NOTE: Even though we’re referencing a home here, we want you to still read it and apply it to any local location you’re going to set up your preschool classroom in.
Contrary to what you might think, the first step in starting your preschool is NOT to get a building! We hate seeing posts that say, “I can’t wait until I find my perfect building for my preschool!”
Rather, we suggest you start your preschool first in your home. Not only will you save money this way, you also don’t have to worry about commuting, staffing the building, or jeopardizing your family’s financial situation.
In my experience, I started in my home, then converted my garage, and finally leased a schoolhouse. I’ve tried to get over 10 properties in my time, and all of my experience is invaluable as you start out. Take it from me: Start in your home FIRST, then GROW into your building. Here are 4 places you can start your preschool:
- In your home (highly recommended in the beginning)
- In a converted garage
- In a church
- In a separate building (not recommended in the beginning)
If you’re concerned that your home won’t work, we encourage you to turn that statement around and instead say, “How can I make my home work?” That allows your brain to process the problem and start searching for solutions. One of our favorite sayings is, “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.” This wise saying applies to our homes as well. We can’t change our home, so we have to change our ideas to match the home we live in.
Many preschool owners had lofty ideas for their preschools when they found us. We always told them to hold on to those ideas, because someday soon they might be a reality! When we first started, we used our kitchen, our living room, and a spare room.
In our second year of teaching, we realized we wanted to stay home with our babies and hire a teacher to teach our classes. Instead of thinking, “This will never work. We’ll have to stay in our bedrooms with our babies so we don’t disturb the preschoolers,” We thought to ourselves, “How can we make this work?”
And that’s when we realized we could convert our garage into our preschool room and move the preschoolers out there. Later, we grew into a schoolhouse, adding one classroom at a time. First, start out where you are, regardless if it’s big or little. Then your loftier dreams can be a reality as you reinvest and grow!
HOW TO SEPARATE HOME AND PRESCHOOL
Of course, a huge benefit to having a preschool in your home is that you don’t have to rent out a business space and take the rent money out of your paycheck each month. But if you’ve never used your home as a business before, you’re going to want to pay close attention to this next section.
First and foremost, your home is still your home, and it always needs to feel that way. One of the best ways to keep your home from getting misused is to have some rooms be off limits to the preschool children. When our preschool was just in our home, our off-limits rooms were our office, master bedroom, and children’s bedrooms. That way, our kids didn’t have to worry about their bedrooms getting messy, and we didn’t have to disinfect their rooms every day.
The rooms that ran double-duty (used for preschoolers and normal home functions) were:
- Garage (entrance to the preschool, parent pickup, and coat cubbies as seen in this picture)
- Living room (circle time, centers, rhythms and movement, story time, life skills lesson, and play time)
- Preschool room (Pledge of Allegiance, calendar and weather, letter/number of the week, and arts and crafts)
- Kitchen table (snack time and center time)
- Children’s bathroom (hand washing and bathroom)
HOW TO SET UP YOUR ENTRY AREA
Because you will have several children coming in and out of your preschool at the same time, it’s important to set up an entry area where they can take off their coats, backpacks, and shoes.
We highly recommend you ask parents to do all pick-ups and drop offs outside your home. After all, can you imagine 6-10 preschool parents, their preschoolers, and any babies in car seats coming in and out of your door every 2-3 hours? Yikes. Sounds chaotic and full of chances for children to get upset at either being dropped off or picked up.
Our preferred method is to have students dropped off and picked up outside. When preschool was in our home, drop-off/pickup was in our garage. When preschool was in our garage, drop-off/pickup was in front of our closed garage door. When preschool was in the schoolhouse, drop-off/pickup was in front of the schoolhouse.
HOW TO KEEP YOUR PRESCHOOLERS SAFE
At the very minimum, to safety proof your home, you’ll need smoke detectors in every room, a fire extinguisher in the kitchen, and plastic covers on all your outlets. All your cleaners and medicines should be stored in your top cabinets or in locked bottom cabinets. You’ll need to have warm water in the bathroom (not too hot to scald), hand soap and paper towels in the bathroom, and disinfectant cleaners available but stored until use. You should also consider getting a door chime: a small doorbell device that dings when the front door is opened.
As you’re not doing daycare, many of your licensing requirements are not required because you’re not preparing food (parents bring snacks), having children nap (they’re not there longer than four hours), or changing diapers (children are potty trained or you ask for parents to help if they are still in pull-ups). Of course, your licensor will have other requirements based on your state, but these are the traditional ones.
HOW TO SET UP A PRESCHOOL IN YOUR HOME
My first year, I used my kitchen table for Arts & Crafts and Snack Time, and my living room for Circle Time, Story Time, Music & Movement, and Centers.
In my second year (see pictures above), I reinvested in my preschool and bought that cute rug and those school tables/chairs. I also turned a spare room into a cute preschool room where we did Table Time, Circle Time, and even some Center Time! As you can see, you can make your preschool room (if you have one) look bright, cheery, and inviting by using lots of color and having a place for everything.
In my first room, I made use of the small room by placing the table and chairs to one side of the room, and I used the large rug on the other side to gather the children together for school time with the Pledge of Allegiance, calendar and weather. The key is to come across as a professional, fun preschool, so parents can feel like their child will enjoy going to preschool with you each day.
HOW TO SET UP A PRESCHOOL IN A CONVERTED GARAGE
The third year, I had just had my fourth child and wanted to separate my home from my preschool, so I converted my garage into the preschool and hired a teacher.
This picture above was taken the year before we sold the preschool. You can see how we reinvested into the preschool to make it even better! In the converted garage, we framed in the garage door (with insulation) so you couldn’t see it anymore from the inside (even though it was still there on the outside), added a loft to that framed wall, and upgraded all our furniture and materials over time.
HOW TO SET UP A PRESCHOOL IN A CHURCH
Even though I never used a church room for our preschool, I’ve seen many preschool owners do it successfully. In fact, one of our most successful preschool owners, Becki Reed, ran her preschool from a church for the entire 10 years it was running and she taught over 600 students there! Please check out this great article on how to Start A Preschool in a Church.
HOW TO GET A PRESCHOOL BUILDING
The fourth year, we doubled enrollment over the summer from 48 to 96 and had to find a place to put our extra students! So we entered into a lease on a dilapidated old daycare, fixed it up, and turned it into our adorable schoolhouse! It was the PERFECT place for our preschool!
Enjoy the pictures below of our many classrooms inside our schoolhouse! (Remember, I didn’t start out this way… I GREW into my building. And these pictures were taken during years 8-10 so I didn’t start out with all these classrooms or all these materials. I continually reinvested in my preschool to make it the best, and you can, too!)
HOW TO SET UP A PRESCHOOL CLASSROOM
Preschool Classroom Layout
Pre-K Classroom Layout
Kindergarten Classroom Layout
HOW TO SET UP PRESCHOOL CENTERS
Please check out this great article about How To Set Up Preschool Centers Inside Your Classroom. You’ll also love this article about the Materials & Supplies Needed for a Preschool Classroom.
We hope this article about How to Set Up a Preschool Classroom was helpful!