Welcome to the Autumn 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.
- Greener childcare
- How to feed and house a hedgehog
- What would you do if this happened to you: friends expecting free childcare?
- Free risk assessment templates
The next issue (Winter) will be coming out in Dec 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!
Forest Childcare – ‘branding’ outdoor time – contributed by Sarah Gill
Thank you we have been following for a long time. We have our own allotment which is accessible through wood lands and fields we love it. We have over 30 chickens and 3 ducks. We spend most of our time up there and when at home we have free flow access to an outdoor area. Love that you have enabled us to call ourselves Forest Childcare as we are so much more than a childminder. I looked into doing the forest school leader training may do it in the next few years.
Getting Childminded Children Back To Nature – without Forest School Training
Why you shouldn’t let lack of ‘Forest school qualifications’ put you off taking childminded children to the woods.
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 Hunt for Teddy – contributed by Charlotte Melia from Woodlands Childcare
We are loving our Forest Childcare outings. One day every week we go off on an adventure, giving both us as childminders and the children new experiences. We have a local woods that we like to explore; we have done a bear hunt there and hidden a teddy bear, that we went to find whilst saying the story.
We have been pumpkin picking, ready for Halloween. We have been leaf collecting and jumping in muddy puddles. We have been rambling through the woods, listening to environmental sounds on our adventure. The children explored the patterns and textures of different rocks.
It’s a great feeling to be out in the fresh air and the children love having the freedom.
Free Highway Rat printable
Excellent printable PDF from the Forestry Commission
Why kids need risk, fear and excitement in play
Good Canadian article about how to increase risks in childhood. The best message was for “Change can be as simple as counting to 30 before stepping in to give children a chance to manage on their own.”
Forest Childcare 5th Anniversary Win a Mug Competition – winners!
To celebrate the 5th anniversary of the Forest Childcare Association, I held a competition in the last newsletter to send in the best ‘this is why I childmind’ photographs. I had over 100 entries – thank you so much to everyone who entered – it was really hard to select winners. In the end I have chosen these 9 winners who each win a Forest Childcare mug. Thanks and congratulations to Kelly Hagans, Kathryn Haslan, Gosia Mokunku, Charlotte Melia, Caroline Crew, Tamara Peggs, Becky Rutherford, Helen McKee and Lis Davies. Loved seeing all your beautiful pictures.
NEW: Childminding Best Practice Club – Themed Activity Packs emailed to you – £2.50 per month – October is Halloween and Diwali 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 Halloween themed activities like these:
Autumn Craft Ideas
Make a scarecrow picture and explore grains and beans while making observations of the children about their “Understanding The World”. Free template and guided EYFS observations.
For Remembrance Day – 11 November
Articles, Blogs and Information Pages
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.
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.
Greener Childcare – contributed by Samantha Boyd
One of the first things I changed was to stop using baby wipes. Baby wipes, even if they state they are biodegradable, do not biodegrade quickly and also contain plastic. An alternative is cloth wipes and flannels. There are many companies selling these. The one I opted for was Cheeky Wipes, as I could purchase the wipes and containers as well as aromatherapy oils. These not only contain oils that smell nice but have antiseptic and antibacterial properties. The cloth wipes are soaked in water and aromatherapy oils and keep wet for easy use. You can take them out in bags, so they do not dry out. I used pink for hands and faces and blue for bums. At the end of each week they are washed in a hot wash to ensure they are clean and prevent cross contamination. The children adapted well, and they were easy to use. Of course you could make your own – cutting up a towel into small squares and using a Tupperware box to hold them in. Aromatherapy oils that are good to use are lavender, tea tree and lemon.
The next thing I have been looking for is a biodegradable nappy sack. After much research, the one I bought was ECO by Naty, a GM free corn based film, made in Sweden. They are 100% biodegradable but are also strong. You only need to use one, rather than double up, which I used to have to do with the cheaper plastic ones I used.
If you want to start to become plastic free, the first thing I would suggest you do is to do a plastic audit, listing all the things you use that are plastic. You may be surprised how much there is ….I am slowly replacing things as I run out and will be looking at disposable nappies and cling film replacements next….
Portion size and calorie control leaflet
Info to share with parents aimed at keeping toddlers healthy.
How to feed and house a hedgehog – contributed by Libby Lea
Hedgehogs are nocturnal. If they are out in the day then they are more than likely in trouble and need help.
In the wild they eat many things like worms, slugs, snails, insects, toads, frogs, bird eggs and berries. You can feed them on dry dog food (don’t use wet dog food because it can give them salmonella). You can also buy dry food for hedgehogs and dried mealworm. We also provide a small bowl of water.
Around November time they start to hibernate. We will obviously keep putting food out every night until it stops being eaten. It is important to carry on feeding hedgehogs once you have started doing so. They need to put a certain amount of weight on to help them survive during hibernation. They need to weigh at least 600g. Anything less they are unlikely to survive.
Their main predators are badgers, birds of prey like owls, foxes, ferrets, cats and dogs. Our boxes have tunnels to get in and they turn a corner which stops the predators getting in.
Our feeding station is next to our bird table. This is where we discovered we had him/her. My dog was outside barking, we put the outside light on and saw it curled up in a ball by the bird table.
With the childminded children we are going to be making a poster about hedgehogs and their life, food etc. We have put some white paper down to try and get his paw prints. Learning about our hedgehog will lead us on to looking at other nocturnal animals.
What would you do if this happened to you: friends expecting free childcare?
Before you started childminding, you and your friend often looked after each other’s children occasionally as favours. But now she is asking if you can look after her child for the whole half term and collect him from school once a week. You are not sure you can offer that for free any more but you also feel that you owe her a little childcare time as she has helped you out with babysitting before and you don’t want to upset your friend. What should you do?
Here’s what other childminders say:
I would be straight with her and say that now you are childminding you are happy to care for her child but this would need to be in a business way as “your child will be using one of my spaces.”
I look after friend’s child but she pays same as rest them.
My friend pays me for daycare in the holidays but evening babysitting or the odd couple of hours here or there we do for each other for free.
I don’t do childcare for friends; it never works. Been there, done that and learned my lesson!
A play date or odd day would be different. If my friends asked me for a week/months care I’d be asking for some form of payment. You’re not just going to be helping out for the whole half term – you’re providing childcare whilst she works and you should treat it that way.
I might think about offering a discount – half price maybe – just so you don’t make things awkward with your friend.
Always remember there are no friends in business, always have a contract in place.
Would you ask a plumber friend to fix your toilet for free?
I give discounts to friends but I won’t work for free. Those children take up spaces and unfortunately I have to pay my mortgage.
Maybe best offering a ‘mates rate’ to them so they still understand that you are working but the lines between work and friendship aren’t so blurred.
My closest friend has always done my nails, and although she’s given me a little discount it’s her business so I never expected it for free. A true friend would never expect it for a free when it’s your business.
Tips for Outstanding Ofsted Inspections
Think about your practice as an outsider would see it. Do the children appear to behave well? How do you encourage the children to behave well in your setting? What do you do when they don’t behave well? How does this get them ready for school? How will you show what you do to your Ofsted inspector so that even if one of the children behaves poorly during your inspection, she will know how you encourage good behaviour and school readiness behaviour normally?
Fact or Myth: You don’t need to do written risk assessments
Myth: The EYFS Statutory Framework states that you must take all reasonable steps to manage risks and determine where it is helpful to do some written risk assessments. It used to be a requirement for childminders to write written risk assessments for EVERYTHING but this has been removed from the current version of the legislation to help childminders to cut back on paperwork. This certainly doesn’t mean that you never need to do risk assessments in writing.
In most normal day to day childminding, a written risk assessment is simply not necessary and just adds to unnecessary paperwork load.
However, from time to time, and especially when you are just starting out at childminding or doing something new, I think that it is very useful to go through the whole risk assessment process properly in writing at least once so that you know how to do it. Writing it out forces you to formalise the process in your mind so that any corners you choose to cut in the future, at least you know what you SHOULD be doing.
For a free risk assessment blank template, examples of what to write on it and list of things childminders might want to risk assess around the home, garden and outings.
‘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!
“I hope you had a nice holiday, just got my invoice for next week. I thought I didn’t have to pay you for next week too, so I spent all my money. Is it ok to start paying you weekly in arrears instead, from next Friday?”
I was asked to change the baby every half hour and physically sniff her bottom every 15 mins! – contributed by Kathleen
“We are not too sure about our child going on trips as the doctors weren’t too sure about her flying yet.” I assured the parents that I didn’t go on trips out that required passports or aeroplane rides! – Contributed by Annette Kingsley-Scott
“So sorry I can’t pay you. Someone’s stolen my kitchen sink and I need a new one.” That was beyond belief especially as she said she was upstairs. Never met a ninja plumber yet!!!!! – Contributed by Andrea
I had an enquiry a few years back if I could collect their child from school and take the child to various clubs and wait for them to finish up and bring them home for 6pm!
Parents asked if I could mind the cat whilst they were on holiday. I said I’d happily call round and feed it. They said oh no we want it to stay with you for two weeks. We’ll pay normal chilminding fees for her! – contributed by Lynn Wood
I once had a dad meet me outside nursery. At the time, I was standing with my friend’s buggy while she nipped her child in for a wee. The dad picked up the child out the buggy and bounced him around asking him if he’s being a good boy for me and the older brother said “daddy, why are you playing with my friend’s brother and not mine?” He made me laugh when he said OMG, My Mrs is going to go nuts! I said yep when I tell her you couldn’t recognise your own child! – Contributed by Kellie Evans
Ofsted calls for Early Years Experts
Ofsted is setting up a forum for academics, practitioners and researchers to talk about a wide range of early years issues. Anyone interested? If you want to do this, you have to do it by the end of Sept.
Career progression within the Early Years flow chart
Opportunities for career progression within Early Years are outlined here.
This important safeguarding document has been updated in August. The only key change affecting childminders is that Local Safeguarding Children Boards will be gradually replaced by “Local Safeguarding Partners”. This will be done at the local level gradually any time over the next year, so watch your council for information about changes that affect you and update wording in your policies accordingly.
You can download and print a copy of the document for free through my Official Document Links page.
How long should you keep records for childminded children?
This publication from the Pre-School Learning Alliance is worth keeping if you are unsure how long to keep medical records, staff records or your daily register etc. I’ve added it to my Official Document Links page – so do bookmark that page so you can find the most up to date versions of all the reference documents childminders need.
Free Product Updates
There are no product updates at this time.
If you like reading my newsletters, chances are your childminding friends will like them too. Please share this newsletter on social media such as Facebook.