 days ago
    Hello Tamisha,

    Congratulations! How exciting to have the opportunity to design your Early Childhood Education Center. I have had several opportunities like this throughout my career. Some suggestions I found helpful to me as I designed the space in the Center include:

    • Getting references from the architects you are considering from clients who had the firm complete the drawings for the design of the Center
    • Requiring the architect read the local licensing regulation, NAEYC Accreditation Standards and Assessments items and the ITERS and ECERS to make sure the space addresses items in these resources, with regard to the facility. For example, sinks in close proximity to the area where staff changes infants and toddlers diapers
    • Ask the architect to go visit a Center Accredited by NAEYC and one other Center where you like the design of the space to give them a visual idea of what you want for your Center
    • Lots of storage space
    • Computer stations in each room for teachers. You might not be able to include purchasing what is needed for the computer stations when you open the Center, however I found it is better to have this done during construction than after the Center opens, when it can cost more to complete
    • A Lactation Room
    • Area for when children get sick and are waiting for someone to pick them up
    • If possible, an indoor All Purpose Room
    • Direct access to the playground from each room

    I hope this is helpful to you and  wish you all the best as you proceed to design and oversee the build out of your Center.

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    Robert Gundling, Ed.D.
    Better Futures LLC
    Senior Consultant
    Washington, DC
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  • 5.  RE: Building a New Center- Building Advice

    Posted 11 days ago
    Check out books by Jim Greenman (Exchange Press and Redleaf Press). They are very helpful with architectural questions relating to design in ECE. Before any good architect designs a building, they will ask you about how the building will be used and what you think you need for the building to function well.

    Another resource for thinking about the classroom environment and how children are learning is from NAEYC: https://www.naeyc.org/resources/pubs/yc/nov2015/emergent-curriculum

    Another book will beautiful ideas: Inspiring Spaces for Young Children (available on Amazon) - Jessica DeViney (Author), Sandra Duncan (Author), Sara Harris (Author), Mary Ann Rody (Author), Lois Rosenberry

    The above book comes with a companion guide to use for rating your space for how well it works for inspiring young children.

    I hope this helps.

    Nora

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    Nora Krieger, PhD
    Associate Professor Emerita/Past Chair NJEEPRE
    Bloomfield College/NJ Educators Exploring the Practices of Reggio Emilia
    Highland Park, NJ
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  • 6.  RE: Building a New Center- Building Advice

    Posted 11 days ago
    Child care design guide by Anita Rui Olds is the classic and essential text! Read it through and ask your architect to read it too.

    In my opinion the most important element is transition (how do parents and children enter and exit at arrival and departure? And how do children and teachers get from classroom to outside play yard. I love porches and decks! How do we bring the inside out and the outside in?)

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    Carol Murray
    Bard Nursery School
    Red Hook NY
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  • 7.  RE: Building a New Center- Building Advice

    Posted 11 days ago
    Building on what Carol Murray is saying. Jim Greenman gave a presentation years ago in NJ where he gave out papers with some ideas such as asking yourself and staff what do you do all day. This gave some indication of what needed to be included in the school design. He asked the question of teachers, staff, the director, children, and families.

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    Nora Krieger, PhD
    Associate Professor Emerita/Past Chair NJEEPRE
    Bloomfield College/NJ Educators Exploring the Practices of Reggio Emilia
    Highland Park, NJ
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  • 8.  RE: Building a New Center- Building Advice

    Posted 11 days ago
    Yes Nora! So many times we leave out the essential pedagogy of care and relationships and we make centers the resemble schools for bigger kids. Think about Bright Cubby rooms and places to take off muddy boots, mud rooms, places to store extra clothes when kids get messy or have accidents, sinks, sinks, sinks, places for teachers and parents to feel that they belong and are not tripping over one another, places where teachers can wash dishes or prepare snack without leaning over child sized sinks and counters and breaking their backs, furniture that is light and can be moved when needed for nap time or movement/dance indoors,windows that take advantage of natural light and grow indoor plants and let children wave goodbye to parents at arrival and allow for bird watching.... oh, how I love to dream!!!!!

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    Carol Murray
    Bard Nursery School
    Red Hook NY
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  • 9.  RE: Building a New Center- Building Advice

    Posted 11 days ago
    Ahhh, key parts of healthy spaces....love it!

    My key must-haves for any child are:
    +unlimited access to the outdoors for the entire morning of the program(bring your books outside! bring pillows outside!)
    +access to bathrooms from outdoor spaces(Pasadena's JPL's childcare center did this brilliantly) to encourage that access
    +access to all areas for people of all abilities to encourage and model inclusive communities
    +less tables and chairs and more floorspace for big plans and sharing of plans and accessibility
    +natural non-toxic and non-outgassing natural materials and fibers(less microplastics in their environment)
    +trees, trees, trees(particularly Pepper trees with low forking limbs): provide protection from UV rays, create habitat, capture CO2, provide risk-taking through climbing. Plant them now and in 25 years you will have something amazing.
    + loving , caring adults who understand true developmentally appropriate behavior(they do not need formal training, and can be volunteer parents such as at cooperative nursery schools, but need developmentally appropriate responses-and hands on skills with-actual children for years and years under mentorship of skilled professionals). Granted I am writing this in response to several arrests of children 6 and 7 years of age. We need to have adults who get kids!
    Full shade from Mulberry Trees and Brazilian pepper trees. Mulberry is non-fruiting and is 30 years old.



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    Carol Tatsumi
    Manhattan Beach Nursery School
    Manhattan Bch CA
    Serving the community for over 68 years now!
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  • 10.  RE: Building a New Center- Building Advice

    Posted 11 days ago
    Hi. My dream classroom would have bathrooms and sinks in it. Built in cork boards low enough for child presentations. Built in cubbies with storage closets above. Huge closet with moveable shelves and chart cupboard. Stage, smart board, exit door to playground from the classroom.Square courtyard and play yard in the center.  Playground with music area, swings, slides, garden center, water and sand spaces, space for bikes and large gross motor play.

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    Patricia Hager
    Yonkers NY
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  • 11.  RE: Building a New Center- Building Advice

    Posted 10 days ago
    I would ask to visit some regional child care centers that have NAEYC accreditation and/or a high QRIS rating for ideas.  I would also take your architects along - once you have them submit a bid proposal for their work with you.  Our original building was designed by people who had zero idea on what classrooms should look like for young children, and they did not account for per child square footage and ratios, which has been a nightmare.  Our second site was done by a firm that has done several other ECE centers and have been mostly terrific.  They had a great amount of knowledge with the Environmental Rating Scale, which is one of the core components in our QRIS system, so we have plenty of room for all the required elements.

    Lastly, and I don't believe anyone has mentioned it, but also think about safety and security.  Our wonderful new building has beautiful large windows, which in hindsight are problematic from a safety standpoint. If you can get someone to consult on that aspect, it might also be a good idea.

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    Diana Verbeck
    Executive Director
    Danville Child Development Center
    Danville PA
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  • 12.  RE: Building a New Center- Building Advice

    Posted 10 days ago
    You need light. Big, beautiful windows do that. Are we going to live in fear 24/7? If there are problems, one can invest in windows that protect against shooters. Doors need security, too. Wiring so that you can see who is outside before allowing entry is another protection. Alarms that tell you someone has left the premises - like a wandering child are something else to think about.

    I would not want to compromise the architectural beauty of the building for security fears. I would want to look for solutions - like plate glass windows that don't shatter, etc.

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    Nora Krieger, PhD
    Associate Professor Emerita/Past Chair NJEEPRE
    Bloomfield College/NJ Educators Exploring the Practices of Reggio Emilia
    Highland Park, NJ
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  • 13.  RE: Building a New Center- Building Advice

    Posted 10 days ago
    Nora, I agree 200% - I guess what I meant to say is that the windows are great, yet not all that great when it comes to security as we weren't thinking about things like that 8 years ago when we built it.  I am suggesting a security consultant as they can help the architect plan safer, yet aesthetic and developmentally appropriate spaces for young children.  Last thing I want to see is ece centers and schools looking like jails.

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    Diana Verbeck
    Executive Director
    Danville Child Development Center
    Danville PA
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  • 14.  RE: Building a New Center- Building Advice

    Posted 10 days ago
    I recommend looking at a resource called the Child Care Design Guide by the late Anita Rui Olds, who was one the foremost experts on optimal physical environments for children. For years, she taught the Child Care Design Institute class at the Harvard School of Design and the Tufts University's Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Development, a class for early childhood educators and architects. The book contains much of the information that was covered in that course -- both profound and practical information and guidelines. I was fortunate to take the course. I thought I knew what I needed to know after completing my M.A.T. at Tufts (Eliot-Pearson) but then later my employer gave me the opportunity to take the course. It had a profound impact on me and my center.

    Joan Spoerl, M.A.T.
    Program Director, Imagination Library
    The Literacy Cooperative of Cleveland

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    Joan Spoerl
    Program Coordinator, Imagination Library
    The Literacy Cooperative
    Cleveland Hts OH
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  • 15.  RE: Building a New Center- Building Advice

    Posted 10 days ago
    Hi to all early childhood space visionaries.  I agree with the suggestions for balance between child/adult spaces, being mindful of the welcoming of parents and spaces for them to build community, and storage as an essential to hold all the many types of materials that maintain a visually pleasing and calm space to work with.  My personal must have is visual access to outdoor space through windows, roll up doors or something that can create space that is open to both outside and inside, and then clear access to outdoor space that provides variety for activities that can morph and change as needed, and finally spaces outside that have small/large, closed in feel/open, variety of surfaces/areas/natural elements.

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    [Cary [Larson-McKay, PhD]
    NAEYC Affiliate Advisory Council
    [Past President, California AEYC]
    [Consultant, Wonder Strength]
    [Morro Bay] [CA]member of NAEYC Affiliate Advisory Council. California AEYC Past President, Chair of Chapter Relations Committee, Chair of Inclusion and Diversity C
    ------------------------------



  • 16.  RE: Building a New Center- Building Advice

    Posted 8 days ago
    We just finished building a new building.  We are a PreK-12 school.  We received a BEST grant for our building plus passed a Bond for 6.8 million dollars.  The building is absolutely beautiful but is full of windows-not very safe for a school.  We also have windows indoors to each of the classrooms.  The sheriff's department is making them cover them.  The preschool room was supposed to have direct access to the playground and we do not.  It's a great playground but we have to walk around a blind corner to get to it.  The preschool room is the smallest in the building-we do have a great private entrance with 15 coat hooks/cubbies on the top and bottom.  The problem being the top ones are not reachable by the students even if the stretch and the seating on top of the cubbies is so wide the kids can't reach the coat hooks without climbing on it.  So my suggestion is make sure you are in on the planning from day on and keep on the questions.  Our design team had showed me one set of plans and before it was built things had changed.  The person in charge thought she knew more that she did and we did not get the building that was originally designed.

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    Gale Bell
    Director/Teacher
    Deer Trail School District 26J Preschool
    Deer Trail CO
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  • 17.  RE: Building a New Center- Building Advice

    Posted 8 days ago
    Just wanted to add that we had thought large windows at child height would be wonderful but now the safety factor seems to be a factor - our doors lead to a very secure fenced and treed  playground and typical adult height windows that have blinds..tThe fire department wants the narrow door window to be uncovered while our code red asked that the narrow window be covered .. we took off our in classroom bathroom doors but have wooden child height screens for single use toilet privacy - we also have side mirrors in some  just for extra visibility at the sink ( not the toilet)
    We went from wall to wall carpeting to all tile or vinyl  and an area rug - the hearing professional would prefer more carpeting to muffle the sounds .. but a large area rug still helps with the block building sounds -Having child height sinks of course are a must . We ask all children to wash hands when they come into our room for the day and outside time again as well as the typical hand washing needs '
    we also ask each child to bring reusable water bottles to keep in their bucked for drinking when outside .
    we turned off all water  fountains .
    We feel our outdoor time is so important - lots of trees . Climbing structures and concrete bike paths  A large sand area , with water handles from Kompan-
    -as well as a dirt /mud kitchen with products from community play
    things -
    anyway -/Lots  to think about for your new "home away from home "

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    Nancy Engstrom
    teacher assistant
    rbcpcpreschool
    San Diego CA
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  • 18.  RE: Building a New Center- Building Advice

    Posted 6 days ago
    I have been involved in the building of 2 Centers in the last 6 years.  In both cases most of the building design was done before I got involved which ended up being problematic.  So you are fortunate to be in from the beginning.

    Check every measurement.  Sometimes something looks OK on a drawing, but when the rubber hits the road, the measurements were not what we needed, especially when it comes to heights of sinks and cupboards.

    We went for about 1/3 covered in carpet and the other in laminate.  This eliminated the need for slippery area rugs but still gave us a soft area and the noise impact is significant.  This has worked very well for us.

    Storage, storage, storage, I'm sure you know this already :-)

    Despite what the state might say, 35 square feet per child is not optimal.  Google "The Great 35 Square Foot Myth" for an article by Randy White and Vicki Stoecklin if you need backup.  This has a lot to do with your teacher and child stress levels.

    Keep the windows and figure out a way to cover them in a situation.  They make such a difference in the atmosphere of the room, especially if they have good views.

    God bless!


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    Julie Bedard
    Wildwood FL
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  • 19.  RE: Building a New Center- Building Advice

    Posted 3 days ago
    Wow! Thank you all for your wonderful feedback! You've all given me a lot to think about and a ton of great ideas! I really appreciate all of the input.

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    Tamisha Sewell
    Owner
    The Treehouse Early Learning Center
    Independence KS
    ------------------------------