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A Childminder’s Guide to the new 2022 Progress Check requirements

Written 27/06/2022

It is a statutory (legal) requirement to write a progress check for every child in your setting between the ages of 2 and 3 years. If you are inspected Ofsted WILL want to see your progress checks for any children you have of this age.

The EYFS requirements were updated in September 2021 and so requirements for the progress check at age 2 have also been updated to follow suit. However, do not panic, you may find that you already do most, if not all, of what is now required.

Is the Progress Check the same thing as the Integrated Review?

You may also hear the term ‘integrated review’ when people talk about the progress check at age 2. This is when Early Years Professionals and Health Professionals complete their reports at the same time to give a more rounded ‘integrated’ view of the child. You should therefore consult with the child’s parents to try and do your progress check at the same time as the review that Health Visitors also do on children at this age.

Why should you write a progress check and what should you do?

1) ‘Partnership with Parents.’ This was also an aim of the progress checks before the updates but there is much more emphasis on this now. The new Guidance Document published by the Government in May 2022 states:

‘Knowledge of the importance of the early years is low in our society. For example, only three in ten parents recognise that the first five years are the most important for health and happiness in adulthood. The scientific evidence tells us that the period from birth to two years old is the fastest for brain development. However, one in three parents is unaware of this.’

Doing the progress check together with the parents is an essential opportunity to help parents understand how important this period of their child’s life is. However completing the progress check together should just be part of your continual communication with parents. Suddenly springing ‘Partnership work’ on parents just before the check needs completed is not a good idea. Working to build a constructive relationship with the parents throughout their child’s time with you is much more productive.

When you have completed the progress check together you should ask the parents to share the information with their child’s health visitor.

2) ‘Action for Every Child‘. The Covid Pandemic had a detrimental effect on many children. The Progress Check is meant to be used as a tool to help you support the child and their family and to help children catch up where necessary. DO NOT just write it then shove it in a folder and then forget about it. This would be missing the point entirely. Instead use the check to assess where the child has strengths and weaknesses and plan together how you are going to support the child with their next steps to catch up where necessary.

Don’t forget to include the child in the process. After all it is about them! They may be able to tell you what they like doing with words or pictures or if they are very young just by what you do when you observe them.

3) ‘Early Identification‘. The progress check should be used to identify gaps in learning or areas in which they child may need additional support.

(Remember that children may not necessarily have a developmental delay, they may just not have had the opportunity to ‘catch up’ after the effects of the Covid Pandemic.)

It is important that you gather as much information as you can if you have serious concerns about a child’s development in any area. However, it is NOT up to you to ‘diagnose’ a child and you should certainly NEVER tell a parent that you have diagnosed their child with something. That is up to the health professionals who should give you and the child’s parents useful strategies to use to help support the child.

(You may also find our ‘Super Summative Assessment and Gap Tracker Kit‘ useful as the gap tracker contains lots of information about places where you can find more advice and support if a child needs it.)

Other things to think about:

The new guidance makes clear that you should not do more paperwork than necessary. However you should take into account the following,

4) There is not a statutory form that you have to complete, so unless your local authority has one which they ask you to use, you are free to use whichever format suits you and your parents.

5) You can use whatever guidance document you prefer to complete the check. The Birth – 5 Matters and Development Matters Documents are both useful. (If you use our Super Summative Assessment pack contains details from both.)

In brief:

6) The progress check should focus of the prime areas of:

Personal, Social and Emotional Development,

Communication and Language

Physical Development.

(In our ‘Progress Check at Age 2’ Pack we also include the Characteristics of Learning as we believe these to be equally important and think it is a missed opportunity if these are not included.)

7) You must include information about:

What the child is doing well

What they may need a little of support with

Where there is a concern that the child may have a developmental delay


Other Useful Information

You can find links to the ‘Birth – 5 Matters’, ‘Development Matters’ and ‘Department for Education Progress Check at Age Two’ documents on our Useful Links Page here:

You may also find the following Kids To Go products useful:

Progress Check Age 2 Pack

This pack guides you through the whole process of completing the Progress Check at Age 2. It has been fully updated to fit in with the new EYFS standards and to bring the format into line with new Summative Assessment Kit which it complements. It contains:

  1. Introduction for the Childminder. This section fully guides you through a simple five step process for completing the progress check.
  2. Guidance Notes about what you might observe the children doing, examples of what you might write on the report in relation to this and ideas to include as next steps.
  3. Progress Check report template. This has been reformatted to complement the Super Summative Assessment Pack which it complements.
  4. Letter to parents. A template for you give to parents with background information on the report and arranging a meeting

Super Summative Assessment and Gap Tracker Kit

This kit contain all the tools you need to sum up a child’s development and achievements, right from when a child starts with you, all the way until they leave to go to nursery or school.  From ‘All about Me’ forms, starting points, transition and report templates as well as sample reports, tips and of course a gap tracker for when you need it.

Partnership with Parents Pack

An essential tool to help you build and develop your partnership with parents. From help advertising and attracting new families, through to daily communication and letter templates to send to help deal with tricky situations in a professional manner, this pack has everything you need.

A Childminder’s Guide to Nature Deficit Disorder

By Guest Blogger Ruth Snowden 18/06/2022

Did you know – Forest Childcare can help to prevent Nature Deficit Disorder!

But what is Nature Deficit Disorder? It’s not an officially recognised medical condition – author Richard Louv came up with the idea in 2005, in his book ‘Last Child in the Woods’, in which he talks about the need for children to re-connect with the natural world. So what are the symptoms to look out for when children are suffering from a nature deficit?

Negative changes in behaviour

Most people who look after small children know that one brilliant way to calm overexcited or overwrought little ones is to release them out of doors. This allows them to shout and run about, generally letting off steam. It has recently been found that children with ADHD often benefit from out door play.

Sensory issues

Outside there are many different sounds, smells, things to look at and feel, changes in light and temperature – and the eyes and ears get used to noticing things much further away. Indoors it’s a different story – for example too much screen time can damage children’s eyesight.

Photo by Emily Grey. Find her on Instagram @emilycaitlanmedia

Loss of physical abilities and increased rate of physical illness

Outdoor play helps children to acquire strength, balance and coordination, not to mention keeping them slim! And contact with outdoor things, such as earth, plants and trees helps them to build up beneficial bacteria in their ‘gut flora’, which makes their immune system stronger. There are many other physical outdoor benefits too – for example our bodies need sunshine in order to make vitamin D.

Damage to mental and emotional health

There are probably lots of factors involved here – such as many of the ones mentioned above, plus social isolation and lack of interaction in the ‘real world’. It’s also possible that all the electrical gadgets and screens in our homes are affecting children negatively. We don’t yet know how much they may be affecting both physical and mental heath.

Inability to assess risks and figure stuff out for oneself.

In addition to all the outdoor benefits already mentioned, children need time for challenges, interests and physical activities that are not constantly structured and monitored by adults. This helps them to become independent and think for themselves. Unfortunately many children today spend far less free time outdoors than their parents would have done. TV and video games and social media are partly responsible for this trend. Yet, interestingly, many children say that they would like to spend more time outdoors if they were allowed.

Parents, childcare providers and society as a whole worry so much about safety issues such as traffic and strangers, that many children end up confined indoors, or in ‘safe’, restricted outdoor spaces, supervised by adults. Playing alone out of doors is often seen as dangerous. A generation ago, most children of junior school age walked to school, alone or with their friends. Nowadays many children get taken to school by car – ironically adding to the dangerous traffic on the roads.

The idea that people need contact with the natural world is not new – many parks and gardens were opened during Queen Victoria’s reign because she was concerned about conditions in the rapidly expanding towns and cities of the Industrial Revolution. This was a step in the right direction, but it was done in a way that reflected the ‘man controls nature’ attitude of the times. Lawns were mowed within an inch of their lives and ‘weeds’ had to be eliminated at all costs.

One of the positive effects of the Covid pandemic lockdowns is that people have begun to notice nature round about them more, and to realise how much being out of doors helps their mental and physical heath. This has contributed to the new trend towards rewilding, realising that ‘weeds’ are actually wild flowers and part of the ecosystem – and nature studies have recently become part of the National Curriculum.

Forest Childcare is about actively and purposely taking children to outdoor spaces. It is not possible to roll back the clock and send children out to play alone and unsupervised in wild spaces as they would have done in the past. But this doesn’t mean that you can’t have a real, positive effect on the children you look after by taking them on outdoor outings on a regular basis. You can give children the outings they need to counter nature deficit disorder and give them the opportunities to spend time appreciating the beauty, fun, danger and excitement of outdoor green places.

Children who are taken out of doors to play, and taught about the world of nature, are much more likely to grow up with an interest in the environment. We are not separate from the natural world – we are part of it – and we urgently need to remember this. So keep showing your children wild flowers and trees, birds and butterflies. Keep allowing them to run around, shout, climb, get wet and muddy, and generally figure stuff out for themselves. They need rewilding too – and you will be helping to save the planet as well as them!


Join the Forest Childcare Association

The Forest Childcare Association is a best practice initiative for childcare providers who want to demonstrate their commitment to taking small children outdoors on a regular basis. By making a commitment to regular outdoor outings you can make a discernible difference to your children AND your business. When you join you receive an introductory training booklet, as well as business tools, a certificate to display and a pack of 50 Crafts and Activities to get you started.

Forest Childcare can help to:

• Teach children to appreciate trees, fields, ponds and woods by spending time in the natural environment
• Improve emotional and physical wellbeing of children and the adults who look after them
• Improve children’s concentration, perseverance, cooperation and motivation skills
• Help children to stay fit and counter obesity because children move around naturally outdoors while they play
• Let off steam
• Provide opportunities for developing harmonious relationships with others, through negotiation, taking turns and cooperation
• Improve physical skills gained from opportunities to run and balance
• Build knowledge and understanding of the world
• Provide rich opportunities for imagination, inventiveness and resourcefulness

9 ways for childminders to fail your Ofsted inspection

Last Updated 27/05/2022

A bit of humour to lighten your day when you are bogged down with the Inspection Handbook  – here are nine guaranteed ways to fail your Ofsted inspection they forgot to include! (Download the photos – they will make you smile). 

1. Remember that Ofsted likes to see well-labelled toy shelves. Especially the ones you use to store the children during the day.

2. When calculating ‘usable floor space’ at your setting, it is not acceptable to count the inside of your fridge.

3. Always serve diet fizzy drinks to any under 5s in your care to show Ofsted that you promote healthy eating.

4. Even if you regularly stack two babies directly on top of each other, they still count as two separate children for your childminding ratios.

5. Remember that according to the EYFS Statutory Framework you must have a teaching license from Hogwarts if you intend to encourage small children to speak Parseltongue so they can talk to snakes

6. While very practical and great for the environment, this is not an Ofsted-approved potty training method.

7. While it is important to encourage independence in matters of self-care, babies should not be expected to change their own nappies

8. If you decide to do a water play structured activity while the inspector is watching, it is considered good practice to buy a dedicated water table.

9. This is not considered to be an acceptable ‘late collection procedure’. Even if the parents are really, really late you must not dump their child on the street outside of your house.

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School readiness and the role of the childminder

An important part of a childminder’s role is to help ensure that children are ready for school. The skills that children need to learn to be ready for school are interwoven throughout the EYFS, but what are they, and what can childminders do to make sure the children they look after are ready for school?

What does the EYFS say about school readiness?

Ensuring a child is ready for school is not a process that only takes a few weeks. In fact as soon as a child starts attending your setting you should be helping provide them with the skills they need for school and for life.

The EYFS states:

The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) sets the standards that all early years providers must meet to ensure that children learn and develop well and are kept healthy and safe. It promotes teaching and learning to ensure children’s ‘school readiness’ and gives children the broad range of knowledge and skills that provide the right foundation for good future progress through school and life.’

By providing a broad and balanced curriculum for the children in your setting you will be cementing the foundations for their life in school (and beyond.) The EYFS details lots of different skills but there are some skills that are especially useful for a smooth start to school life:

Communication and Language skills

Communication and language skills are essential for children starting school. A child that can communicate will find it much easier to make friends, tell an adult their needs and ideas, and will be able to follow instructions. Think about if the child can:

  • Listen quietly to a story
  • Follow simple instructions
  • Communicate their needs and wants to others

Childminders, with their quieter settings and smaller group sizes, are in an ideal position to help children develop strong communication skills ready for school. Make sure you make plenty of time for things like listening to and telling stories, music and rhyme time, and activities covering listening, understanding and speaking skills.

Personal, Social and Emotional Skills

These prepare a child socially and emotionally for starting school. They are skills that enable children to get on with their peers and follow the rules and requirements of a setting. Children need to be confident to be able to learn, to ask for help and to communicate their needs. Can the child:

  • Separate happily from a grown up at drop off time
  • Do their own shoes up
  • Put on their coat
  • Attend to their own toileting needs
  • Wash their own hands effectively
  • Eat their lunch by themselves, using a knife and fork
  • Cooperate with others

Children need time and support to practice these skills, and this is where a childminder can stand out from busier settings with tighter schedules and less time. For example, give children plenty of time to practice core skills such as putting on their own shoes and coat. Time is something they will not have as much of at school, so a chance to try these things at a more relaxed pace is extremely valuable.

Encourage children to be self-sufficient at mealtimes by providing things like child-friendly cutlery and jugs for children to practice pouring from. Encourage children to open their own food packets, etc. They may not have as long for lunch at school and will have to share an adult helper with more children so the more they can do for themselves, the better.

Physical Skills

The physical skills children need, to be able to settle well into school, are not all about fine motor activities like writing. In order for children to be able to interact with their peers they need to be able to keep up – literally! A child that gets out of breath after a couple of minutes while their friends run and play is often, sadly, a child that gets left out. Obviously if a child has specific health needs it can be hard to prevent this, but childminders can help all children by providing lots of opportunities for children to develop their strength, stamina and gross motor skills. For example by taking them on plenty of outings to natural areas where they can run and walk long distances that they may not get the chance to otherwise.

There are lots of fine motor skills children will need in order to start learning to write, for example drawing lines and circles with gross motor movements, holding a pencil near the point with first two fingers and thumb, and starting to copy some letters, as well as skills such as being able to use one handed tools like scissors.

The Characteristics of Effective Learning

Being ready to explore all that school can offer must come hand-in-hand with a desire, ability and willingness to learn, (for without these no child is ready for school!) Think about how you help children develop the characteristics of:

  • Playing and Exploring
  • Active Learning
  • Creative and Critical Thinking

Working with Parents

It is important to work with a child’s parents to help them be school ready – firstly, by helping parents with activities that will help support all the skills mentioned above, and secondly by stopping well-meaning parents teaching their children to do the following:

  • Learn to write their name solely using capital letters
  • Use the names of the letters rather than the sounds
  • Use the wrong sounds for letters
  • Recite numbers to 100 without any real understanding of what they mean

These are all things children will have to unlearn. So, by signposting parents to resources such as videos on YouTube showing the correct way to phonetically pronounce the letter sounds, you are doing the child a great favour.

6 Tips to help with a smooth transition to school

  • Include some school uniforms in your dressing-up kit.
  • If you are close enough, plan some walks to the area around the school or maybe even along the route the child will take.
  • Incorporate pictures of the school into homemade books for the children to look at and talk about. Depending on the school they may even have some pictures of inside that they can share with you.
  • Read books about starting school.
  • It may be appropriate to invite the child’s teacher to visit them in your setting, especially if you are the child’s main setting.
  • Complete a transition report with the child’s parents.

Useful Resources to help you with school readiness tasks

Super Summative Assessment and Gap Tracker Kit

Our Super Summative Assessment and Gap Tracker Kit has everything you need to complete a transition report and contains information schools will ACTUALLY find useful! It includes a specially designed transition report template as well as written samples of the things you might like to write.

Like all the other tools in the kit, the transition form has been designed to be quick and easy to fill in. However, if you would like more guidance about what to include, there is also a completed sample with lots of ideas of the sorts of things you can write.

Characteristics of Effective Learning Pack

This pack contains information about the characteristics of effective learning (COEL), broken down in a way that is easy to absorb. There are plenty of ideas for you to try out to promote the COEL in your setting and to help you to improve understanding of them.

Using any of the ideas in this pack can help promote the COEL in your setting and give the children a boost into the start of their school life.

16 benefits of outdoor outings for childminders and carers of young children

By Jennifer Fishpool and Amanda Goode

What is the one thing that you can do as a childminder (or anyone caring for young children,) that is enormously beneficial for both yourself and the children in your care?

The answer is to regularly spend time in outdoor natural environments.

Physical health benefits:

Most people know that getting exercise is good for our health, but did you know it has been shown that exercising outside is especially beneficial?

1. Better energy levels: We can all feel a bit ‘meh’ at times, especially in the colder and darker winter months. However studies show that doing exercise outside can make us feel more energised and positive in ourselves.

2. Improved eyesight: Being short-sighted is becoming an increasingly common problem. Playing outdoors more can help reduce a child’s risk of becoming short sighted. It is thought that exposure to natural light helps eyes develop in a healthy way and being able to exercise our eyes by looking to things in the distance is also extremely beneficial.

3. Healthy sleep: Sleep is absolutely essential for both our physical and mental health. Spending time outside helps you sleep better. Children are much more likely to engage in vigorous exercise outside and a study by Liverpool John Moores University discovered that babies who are exposed to plenty of natural light in the afternoon sleep better and longer.

4. Better immune system: When our skin is exposed to sunlight, it produces vitamin D. This is important for many body processes, including our immune system.

5. Avoiding germs and viruses: We now should all know that a good way to avoid inhaling other people’s germs and viruses is to be outside and let them blow away!

Think big!

Think of all the things children are asked to keep contained when they are inside. They are told not to run, jump or shout but outside they can go big! This helps with:

6. Better cardiovascular health: Children should be given plenty of opportunities to run until they are out of breath. This is tricky if you only have a small, confined space. Make sure you take children places where they can really stretch their legs and run! This will have great benefits for their cardiovascular health.

7. Stronger bones: Being able to jump helps strengthen bones.

8. Better physical endurance: Going on nature walks means that children get used to walking for longer distances. However if they are having fun they will probably not notice and may surprise you how far they can walk if you give them time to build up their endurance.

9. Better sense of balance: When you go for a walk in nature you are much more likely to encounter different surfaces to walk and balance on. Inside or around town, surfaces tend to be flat and free of obstacles but in natural environments surfaces can be bumpy, sticky, muddy, unstable etc. Walking on these sorts of surfaces helps children build up their strength and sense of balance.

10. Stronger lungs: Shouting helps exercise our lungs. We have to take in bigger breaths to be able to shout!

Benefits for Mental Health

11. Reduced anxiety, stress and depression: Research has shown that spending time in a green environment like a forest can reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and anger. It has also been shown that exposure to natural light helps boost self-esteem and promote a better mood.

12. Increased resilience: If you teach children to look out for and love the little everyday occurrences in nature, for example the dandelion growing in a crack in the pavement or the friendly neighbourhood robin that sings from a tree, you are providing them with a wealth of ‘little joys’ to fall back on and that are always there when things are tough.

13. Less technological ‘overload’: Spending time outside in nature helps us ‘switch off’ from the modern bombardment of information.

Further Benefits

14. Aids cognitive development: Young children love being outside where there is so much to see and discover and when we spend time in nature ALL of our senses are being stimulated.

15. Greater attention span: Researchers at the University of Michigan found that spending just one hour interacting with nature helps increase attention spans by up to 20%.

16. Learning to love nature: David Attenborough is known (amongst other things!) for saying ‘No one will protect what they don’t care about; and no one will care about what they have never experienced.’ In going outside and experiencing and making an effort to notice the natural world where we live – whether that be by visiting a woodland or a park, watching the birds, noticing the native plants growing in cracks in the pavement or simply by observing the weather – we can hopefully learn and encourage children to learn to love and help protect our natural world.


If you would like to start making more of the benefits that exploring nature with your children bring why not take part in our special ‘Forest Childcare January Challenge’? This is a series of 31 outdoor nature themed mini tasks to complete which we are publishing one a day on our ‘Forest Childcare Association‘ Facebook page throughout the month of January.


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Are sausages really banned for childminders?

23/11/2021 by Amanda Goode

The short answer is, we don’t know. Here’s the long answer…

The government advice is confusing. Under the government guidance, sausages are listed under Foods to avoid up to 5 years, but under the How to reduce the risk of choking heading, it gives instructions of how to cut them up… And let’s be honest, if you can find a 4-year-old that hasn’t already been eating sausages, that’s a rare child indeed! Even vegetarians and vegans can eat sausages these days. We assume from this that they know that people are probably going to give children sausages anyway and would prefer for the children not to choke on them.

Choking

This is the primary concern when feeding very young children sausages. Choking is really bad for you. It stops air from entering the lungs and can kill you very quickly. Young children who are still learning to chew and swallow or children with special needs are especially at risk from choking. This is one of the reasons why, as a childminder, you must properly supervise children whilst they are eating (some of the other reasons are so that you can stop them from throwing tomato soup up the wall or tipping all their food into the dog). To prevent choking make sure you cut up food appropriately by following the recently issued government guidance, for example, ‘cut sausages into thin strips rather than chunks and remove the skins’

So we can give the children sausages?

Saying to avoid them but telling us how to serve them safely is a bit like saying ‘Don’t eat a bucketful of ice-cream, but if you do, use a small spoon.’ And it’s one thing for the parents to be feeding their children sausages, but the EYFS states that as a childminder it is a must for food and drink to be ‘healthy, balanced and nutritious’ if you are providing it. It does not say anything about sausages though.

Photo by Paula on Pexels.com

Why are sausages so bad anyway?

As well as containing a lot of fat, sausages (and also a lot of processed food – anything that you haven’t made yourself from ingredients that have had minimal things done to them) contain a lot of salt…

Salt

Salt is bad for you. Although you actually need a bit of salt in your diet most people have too much. Too much salt in your body means that your kidneys have to work extra hard to get rid of it. If the kidneys can’t keep up, then the body holds onto extra water to dilute the salt. This means there is more fluid being pumped around by the heart, making it have to work extra hard too. Over time, this can cause damage to the blood vessels and lead to serious complications such as heart attacks. In addition to this, young babies’ kidneys are not developed properly and are even less able to process large amounts of salt.

But my childminded children won’t eat healthy foods – sausages are one of the only things that they WILL eat!

We get it – children are fussy. As childminders, serving up healthy food is a must, and if the child’s diet at home is poor, then we should try to get at least some healthy food into them. However, the most important thing is that they don’t go hungry. If they really won’t anything else, something is better than nothing.

If the children really do love sausages, why not try getting them involved in making some homemade ones (not as difficult as you think), or look for reduced salt versions (they do exist, but check the packaging as they can still have a high salt content for young children).

I have so much to do, this is just another thing I have to worry about. I think I’ll just stick to what I was doing.

Please don’t feel this way! We know you are doing an amazing job, as Chef, Entertainer, Educator, Cleaner and everything else! We think that if you can show that the food and drink you provide is healthy overall, it shouldn’t be too much of an issue if you very occasionally serve something a bit less healthy, as long as you are keeping the children safe from the really harmful stuff like choking.

It’s about being sensible and keeping children healthy and safe..

We can think of this topic the same way that we think of other aspects of what we do with our childminded children – as something to work on and improve. You might have the fussiest child ever who will only eat sweets and sausages, but if you are aware of it and are trying to make improvements, however small, that can only be a good thing.

If you are looking for inspiration for activities to do with your children around the themes of being safe and healthy please look at our Be Safe, be Healthy pack which covers 15 different topics, including healthy eating, being active, looking after your teeth and more.

For more up to date news, activity ideas and no-nonsense tips and advice please sign up to our free newsletter.

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Key Messages for Childminders from the Ofsted Big Conversation

02/10/2021

On Saturday the 2nd of October Ofsted held one of their ‘Big Conversation’ events for childminders and other early years providers. This was the first of such events in the North-West since the introduction of the new EYFS in September and Ofsted had some key messages for childminders:

Assessment is still vital

Ofsted emphasised that assessment is still vital as it can highlight if a child needs extra help and support and so reduces the likelihood of them falling behind. How you assess is up to you and Ofsted do not want to see reams of assessment that take you away from the children for long periods or become a task to do for its own sake. However they DO still want childminders to assess their children, the new EYFS has NOT removed this requirement.  You MUST still assess what children can do and what they cannot do in order to effectively plan your curriculum.

Importance of working in partnership with parents

Although Ofsted did not go into this in as much depth as other issues it was mentioned several times, showing that it is still one of Ofsted’s main areas of concern.  It was emphasised that it is important that you have a good working relationship with your parents so that they become an integral part of how you assess their child. As the people that know their child best, they must be made to feel comfortable in approaching you for support if they have concerns.

Stronger focus on curriculum: intent, implementation, and impact

The curriculum was one of the main discussion points of the meeting. Ofsted do not expect you to have your curriculum written down so if you are spending excess time writing up complicated curriculum maps then STOP! Instead Ofsted want you to be clear on:

  • INTENT: What is your curriculum? What do you want your children to learn? What knowledge/skills do you want them to gain? Is your curriculum ambitious for ALL children? (You can plan this by using your assessment of what they know and can do and what they need to know and be able to do.)
  • IMPLEMENTATION: How do you use your curriculum? How do you teach it? What methods do you use? What activities and opportunities do you provide children?
  • IMPACT: How is your curriculum making an impact for your children? Has it been planned and delivered in such a way that ALL children make progress, regardless of their starting points? You need to be able to show how you know children have progressed and learned. Over time Ofsted want to see that your children are LEARNING, REMEMBERING and DOING more.

The importance of proper sequencing in your curriculum

An issue that is starting to come up in recent Ofsted inspections is a lack of proper sequencing in activities or tasks provided to children. The Inspector in charge of the meeting gave the example of expecting a child to ride a bike before they can balance or pedal. You MUST think carefully about what it is a child NEEDS to know or do before they can successfully start on their next step so that you do not miss out essential building blocks of learning.  

Some childminders are focussing too much on the impact they want to make with their curriculum and are forgetting the implementation part of the process, providing activities that are too advanced for children.This means that children are missing out on vital pieces of knowledge. It is essential that you can explain what knowledge or skills the child needs to have before working on the activity or skill and where they might go next when they have mastered it.

Stronger focus on early communication

There has been a lot of information about this, and Ofsted seem happy that the message is getting through.  They reported that they have noticed that settings that are graded Outstanding are exceptional at helping children learn communication and language so if you are aiming at being outstanding make sure that you evaluate how you support children to learn these skills. It was also emphasised that it is vital to consider children’s vocabulary when planning and teaching your curriculum. What vocabulary do you plan to teach the children, and how?

Stronger focus on children’s health

With the attention given to the new inclusion of Oral Health in the EYFS the increased focus on children’s health has been overlooked. It is important to consider whether you are doing enough to promote and protect children’s health as Ofsted will be looking for this. For example, do you make sure that children under five years old get the recommended three hours of physical activity a day? Do you promote and teach healthy eating, and do you follow safer sleep guidelines? You must also make sure that you are working in partnership with parents by providing or signposting them to information and guidance about how to look after their child’s health.

An excellent product to help you ensure that you are you fulfilling the requirement to focus on children’s health is our ‘Be Safe, Be Healthy’ pack.

Other notes

Ofsted are no longer referring to ‘Inspection Cycles’. Instead they will inspect a childminder once in a six year ‘window’. If a childminder is graded ‘Requires Improvement’ or ‘Inadequate’ they will be inspected more often.

The percentages of providers rated good or outstanding since 2019 has stayed stable at around 94.9% (These are North-West figures although it was reported that these are reflected nationally.) and Ofsted report no signs that this is changing.Outstanding childminders work closely with other settings. For example working with the local school to learn about the phonics program they teach and ways in which the childminder can prepare their children for this program.

In conclusion

The biggest issue of the night certainly seemed to be how childminders plan, implement and assess their curriculum and how they can show they have a solid understanding of all the steps involved in a child learning a new skill or piece of knowledge. There were also other issues that have not been touched on much yet but I feel will become prominent as childminders settle into working with the new EYFS, such as the new renewed focus on promoting children’s health. However the most interesting subject of the night for me was Ofsted’s reminder that assessment is still vital to the work that childminders do so if you have thrown away all your assessment tools it is maybe time to reconsider.

Source of all information: The Ofsted Big Conversation North West meeting held on 02/10/2021

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8 Things Ofsted wants childminders to STOP doing – by Jennifer Fishpool

Change is upon childminders again! The new EYFS Framework becomes statutory on the 1st of September 2021 and with inspections up and running again and now potentially only once every 6 years, there is more pressure than ever on getting it right on the day. But what about the long stretch of time that falls between inspections? With a six year gap it would now be entirely possible to look after a child from when he was a baby until when he starts school without any paperwork you create for him ever being seen by an inspector. So should childminders stop doing all paperwork?

There is a growing rumour that Ofsted have banned paperwork and some practitioners say that they are going to stop doing ANY except the statutory requirements. This represents a gross misunderstanding of the expectations on childminders. Before you throw the baby out with the bathwater let’s make sure we really understand what Ofsted is asking.

1. Stop ticking boxes on ‘trackers’ and highlighting copies of Development Matters

Trackers are the biggie which lots of people have been talking about. Ofsted have NEVER asked you to highlight copies of Development Matters or to spend hours colouring in boxes on individual trackers. Childminders should be focusing on providing a broad and balanced curriculum for children and one of the reasons Ofsted do NOT want you to use trackers in this way is because some settings were so focused on getting the children to achieve and exceed each one of the ‘statements’ that the children were getting a very narrow learning experience.

However, all that being said, don’t throw away all those trackers just yet! Many practitioners find them very useful and if that applies to you there is no need to stop using them as long as you consider their limitations. If you find yourself using them as a curriculum, a list of goals or next steps for children, or worrying if children miss steps or do not develop in the exact order written on the paperwork then STOP! This is not how trackers should be used. If you use a simple tracker which is quick and easy to use and helps you spot any gaps in learning or key points that may raise concerns, then great, this is a useful way to use this type of assessment.

2. Stop writing pages of meaningless observations

childminding paperworkIt is our job as childminders to constantly observe children to assess their development and needs. However, STOP making pointless observations that simply generate paperwork and don’t really add value for either the childminder or the child. If you know and the parents know that the child can use a spoon you don’t need a photo and accompanying write up to prove it. Think about what you really need to observe and whether writing it down will add value to what you already do. Let me be clear that you should not stop doing written observations altogether, as done properly and with clear purpose, they are extremely useful.

(If you are new to observing children and how to get the most benefit from it without it taking too much time look out for our ‘Don’t Panic! Beginners Guide to Observations,’ coming soon.)

3. Stop generating ‘data’ and ‘evidence’ in general

The new EYFS and Development Matters are intended to give you an opportunity to refresh your setting’s curriculum to ensure that it focusses on your children’s needs. You should stop spending time unnecessarily gathering evidence and you should certainly spend less time generating ‘data’. Data includes photographs that serve no proper purpose and next steps that are not followed up. Instead spend time creating a broad and balanced curriculum.

4. Stop assessing children unnecessarily

Stop doing any assessments that are not beneficial to the children you are looking after. Pages and pages of ‘next steps’ in learning journeys are not helpful. Especially if they are not acted upon. If you instead ‘know’ inside of you from your knowledge of Development Matters what comes next, you don’t need to write this out anymore. You are allowed to use your ‘professional knowledge’ of child development and the child.

5. Stop making learning journeys without asking yourself why you are making them?

Please notice that I did not say to stop making learning journeys. This is another hot topic of debate on forum discussions and many childminders are overreacting and throwing away their learning journeys. Ofsted does not want you to do this as long as you are making them for the right reasons.

So why make learning journeys?  Do not make learning journeys with photographs of observations and little circled areas of learning and development FOR the Ofsted inspector. They are not interested and may not even ask to see your learning journeys. These documents should only be generated for you and for the parents and only if you find that making them is helpful. Many families enjoy receiving them and you may secretly enjoy making them. However, many parents are perfectly happy with WhatsApp messages and you are allowed to use your ‘professional knowledge’ as long as you really do know where each child is at in his or her stage or development. Personally I think a balance is a good solution. I will still send my parents lots of photos as I love taking them and they love receiving them, but I will not be printing many out and will only include the occasional observation in a much shorter ‘learning story,’ to help me remember where each child is and to provide a lovely memento for the parents when the child eventually leaves my setting.

6. Stop doing unnecessarily detailed written planning you then don’t stick to

STOP doing any paperwork at all that has no use aside from the fact that you think Ofsted might want to look at it. For example horrifically detailed weekly plans that you don’t stick to. The new Development Matters makes it clear that it is up to childminders to use their professional judgment and knowledge to observe children and to plan for their next steps. Julian Grenier led on the revision of Development Matters for the Department for Education. He is clear that you should use Development Matters to help you use your knowledge of each child to facilitate holistic learning that helps children to make progress “without generating unnecessary paperwork.”

This video is a nice overview of the new EYFS and how it links to Development Matters with its goal to “improve outcomes for all children, especially disadvantaged children, and to reduce teacher and practitioner workload.”

7. Stop hitting the target and missing the point with the Early Learning Goals

The Department for Education does not want you to feel restrained by the Early Learning Goals and actually they are primarily there for reception teachers to assess their children against at the end of their time in the Foundation Stage.

The most important point is that a childminder should not write a curriculum plan around a learning goal because the ELGs are really narrow. For example, one of the ELGs under physical development is that children should be able to ‘move energetically, such as running, jumping, dancing, hopping, skipping and climbing’. A childminder could read that and decide that since jumping is obviously important that they would buy a trampoline, but not waste their time with ball skills since those are not specifically mentioned. That is pretty much what the Department of Education does not want you to do with the ELGs. Your physical development gross motor skills curriculum should not exclude spending time doing ball and other PE skills

8. Stop doing anything ‘for Ofsted’

They always say this, but nobody really believes them. With inspections now every 6 years, of course you are going to want to get the best grade you possibly can at your inspection because you will be stuck with whatever you get for a long time!  So, of course you should prepare carefully for your inspection as you always would by being mostly ready for inspection all the time, by being the best childminder you can be all the time, but by perhaps reading through a copy of our Ultimate Childminding Checklist before the big day to make sure you aren’t forgetting anything obvious.

In conclusion, childminders need to think about what is really beneficial to support our practice (and this will be different for each practitioner depending on their needs.) It is about finding a sensible balance, not stopping all paperwork.  If you only have one child you may be able to retain all the information you need on their development without writing anything down but how will you share that information with the parents? You may have more children but have a fantastic memory and still not have to write down much in order to be able to confidently tell an Ofsted Inspector the ‘story’ of each child, but will you be able to spot gaps in learning quickly I think that most of us will still find keeping some sort of records beneficial so don’t burn those learning journeys and trackers just yet!

References

Burchall, J. (2021, May). Ofsted early education update . Retrieved from http://www.theofstedbigconversation.co.uk: https://theofstedbigconversation.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Ofsted-presentation-Ofsted-early-education-update-early-years-providers-Summer-2021.pdf

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Kids To Go was established by Kay Woods in 2008 and is now run by Jennifer and Amanda. We provide childminding and Early Years resources such as the ‘Ultimate Childminding Checklist’, the ‘Childminding Best Practice Club’ and best practice resources promoting diversity, safety and childminding in the great outdoors (Forest Childcare). We also have a Facebook page at ‘Kids To Go’ and a free weekly newsletter which you can subscribe to by sending an email with the subject ‘subscribe’ to jennifer@kidstogo.co.uk

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What is new for childminders in the Sept 2021 EYFS Framework?

Lots of childminders have been asking for a guide to the new September 2021 EYFS Statutory Framework. I have done my best in this article to pull out what I think are the most important points for childminders.

The information in the Educational Programmes Section of the EYFS has been expanded

The biggest change to the new EYFS is the expanded descriptions of what is included in the educational programmes descriptions (ie the Learning and Development areas). I don’t really think this information is in any way ‘new’ or a surprise. But the expanded areas are written explicitly into the EYFS so you should use it as your guide when planning your curriculum. As a childminder it is up to you how you design the curriculum for your setting but you MUST make sure that you are addressing each key point of each learning area. Development Matters and Birth to 5 Matters are designed to help you to do this so make sure you read them when you design your curriculum.

Communication, Language and especially vocabulary have been identified as the most important learning areas

Communication and language are vital and the EYFS states that ‘the development of children’s spoken language underpins all seven areas of learning and development’. The other thing that is really stressed is ‘extending vocabulary’ across each of the seven areas of learning.

 

The Early Learning Goals have been rewritten – but MOST of their content remains the same

The level of development that children are expected to have reached by the end of their reception year in school is defined by the early learning goals. As most childminders are not responsible for assessing the learning and development of reception aged children, the goals have always remained mainly in the realm of school reception teachers. Despite the EYFS making it clear that ‘the ELGs should not be used as a curriculum’, it is still useful for childminders to have in mind what the ultimate aim of some of the activities we do with children is heading towards.

Some of the key changes are:

  • Communication and Language: provides more focus on extending vocabulary
  • PSED: self-regulation is included
  • Literacy: comprehension is included
  • Mathematics: a new focus on understanding patterns

 

The role of self-regulation is recognised by making it an early learning goal

Children at the end of reception year should be able to ‘show an understanding of their own feelings and those of others, and begin to regulate their behaviour accordingly.’ They should also be able to ‘control their immediate impulses when appropriate’ and ‘give focussed attention to what a teacher is saying’. These are all important parts of the characteristics of effective learning that you should have been teaching the children all along, but the fact that they have now been recognised in the ELGs shows the increased importance that is now being placed on the notion of self-regulation. It is truly vital that as childminders you are encouraging children to sit still and concentrate on tasks sometimes, especially on tasks that are not always of the child’s own choosing, so that they can practise a skill that is vital to their success in school.

Balance is the key. Your curriculum and how you teach it is up to you but as children grow older the focus should change from the prime to specific areas of learning and development

It is up to each childminder to plan their curriculum which is in a broad sense what you want the children to learn while they are with you from when they are babies until they start school. The new EYFS says ‘Practitioners need to decide what they want children to learn and the most effective way to teach it’. There are several key points here. Firstly, it is up to you to decide the right balance between adult led activities and free play time given to children. Secondly, as children grow older you should spend more time ‘teaching’ them and less time just letting them have free play. Lastly, the focus of your teaching should gradually move away from the ‘prime’ areas (language, PSE, physical development) and include more focus on the ‘specific’ areas (mathematics, literacy etc.)

 

Assessment remains important but physical evidence of this assessment is not

Before you throw away your learning journeys and the pages of next steps: STOP. The EYFS is still very clear that ‘ongoing assessment (also known as formative assessment) is an integral part of children’s learning and development. What has changed in the new EYFS is the emphasis on the ‘professional knowledge’ of the childminder. When doing the ‘assessment’ part of the planning – implementation – assessment process, ‘Practitioners should draw on their own knowledge of the child and their own expert professional judgment and should not be required to prove this through a collection of physical evidence’.

Ofsted is making it clear that they do not want to see data. They are not going to look at your learning journeys with random snapshot photos and hundreds of ‘next steps’ written out because that sort of data is often meaningless. You still need to assess children and be very aware of exactly where each child is in their learning and development. But you no longer need to feel you have to ‘prove’ the observation.

When you do assessments you should:

  • Focus on what is useful
  • Establish starting points
  • Use the checkpoints in Development Matters as checkpoints, not checklists
  • Involve the parents
  • Take the attitude of inclusion: every child can thrive

 

You must promote oral health

The new EYFS makes it clear that you ‘must promote the good health including oral health of the children you look after. This is an addition to what was previously there and is in response to the growing problem of tooth decay in young children, particularly children from disadvantaged backgrounds. The basic message you are hoping to teach to children is that too many sugary foods are bad for you, and that you should brush your teeth.

Planning activities to promote oral health into your curriculum does not have to be complicated. Suppose you look after a child from a home where you know the parents very rarely brush his teeth?  You can make an enormous difference to that child’s oral health if YOU brush his teeth after he eats lunch with you. You are teaching him a skill he needs that will hopefully become a good habit. Furthermore, you are ensuring that his teeth are, at the very least, being brushed once a day while you look after him. And if you really want to do your bit towards helping him even more you can gently encourage the parents to help him at home, perhaps with a take home reward chart he can use each time he brushes his teeth at home?

Specific activities and resources for promoting oral health are available in my Be Safe Be Healthy pack.

Non-prescription medication does not need a doctor’s note

GPs have been finding that providers were requiring parents to get prescriptions for non-prescription medications. The new EYFS makes it clear that providers only need to have a prescription for prescription medication. So a child does not have to have a prescription for the Calpol for you to give it to him. Nothing else has really changed. You still need to get permission in writing for every medication (including Calpol) and you can only give prescription medicines that have been prescribed by a doctor, dentist, nurse or pharmacist.

In practice all childminders should have both a long term medication permission form (for Calpol etc) and a short term medication form (for antibiotics), a written record each time a medicine is administered to a child, and a way to ensure that the parent is informed ‘on the same day or as soon as reasonably practicable’. While the EYFS does not specifically state that a parent must sign your ‘medicines administered book’, I think this is a good, tidy, more traceable method than relying on a Whatsapp message.

Are you putting infants down to sleep properly and safely according to the EYFS guidelines? 

The new EYFS includes a link to the NHS guidance on reducing the risk of sudden infant death syndrome. What this means for childminders is that how you put a baby down to sleep while they are in your care is no longer at the discretion of parents – so please make sure you are familiar with the details in this link – there’s more than just putting babies on their backs.

Cyber Security for Early Years – are you doing everything you should be?

This page is full of practical information that childminders can use to check that you are doing everything you can to keep you, your setting and your data safe from cyber attacks. The site reminds you that “For Early Years practitioners, cyber security also plays a role in safeguarding the children in your care.” The link to this page was included as a footnote in the new EYFS.

Are you supervising children while they are eating?

To me, this has always been absolutely obvious: of course you must supervise children while they are eating – what if they start choking?  However, maybe not everyone was getting this, so this requirement has now been spelled out in the new EYFS. You MUST supervise children while they are eating so that rapid action can be taken if needed to save them! So does this mean that you have to literally keep them in your gaze at all times – what if you have to pop back into the kitchen to grab some ketchup. Please rest assured that ‘supervised’ is clearly defined by the EYFS. “Children must usually be within sight and hearing of staff but always within sight or hearing”.

Recommended menus and food preparation advice for early years

This series of example menus and associated guidance has been developed to support early years settings (such as nurseries and childminders) to offer food and drink in line with current government dietary recommendations for infants and children aged 6 months to 4 years. It also includes food safety, managing food allergies and reading food labels. This guide was included as a footnote in the new EYFS.

You should not vape or use e-cigarettes around children (or smoke)

The new EYFS makes it clear that as well as providers not allowing smoking in or on the premises when children are present that staff should not ‘vape or use e-cigarettes when children are around’ either. This addition is in line with Public Health England’s advice on use of e-cigarettes in the workplace.

Those are the key new points of new release of the Sept 2021 EYFS. You need to read the cited documents and make sure that you are following the new guidelines before they become statutory in September. 

Good luck!

Do you want to improve your understanding of the Characteristics of Effective Learning?

Promoting the Characteristics of Effective Learning PosterFor help putting the Characteristics of Effective Learning into practice including tools, activity ideas, certificates you can give to children, poster and display ideas, CPD worksheets for your setting, examples for your SEF and a setting checklist for the COEL, check out my new Characteristics of Effective Learning Pack for childminders.

About Kay Woods and Kids To Go

Kay Woods Kids To GoKay Woods has been writing and selling childminding resources through her company Kids To Go since 2008. Her products include the Ultimate Childminding Checklist, the Learning Journey Plus for planning, observation and assessment and best practice resources promoting diversity and childminding in the great outdoors (Forest Childcare). She is the author of the Start Learning book set published by Tarquin and she writes the free quarterly Childminding Best Practice Newsletter.

Lots of places offer help to childminders. I provide solutions.

www.kidstogo.co.uk

What does a pedagogy mean to childminders? – by guest blogger Samantha Boyd

New Ofsted term that appears in the revised EYFS guidance and the new Development Matters

From September 2021, a revised EYFS Framework and version of Development Matters will come into force. One of the seven new “Key Features of Good Practice” right in the introduction to the new Development Matters is the idea of “PEDAGOGY” which may be a new concept for many childminders.

Pedagogy (pronounced ped-a-go-gee) is simply your method of teaching. I can already see childminders all over the UK panicking about this word and how it will affect your settings!! BUT STOP! You are already doing this……Lets look at pedagogies and how we implement them in our settings day to day.

Many of you will have heard of Montessori, Steiner, Te Whariki, Reggio, The Curiosity Approach – all of these are different styles of pedagogy and the most effective way of teaching is a mixture of all of these. Children learn best through play and observing others – we have all seen children copying what they have seen, heard or experienced in their play as this is their way of working out the world they live in and making sense of it all.

As well as these formal pedagogies, the word can also be applied to the types of planning that childminders do such as deciding the amount of free play you give children vs the amount of guided learning you offer, and how your balance between free play and structure might change as the children grow older. The focus of the new Development Matters is on balance – children learn best when you offer a mixture of structured learning and free play; you need to show that you are aware of this balance in the plans you are making.

An enabling environment is definitely the Third Teacher – having uncluttered and inspiring space for children to play in, loose parts such as bricks and natural resources for children to use their imaginations, authentic materials such as items to use in their play like baskets, purses, gloves, hats etc. is all you need – and you already have this. Your role in teaching is to observe, understand the child, and facilitate their next steps in their learning by setting up an environment that allows them to explore and investigate, be curious and to answer their questions, ask them and talk to them, read books with them and sing with them. Playing with children is an inspiring thing. Seeing their eyes light up when they learn, through experience, something new. So you see you are already supporting children and extending their learning through your own knowledge of the children you care for.

So please don’t panic when seeing this word – you are already using your own methods of teaching (your pedagogies) and may be using a mixture of influences to give the children in your care the very, very best. Be proud of this, keep it simple and be confident.

Over the year, as we move towards the new EYFS with its “seven key features” – the best for every child; high-quality care; curriculum; pedagogy; assessment; self-regulation and executive function; and partnership with parents – I will look at bringing you regular blogs looking at each of these in turn so that childminders are ready to hit the ground running next September!

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About Samantha Boyd

I am a mum of 3, a qualified Forest School Leader and childminder, graded outstanding in 2015 and 2020 and am currently studying a childhood studies degree with the open university. I have a love for loose parts and the outdoors and am currently working through the Curiosity Approach accreditation. I have a passion to allow children the space and time to explore and love setting up ‘invitations to play’ and seeing where the children will take it.

About Kay Woods and Kids To Go

Kay Woods Kids To GoKay Woods has been writing and selling childminding resources through her company Kids To Go since 2008. Her products include the Ultimate Childminding Checklist, the Learning Journey Plus for planning, observation and assessment and best practice resources promoting diversity, safety and childminding in the great outdoors (Forest Childcare). She is the author of the Start Learning book set published by Tarquin and she writes the free quarterly Childminding Best Practice Newsletter.

Lots of places offer help to childminders. I provide solutions.

http://www.kidstogo.co.uk/childminders/childminding.html

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