Sharing isn’t just for the children, but our entire center! We share our learning space with a church, which works out nicely due to zoning requirements, bathrooms, access to a kitchen, and an outdoor space (state requirements). The downside is that every single Friday our classroom supplies, furniture, etc. has to be converted for the church’s use on the weekends and every Sunday afternoon, after church, we have to set it all up again. Our weekends are very short, and our time together on Fridays feels like it is mostly spent cleaning and tearing things down. It is challenging for us to meet the church’s expectations, and them to meet ours, with all the shifting that takes place, but we try our best!
We have had to get creative with what we have in our classrooms, as most of it has to be light weight and movable. The church actually only has two preexisting classrooms, which worked great when we first started our program in this location in 2014. However, our center has now grown to five classrooms and we are quickly maxing out our space. The two existing classrooms are occupied by our Infants and Wobblers. Everything in our Wobbler classroom has to be moved to the back of the room, or taken to the Infant room for the weekend. The infant classroom is unusable on the weekends due to the cribs, high chairs, rolling carts, etc. that have to be stored there to get the Wobbler room cleared.
Our Preschool and Pre-K classrooms share one big room, with dividers down the middle to make a ‘wall’ and two ‘separate’ classrooms. It can get interesting when two busy classrooms are sharing one open room. On the weekends, this space is part of the sanctuary/fellowship space.
Our toddler classroom is another classroom that has to completely disappear on Friday’s, since they are located in the foyer of the church.
We are limited in space to what we can hang up, and at the end of the week it has to be taken down. We try to keep things we hang on the walls under the level of the room dividers, or attached to them as much as possible. We also rotate bulletin boards- hang ours during the week and trade for theirs on the weekend. It gets tricky when you want to display a fun art project that your class worked hard on. We can hang it up for the week, but then we have to try to take it down without any damage and hang it again the next week.
We are thankful for the space we have to do this work and we appreciate the church’s willingness to accommodate us. However, this is an extraordinary amount of work that we do twice a week to keep our program running. The teachers are mostly responsible for putting things away on Fridays and we do have a couple of parents who volunteer to help set up on Sundays, but mostly it is up to the directors to make sure it all gets done.
We are always on the lookout for other options where we could leave our classrooms clean and set up over the weekend, but when it comes to a different building, we struggle with zoning requirements or rental/real estate costs. Every option that sounds great is not zoned correctly, and would cost a pretty penny to try and get it re–zoned. Seeing as the demand for quality childcare programs is so high in our town, a logical explanation is it is just too difficult or costly for these programs to exist.
It takes a lot to run a childcare center, and cutting our weekends short and spending most of Friday packing everything up once again proves that we really do love what we do. We are so thankful for Mother Goose Time and the ease of the program because not only are we attentive to the curriculum, the needs of the children and the requirements of the state, but there are a lot of things spinning behind the scenes. These little children and their families are so worth it, and this work is not for the faint of heart!