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  #21  
Old 06.11.2012, 12:08
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Re: Opening my own toddler playcentre - would love your advice!

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Lovely idea, but...

You should avoid customers in nappies, these take too long to change. You will definitely need a helper, all the time. You can't help a child at the toilet and watch all the others at the same time.

You might want to leave swings off the list: they are very good for smashing into little faces. Maybe avoid hot "beverages", boiling water is dangerous.

Have you looked for accomodation? It is VERY difficult to find suitable rooms at a reasonable price. Owners are frightened of the possibly noisy playground.

We took over a playgroup in Bern, http://esp-bern.ch/ it is still going strong, but there are many bridges to cross. The income from toddlers was not enough to pay the rent, and we had to offer English teaching to ex-pat children as well. You could find it easier to join an existing playgroup.
Sbrinz, the more buts the better!

Thanks for the golden advice. Once I have everything in order, would you mind if I contacted you offline?
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  #22  
Old 06.11.2012, 12:09
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Re: Opening my own toddler playcentre - would love your advice!

Check for proper insurance coverage, don't need to get caught up on the short end of the stick
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Old 06.11.2012, 14:04
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Re: Opening my own toddler playcentre - would love your advice!

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The safer the better. Thank you runningdeer!

I'll be making a trip to the Gemeinde and speak with some locals on their experiences next week. Will keep you posted.

You will likely have to go beyond the Gemeinde to the Canton child protective services on many of these matters.
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  #24  
Old 06.11.2012, 14:41
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Re: Opening my own toddler playcentre - would love your advice!

Hi Aiamis

What a great idea! As I live in Stäfa and have a 2 year old I am very interested to see what you do. Do you have a venue for this yet?

From your initial post it does seem you will be in direct competition with what is offered at the Eltern Kind Zentrum, but perhaps more focussed on the kids, than all the other offerings they have there as well.

I personally think that staff to kids ratio is important, as someone else wrote, if you have kids in nappies and one adult is required to change a bottom, who is looking after the others?

The other thing is opening days/times. The Spielgruppes here are often open at conflicting times or just in the mornings with no afternoon options etc. I am sure you will be checking out the competition before you make your final plans though

Whatever you do, good luck and I will be watching with interest!

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Old 06.11.2012, 14:42
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Re: Opening my own toddler playcentre - would love your advice!

I think this is good to have. yes!

I prefer playgrounds where there are a few tables around and I can have my cofee while waitching the kids, especially when I'm with other mothers. That gives me sometimes the only relaxing time of the day..

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for 2-5 years olds indoors? I think it is a great idea. In the US a friend and I considered doing the same but were never brave enough to try! Another nice idea I have seen are cafes that have a play area in the middle with seating all around the perimeter (separated by a half wall or similar). Moms can chat and have a drink while the kids can play. Different from a true playcenter like you are thinking of, but thought I would mention it.
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Old 06.11.2012, 14:48
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Re: Opening my own toddler playcentre - would love your advice!

Lots of lists, which I haven't read, so sorry if any repetition:
- sleeping/rest area

More importantly will be the flexibility you offer your clients with regards to pick up and drop off times.

For example, we often have nightmare days when things run late, and having sympathetic playcentre staff willing to hold on for upto an extra hour is really useful. Note, this should not be a habit, so potentially have a 3 strikes rule, i.e. you can do it a couple of times as a "freebee", but at 3, you need to pay additional charges.

The other aspect is half vs. full day charges. I know friends who hate the fact they have to pay a full day, when they only need a half-day of care. I guess the difficulty comes down to maths and the bottom line...
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  #27  
Old 06.11.2012, 14:54
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Re: Opening my own toddler playcentre - would love your advice!

- "Chasperli"-Theater
- Small market stall to play "Verkäuferlis"
- Refreshment corner
- Place where you can fix the well known "accidents" of the already potty trained ones. (Some spare cloths)

Also look here for a long list of Canton of Zurich regulations.
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  #28  
Old 06.11.2012, 15:17
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Re: Opening my own toddler playcentre - would love your advice!

I am so very greatful to all you fabulous EF members who have taken the time to share your words of wisdom with me.

Looking forward to making it happen.

Thank you all for such super advice!
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  #29  
Old 06.11.2012, 15:31
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Re: Opening my own toddler playcentre - would love your advice!

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Pepper,

Most on your list are sorted, just missing a water table and little playhouse.

A question regarding the playhouse. There isn't room for a playhouse indoors but I wonder if I should provide one for the outside garden. As it seems playing outdoors in Switzerland, through all seasons, is important. What's your opinion?

Soft towels for our wee ones hands, nappies and wipes are brilliant ideas! It's those little extra's that really do make a difference. What are your thoughts on hand sanitizers for the parents? Is that something common here?

Thx Pepper
I think a playhouse outside would work equally well. If most children are like my boys all they want to do is play peek-a-boo out of the window so I wouldn't worry about getting furniture to go inside. It will become a garage, space rocket, school etc anyway and children will take props in if they feel the need.

Personally I like to use hand sanitizer, I don't think it's that common here but that doesn't mean people won't use it if it's here.

The playgroup my boys go to has the toilet seat with the ladder and I think it's a great idea. Much better than having potties lying on the floor to be knocked over!

I know you are still in the planning stage but I am getting really confused if you are setting up a drop in centre or organised playgroup. This will effect your numbers and possibly your insurance. Also you keep talking about the outdoor area (which sounds as if it will be fabulous) but are you going to have an area to dry wet coats and boots when children come back inside? Is there going to be space to leave snowsuits etc or do you have to bring them each time? Just a few questions which popped into my mind and I guess relate back to whether this is somewhere children go regularly or just pop in.
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  #30  
Old 06.11.2012, 15:38
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Re: Opening my own toddler playcentre - would love your advice!

1. Good educational program- parents like to see what they children are really learning.

You could check Helen Doron or something like: http://www.musicalbabies.eu. There is also Kinder Music in Switzerland/Germany where you can do the course.

2. Baby massage classes is a good idea but usually it is not a big hit but Gymboree is Parents want to see their kids are having fun. Look for Gymboree courses. Offering Gymborree/musical babies or any other music/dance playgroups on weekends apart from having preschool/daycare every day could really help to get extra money if for example you don't have all free spaces during the week filled in.
I have contact info to Kinder Music somewhere so let me know if you need any help with it.

3. Access to scissors? No, I mean yes, but no That always have to be supervised, especially if you don't know your kids too well.

4. Separate room (locked) for chemicals - cleaning products
5. Washing machine and tumble dryer.
6. Clients in nappies are fine if you organize it well and it is not that difficult but you have to have special room/group for that so you will have babies, toddlers and wobblers group if you want to accept kids of all ages. Each room/group of children should have own changing room/area, otherwise it will be a mess if you don't provide enough space.
If you decide to work with babies you will also need baby cots, high chairs, nappy bins.

7. Changing area/room with lots of shelves, if you decide to accept clients with nappies
8. covered sandbox to protect it from cats, rain and snow
9. soft floor for the playground (I don't know the English word for it, sorry but they often have them in the UK and Ireland) it is much safer and cleaner. You can always go out after the rain as it soaks up the water so it always will be fairly dry.
10. a fridge and washing machine
11. Social room for teachers with a fridge, kettle etc?
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  #31  
Old 06.11.2012, 17:41
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Re: Opening my own toddler playcentre - would love your advice!

After reading the replies, it seems you all want a luxury service, how many rooms do you need...? Is it really necessary to offer hot drinks and a chair to the mums?

It might be better to join another existing playgroup, and make it better, far fewer headaches!
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  #32  
Old 06.11.2012, 21:16
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Re: Opening my own toddler playcentre - would love your advice!

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I think a playhouse outside would work equally well. If most children are like my boys all they want to do is play peek-a-boo out of the window so I wouldn't worry about getting furniture to go inside. It will become a garage, space rocket, school etc anyway and children will take props in if they feel the need.

Personally I like to use hand sanitizer, I don't think it's that common here but that doesn't mean people won't use it if it's here.

The playgroup my boys go to has the toilet seat with the ladder and I think it's a great idea. Much better than having potties lying on the floor to be knocked over!

I know you are still in the planning stage but I am getting really confused if you are setting up a drop in centre or organised playgroup. This will effect your numbers and possibly your insurance. Also you keep talking about the outdoor area (which sounds as if it will be fabulous) but are you going to have an area to dry wet coats and boots when children come back inside? Is there going to be space to leave snowsuits etc or do you have to bring them each time? Just a few questions which popped into my mind and I guess relate back to whether this is somewhere children go regularly or just pop in.
I apologize for my vagueness and can understand why yourself and I'm sure a few others must be a bit questionable! Their are a few options for me at the moment that require regulatory responses but I didn't want to ask those types of questions on this forum as I thought I'd discuss them with the proper associations and legal authorities. Now if you are within the regulatory industry or an association etc..., we can go offline and discuss? Although I

arrived in Stafa in July, I do understand the working ethics of the Swiss as I lived in Zurich City for almost 6 years from the year 2000 (My past life without kids). My husband and I returned to raise our children here, as this is the place we've always thought of as home.

Just want to get a feel for what other Zurich mamitas are looking for within a playcentre on both angles.

Thank you for being so helpful and sorry for the confusion.
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  #33  
Old 06.11.2012, 21:32
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Re: Opening my own toddler playcentre - would love your advice!

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After reading the replies, it seems you all want a luxury service, how many rooms do you need...? Is it really necessary to offer hot drinks and a chair to the mums?

It might be better to join another existing playgroup, and make it better, far fewer headaches!
Sbrinz, you and should definitely meet up for a water / coffee /wine one day

Interesting you should say luxury services as I would of thought that most of the comments mentioned are the norm? Then again, I was living in Ireland for the past 6 years, had all 3 children there, also had friends who had 2 to 8 children so playcentres, ammenities, you name it, for kids was brilliant.

Much too learn!
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  #34  
Old 06.11.2012, 21:38
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Re: Opening my own toddler playcentre - would love your advice!

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- "Chasperli"-Theater
- Small market stall to play "Verkäuferlis"
- Refreshment corner
- Place where you can fix the well known "accidents" of the already potty trained ones. (Some spare cloths)

Also look here for a long list of Canton of Zurich regulations.
Hi SwissInTheUS,

Regarding Chasperli Theatre, I think it's a fabulous idea for a once a month venue. Do you have any connections here in Zurich, know anyone you can refer me too? Otherwise, I'm happy to search the WWW.

Cheers!
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  #35  
Old 06.11.2012, 22:36
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Re: Opening my own toddler playcentre - would love your advice!

I think that other posters have given lots of good ideas on here already.

Some things I'd suggest:

Storage area (hooks and boxes) where children can keep their personal belongings, hang coats etc.

Try and get someone from the UK to send you over some glue spreaders. Seemingly impossible to get here, they just use paintbrushes which then become ruined and are expensive to replace.

Dressing up clothes are always popular...

I'd recommend having a look at the 'little books with big ideas' series by Sally Featherstone. For your younger customers, the one on 'Treasure baskets' might be helpful, also the one on 'Outdoor Play' and 'Outside in all Weathers', but they are excellent - full of ideas. I think in this kind of environment is is important that as well as the free play there are also some kind of more structured activities, especially if you're planning on having a setting where the same children may come on a regular basis.

Along the same lines, if you wanted ideas for specific 'classes' you could run, I like the 'Write dance' idea, which is a pre-writing approach which combines whole body movements, music, songs and 'scrimbling' (fine motor pre-writing activities) to prepare children for writing. There's also a follow up book for older children. It's great fun, and is something a bit different which might make you stand out from other providers. You can find the books on Amazon.

Have you thought of having any kind of 'electronic' equipment? Not necessarily computers, but small programmable toys, e.g. mini robots, toy computers, music players etc.

Also, I'd look really carefully into the qualifications staff will need. If you do not have a Swiss qualification, getting it recognised is a real hassle (speak from experience), or you will have to employ someone who does. If not, you will be severely limited in the number of children you can have attending. And even with qualified staff, there are very strict rules about the number of children who can be cared for in each age group, about provision for toilets, rest rooms, staff breaks etc. I helped a friend who was preparing a project designing a hotel with childcare facilities attached and the logistics of the childcare were a nightmare.

Also, do you have contacts to get cover in if staff are sick? If not, think about how you are going to build up those contacts.

It also sounds like you're planning to rent out a large area. As someone else has said, you'll probably have to provide other activities to make it financially viable. I worked for a short time in a jardin d'enfants (2 and 1/2 to 5 year olds), and we had activities running from 8:30 am to 6:45 pm most days, plus renting the premises out several evenings and weekends, and it was still a constant worry for the owners.
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  #36  
Old 07.11.2012, 01:21
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Re: Opening my own toddler playcentre - would love your advice!

It depends what exactly you want to offer and how much you are willing to invest?
Luxury place? Where did we say that? If she wants to have more clients and children of different ages then it is impossible to put babies with afterschoolers in one room. It is not going to work. I gave some ideas here but it does not have to be used for simple playgroup. It all depends how far you want to go with it and how serious you want to make it. The ideas are mroe for a preschool than simple playgroup and yes you are right, it would be awesome to have such "luxury" busy place for our children. I am sure parents would be delighted with it.

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After reading the replies, it seems you all want a luxury service, how many rooms do you need...? Is it really necessary to offer hot drinks and a chair to the mums?

It might be better to join another existing playgroup, and make it better, far fewer headaches!
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  #37  
Old 07.11.2012, 16:20
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Re: Opening my own toddler playcentre - would love your advice!

Hi Aiamis, I run a Playgroup in Oerlikon with a couple of afternoon English classes. What your proposing sounds like a dream both for parents and kids. Especially the outdoor space. I would love to have an enclosed garden but rental prices in my area are crazy and my prices would be too high. I have to use the big park very near by.

If you would like to visit sometime you would be welcome.
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  #38  
Old 08.11.2012, 14:15
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Re: Opening my own toddler playcentre - would love your advice!

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Hi Aiamis, I run a Playgroup in Oerlikon with a couple of afternoon English classes. What your proposing sounds like a dream both for parents and kids. Especially the outdoor space. I would love to have an enclosed garden but rental prices in my area are crazy and my prices would be too high. I have to use the big park very near by.

If you would like to visit sometime you would be welcome.

Oh yes please Oldhand!

Pm me your schedule and location and I'll pop by towards the end of the month or sooner.
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