Providing the right childcare equipment is important because it will help keep the children in your care secure whilst also helping them:
- Reach their developmental goals
- Develop their curiosity
- Promote their desire to learn
- Enrich their experiences
Whether it’s for a centre-based service or any other kind of family daycare setting, here’s a (non-exhaustive) list of equipment needed.
Furniture and Storage
Any furniture installed in your childcare setting needs to be accessible to children so it’s crucial that you get the right size and height from the floor. It’s also important to ensure that heavy furniture is safely secured to the walls so that it doesn’t topple onto children.
Basic child-focused furniture includes:
- Child-sized table and chairs suitable for both mealtimes and activity times.
- Bookshelves and storage units that are within easy reach and at appropriate height.
- Soft furnishings such as cushions and rugs for children to sit on.
- Appropriate sleeping furniture such as beds, mattresses and bedding for nap times.
The range of learning materials will need to cover all age groups in the early years setting, anywhere from first skills to preparation for primary school.
Appropriate equipment includes soft developmental toys, teethers, push-and-pull toys, gym playmats and walkers.
Manipulative and Developmental
Manipulative play encourages children’s coordination of hands, muscles and eyes.
Suitable equipment includes tactile and sensory materials such as play-dough, cutters and lids, sorting and posting, mazes and puzzles, stacking and nesting, and lacing and threading games.
Building and Construction
Building blocks are a great way to encourage children’s creativity and problem-solving skills. They also help to develop their hand-eye coordination, language and logical thinking.
Literacy and Numeracy
In early years childcare settings, children begin their understanding of words and numbers.
A wide variety of books catering for different age groups is essential, as well as a mixture of board books for children to explore and longer story books that can be read to children during story time.
Other useful literacy and numeracy materials include magnetic numbers and letters, flashcards, wipe-clean writing practice books, and, of course, pencils and paper.
Role-Play and Home Corner
A well-equipped home corner will allow children to develop their confidence and self-expression, and help them make sense of the world.
Dolls with clothes and blankets, play kitchens with utensils, tool sets and dress-up costumes will all promote imaginative play.
Music promotes both physical and social confidence. Equipment should include musical instruments for all ages (shakers, tapping sticks, bells, xylophones), as well as CDs or playlists that expose children to a variety of music styles.
Arts and Crafts
Arts and crafts lets children develop their creativity as well as their fine motor skills and concentration.
Arts and craft supplies should include:
- Drawing materials including pencils, crayons, felt-tip pens
- Glue, brushes and collage materials such as coloured paper, buttons, beads, fabric, ribbons
- Paint and paint brushes
Not only does outdoor play promote physical activity, but it helps children improve their coordination and social confidence.
- Balls of various sizes
- Push-and-pull toys like prams, cars and lawn mowers
- Boxes and blocks for construction
- Ride-on toys such as scooters and tricycles
- Sand and water play materials, including a sandpit, spades, scoops, funnels, large water containers, floating objects and sponges
Health and Hygiene
Health and hygiene equipment is necessary to ensure that the childcare setting adheres to health and safety standards.
Basic health and hygiene materials should include:
- Cleaning solutions and sprays
- Paper, towels and tissues
- Soap and hand sanitisers
- Dispensers and waste bins
Gloves, wipes and nappies
- Feeding equipment, including bowls, spoons, forks, cups and bottles
In any childcare setting, it’s important that staff have the appropriate equipment. This should include:
- Appropriate furniture including chairs, desks and storage
- First aid kits
- Teaching resources such as miniature whiteboards, tablets, stationery, reward charts and bulletin boards
- Visual resources such as white or blackboards and weekly planners
It’s essential for childcare providers to equip their centre or other childcare setting with the right materials to promote learning and development, while ensuring that children are kept safe from harm. This useful checklist provides the fundamental items but keep in mind that it’s by no means an exhaustive list.