Welcome to the Summer 2018 Childminding Best Practice Newsletter. I produce this newsletter four times a year to promote childminding best practice topics with a focus on safety, health, diversity awareness and childminding in the great outdoors (Forest Childcare). I also use it to highlight any changes to legislation or policy that may affect your childminding business.
Scroll down to read the newsletter online, or download it as a PDF.
- How to make a magic bubble machine
- How to find out what’s on locally
- What would you do if this happened to you: parent wants 6 free settling in hours
- Tips for outstanding inspections
- Fact of myth: Ofsted doesn’t need you to do self-evaluations any more
- Free GDPR privacy template
The next issue (Autumn) will be coming out in Sept 2018.
Thank you to everyone who sent in contributions to this newsletter. I welcome contributions from readers on all aspects of childminding best practice.
Members of the Forest Childcare Association commit to taking the children on an outdoor outing to a ‘wild’ place once a week. The Forest Childcare Association is 5 years old this month!
The Forest Childcare Association celebrates its 5th Anniversary this month
The Forest Childcare Association is a best practice initiative that has been going for 5 years this month that encourages childcare providers to take children on weekly outdoor outings to ‘wild’ spaces. The organisation now has over a thousand members in 10 different countries – mainly childminders and small nurseries. Its principle aim is to encourage small childcare providers to take the children they look after on weekly outdoor outings to parks, woodlands or other outdoor natural spaces, and encouraging children to explore these natural environments.
Members can self-train by considering the practical concerns associated with taking groups of children of mixed ages and abilities on outdoor outings. The £15 training pack covers risk assessments, outdoor dangers (from children getting lost to poison berries) plus activities and crafts and the relevant EYFS paperwork and permissions.
The Forest Childcare Association is part of the larger ‘Forest’ movement that many EYFS practitioners are exploring and many parents are seeking for their children. Forest School training is popping up across the country and one of the downsides of this is that many childminders now worry that they have to get a Forest School qualification (and pay for training) if they want to take children to the woods. Becoming a Forest School Practitioner is a fantastic thing to do and essential if you want to teach large groups of small children how to whittle, forage and cook on campfires, but it is NOT a requirement if all you want to do is to take a group of children on a nature hike. One of the aims of the Forest Childcare Association is to provide the support, advice and a little encouragement to support as many childminders as possible to provide weekly outdoor outings and simply get outside, but without getting qualifications and excessive training that are superfluous to many childminders’ needs.
The other key aim of the organisation is to encourage childminders to explore the parts of nature near to them – the wild patches at the edges of playgrounds, finding patches of beauty wherever you live. We don’t all live in beauty spots, and the children who most need access to nature are those least likely to have access to Forest School sessions offered at their schools and nurseries. Childminders are in a unique position to help children wherever they live to find, explore and learn to love the patches of nature on their doorsteps. There is a growing impression that if you can’t provide snack time on a campfire, naps in a tent and buffalo for the children to hunt for their lunch, that your idea of ‘wilderness’ isn’t good enough! My philosophy is that any access you can give children to nature is better than no access to nature at all.
For more information on the Forest Childcare Association visit http://www.kidstogo.co.uk/childminders/forestchildcare.html. You can find us on Facebook at @ForestChildcareAssociation.
The Forest Childcare Association has its own Facebook Page. Please like my page and enjoy the links, stories, craft and activity ideas, poetry, photos and inspirational ideas I share. Liking my page is a great (totally free) way to support the work of the Forest Childcare Association whether you are a member or not.
Forest Childcare 5th Anniversary Photo Competition – win a mug
To celebrate the 5th Anniversary of the Forest Childcare Association, I am holding a competition for the best ‘This is why I childmind’ photographs. Please email me firstname.lastname@example.org your entries. I will feature your photographs on my website and Facebook page.
***Important note: if the photographs contain children, they must either be YOUR OWN children or children photographed from behind (so you can’t see their faces). If I can see a face, please write ‘this is my own child’ in the text of any photograph you send me.
You can enter with as many photographs as you like!
The best 5 photographs will receive a Forest Childcare Association mug.
Email entries to email@example.com.
Good Wood Fairy Coins – Contributed by Sanjay and Darshna Morzaria from Little Darling Childcare, Harrow
A very simple Forest Childcare activity we do with our children is to hide small wooden disks on the trail we will be following. I call these discs “Good Wood Fairy Coins” to make it a little more exciting and mysterious! This now turns into a treasure hunt and gives plenty of opportunity for children to explore the woods.
Once the children have found the discs, we take them to an opening in the woods and paint or colour them. We then have our story-time in the woods which includes the treasure they have found. Finally, remember to make sure that the children take home their beautifully decorated “Good Wood Fairy Coin”.
RSPB Wild Challenge
New RSPB Project aims to encourage families to enjoy nature Wild Challenge is a FREE award scheme from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) that anyone can take part in that prompts children to connect with, and learn about, nature through a series of fun and engaging activities. All of the activities are directly relevant to the Early Years Foundation Stage framework.
Paper plate flower art project – contributed by Severina Santos
I made these with the kids to celebrate the spring. We used cardboard for the leaves and stem, different paper colours, paper plates, glue, sellotape, and green paint. I had kids aged from 14 months to 4 years old they all liked it and got involved.
Outstanding Forest Childcare Provider: Lisa Chadburn
Well done, Lisa Chadburn, who wrote an article for her council magazine about Forest Childcare. Lisa was recently awarded outstanding at her first inspection and her inspector was impressed with all the fantastic outdoor activities she provides for the children. You can read the article in the January issue online here.
If you are a member of the Forest Childcare Association, why not write an article about what you do for your council magazine? It’s fabulous advertising for your setting.
NEW: Childminding Best Practice Club – Themed Activity Packs emailed to you – £2.50 per month – June is ‘London Themed’
Members of my new Childminding Best Practice Club are emailed a monthly pack of themed activities, plus activities that support continual professional development (CPD).Please join today to get templates and instructions for fun London themed activities like these:
Ideas for Fathers’ Day – 17th June
Some lovely ideas for Fathers’ Day here.
Free Snakes and Ladders Board template – perfect counting activity
Download the free template to make your own Snakes and Ladders board here.
I continually add new information pages to this website. You can search for information, articles, links, and support by topic including:
- New to childminding
- Continual Professional Development (CPD)
- Official document links
- Business tips for childminders
- Themes for childminding settings
Remember to “follow” my blog to receive articles by email. You just need to enter your email address. Please note that the blog is not the same as my newsletter.
How to teach childminded children about different religions
Religion is an important diversity awareness and British values topic.
9 tips for staying healthy when you childmind
Do you lift and carry children properly? Are you getting a flu shot? Do you enforce your exclusion periods?
Please Like me on Facebook
Please like and follow my Facebook page. I share inspection tips, craft and activity ideas, news stories affecting childminders, articles supporting best practice, legislation updates and some funnies. Liking my Facebook page is also a totally free way to support my small business and I really appreciate you taking the time.
Contact paper sunflower – contributed by Wendy Moore
I drew the sunflower onto contact paper and the children stood at the window to put coloured tissue paper onto it. It looked very effective. They really enjoyed this activity we will do this again with other templates. We followed this up with a nature walk collecting twigs, daisies, wild flowers, grass etc and made a nature picture on contact paper then framed it and covered it in cellophane.
How to make a magic bubble machine – contributed by Stella Saunders
You will need:
- A plastic beaker
- A plastic straw
- An elastic band
- A piece of jay cloth or similar material
- A few drops of washing up liquid
- A few drops of water
- You can use stickers or other materials to decorate if wished
An adult needs to make a pencil sized hole, approx. one inch below the rim of the beaker. Cut the straw in half and push through the small hole. Cut the jay cloth into a square or circle (as long as it fits over the beaker lip, with fabric left over for the next step). Secure the fabric down with the elastic band. Place a few drops of washing up liquid onto the fabric. Place a few drops of water onto the fabric. Now blow and watch the bubbles appear!
Young children learning the difference between sucking and blowing will not get a mouthful of soap suds with this ‘No Mess’ bubbles craft. I also especially like this craft, as when left alone for a while it all dries up. All you need to do is drop some more water onto the material and off you go again. It produces a cascade of wonderful looking little bubbles.
What would you do if this happened to you: new parent wants 6 free settling-in hours?
You don’t mind doing an hour free settling-in when a new child starts, but a woman has asked you for a total of 6 free settling in hours. Is this normal for childminders? Or are you being taken advantage of? What should you do?
Here’s what other childminders say:
Like you I don’t for an hour or so, but 6!!! I would definitely charge for 6 hours.
You should charge them. I don’t do any free hours. Childminders who don’t charge for their services ruin the business for those of us who do.
It’s in our welcome pack that we give the first 2 hours of settling in free and anything after that must be paid for at the hourly rate. This way parents know what to expect up front. BUT only after all contracts and non-refundable deposit has been paid – in case they just use the free settling-in and then scarper!
I wouldn’t charge for settling in, all my settling in is free – it’s better for me too if the child is happy and content at drop off etc. I had one little one who just cried every day all day pretty much for two months and since then I always offer as much settling is as is necessary for free.
I don’t charge, but have different settling in periods for babies, toddlers and school aged children. The parents stay for the first sessions and then leave the child with me for longer stretches. It’s a good will gesture really. But I only do this after the contract is signed and the deposit has been paid in full.
How to find what’s on locally – contributed by Libby Lea
I use the library a lot with the children – not just for books, but because there is also a lot going on. For example, our libraries do story time daily along with arts and crafts relating to the story. All of the libraries in Peterborough do this term time and holiday time. It’s a lovely little morning/afternoon outing.
Also our local small museum do activities too. One trip they had tropical pets there and another one with pets. Would you believe I held an enormous tarantula (that filled my hand!), snakes, lizards etc!!! I hate spiders & snakes but I had to show the children that I was brave. They then felt confident enough to do the same.
They also had a room of arts and crafts. The bonus also is that you can look at everything in the museum. The children were given a booklet of things to look out for as they walk around. The children ticked things off their lists, filled in words, counting etc. They enjoyed learning new things as they walked around. I must admit I felt my age in the 70’s section! The old hoover, washing machine, mangle, pantry cupboard etc lol it was interesting to tell them about that era though. Also our theatre has activities too. One was the story about “The Tiger That Came To Tea” and “We are going on a bear hunt”.
My council publishes a monthly newsletter where it says about lots of the activities that are available like this. If your council publishes a newsletter, make sure you give it a read so you don’t miss out on ideas to do.
Tips for Outstanding Ofsted Inspections
One mistake many childminders make with their spaces is to have too much stuff, too many resources out at once. The children are surrounded by so many toys that they don’t have space to move around properly and worse, get distracted by things and can’t concentrate. In gardens, some childminders have so many garden toys and activities in very small spaces, there is no room for the children to move around. Think about how the children move around your spaces and for your inspection, make sure your setting does not appear cluttered.
Fact or Myth: Ofsted doesn’t need you to do self-evaluation any more
Myth: In April 2018, Ofsted removed its online self-evaluation form. However, it has not removed the requirement for childminders to self-evaluate. So all childminders need to have in place a method to reflect on your practice, especially if you are being inspected any time soon, as your inspector may want to discuss your evaluation with you. It is good practice to have a method for ongoing self-evaluation.
While there is no requirement to write out a written self-evaluation, the reason many people do written reflective practice is that it can make it easier for you to think through the different aspects of your business and monitor what you need to change. Writing things out can help you to focus and get organised. It can also be a great way to prepare for your inspection.
Remember that your Ofsted inspector will want to discuss your setting’s self-evaluation during your inspection. Even without the online form, you are still expected to reflect on your practice. The Early Years Inspection Handbook outlines exactly how an inspector will use your setting’s self-evaluation during your inspection: “59: Inspectors will use the self-evaluation to evaluate how well a setting knows its own strengths and weaknesses and how it can improve.”
In my opinion, writing things out is the best way to feel properly prepared and to remember to put things into action.
For help with self-evaluation, try my Guided Self-Evaluation Pack. This pack is organised as a series of questions and model answers about you and your setting, with one question per page. You can use it as a structured way to set up a complete evaluation document for your setting from scratch. Or you can pick and choose questions that you feel are helpful to your setting to complement any other form of self-reflective practice you already do.
‘Do you charge while the baby is sleeping?’ And other ridiculous things that parents ask childminders
Please send your own funny stories of the silliest thing a parent has ever asked you, or something funny that has happened to you to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you Sarah Millard – that quote never fails to have me in stitches! We all need a good laugh, so please email me with some funnies!
“Enjoy the summer holidays now the children have broken up.” – Contributed by Susan Mortimer
“Hi, I’m in Asda do you want anything?” Me – no just you to collect your kids please; you’re already half an hour late!! – Contributed by Michelle
During a visit a Mum asked me if I went out during the day and when I said yes she said she wasn’t keen on her son going outside. I explained we have to be outside for fresh air, exercise etc. plus I have 2 school runs a day for my own daughter. Her reply… well if I bring him here, someone else could collect your daughter and you stay in because I’m paying you aren’t I? Yeah cos I’m going to pay another childminder to collect my child so I can stay indoors with yours! – Contributed by Kelly
Not while childminding but while in the nursery we used to have nappy change times and the parent asked, “if they do a poo outside of change times, do they have to wait till nappy changing time?” – Contributed by Claire Louise
“If my child is ill, how will your other charges get to pre/school?” Needless to say, I didn’t take that family on!
I once had a parent drop their children off with a suitcase for Dad to pick up on collection. I assumed it held outfits for the children’s dance classes, they had straight from my house. Turned out it contained Dad’s clothes as Mum had thrown him out!
I was once asked to wear the mum’s breast milk stained t-shirt that she wore in bed in case the 10 month old baby needed settling!
This was not funny but extremely cheeky. I had a parent who wanted me to pick her little one up on my way to school and then drop him home again in the afternoon. All so she didn’t have to get dressed so early in the morning. Oh and she wasn’t expecting to pay either as I walk past her house on the way to school.
Ofsted rewrites ‘myths’
Ofsted has updated its ‘myths about early years inspection’ document around self-evaluation and risk assessment. This is part of Ofsted’s continuing campaign to set out the facts about early years inspections and to dispel myths that can result in unnecessary work for registered childcarers. The document should be read alongside the Early Years Inspection Handbook.
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