How to setup your Daycare

Setting up a daycare can be so fun! There are so many fun decorative ideas out there today and the best part about it, is you get to let your inner kid out to do it. To me, this is the most exciting part of setting up a daycare! Bringing colors and wall decorations out… and just bringing life into the room(s)!

When setting up a daycare, you have to start off by determining the age groups being enrolled. Each age group will have different interests and will be at different stages of development, which also means they’ll need to be taught accordingly. You have to keep in mind the areas that each room needs, which are the entrance, storage, open activity, and quiet area. However, it does become a little more complex as age comes in. The age will determine if there needs to be a diaper changing station, a crib area, a nap area, a personal storage area, even an open activity area. The areas that are necessary for more than one age group, will change with what needs to be equipped in it.

How to setup your Daycare

Core Areas

There are five core areas a room in a daycare should have. This includes the entrance, cubby storage, classroom and teacher storage, an open activity area, and a quiet area. That’s not all though there will also need to be age-specific areas, which we will get into later.


The entrance should be welcoming to both the children AND the parents. This will not only reassure the parents that it’ll be okay to leave their kids, but it’ll also help the kids who are attached to their parent(s) feel safer, more welcome, and even keep them at-ease for when their parent(s) are leaving them. This is particularly hard for some kids, so it is very important.

Cubby Storage

Cubby storage is a place for the children to keep their belongings. This will include lunchboxes, backpacks, jackets, along with anything else they’ve brought. This area should be near the entrance of the room, however, in an area that won’t get congested during the busy pick-up and drop-off times. The cubbies should be open and size appropriate, for easy access to the children. Cubbies can be equipped with coat hooks and shelving, to help with the organization of the area.

Classroom Storage & Teacher Storage

Classroom storage should be easily accessible to the children, this means that the equipment should be open-faced and shouldn’t contain any doors. This is simply because kids are prone to smashing fingers. This area should contain safe items such as toys, books, and only some equipment, supplies, and materials, as they aren’t all safe for children.

Teacher storage should generally be out of reach and hard for the kids to get in to. This means that doors and locks would be sufficient. Teacher storage may include the storage of medication, cleaning supplies, and any other unsafe items that kids shouldn’t be getting a hold of.

These storage areas are to help both the children and the teachers. This helps both the children and teachers by promoting organizational and social skills, along with reducing anxiety. This clutter-free environment would be safer for the children. They wouldn’t be able to get into what they shouldn’t be exposed to, for example, the chemicals in cleaning products, and the medications that some kids need to have there.

 Open Activity Area

Most kids’ favorite area in daycare is the play area, which is what most kids consider this area as. However, this area can also be used for activities such as reading time, arts and crafts, music, and so on. This is generally the largest area of the classroom, as it is used for many different things. This area should mostly be open, free from obstacles, and interchangeable for each activity. This area is widely determined by age, which will be mentioned again and explained more in the “Age-Specific” Section.

Quiet Area

Out of all the core places within a daycare, this is the one I remember most vividly. This area should be located in a low-traffic area to keep from disturbance. This area could be for naps, reading, or studying. With each age group, it could change a little, as it may be used for different things. In this area, there should be softer materials/fabrics. For example, floor mats, pillows, bean bags, plush-like carpet, etc.

How to setup your Daycare

Age Specific

As I said before, when setting up a daycare, we have to think about the different ages of kids that will be enrolled. As most daycares range from infants to school-aged children, it’s good to keep in mind the different necessities and developmental stages they are in.

  • Crib Area:

This area, of course, would be for infants. To create a noise-free environment for the babies to rest, this would need to be a separate room. As far as furnishing goes, adult rocking chairs, cribs, and a bottling area would be sufficient.

  • Diapering Area:

This area would be for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. Your diaper changing station should be positioned so you can still see the room. A storage unit for diaper bags, clothing, etc. would be good to have in here.

  • Nap Area:

This area would be for toddlers, preschoolers, and kindergarteners. We all know how it goes, kids never want to lay down and nap, they look for every excuse possible, until they finally fall asleep. From what I can remember, that’s how it was for me. That being said, if possible, a separate room should be dedicated to this area. However, if that’s not possible, it’d need to be separate from the busier areas of the room (same as quiet area). As far as furnishing goes, cots, mats, pillows, and any plush-like items would be great.

  • Personal Storage Area:

This area would be for kindergarteners. They are at the age of not only wanting but needing a separate space for their belongings. This storage area will include their clothing, books, papers, and so on. A good storage option would be open-faced lockers with coat hooks and possibly some shelves. This would keep their belongings such as jackets, bags, and books organized.

  • Open Activity area:

This area itself is divided into each age group, as it needs to be setup based on their current developmental needs.

  • For Toddlers:

Promoting large motor skills is the goal at this age, so activities such as hopscotch, dancing, playground play, even balloon and bubble play, will help increase these skills. Making a wider pathway will promote free movement and help with clutter.

A good activity for toddlers to participate in is sand and water play. This will help improve their social and emotional skills and would also provide opportunities for children to share, along with helping them explore sensory experience.

  • For Preschoolers:

The best thing for preschoolers is to encourage movement AND expand their exposure to new interests and likings. This area would need to be larger than the activity areas for the toddlers. This is because preschool children usually have more energy and need more space because of it. Since a goal for preschoolers is to expand their exposure to new things, having a large number of interest areas would be ideal.

  • For Kindergarteners:

This area should allow the kids to have free movement, plenty of activities, and a quiet space for homework. The promotion of cooperative play and group activities is extremely important at this age. That being said, plenty of table space for activities should be provided. There will most likely be a larger inventory of supplies and materials for this age group, so planning an adequate amount of storage is important.

Daycare Layout

As for the layout of each room, it’s good to keep a few things in mind. If your layout isn’t organized and easy for the children to navigate, it may cause injuries and bad behavior. A few basic guidelines to follow would be to:

  • Create a Circulation Path

This is to define a clear path of travel. A shorter and more direct path will be easier for the children, especially the toddlers, to navigate through. Not to mention, this will free up more space for your activity areas.

  • Place Busier Areas near the Circulation Path

Tables and any other areas that will be prone to more crowded activities, should be placed next to your path of travel. Corners and spaces dedicated to quiet and developmental-based activities, such as napping and reading, should be located away from the path to avoid any disruptions.

  • Visual Boundaries

Creating visual boundaries will help the children easily depict where each area starts and stops. This includes the learning area, entrance area, resting area, and so on. To separate each space a good idea would be to use rugs, shelving units, color, and room decorations.

  • Use Appropriate Furniture

Furniture being used in the room should be age-appropriate. Buying from a manufacturer that specializes in daycare furniture would be the best option. This is because daycare furniture, is designed specifically for children to use, obtaining features such as rounded corners, low heights, deep shelving, and even a protective coat.

  • Don’t Overdo Decorations

Daycare decorating ideas are so easy to find nowadays, but that also means it’d be so much easier to go overboard. There are just so many good ideas! It is important to engage and stimulate children through color and different textures. However, it’s very important to avoid sensory overload, which is very easy to do when it comes to children. Colors should mainly be used to distinguish the boundaries between classroom areas. Strong color schemes and large, complex patterns aren’t the best ideas.

The best thing to do when setting up rooms of a daycare is, THINK LIKE A CHILD. The rooms should be designed from a child’s perspective, which means you may have to get down to their level and see the world how they do. It is always good to encourage exploration and learning, along with building their social and motor skills, while still providing a sense of security within the children and even their parents.

How to setup your Daycare

Related Questions:

  1. What are some good colors for decorating a room?

Crib/Quiet/Napping areas: using shades of blue would create a serene atmosphere

Play room/main area: yellow is a welcoming, playful color, full of brightness and would do great to make the room inviting

  1. How could you make it easier for kids that are attached to their parents) to be left by them?

To make it easier for the kids to be left by their parents, it’s good to start with not only a good attitude but welcoming colors, decorations, and so forth. It would even help to talk to them and their parents about what fun events you’ll be doing for the day. This would even help the parents from them being reassured that their kids feel safe and invited.

Please note: This blog post is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please consult a legal expert to address your specific needs.

To find out more about how to set up your Daycare, checkout our startup course and documents here.

How to setup your Daycare